$ by Kenneth Hoeck -- Truth On The Web Ministries
The word "hell" occurs 53 times in the King James Bible: 31 times in the Old Testament, and 22 times in the New Testament. In every one of the 31 times that the word "hell" is found in the OT, it is translated from the Hebrew word "sheol," which means "the grave." The same Hebrew word "sheol" is also translated "grave" 31 times and "the pit" 3 times. These latter translations (i.e., "grave," "pit") are accurate, whereas "hell" is not--especially under the connotations given "hell" today (i.e., a fiery place of eternal torment). |
The English word "hell" comes from the same Teutonic root as heal, hall, hull, & hold: It originally meant "to cover, to conceal" (i.e., as the grave does to the dead). Although I have my reservations about the NIV rendition of the Scriptures, I will note here that the NIV is more faithful to the translation of this Hebrew word "sheol" than the KJV. Of the 66 times it appears, the NIV translates it as "grave" 55 times, "death" 6 times, "depths" 2 times, "depths of the grave" 2 times, and "realm of death" one time. Never once is it translated "hell," and rightfully so. It is a place of the dead (i.e., no consciousness), NOT the living (as the "immortal soul" doctrine would have us believe). The Holy Scriptures do not teach that mankind has "immortal souls." It teaches that the dead are dead until the resurrections, and that we do not fleet off to heaven or "hell" upon death (John 3:13). These statements will probably arouse questions, which I will be glad to let the Scriptures answer, if you email me.
In the NT, the word "hell" (KJV) is translated from three different Greek words: "hades" (10 times), "gehenna" (12 times), and from "tartaroo" (1 time). The NIV likewise translates "gehenna" as "hell" all 12 times, as well as "tartaroo" the one time, but translates "hades" as "hell" only once, as "grave" 2 times, as "depths" 2 times, and leaves it untranslated--simply as "Hades"--5 times. The word "hades" is the Greek equivalent for the Hebrew word "sheol," and therefore for the English word "grave." In every instance it means "the grave."
The Greek word "gehenna" means literally, "the valley of Hinnom" (search this out in the Old Testament), and has reference to a deep, narrow glen to the south of Jerusalem, which was used as a place to burn all kinds of filth and carcasses of animals, the bodies of criminals, and refuse generally. What a fitting picture to use as a reference for the Lake of Fire that will be the burning place for the bodies of the criminals (workers of lawlessness). Those placed there will not be tormented forever in fire, but will be burnt up.
Sincerely, K. M. Hoeck – A Poet Servant for God
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