Says Campbell: "The word Gehenna is derived, as all agree, from the Hebrew words ge hinnom; which, in process of time, passing into other languages, assumed diverse forms; e.g., Chaldee Gehennom, Arabic Gahannam, Greek Gehenna.
The valley of Hinnom is part of the pleasant wadi or valley, which bounds Jerusalem on the south. Josh. 15: 8; 18: 6. Here, in ancient times and under some of the idolatrous kings, the worship of Moloch, the horrid idol-god of the Ammonites, was practiced. To this idol, children were offered in sacrifice. 2 Kings 23: 10; Ezek. 23: 37, 39; 2 Chron. 28: 3; Lev. 28: 21; 20: 2. If we may credit the Rabbins, the head of the idol was like that of an ox; while the rest of the body resembled that of a man. It was hollow within; and being heated by fire, children were laid in its arms and were literally roasted alive. We cannot wonder, then at the severe terms in which the worship of Moloch is everywhere denounced in the Scriptures. Nor can we wonder that the place itself should have been called Tophet, i.e., abomination, detestation, (from toph, to vomit with loathing)." Jer. 8: 32; 19: 6; 2 Kings 23: 10; Ezek. 23: 36, 39.
"After these sacrifices had ceased, the place was desecrated, and made one of loathing and horror. The pious king Josiah caused it to be polluted, i.e., he caused to be carried there the filth of the city of Jerusalem. It would seem that the custom of desecrating this place thus happily begun, was continued in after ages down to the period when our Savior was on earth. Perpetual fires were kept up in order to consume the offal which was deposited there. And as the same offal would breed worms, (for so all putrefying meat does of course), hence came the expression, 'Where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.' " Stuart's Exegetical Ess., pp. 140-141.
"Gehenna, originally a Hebrew word, which signifies the valley of Hinnom, is composed of the common noun, Gee, valley, and the proper name Hinnom, the owner of this valley. The valley of the sons of Hinnom was a delightful vale, planted with trees, watered by fountains, and lying near Jerusalem, on the south-east, by the brook Kedron. Here the Jews placed that brazen image of Moloch, which had the face of a calf, and extended its hands as those of a man. It is said, on the authority of the ancient Rabbins, that, to this image, the idolatrous Jews were wont not only to sacrifice doves, pigeons, lambs, rams, calves and bulls, but even to offer their children.1 Kings 9: 7; 2 Kings 15: 3, 4. In the prophecy of Jeremiah, (Ch. 7: 31), this valley is called Tophet, from Toph, a drum; because the administrators in these horrid rites, beat drums, lest the cries and shrieks of the infants who were burned, should be heard by the assembly. At length, these nefarious practices were abolished by Josiah, and the Jews brought back to the pure worship of God.
2 Kings 23: 10. After this, they held the place in such abomination, it is said, that they cast into it all kinds of filth, together with the carcasses of beasts, and the unburied bodies of criminals who had been executed. Continual fires were necessary, in order to consume these, lest the putrefaction should infect the air; and there were always worms feeding on the remaining relics. Hence it came, that any severe punishment, especially a shameful kind of death, was denominated Gehenna." Schleusner.
As we trace the history of the locality as it occurs in the Old Testament we learn that it should never have been translated by the word Hell. It is a proper name of a well-known locality, and ought to have stood Gehenna, as it does in the French Bible, in Newcome's and Wakefield's translations. In the Improved Version, Emphatic Diaglott, etc. Babylon might have been translated Hell with as much propriety as Gehenna. It is fully described in numerous passages in the Old Testament, and is exactly located.
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