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Bible Dictionaries

Holman Bible Dictionary

Gehenna

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(geh hehn' na) English transliteration of the Greek word that is a transliteration of the Hebrew place name meaning, “valley of whining” or “valley of lamentation” and came to be used in New Testament times as a word for hell. See Hinnom. The valley south of Jerusalem called the Valley of the son of Hinnom (Joshua 15:8 ; Joshua 18:16 ; 2 Chronicles 33:6 ; Jeremiah 32:35 ) became the place of child sacrifice to foreign gods. In the period between the Old and New Testaments Jewish writing used the term to describe the hell of fire in the final judgment. In some writings but not in the Bible Gehenna was also seen as the place of temporary judgment for those waiting the final judgment.

The New Testament uses Gehenna to speak of the place of final judgment. Jesus warned that those who called another, “Thou fool,” faced the danger of the fire of Gehenna (Matthew 5:22 ). He taught it is better to destroy a part of one's body than to have one's whole body thrown into Gehenna (Matthew 5:29 ; Matthew 18:9 ; Mark 9:43 ,Mark 9:43,9:45 ,Mark 9:45,9:47 ). In Gehenna worms are constantly at work in a fiery environment that burns forever (Mark 9:48 ). Only God can commit people to Gehenna and so is the only One worthy of human fear (Matthew 10:28 ; Luke 12:5 ). Jesus condemned the Pharisees for making converts but then turning them into sons of Gehenna, that is, people destined for hell (Matthew 23:15 ). He scolded the Pharisees, warning they had no chance to escape Gehenna through their present practices (Matthew 23:33 ). For many people James warned that they could not control their tongues that Gehenna had set on fire (James 3:6 ). See Hell .


Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Gehenna'. Holman Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hbd/g/gehenna.html. 1991.

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