The Biblical Words Behind HELL
Does the doctrine of HELL exist in the bible?

by Ron Weber

Last Update: 2/8/1999 - 5:53pm CST


 Introduction

The subject matter found on this page has to do with the Christian doctrine of HELL. It contains data that I've been compiling for about 3 years. The driving force behind this study started off with my desire to prove that HELL exists. I needed concrete evidence that would encourage others to take steps to avoid this awful place of eternal torment. Instead, I came to the realization that main stream Christianity seems to be pushing a non-biblical doctrine. Simply stated: Today's definition of HELL (See section #1) doesn't seem to be taught in the original manuscripts that make up the bible.

If you are someone that has done some research concerning this subject then I would like to hear from you. Any data you decide to share will be displayed on the COMMENTS page. If your data turns out to be based on facts then it will be added to the list of facts shown below. You can find my conclusions at the bottom of this page but I insist that you try not to let them influence yours. I look forward to hearing about YOUR findings and opinions concerning this doctrine.

Unless noted, all scripture quotations were taken from the King James Version, KJV, of the bible. I decided to use the KJV because most of the resources I used for this study are based on it.

 Some Facts to Consider

 Data Sections

 Commentaries

 My Conclusions Concerning the Biblical Words Behind HELL

In the King James version of the bible the English word HELL is used as the translation for the biblical words SHEOL, HADES, GEENNA and TARTAROO (See Section #3). When I first started this study I expected to find only two biblical words for HELL, one in Hebrew in the Old Testament and one in Greek in the New Testament. I also assumed that the two words would have the same meaning. When HELL was used in the Old Testament the Hebrew word always turned out to be SHEOL. Something that surprised me about SHEOL was that the King James translators did not consistently use HELL but sometimes used GRAVE or PIT (See Section #4). When I started looking for the Greek word in the New Testament I found out that there were three Greek words instead of one. They turned out to be HADES, GEENNA and TARTAROO. I also discovered that 1st Corinthians 15:55 had HADES translated as GRAVE instead of HELL in the KJV while other bible manuscripts didn't even contain HADES in this verse.

Old Testament
(Hebrew)
New Testament
(Greek)
SHEOL
HADES
GAY' HINNOM
GEENNA \ GEHENNA
TOPETH
GEENNA \ GEHENNA
 
TARTAROO
This table represents what I currently consider to be Hebrew and Greek word equivalents.

SHEOL \ HADES
It appears that the Greek word HADES was considered to be the same as the Hebrew word SHEOL. The word HADES also appears in Luke 16:19-31 and seems to have the same attributes as SHEOL in the Old Testament. HADES also appears in Acts 2:25-28 were Peter made reference to Psalm 16:8-11 which uses the word SHEOL. The Septuagint is a Greek version of the Hebrew scriptures and HADES was used for SHEOL. A comparison of Acts 2:25-28 with Psalm 16:8-11 along with the Septuagint findings appears to give both words the same meaning

GAY HINNOM \ GEENNA \ GEHENNA \ TOPHETH
GAY HINNOM was a valley south of Jerusalem. TOPETH was a place located in the east region of GAY HINNOM. TOPETH was the place where children were sacrificed in the Old Testament days along with being the place where garbage and criminals were dumped in Jesus’ day. Look at lower part of map to see the location of the refuse gate. It’s near the east region of GAY HINNOM. It appears that the word GEENNA and GEHENNA are different spellings of the same word. It has been stated in commentaries that the Greek word GEENNA is the same as the Hebrew words GAY HINNOM. When the word GEENNA was used in the New Testament, the authors seemed to be talking more about the area of TOPHETH than all of GAY HINNOM. See the Septuagint findings for HINNOM to confirm that GEENNA was considered to be a physical place. The following verses show the original meanings for each of these words:

II Ki 23:10 And he defiled Topheth (8612), which is in the valley (Gay - 1516) of the children of Hinnom (2011), that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech.

Jer 7:31 And  they have  built the high places of Tophet (8612), which is in the valley (Gay - 1516) of the son of Hinnom (2011), to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart.

TARTAROO
This Greek word is used once and doesn't appear to have a Hebrew equivalent. The verse that has TARTAROO in it seems to show the meaning to be: a holding place for sinful angels until their judgment is exercised. See the following verse that contains this word:

2 Pet 2:4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell (Tartaroo - 5020), and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;