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Sheol

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words

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She'ôl (שְׁאֹל, Strong's #7585), “Sheol.” The 66 occurrences of this word are distributed throughout every period of biblical Hebrew.

First, the word means the state of death: “For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?” (Ps. 6:5; cf. 18:5). It is the final resting place of all men: “They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the grave (Job 21:13). Hannah confessed that it was the omnipotent God who brings men to she'ôl (death) or kills them (1 Sam. 2:6). “Sheol” is parallel to Hebrew words for “pit” or “hell” (Job 26:6), “corruption” or “decay” (Ps. 16:10), and “destruction” (Prov. 15:11).

Second, “Sheol” is used of a place of conscious existence after death. In the first biblical appearance of the word Jacob said that he would “go down into the grave unto my son mourning” (Gen. 37:35). All men go to “Sheol”—a place and state of consciousness after death (Ps. 16:10). The wicked receive punishment there (Num. 16:30; Deut. 32:22; Ps. 9:17). They are put to shame and silenced in “Sheol” (Ps. 31:17). Jesus alluded to Isaiah’s use of she'ôl (14:13-15) in pronouncing judgment on Capernaum (Matt. 11:23), translating “Sheol” as “Hades” or “Hell,” meaning the place of conscious existence and judgment. It is an undesirable place for the wicked (Job 24:19) and a refuge for the righteous (Job 14:13). Thus “Sheol” is also a place of reward for the righteous (Hos. 13:14; cf. 1 Cor. 15:55). Jesus’ teaching in Luke 16:19-31 seems to reflect accurately the Old Testament concept of she'ôl; it is a place of conscious existence after death, one side of which is occupied by the suffering, unrighteous dead separated by a great chasm from the other side peopled by the righteous dead enjoying their reward.

Bibliography Information
Vines, W. E., M. A. Entry for 'Sheol'. Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​vot/​s/sheol.html. 1940.
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