Do Jews believe in reincarnation


I have a question about something I found when I was studying scriptures. In Mark 6:14 it tells of what people thought about the teachings of John the Baptist and they question if he is Elijah returned.
Does that mean that Jews believed in re-incarnation. I find this a little puzzling and maybe somebody here can clear that up.


Very good question :slight_smile:

Matthew 16:13 “Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

Even Christians for centuries believed a person like emperor Nero would turn up again


Scripture does not record that Elijah died but that he was taken up to heaven. His return would not necessarily mean be a reincarnation but a return from heaven.

It is my understanding that reincarnation is not inconsistent with Judaism and that many Jewish sects believe in it. (Judaism 101)


Some Jews believe in reincarnation, particularly the Orthodox. However, the reincarnation according to Judaism is for the express purpose of achieving something important that was not accomplished in one’s prior life, namely something that is related to Torah study. It is not the same as reincarnation in the Hindu sense.

The reason why Jews are permitted to believe in reincarnation is that the Hebrew Bible says very little about the afterlife, and so Jews are allowed a wide latitude of beliefs on the matter. Further, the focus of Judaism has always been the present, earthly life rather than the hereafter.


Hi, Truth quester!
There are puzzling things in Scriptures… you’ve hit on one of them–I would say a major one since it directly relates to the precursor of the Messiah, John the Baptist.

While I have not done a study on this, Elijah was a very important prophet (powerful with the Holy Spirit) of the Old Testament… it is prophesied that the Messiah would be preceded by the return of Elijah (Elijah was taken, bodily into Heave–though many would argue not Heaven but some limbo type place)… as Elijah was being taken, his servant/apprentice, Elisha, asked that he be given a portion of Elijah’s spirit (that is the Gift from God) and it was done so… though it is obscure, I think that this is what is meant by the return of Elijah–that is, his spirit (the Power Granted to him by God as the Holy Spirit worked in him and through him); as we know from Scriptures, John the Baptist was separated by God even before he was conceived in his mother’s womb and he was blessed with the Holy Spirit as he was the first person in the world to welcome the Incarnate Word (St. Luke 1).

It is not clear from Scriptures how the Jews in Jesus’ time understood the return of Elijah (though it tells us that some of them did not believe in the resurrection and did not have a clear understanding of Heaven). Today’s Jews, as they have divergent beliefs, may or may not believe in reincarnation–hollowood has trained many peoples from many nations to believe in the “recycling” of the psyche/consciousness.

Maran atha!



The Incarnation of Christ, proves that re-incarnation is not possible, by reason of supernatural degree.


That makes sense.


As someone who was raised Jewish (Reform), and knows a lot of Jews of many “varieties,” I say this half-jokingly: You could ask five different Jews that question and get five different answers.

Many of the rabbis that I know (and many Jewish scholars that I have met), are often very malleable with their beliefs and interpretation of the Torah. They love to find the deeper meanings and various interpretations in nearly everything (seriously, go to a rabbi with some OT questions, and they’ll keep you there for hours with different ways to interpret the same thing – it’s really enjoyable, and many delight in the study, discussion, and debate of the Torah).

There are some things that are face-value where you can get pretty much universal agreement (what is kosher, what is trayf), but where things are not completely clear and might even chance to be allegorical, the sky is the limit as far as interpretations. Remember, there are as many types of Jews as there are Christians.

Example: I was raised Reform, since my mother is a Catholic, and according to “Jewish Law,” I’m not Jewish and never was, even though I had a Bar Mitzvah (mother has to be Jewish per the “rules”). My father was raised Conservative, and over the course of my life, I have known everything from Reform Jews to Satmars, and lots in-between. I’ve been to synagogues where they had a female cantor. Then I went to one with a female rabbi! For some Jews, that’s kosher (:D), for others, that’s utter heresy.

tl;dr answer to your question: Depends on which Jew you ask. :slight_smile:


Hi, Nil!
(…love your screen name)
I have a question that deals with etymology… are you familiar with the Hebrew language? If so, would you mind if I opened a thread on YHWH (Tetragrammaton) so that you can share your thoughts on this?

…I concur with you (personal experience in NY) even rabbis (rabbanim) do tend to be flexible (no, no yoga intended). :stuck_out_tongue:

Maran atha!



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