The Hebrews SHEOL, and the Greek HADES, usually translated hell, often signify the place of departed spirits, Ps 16:10; Isa 14:9; Eze 31:16. Here was the rich man, after being buried, Lu 16:23. The above and many other passages in the Old Testament show the futility of that opinion which attributes to the Hebrews an ignorance of a future state.
The term hell is most commonly applied to the place of punishment in the unseen world, and is usually represented in the Greek New Testament by the word Gehenna, valley of Hinnom. See HINNOM. In 2Pe 2:4, the rebellious angels are said, in the original Greek, to have been cast down into "Tartarus," this being the Grecian name of the lowest abyss of Hades. Other expressions are also used, indicating the dreadfulness of the anguish there to be endured. It is called "outer darkness," "flame," "furnace of fire," "unquenchable fire," "fire and brimstone," etc., Mt 8:12; 13:42; 22:13; 25:20,41; Mr 9:43-48; Jg 1:13; Re 20:14. The misery of hell will consist in the privation of the vision and love of God, exclusion from every source of happiness, perpetual sin, remorse of conscience in view of the past, malevolent passions, the sense of the just anger of God, and all other sufferings of body and soul which in the nature of things are the natural results of sin, or which the law of God requires as penal inflictions. The degrees of anguish will be proportioned to the degrees of guilt, Mt 10:15; 23:14; Lu 12:47-48. And these punishments will be eternal, like the happiness of heaven. The wrath of God will never cease to abide upon the lost soul, and it will always be "the wrath to come."
derived from the Saxon helan, to cover; hence the covered or the invisible place. In Scripture there are three words so rendered:
(1.) Sheol, occurring in the Old Testament sixty-five times. This word sheol is derived from a root-word meaning "to ask," "demand;" hence insatiableness (Pr 30:15-16). It is rendered "grave" thirty-one times (Ge 37:35; 42:38; 44:29,31; 1Sa 2:6, etc.). The Revisers have retained this rendering in the historical books with the original word in the margin, while in the poetical books they have reversed this rule.
In thirty-one cases in the Authorized Version this word is rendered "hell," the place of disembodied spirits. The inhabitants of sheol are "the congregation of the dead" (Pr 21:16). It is (a) the abode of the wicked (Nu 16:33; Job 24:19; Ps 9:17; 31:17, etc.); (b) of the good (Ps 16:10; 30:3; 49:15; 86:13, etc.).
(2.) The Greek word hades of the New Testament has the same scope of signification as sheol of the Old Testament. It is a prison (1Pe 3:19), with gates and bars and locks (Mt 16:18; Re 1:18), and it is downward (Mt 11:23; Lu 10:15).
The righteous and the wicked are separated. The blessed dead are in that part of hades called paradise (Lu 23:43). They are also said to be in Abraham's bosom (Lu 16:22).
(3.) Gehenna, in most of its occurrences in the Greek New Testament, designates the place of the lost (Mt 23:33). The fearful nature of their condition there is described in various figurative expressions (Mt 8:12; 13:42; 22:13; 25:30; Lu 16:24, etc.). (See Hinnom.)
Representing two distinct words: Gehenna and Hades (Greek), Sheol (Hebrew). Gehenna) is strictly "the valley of Hinnom" (Jos 15:8; Ne 11:30); "the valley of the children of Hinnom" (2Ki 23:10); "the valley of the son of Hinnom" (2Ch 28:3); "the valley of dead bodies," or Tophet, where malefactors' dead bodies were cast, S. of the city (Jer 31:40). A deep narrow glen S. of Jerusalem, where, after Ahaz introduced the worship of the fire gods, the sun, Baal, Moloch, the Jews under Manasseh made their children to pass through the fire (2Ch 33:6), and offered them as burntofferings (Jer 7:31; 19:2-6). So the godly Josiah defiled the valley, making it a receptacle of carcass and criminals' corpses, in which worms were continually gendering.
A perpetual fire was kept to consume this putrefying matter; hence it became the image of that awful place where all that are unfit for the holy city are cast out a prey to the ever gnawing "worm" of conscience from within and the "unquenchable fire" of torments from without. Mr 9:42-50, "their worm dieth not." implies that not only the worm but they also on whom it preys die not; the language is figurative, but it represents corresponding realities never yet experienced, and therefore capable of being conveyed to us only by figures. The phrase "forever and ever " (eis tous aionas aioonoon) occurs 20 times in New Testament: 16 times of God, once of the saints' future blessedness, the three remaining of the punishment of the wicked and of the evil one: is it likely it is used 17 times of absolute eternity, yet three times of limited eternity?
