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Bible Dictionaries

People's Dictionary of the Bible

Hell

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Hell. The English word hell is used to designate the place of the dead, the grave, and also the place of punishment after death and the abode of evil spirits.

It represents four different words in the original of Scripture—Sheôl, Hades, Gehenna, and Tartarus. 1. In the Old Testament it is used 31 times to render the Hebrew word Sheôl. Sheôl at first seems to have denoted the common subterranean abode of all human spirits, good and bad (Genesis 37:35, R. V., death; Numbers 16:30), but afterward is represented as having in it two distinct regions, one for the righteous, Psalms 16:11; Psalms 17:15, the other for the wicked. Psalms 9:17; Psalms 49:14. All the dead are alike in Sheôl, hut in widely different circumstances. Sheôl is variously translated in our English Bible by the terms "hell," "pit," and "grave." In many places it is rightly translated "grave." 1 Samuel 2:6; Job 14:13, etc. Sheôl is represented as in the depths of the earth, Job 11:8; Proverbs 9:18; Isaiah 38:10, all-devouring, Proverbs 1:12, destitute of God's presence, Psalms 88:10-12, a state of forgetfulness, Psalms 6:5, insatiable, Isaiah 5:14, remorseless, Song of Solomon 8:6, and a place of silence, Ecclesiastes 9:10.

2. The New Testament.— The two words translated "hell" are Hades and Gehenna. Hades occurs eleven times, and is once rendered "grave," R.V.," death," 1 Corinthians 15:55; in all other places "hell." Hades does not always refer to the ultimate abode of the impenitent and the final state of exclusion from God. Matthew 16:27. After the crucifixion, our Lord descended into hades, Acts 2:27, and this is an article of the Apostles' Creed, where, however, we use wrongly the word "hell." It was in this realm that our Lord "preached to the spirits in prison." 1 Peter 3:19.

The Greek word Gehenna occurs twelve times in Scripture. It early designated a place in the valley of Hinnom, which had been the seat of the worship of Moloch, Jeremiah 7:31; 2 Chronicles 33:6; 2 Kings 23:10, and for the deposit of the filth and dead animals of the city. Hence it was used to denote the final state and abode of lost souls. Matthew 5:29; Matthew 10:28; Matthew 23:15; James 3:6, etc. It is here that "their worm dieth not" and the "fire is not quenched." Mark 9:48. Into this realm the rebellious angels were cast, 2 Peter 2:4 (where the word is a derivative from the Greek word "Tartarus"). At the great day of judgment the cursed shall go away into this abode and receive everlasting punishment. Matthew 25:46. It is referred to by our Lord in solemn and awful tones. Matthew 5:22; Matthew 5:29-30; Matthew 10:28; Mark 9:43-48; Luke 12:5, and with such accompaniments as indicate everlasting and remediless ruin. Retribution will have degrees, Matthew 10:15, in character, but none in duration.


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Bibliography Information
Rice, Edwin Wilbur, DD. Entry for 'Hell'. People's Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/rpd/h/hell.html. 1893.

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Sunday, December 8th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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