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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

Hinnom, Valley of

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HINNOM, VALLEY OF (called also ‘valley of the son [ Jeremiah 7:32 ] or children [ 2 Kings 23:10 ] of Hinnom,’ and ‘the valley’ [ 2 Chronicles 26:9 , Nehemiah 2:13; Nehemiah 2:15; Nehemiah 3:13 and perhaps Jeremiah 2:23 ]). It was close to the walls of Jerusalem ‘by the entry of the gate Harsith’ ( Jeremiah 19:2 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ), possibly the Dung-gate. Evidently the Valley-gate opened into it ( Nehemiah 2:13; Nehemiah 3:13 ). It formed part of the boundary between Judah and Benjamin ( Joshua 15:8; Joshua 18:18 ). The place acquired an evil repute on account of the idolatrous practices carried on there ( 2 Kings 23:10 , 2 Chronicles 28:3; 2 Chronicles 33:6 ), and on this account Jeremiah ( Jeremiah 7:32; Jeremiah 19:6 ) announced that it was to receive the name ‘valley of Slaughter.’ Here perpetual fires are said to have been kept burning to consume the rubbish of the city. Such associations with the Valley led afterwards to Ge-hinnom (NT Gehenna ) becoming the type of hell.

The situation of the Valley of Hinnom has been much disputed. Of the three valleys of Jerusalem the Kidron on the E., the TyropÅ“on in the centre, and the Wady er-Rabâbi on the W. each has in turn been identified with it. In favour of the Kidron is the fact that the theological Gehinnom or Arab. [Note: Arabic.] Jahannum of Jewish, Christian, and early Moslem writers is located here; but this was probably a transference of name after the old geographical site was lost, for there are strong reasons (see below) against it. As the TyropÅ“on was incorporated within the city walls before the days of Manasseh, it is practically impossible that it could have been the scene of the sacrifice of children, which must have been outside the city bounds ( 2 Kings 23:10 etc.). The chief data are found in Joshua 15:8; Joshua 18:16 , where the boundary of Judah and Benjamin is described. If Bir Eyyûb is En-rogel, as certainly is most probable, then the Wady er-Rabâbi , known traditionally as Hinnom, is correctly so designated. Then this Valley of Hinnom is a gai or gorge, but the Valley of Kidron is always described as a nachal (‘wady’). It is, of course, possible that the Valley of Hinnom may have included part of the open land formed by the junction of the three valleys below Siloam; and Topheth may have lain there, as is suggested by some authorities, but there is no necessity to extend the name beyond the limits of the actual gorge. The Wady er-Rabâbi commences as a shallow open valley due W. of the Jaffa gate; near this gate it turns due South for about 1 / 3 of a mile, and then gradually curves to the East. It is this lower part, with its bare rocky scarps, that presents the characters of a gai or gorge. Near where the valley joins the wide Kidron is the traditional site of Akeldama.

E. W. G. Masterman.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Hinnom, Valley of'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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