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hel (to hide, cover)
Gehenna, Hades, Heaven, Satan, Sheol
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Easton's Bible Dictionary

derived from the Saxon helan, to cover; hence the covered or the invisible place. In Scripture there are three words so rendered:

Sheol, occurring in the Old Testament sixty-five times. This word sheol is derived from a root-word meaning "to ask," "demand;" hence insatiableness ( Proverbs 30:15 , 30:16 ). It is rendered "grave" thirty-one times ( Genesis 37:35 ; 42:38 ; 44:29 , 44:31 ; 1 Samuel 2:6 , etc.). The Revisers have retained this rendering in the historical books with the original word in the margin, while in the poetical books they have reversed this rule.

In thirty-one cases in the Authorized Version this word is rendered "hell," the place of disembodied spirits. The inhabitants of sheol are "the congregation of the dead" ( Proverbs 21:16 ). It is (a) the abode of the wicked ( Numbers 16:33 ; Job 24:19 ; Psalms 9:17 ; 31:17 , etc.); (b) of the good ( Psalms 16:10 ; 30:3 ; 49:15 ; 86:13 , etc.).

Sheol is described as deep ( Job 11:8 ), dark ( Job 10:21 , 10:22 ), with bars ( Job 17:16 ). The dead "go down" to it ( Numbers 16:30 , 16:33 ; Ezekiel 31:15 , 31:16 , 31:17 ).

The Greek word hades of the New Testament has the same scope of signification as sheol of the Old Testament. It is a prison ( 1 Peter 3:19 ), with gates and bars and locks ( Matthew 16:18 ; Revelation 1:18 ), and it is downward ( Matthew 11:23 ; Luke 10:15 ).

The righteous and the wicked are separated. The blessed dead are in that part of hades called paradise ( Luke 23:43 ). They are also said to be in Abraham's bosom ( Luke 16:22 ).

Gehenna, in most of its occurrences in the Greek New Testament, designates the place of the lost ( Matthew 23:33 ). The fearful nature of their condition there is described in various figurative expressions ( Matthew 8:12 ; 13:42 ; 22:13 ; 25:30 ; Luke 16:24 , etc.). (See HINNOM .)


Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names

(no entry)


Smith's Bible Dictionary

In the Old Testament this is the word generally and unfortunately used by our translators to render the Hebrew Sheol . It really means the place of the dead, the unseen world, without deciding whether it be the place of misery or of happiness. It is clear that in many passages of the Old Testament Sheol can only mean "the grave," and is rendered in the Authorized Version; see, for example, ( Genesis 37:35 ; 42:38 ; 1 Samuel 2:6 ; Job 14:13 ) In other passages, however, it seems to Involve a notion of punishment, and is therefore rendered in the Authorized Version by the word "hell." But in many cases this translation misleads the reader. In the New Testament "hell" is the translation of two words, Hades and Gehenna . The word Hades , like Sheol sometimes means merely "the grave," ( Acts 2:31 ; 1 Corinthians 15:55 ; Revelation 20:13 ) or in general "the unseen world." It is in this sense that the creeds say of our Lord, "He went down into hell," meaning the state of the dead in general, without any restriction of happiness or misery. Elsewhere in the New Testament Hades is used of a place of torment, ( Matthew 11:23 ; Luke 16:23 ; 2 Peter 2:4 ) etc.; consequently it has been the prevalent, almost the universal, notion that Hades is an intermediate state between death and resurrection, divided into two parts one the abode of the blest and the other of the lost. It is used eleven times in the New Testament, and only once translated "grave." ( 1 Corinthians 15:55 ) The word most frequently used (occurring twelve times) in the New Testament for the place of future punishment is Gehenna or Gehenna of fire . This was originally the valley of Hinnom, south of Jerusalem, where the filth and dead animals of the city were cast out and burned; a fit symbol of the wicked and their destruction. [See HINNOM]


International Standard Bible Encyclopedia


1. The Word in the King James Version:

The English word, from a Teutonic root meaning "to hide" or "cover," had originally the significance of the world of the dead generally, and in this sense is used by Chaucer, Spenser, etc., and in the Creed ("He descended into hell"); compare the English Revised Version Preface. Now the word has come to mean almost exclusively the place of punishment of the lost or finally impenitent; the place of torment of the wicked. In the King James Version of the Scriptures, it is the rendering adopted in many places in the Old Testament for the Hebrew word she'ol (in 31 out of 65 occurrences of that word it is so translated), and in all places, save one (1 Corinthians 15:55) in the New Testament, for the Greek word Hades (this word occurs 11 times; in 10 of these it is translated "hell"; 1 Corinthians 15:55 reads "grave," with "hell" in the margin). In these cases the word has its older general meaning, though in Luke 16:23 (parable of Rich Man and Lazarus) it is specially connected with a place of "torment," in contrast with the "Abraham's bosom" to which Lazarus is taken (16:22).

2. The Word in the Revised Version:

In the above cases the Revised Version (British and American) has introduced changes, replacing "hell" by "Sheol" in the passages in the Old Testament (the English Revised Version retains "hell" in Isaiah 14:9 , 15 ; the American Standard Revised Version makes no exception), and by "Hades" in the passages in the New Testament (see under these words).

3. Gehenna:

Besides the above uses, and more in accordance with the modern meaning, the word "hell" is used in the New Testament in the King James Version as the equivalent of Gehenna (12 t; Matthew 5:22 , 29 ; 10:28, etc.). the Revised Version (British and American) in these cases puts "Gehenna" in the margin. Originally the Valley of Hinnom, near Jerusalem, Gehenna became among the Jews the synonym for the place of torment in the future life (the "Gehenna of fire," Matthew 5:22, etc.; see GEHENNA).

4. Tartarus:

In yet one other passage in the New Testament (2 Peter 2:4), "to cast down to hell" is used (the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American)) to represent the Greek tartaroo, ("to send into Tartarus"). Here it stands for the place of punishment of the fallen angels: "spared not angels when they sinned, but cast them down to hell, and committed them to pits (or chains) of darkness" (compare Jude 1:6; but also Matthew 25:41). Similar ideas are found in certain of the Jewish apocalyptic books (Book of Enoch, Book of Jubilees, Apocrypha Baruch, with apparent reference to Genesis 6:1-4; compare ESCHATOLOGY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT).

On theological aspect, see PUNISHMENT, EVERLASTING. For literature, see references in above-named arts., and compare article "Hell" by Dr. D. S. Salmond in HDB.



bible commentary, bible history, bible reference, bible study, define, gehenna, hades, hell, sheol



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