The term for "everlasting" (aidiois) in Jg 1:6, "the angels who kept not their first estate He hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day," is from a word meaning absolutely "always" (aei). Gehenna is used by our Lord Jesus (Mt 5:29-30; 10:28; 23:15,33; Lu 12:5); with the addition "of fire," Mt 5:22; 18:9; Mr 9:47; and by James (Jas 3:6). Our present meaning of "hell" then applies to Gehenna, but not to the other word Hades or Sheol. "Hell" formerly did apply when the KJV of the Bible was written; it then meant "hole," "hollow," or unseen place.
Sheol comes from a root "to make hollow," the common receptacle of the dead below the earth (Nu 16:30; De 32:22), deep (Job 11:8), insatiable (Isa 5:14; Song 8:6). "Hell," Hades, often means the "grave" (Job 14:13). In the Old Testament time, when as yet Christ had not "abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (2Ti 1:10), death and the intermediate state represented by Hades suggested thoughts of gloom (as to Hezekiah, Isa 38:9-20), lit up however with gleams of sure hope from God's promises of the resurrection (Ps 16:10-11; 17:15; Isa 26:19; Ho 13:14; Da 12:2). Hints too occur of the spirit's being with God in peace in the intermediate state (Ec 3:21; 12:7; Ps 23:6; 139:8; Isa 57:2).
The passages which represent Hades and the grave as a place where God can no longer be praised mean simply that the physical powers are all suspended, so that God's peruses can be no longer set forth on earth among the living. The anomalous state in which man is unclothed of the body is repulsive to the mind, and had not yet the clear gospel light to make it attractive as Paul viewed it (Php 1:21-23; 2Co 5:6-8). To the bad Hades was depicted as a place of punishment, where God's wrath reached to the depths (De 32:22; Am 9:2; Ps 9:17; 49:14; Isaiah 14). Thus, the unseen state even in Old Testament was regarded as having a distinction between the godly and the ungodly; Pr 14:32, "the wicked is driven away in his wickedness, but the righteous hath hope in his death"; so Psalm 1.
This is further confirmed by the separation of the rich man and Lazarus, the former in "hell" (Hades), the latter in "Abraham's bosom" (Lu 16:23), and in the penitent thief's soul going to be with Jesus in "paradise," the word implying the recovery in heavenly bliss of the paradise lost by Adam (Lu 23:43). "Tartarus," the pagan Greek term for the place of enchainment of the Titans, rebels against God, occurs in 2Pe 2:4 of the lost angels; the "deep," or "abyss," or "bottomless pit," (abussos) Lu 8:31; Re 9:11. The firm faith and hope of an abiding heavenly city is unequivocally attributed to the patriarchs (Heb 11:16-35);. so all the believing Israelites (Ac 26:7; 23:6-9). Hades, "hell," is used for destruction (Mt 11:23; 16:18). Jesus has its keys, and will at last consign it to the lake of fire which is the second death; implying that Christ and His people shall never again be disembodied spirits.
Re 1:18; 20:13-14; I can release at will from the unseen world of spirits, the anomalous state wherein the soul is severed from the body. The "spirits in prison" (1Pe 3:19) mean the ungodly antediluvians shut up in this earth, one vast prison, and under sentence of death and awaiting execution (Isa 24:22); not the prison of Hades. (See SPIRITS IN PRISON.) It is solemnly significant of the certainty of hell that He who is Love itself has most plainly and fully warned men of it, that they may flee from it. Tophet, the scene of human immolations by fire to Moloch amidst sounds of drums (tof) to drown the cries of the victims, symbolized the funeral pyre of Sennacherib's Assyrian army, and finally the lake of fire that shall burn for ever the lost (Isa 30:33). (See TOPHET.)
In an Assyrian tablet of the goddess Ishtar, daughter of Sin, the moon goddess, Hades is described as having seven gates," the house of the departed, the house from within which is no exit, the road the course of which never returns, the place within which they long for light, where dust is their nourishment and their food mud, light is never seen, in darkness they dwell, spirits like birds fill its vaults, over the door and its bolts is scattered dust!" What a contrast to the gospel (2Ti 1:10).
In the A.V. this is the translation of
1. sheol, which is often translated, 'grave,' and three times it is 'pit.' It refers to an invisible place or state, which may have several applications, according to the connection of each passage. Korah and his company and their houses went down into 'sheol.' Nu 16:33. Jonah said, "Out of the belly of 'sheol' cried I" Jon 2:2. "The wicked shall be turned into sheol." Ps 9:17. "Let them go down quick into 'sheol,' for wickedness is in their dwellings." Ps 55:15; Pr 7:27. But for the redemption which faith looked for 'sheol' must have had to O.T. saints the character of eternal punishment, and so finally 'hades' will be cast into the lake of fire. The word also refers to the place of departed spirits. The Lord said, "Thou wilt not leave my soul in 'sheol.'" Ps 16:10. This signification corresponds with
3. ??????, Gehenna, the Greek equivalent for two Hebrew words, signifying 'valley of Hinnom.' It was the place near Jerusalem where the Jews made their children pass through fire to heathen gods, and which was afterwards defiled. 2Ki 23:10. A continual fire made it a fit emblem of the place of eternal punishment. Mt 5:22,29-30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15,33; Mr 9:43,45,47; Lu 12:5; Jas 3:6. The above-named place of defilement and fire is also called in the O.T. TOPHET or TOPHETH. 2Ki 23:10; Isa 30:33; Jer 19:13.
