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I am an Italian noahide.

I see that, in the translations of the Tanakh and of the Hebrew sources in general edited by Jews , the expression "chayei olam" is constantly rendered with "eternal life" or "everlasting life" (of the two I prefer "everlasting life", since the concept of eternal presupposes, to be precise, the absence of both a beginning and an end, while the age of chayei olam undoubtedly has a beginning), as, for example, in Daniel 12: 2.

However, there are some Israeli Orthodox Jews who contest this interpretation, arguing that the concept of "everlasting life" is not biblical, and that this translation of "chayei olam" is erroneous. According to them, the meaning of this expression is "long life ", that is, a life extended for a long and not exactly definable time, but which will have an end anyway.

I am personally perplexed, also because they support their position, in some Italian biblical forums, on linguistic observations relating to the term "olam", which according to them cannot mean "everlasting" in Hebrew, but they do not bring specific sources taken from the works of the masters of Israel, and no Orthodox rabbi I have consulted, Italian or otherwise, has ruled out that chayei olam means everlasting life.

To your knowledge, are there some Jewish sources that support the interpretation given by these people?

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  • Do you mean to refer to life in this world or life in the world to come? (Concerning life in the world to come, Rb Hutner was very emphatic that eternal life in that context does not mean life that goes on forever, rather it means life in a timeless existence.)
    – pcoz
    Jul 2, 2021 at 4:58
  • When you say "the expression 'chayei olam' is constantly rendered", and "for example, in Daniel 12: 2", do you have other examples, from the Tanakh, where the expression "chayei olam" is used?
    – Tamir Evan
    Jul 2, 2021 at 5:00
  • I wonder how those Israeli Orthodox Jews would translate "Chuqat Olam" and "Berit Olam". Would they say those are also only supposed to long lasting (as opposed to being eternal/everlasting)?
    – Tamir Evan
    Jul 2, 2021 at 6:58
  • Better yet, what about Bereshit 3:22, where the possibility of Adam taking from the tree of life and eating and becoming "Chai le-Olam" is brought up? Would they say it means he would only have lived a long life? How much longer than the 930 years that he lived in the end would they say that would have been?
    – Tamir Evan
    Jul 2, 2021 at 6:58
  • @pcoz I mean life in the world to come, that is, that phase which according to Rambam is subsequent to the second death of bodies after their resurrection
    – Amos74
    Jul 2, 2021 at 10:12

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