The first time the word is found translated Hell in the Bible is in Deut. 32: 22-26:
"For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest Hell, Sheol-Hadees, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains. I will heap mishiefs upon them; I will spend mine arrows upon them. They shall be burnt with hunger, and devoured with burning heat, and with bitter destruction: I will also send the teeth of beasts upon them, with the poison of serpents of the dust. The sword without and terror within, shall destroy both the young man and the virgin, the suckling also with the man of gray hairs. I said, I would scatter them into corners, I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among men."
Thus the lowest Hell is on earth, and its torments consist in such pains as are only possible in this life: "hunger," "the teeth of beasts," "the poison of serpents," "the sword," etc.; and not only are real offenders to suffer them, but even "sucklings" are to be involved in the calamity. If endless torment is denoted by the word, infant damnation follows, for into this hell
"the suckling and the man of gray hairs go," side by side. The scattering and destruction of the Israelites, in this world, is the meaning of fire in the lowest hell, as any reader can see by carefully consulting the chapter containing this first instance of the use of the word.
Similar to this are the teachings wherever the word occurs in the Old Testament: "For thou wilt not leave my soul in Hell nor suffer thine holy one to see corruption." Ps. 16:10. Here "corruption" is placed parallel with Sheol, or death.
"Though they dig into Hell, thence shall my hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down." Amos 9:2. "If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there; if I make my bed in Hell, behold, thou art there." Ps. 139: 8. "It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than Hell; what canst thou know." Job 11:8 The sky and the depths of the earth are here placed in opposition, to represent height and depth. A place of torment after death was never thought of by any of those who use the word in the Old Testament.
If the word means a place of endless punishment, then David was a monster. Ps. 55:15:
"Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into
Job desired to go there. 14:13:
"Oh, that thou wouldst hide me in Sheol Hadees.
Hezekiah expected to go there. Isa 38:10:
"I said in the cutting off of my days, I shall go to the gates of Sheol-Hadees.
Korah, Dathan and Abiram (Numbers 16: 30-33) not only went there "but their houses, and goods, and all that they owned," "and the earth opened her mouth and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods. They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into Sheol-Hadees, and the earth closed upon them; and they perished from among the congregation." It is in the dust-Job 17: 16: "They shall go down to the bars of Sheol-Hadees, when our rest together is in the dust."
It has a mouth, is in fact the grave, see Ps. 141: 7:
"Our bones are scattered at Sheol's-Hadees' mouth , as when one cutteth and cleaveth wood upon the earth."
"And he said, my son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he is left alone: if mischief befall him by the way in which ye go, then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to Sheol-Hadees."
The overthrow of the King of Babylon is called Hell. Isa. 14: 9-15, 22-23:
"Hell, Sheol-Hadees, from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming; it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations. All they shall speak and say unto thee, art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us? Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols; the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee. For I will rise up against them saith the Lord of hosts, and cut off from Babylon the name, and remnant, and son, and nephew, saith the Lord. I will also make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of water; and I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the Lord of hosts."
All this imagery demonstrates temporal calamity, a national overthrow as the signification of the word Hell.
The captivity of the Jews is called Hell.-Isa. 5:13-14:
"Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge; and their honorable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst. Therefore Sheol-Hadees, hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure; and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it.
Temporal overthrow is called Hell.-Ps. 49: 14:
"Like sheep they are laid in the grave, death shall feed on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall consume in Sheol-Hadees, from their dwelling." Ezek. 32: 26-27: "And they shall not lie with the mighty that are fallen of the uncircumcised, which are gone down to Sheol-Hadees with their weapons of war, and they have laid their swords under their heads."
Men are in hell with their swords under their heads. This cannot mean a state of conscious suffering.
Hell is to be destroyed. Hos. 13: 14:
"Oh grave I will be thy destruction." 1 Cor. 15: 55: "Oh grave I will be thy destruction." Rev. 20: 13,14: "And death and Hell delivered up the dead which were in them, and death and Hell were cast into the lake of fire."
Sheol is precisely the same word as Saul. If it meant Hell, would any Hebrew parent have called his child Sheol? Think of calling a boy Sheol (Hell)!
Nowhere in the Old Testament does the word Sheol, or its Greek equivalent, Hadees, ever denote a place or condition of suffering after death; it either means literal death or temporal calamity. This is clear as we consult the usage.
Hence David, after having been in Hell was delivered from it: Ps. 18:5; 30:3.
"O Lord, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave; thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit. When the waves of death compassed me the floods of ungodly men made me afraid." "The sorrows of Hell, Sheol-Hadees compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me," so that there is escape from Hell."
Jonah was in a fish only seventy hours, and declared he was in hell forever. He escaped from Hell. Jon. 2:2,6: "Out of the belly of Hell (Sheol-Hadees) cried I, and thou heardest my voice, earth with her bars was about me forever." Even an eternal Hell lasted but three days.
It is a place where God is and therefore must be an instrumentality of mercy. Ps. 139: 8: "If I make my bed In Hell (Sheol-Hadees), behold thou art there."
Men having gone into it are redeemed from it. 1 Sam. 2: 6:
"The Lord killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave (Sheol-Hadees) and bringeth up."
Jacob wished to go there.: Gen. 37: 35: "I will go down into the grave Hades unto my son mourning."
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