Jewish Views Of Gehenna

Gehenna is the name given by Jews to Hell. Rev. H. N. Adler, a Jewish Rabbi, says: "They do not teach endless retributive suffering. They hold that is is not conceivable that a God of mercy and justice would ordain infinite punishment for finite wrong-doing." Dr. Deutsch declares: "There is not a word in the Talmud that lends any support to that damnable dogma of endless torment." Dr. Dewes in his "Plea for Rational Translation," says that Gehenna is alluded to four or five times in the Mishna, thus: "The judgment of Gehenna is for twelve months;" "Gehenna is a day in which the impious shall be burnt." Bartolloci declares that "the Jews did not believe in a material fire, and thought that such a fire as they did believe in would one day be put out." Rabbi Akiba, "the second Moses," said: "The duration of the punishment of the wicked in Gehenna is twelve months." Adyoth iii:10. Some rabbis said Gehenna only lasted from Passover to Pentecost. This was the prevalent conception. (Abridged from Excursus v, in Canon Farrar's "Eternal Hope," He gives in a note these testimonies to prove that the Jews to whom Jesus spoke, did not regard Gehenna as of endless duration). Asarath Maamaroth, f. 85, I: "There will hereafter be no Gehenna." Jalkuth Shimoni, f. 46, I: "Gabriel and Michael will open the eight thousand gates of Gehenna, and let out Israelites and righteous Gentiles." A passage in Othoth, (attributed to R. Akiba) declares that Gabriel and Michael will open the forty thousand gates of Gehenna, and set free the damned, and in Emek Hammelech, f. 138, 4, we read: "The wicked stay in Gehenna till the resurrection, and then the Messiah passing through it redeems them.": See Stephelius' Rabbinical Literature.

Rev. Dr. Wise, a learned Jewish Rabbi, says: "That the ancient Hebrews had no knowledge of Hell is evident from the fact that their language has no term for it."

Before considering the passages of Scripture containing the word, the reader should carefully read and remember the following

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