Hinnom, (Valley of)
|hin'-om (there they are; their riches, lamentation)
RELATED: Gehenna, Molech
Easton's Bible Dictionary
A deep, narrow ravine separating Mount Zion from the
so-called "Hill of Evil Counsel." It took its name from "some ancient hero, the
son of Hinnom." It is first mentioned in Joshua 15:8 . It had been the place where
the idolatrous Jews burned their children alive to Moloch and Baal. A particular
part of the valley was called Tophet, or the "fire-stove," where the children
were burned. After the Exile, in order to show their abhorrence of the locality,
the Jews made this valley the receptacle of the offal of the city, for the destruction
of which a fire was, as is supposed, kept constantly burning there.
The Jews associated with this valley these two ideas, (1) that of the sufferings
of the victims that had there been sacrificed; and (2) that of filth and corruption.
It became thus to the popular mind a symbol of the abode of the wicked hereafter.
It came to signify hell as the place of the wicked. "It might be shown by infinite
examples that the Jews expressed hell, or the place of the damned, by this word.
The word Gehenna [the Greek contraction of Hinnom] was never used in the time
of Christ in any other sense than to denote the place of future punishment." About
this fact there can be no question. In this sense the word is used eleven times
in our Lord's discourses ( Matthew 23:33 ; Luke 12:5 ; Matthew 5:22 , etc.).
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
there they are; their riches
Smith's Bible Dictionary
(lamentation), Valley of, otherwise called "the valley
of the son" or "children of Hinnom," a deep and narrow ravine, with steep, rocky
sides, to the south and west of Jerusalem, separating Mount Zion to the north
from the "hill of evil counsel," and the sloping rocky plateau of the "plain of
Rephaim" to the south.
The earliest mention of the valley of Hinnom is in ( Joshua 15:8 ; 18:16 ) where
the boundary line between the tribes of Judah and Benjamin is described as passing
along the bed of the ravine. On the southern brow, overlooking the valley at its
eastern extremity Solomon erected high places for Molech, ( 1 Kings 11:7 ) whose
horrid rites were revived from time to time in the same vicinity the later idolatrous
kings. Ahaz and Manasseh made their children "pass through the fire" in this valley,
( 2 Kings 16:3 ; 2 Chronicles 28:3 ; 33:6 ) and the fiendish custom of infant
sacrifice to the fire-gods seems to have been kept up in Tophet, which was another
name for this place. To put an end to these abominations the place was polluted
by Josiah, who renders it ceremonially unclean by spreading over it human bones
and other corruptions, ( 2 Kings 23:10 , 23:13 , 23:14 ; 2 Chronicles 34:4 , 34:5
) from which time it appears to have become the common cesspool of the city, into
which sewage was conducted, to be carried off by the waters of the Kidron.
From its ceremonial defilement, and from the detested and abominable fire of Molech,
if not from the supposed ever-burning funeral piles, the later Jews applied the
name of this valley --Ge Hinnom, Gehenna (land of Hinnom)--to denote the place
of eternal torment. In this sense the word is used by our Lord. ( Matthew 5:29
; 10:28 ; 23:15 ; Mark 9:43 ; Luke 12:5 )
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
hin'-om (ge hinnom, Joshua 15:8; 18:16; "valley of the
son of Hinnom" (ge bhen hinnom), Joshua 15:8; 18:16; 2 Chronicles 28:3; 33:6;
Jeremiah 7:31; 19:2,6; 32:35; "valley of the children (sons) of Hinnom" (ge bhene
hinnom), 2 Kings 23:10; or simply "the valley," literally, the "hollow" or "ravine"
(ha-gay'), 2 Chronicles 26:9; Nehemiah 2:13,15; 3:13; Jeremiah 31:40 and, perhaps
also, Jeremiah 2:23 (the above references are in the Hebrew text; there are some
variations in the Septuagint)):
The meaning of "Hinnom" is unknown; the expressions ben Hinnom and bene
Hinnom would suggest that it is a proper name; in Jeremiah 7:32; 19:6 it is altered
by the prophet to "valley of slaughter," and therefore some have thought
the original name must have had a pleasing meaning.