Whatever figurative meaning there may be in the use of any of the above words, it is plain and certain from scripture that there is a place of everlasting punishment. It is awfully described as the LAKE OF FIRE, 'the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone.' Re 19:20; 20:10,15; 21:8. It was prepared for the devil and his angels, but into it the wicked also will be cast. Mt 13:40,42; 25:41; 2Pe 2:4; Jude 1:6, etc. See ETERNAL.
In the Old Testament this is the word generally and unfortunately used by our translators to render the Hebrew Sheol. It really means the place of the dead, the unseen world, without deciding whether it be the place of misery or of happiness. It is clear that in many passages of the Old Testament Sheol can only mean "the grave," and is rendered in the Authorized Version; see, for example,
In other passages, however, it seems to Involve a notion of punishment, and is therefore rendered in the Authorized Version by the word "hell." But in many cases this translation misleads the reader. In the New Testament "hell" is the translation of two words, Hades and Gehenna. The word Hades, like Sheol sometimes means merely "the grave,"
or in general "the unseen world." It is in this sense that the creeds say of our Lord, "He went down into hell," meaning the state of the dead in general, without any restriction of happiness or misery. Elsewhere in the New Testament Hades is used of a place of torment,
etc.; consequently it has been the prevalent, almost the universal, notion that Hades is an intermediate state between death and resurrection, divided into two parts one the abode of the blest and the other of the lost. It is used eleven times in the New Testament, and only once translated "grave."
The word most frequently used (occurring twelve times) in the New Testament for the place of future punishment is Gehenna or Gehenna of fire. This was originally the valley of Hinnom, south of Jerusalem, where the filth and dead animals of the city were cast out and burned; a fit symbol of the wicked and their destruction. [See HINNOM]
HELL. This is a Saxon word, which is derived from a verb which signifies to hide or conceal. A late eminent Biblical critic, Dr. Campbell, has investigated this subject with his usual accuracy; and the following is the substance of his remarks. In the Hebrew Scriptures the word sheol frequently occurs, and uniformly, he thinks, denotes the state of the dead in general, without regard to the virtuous or vicious characters of the persons, their happiness or misery. In translating that word, the LXX have almost invariably used the Greek term ?????, hades, which means the receptacle of the dead, and ought rarely to have been translated hell, in the sense in which we now use it, namely, as the place of torment. To denote this latter object, the New Testament writers always make use of the Greek word ??????, which is compounded of two Hebrew words, Ge Hinnom, that is, "The Valley of Hinnom," a place near Jerusalem, in which children were cruelly sacrificed by fire to Moloch, the idol of the Ammonites, 2Ch 33:6. This place was also called Tophet, 2Ki 23:10, alluding, as is supposed, to the noise of drums, (toph signifying a drum,) there raised to drown the cries of helpless infants. As in process of time this place came to be considered as an emblem of hell, or the place of torment reserved for the punishment of the wicked in a future state, the name Tophet came gradually to be used in this sense, and at length to be confined to it. In this sense, also, the word gehenna, a synonymous term, is always to be understood in the New Testament, where it occurs about a dozen times. The confusion that has arisen on this subject has been occasioned not only by our English translators having rendered the Hebrew word sheol and the Greek word gehenna frequently by the term hell; but the Greek word hades, which occurs eleven times in the New Testament, is, in every instance, except one, translated by the same English word, which it ought never to have been. In the following passages of the Old Testament it seems, however, that a future world of wo is expressed by sheol: "They," the wicked, "spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to sheol," Job 21:13. "The wicked shall be turned into sheol, and all the nations that forget God," Ps 9:17-18. "Her feet go down to death, her steps take hold on sheol," Pr 5:5. "But he knoweth not that the ghosts are there, and that her guests are in the depths of sheol," Pr 9:18. "Thou shalt beat him with a rod, and shalt deliver his soul from sheol," Pr 23:14. Thus, as Stuart observes, in his "Essay on Future Punishment," while the Old Testament employs sheol, in most cases to designate the grave, the region of the dead, the place of departed spirits, it employs it also, in some cases, to designate along with this idea the adjunct one of the place of misery, place of punishment, region of wo. In this respect it accords fully with the New Testament use of hades. For though hades signifies the grave, and often the invisible region of separate spirits, without reference to their condition, yet, in Lu 16:23, "In hades ?? ?? ????, he lifted up his eyes, being in torments," it is clearly used for a place and condition of misery. The word hell is also used by our translators for gehenna, which means the world of future punishment, "How shall ye escape the damnation of hell, ??????? ??? ????????"