Moses did not taught his people about eternal life. How do I know? There is not a positive word or line in the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament) that has to do with eternal life, resurrection, last judgment, afterlife, paradise, hell, etc. These religious ideas were not the teachings of the Pentateuch. To understand when and how these concepts came into Judaic-Christian-Islamic religions is very important in solving the millennia-old misunderstanding and conflicts between/among these major religions.
There are many different theories about when and by whom the Pentateuch was written. But what is certain is that the Pentateuch was not written by Moses himself; it was written by several different authors after Moses died. Some people even say that Moses did not exist. But my position is that a legendary religious leader known as Moses lived in about 1200’s BCE (some sources say 1300’s BCE) and that he led the Hebrews and a mixed multitude (peoples of various ethnic origins) (Exodus 12: 37-38), who had been slaves in Egypt, out from Egypt and led them into the land of Canaan (what is now Palestine), and that the legends of Moses became the skeleton of the Pentateuch.
I would not discuss the history of the Pentateuch in this chapter. The main purpose of this chapter is to discuss the fact that the Pentateuch does not contain the religious ideas related to eternal life, which is a paramountly important matter for Judaic-Christian-Islamic religions. These three religions believe, in common, that the Pentateuch was written by Moses and that Moses’ God is the Creator of the Universe.
The story about the Original Sin appears in the book of Genesis is that since the first man (Adam and Eve) ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, God forbade man eternal life as punishment (Genesis 3: 22-24). The Book of Genesis teaches through an explanatory myth that eternal life is impossible for man. There is a story in Genesis 28 that Jacob saw a ladder whose top reached to “heaven.” But the heaven in Jacob’s dream was the place where God and angels dwelt and not the place where good men go after death to live forever.
For reference, Jacob was not real person. Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, and Joseph, were not real persons. We will see in later chapters that not only these people but also all the persons from Adam to Amram (allegedly known as Moses’ father) were the characters invented after Moses’ time. (See 25th Chapter “Abraham who Sold His Wife Twice for His Life” and 26th Chapter “Abraham the Father of Israelites and Arabs.”)
The Pentateuch mentions about the death of many fathers of Israel, from Adam to Moses. The Pentateuch states that each of the fathers simply “died” without alluding whether any or all of them ever went to heaven. There is, however, one exception: Enoch, the seventh descendent of Adam, was taken by God (Genesis 5: 23-24). Does it mean that God took Enoch to heaven alive? Christians seem to believe that Enoch went up to heaven alive. Much later, Elijah (Israel prophet, lived about 800’s BCE) “went up into heaven by a whirlwind” (2 Kings 2: 11). So at least two persons, Enoch and Elijah, went to heaven, according to the Old Testament. But the author of the book of John in the New Testament states that “no one has ascended into heaven but Jesus” (John 3: 13). John did not know that Enoch and Elijah had gone up into heaven.
The authors of the books of Psalm and Ecclesiastes boldly expressed their disbelief in eternal life and heaven (Psalm 6: 5; Ecclesiastes 9: 4-6).
6: 5 For in death there is no remembrance of thee [Lord]: in the grave who shall give thee thank?
The Psalm has been known as the work of David. But it is not certain. The author (Solomon?) of Ecclesiastes denied afterlife more bravely than David had done (Ecclesiastes 9: 4-6).
9: 4 For to him that joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.
9: 5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
9: 6 Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.
Tradition says that Solomon (BCE 900’s) was the author of the Ecclesiastes, but scholars believe that the actual author of the Ecclesiastes lived in later time, probably about 250 BCE (The World Book Encyclopedia, 1979 ed.). Biblical scholars believe that Psalm and Ecclesiastes must have been written far later not by the alleged authors.