In Luke 16, we are told the story of Lazarus and Dives. Lazarus, the poor man, who begged for scraps from the rich man’s table, is taken to Paradise: “The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom”.
The Parable of Lazarus and Dives – Erhard Altdorfer
The ‘bosom of Abraham’, a Jewish term for the afterlife, becomes in the New Testament the perfection of Paradise. The Catholic Encyclopedia has two explanations for the origin of the term. The first refers to the way in which parents pick up a fatigued child to care and nurture him or her. The second is that, while diners reclined at dinner, as in the Last Supper, the most favoured guest lay in his host’s bosom. So, to be in the ‘bosom of Abraham’, was to share in a divine banquet as an honored guest. Both of these images are lovely.
In this Ikon of Second Coming, Paradise is at the bottom of the ikon, below Christ surrounded by his angels. The Bosom of Abraham is on the left. The Good Thief holds his Cross on the right. In Luke 23, Christ tells the Good Thief: “Today you will be with me in Paradise”.
Below, in a carving from Reims Cathedral, Abraham holds the souls of the dead whilst angels bring new souls to him. In later, mainly English carving, it is God, in the Bosom of Abraham Trinity symbolism, who holds the souls of the saved in a napkin.
And. Here is Elvis Presley:
Well you rock my soul
Down in the bosom of Abraham
Rock, rock, rock down in the bosom of Abraham
He rocks my soul down in the bosom of Abraham
Well a rich man lives, He lives so well
Children, when he dies on a lonely hill
Why don’t you rock my soul in the bosom of Abraham