1. Bible References and History:
It was near the walls of Jerusalem, "by the entry of the gate Harsith" (Jeremiah
19:2); the Valley Gate opened into it (Nehemiah 2:13; 3:13). The boundary between
Judah and Benjamin ran along it (Joshua 15:8; 18:16). It was the scene of idolatrous
practices in the days of Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28:3) and of Manasseh, who "made his
children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom" (2 Chronicles
33:6), but Josiah in the course of his reforms "defiled Topheth, which is in the
valley of the children (margin "son") of Hinnom, that no man might make his son
or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech" (2 Kings 23:10). It was on
account of these evil practices that Jeremiah (7:32; 19:6) announced the change
of name. Into this valley dead bodies were probably cast to be consumed by the
dogs, as is done in the Wady er-Rababi today, and fires were here kept burning
to consume the rubbish of the city. Such associations led to the Ge-Hinnom (New
Testament "Gehenna") becoming the "type of Hell" (Milton, Paradise Lost, i, 405).
The Valley of Hinnom has been located by different writers in each of the three
great valleys of Jerusalem. In favor of the eastern or Kidron valley we have the
facts that Eusebius and Jerome (Onom) place "Gehennom" under the eastern wall
of Jerusalem and the Moslem geographical writers, Muqaddasi and Nasir-i-khusran,
call the Kidron valley Wady Jahamum. The Jewish writer Kimchi also identifies
the Valley of Jehoshaphat (i.e. the Kidron) with Hinnom. These ideas are probably
due to the identification of the eastern valley, on account of its propinquity
to the Temple, as the scene of the last judgment--the "Valley of Jehoshaphat"
of Joel 3:2--and the consequent transference there of the scene of the punishment
of the wicked, Gehenna, after the ancient geographical position of the Valley
of Hinnom, had long been lost. In selecting sacred sites, from the 4th Christian
century onward, no critical topographical acumen has been displayed until quite
modern times. There are three amply sufficient arguments against this view:
|(1) the Kidron valley is always called a nachal and not a gay' (see KIDRON);
(2) the "Gate of the Gai" clearly did not lie to the East of the city;
(3) En-rogel, which lay at the beginning of the Valley of Hinnom and to its East
(Joshua 15:8; 18:16) cannot be the "Virgin's fount," the ancient Gihon (2 Samuel
Several distinguished modern writers have sought to identify the Tyropeon Valley
(el Wad) with Hinnom, but as the Tyropeon was incorporated within the city walls
before the days of Manasseh (see JERUSALEM), it is practically impossible that
it could have been the scene of the sacrifice of children--a ritual which must
have occurred beyond the city's limits (2 Kings 23:10, etc.).
3. Wady er-Rababi:
The clearest geographical fact is found in Joshua 15:8; 18:16, where we find that
the boundary of Judah and Benjamin passed from En-rogel "by the valley of the
son of Hinnom"; if the modern Bir Eyyub is En-rogel, as is certainly most probable,
then the Wady er-Rababi, known traditionally as Hinnom, is correctly so called.
It is possible that the name extended to the wide open land formed by the junction
of the three valleys; indeed, some would place Tophet at this spot, but there
is no need to extend the name beyond the actual gorge. The Wady er-Rababi commences
in a shallow, open valley due West of the Jaffa Gate, in the center of which lies
the Birket Mamilla; near the Jaffa Gate it turns South for about 1/3 of a mile,
its course being dammed here to form a large pool, the Birket es Sultan. Below
this it gradually curves to the East and rapidly descends between sides of bare
rocky scarps, much steeper in ancient times. A little before the valley joins
the wide Kidron valley lies the traditional site of AKELDAMA (which see).
E. W. G. Masterman
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