Thursday, February 2, 2012

"Gathered to his People"

Alice C. Linsley

A reader has asked about the phrase "gathered to his people" or "gathered to his fathers." He notes that many authors on the WWW use the phrase "gathered to his fathers" or "gathered to his people" as evidence for heavenly recognition.  This is the case for those who are in the Faith of Abraham, the Horite.  As Jesus said, "Abraham rejoiced to see my day."  We may take this to mean that Abraham anticipated the coming of the Son of God.  His fathers and his people believed that God would fulfill in a literal way the promise made to their ancestors in Eden that a Woman of their ruler-priest lines would bring forth the Seed (Gen. 3:15).  The Apostle Paul believed that Gentiles must be grafted into the Faith of Abraham to receive heavenly recognition or to be saved.

It is important to see to whom the phrase "gathered to his fathers" pertains.  It does not apply to everyone who dies. It should not be generalized. The word “fathers” is horim in Hebrew and refers to the Jews’ Horite ancestors.  Incidentally, there are some Arabs that have Horite ancestry also; those descended from Abraham by his cousin wife Keturah.

“For David, after having been useful to his own generation in accordance with God's purpose, did fall asleep, was gathered to his forefathers, and did undergo decay.” – Acts 13:36.

Genesis 25:8 expresses the same idea this way: “Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people.”

Wesley spiritualized this in his commentary on Genesis, saying about Abraham that “His body was gathered to the congregation of the dead, and his soul to the congregation of the blessed. Death gathers us to our people. Those that are our people while we live, whether the people of God, or the children of this world, to them death will gather us.”

Job, probably a contemporary of Abraham, was a Horite ruler. In Job 27:19 we find this:
"The rich man shall lie down, but he shall not be gathered: he opens his eyes, and he is not." (King James)

"He lieth down rich, but he shall not be gathered to his fathers; He openeth his eyes, and he is not." (American Standard Version)

It appears that the phrase “gathered to his people” or “gathered to his fathers” applies to rulers of the Horite priestly caste to which Abraham, Job, Moses, Aaron and David belonged, and from whom Jesus Christ came as a direct descendant. As Hebrews attests, He is our great High Priest, after the order of Melchizedek.

This phrase should not be generalized, as Wesley does, because doing so makes it easy to overlook the historicity of the unbroken line from Abraham to Christ our Lord.  This is why I believe the phrase relates specifically to the Horites or Horim who were a priestly caste.  This is evidenced again in Numbers 20:26: “Remove Aaron's garments and put them on his son Eleazar, for Aaron will be gathered to his people; he will die there.”

Related reading:  Righteous Rulers and the Resurrection; Who were the Horites?; The Bosom of Abraham; Sheol and the Second Death; The Christ in Nilotic Mythology

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