the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words
Shâ'al (שָׁאֵל, Strong's #7592), "to ask, inquire, consult." This word is found in many Semitic languages, including ancient Akkadian and Ugaritic. It is found throughout the various periods of Hebrew and is used approximately 170 times in the Hebrew Bible. The first occurrence is found in Genesis 24:47, where the servant of Abraham asks Rebekah, "Whose daughter art thou?" It is commonly used for simple requests, as when Sisera asked for water from Jael (Judges 5:25).Since prayer often includes petition, shâ'al is sometimes used in the sense of "praying for" something: "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem" (Psalm 122:6). In the idiomatic phrase, "to ask another of his welfare," it carries the sense of a greeting (cf. Exodus 18:7; Judg. 18:15; 1 Samuel 10:4). Frequently, it is used to indicate someone's asking for God's direction or counsel (Joshua 9:14; Isaiah 30:2). In Psalm 109:10 it is used to indicate a begging: "Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg."
She'ôl (שְׁאֹל, Strong's #7585), "place of the dead." She'ôl seems to be the basis for an important noun in the Old Testament, she'ôl. Found 65 times in the Hebrew Bible, she'ôl refers to the netherworld or the underground cavern to which all buried dead go. Often incorrectly translated "hell" in the KJV, she'ôl was not understood to be a place of punishment, but simply the ultimate resting place of all mankind (Genesis 37:35). Thus, it was thought to be the land of no return (Job 16:22; 17:14-16). It was a place to be dreaded, not only because it meant the end of physical life on earth, but also because there was no praise of God there (Psalm 6:5). Deliverance from it was a blessing (Psalm 30:3).In some instances, it may be a symbol of distress or even plague; it is often used in parallel with "the Pit," another symbol of destruction. Everything about she'ôl was negative, so it is little wonder that the concept of hell developed from it in the intertestamental and New Testament literature.
She'ôl is translated variously in the English versions: "hell, pit, grave" (KJV); "netherworld" (NAB). Some versions simply give the transliteration, Sheol" (RSV, JB, NASB).
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Vines, W. E., M. A. Entry for 'Ask'. Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​vot/​a/ask.html. 1940.