Archive for October, 2009

Sheol according to the Wisdom Books of the Old Testament

October 8, 2009

Sheol according to the Wisdom Books of the Old Testament

Sheol is a Hebrew word that pertains to “the non-permanent place or temporary address of the disembodied souls of dead” (McGee 1).  It does not refer to the eternal place where souls of the righteous or of the unrighteous are taken.  It is, in a way, similar to the Greek word Hades, which refers to the place of the ‘underworld’ or abode of the dead (Martin 1).  It is a place of no return; a place where praising or praying to God is not allowed; a place where the wicked are being sent for punishment.  Sheol refers to a place of torment or of exile where souls are being taken after departing from this world.

This paper revolves around Sheol and its similarities and differences to the word ‘Hell’ and ‘Hades’.  Different definitions and viewpoints are to be used in accordance to the words that are being mentioned in the Old Testament, precisely in the Wisdom Books or the books of Job, Psalms, and the Songs of Solomon.  Using these books from the Holy Bible, the different concepts of hell shall be analyzed, with the intention of knowing how the word Sheol differs from Hell and Hades, as well as, how it is similar to the two other words.  In the end, it shall be concluded that, despite the similarities of the words Sheol, Hell, and Hades, it is evident that the differences lie on the use of the term, on what they refer to, as well as the cultures that have led to differences in the use of the term.  Sheol is more similar to Hades than to Hell, since they both refer to the Present Hell, but unlike Hades, Sheol is sometimes used to denote ‘grave’ or ‘pit’, unlike Hades that refer only to the spiritual grave.

Main Body

Sheol

From the time of Enoch, which proved that the body has a soul, as he walked with God to a world that was not of this world, it proves therefore that there is eternal life after living in this world.  This is the reward for piety and righteousness, and even Jacob has uttered the words that he will go down to Sheol to his son mourning (Fyfe 54).  Job, in his affliction, uttered the following lines:

Lo!  I wait for Sheol, my house.

For I know that Thou wilt bring me to death,

And to the house appointed for all living. –Job 17:13

(Fyfe 54)

Sheol here is being depicted as a house appointed or a place of assembly for those spirits that have left their bodies.  Then again he said,

As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away,

So he that goeth down to Sheol shall come up no more. –Job 30:23

(Fyfe 54)

From here it is being made evident that Sheol is not a temporary place of assembly for those who has left the world of the living but a place permanent for those that have already died.

According to James Fyfe, the following lines reflect the most beautiful lines of Job concerning the spirit world:

Why died I from the womb?

For now should I have lien down and been quiet.

I should have slept—then had I been at rest

With kings and counselors of the earth,

Or with princes that had gold.

There the wicked cease from troubling,

And the weary be at rest.

There the prisoners are at ease together:

They hear not the voice of the task-master:

The small and the great are there,

And the servant is free from his master. –Job 3:11-19

(Fyfe 55)

Here we see a place of assembly for everyone, righteous and unrighteous, that live in this world.  It is a place also of pain, sorrow, hardship and trouble, as depicted in these lines:

The cords of Sheol were round about me,

The snares of death came upon me.

The cords of death compassed me,

The pains of Sheol gat hold upon me,

I found trouble and sorrow.

I said… I shall go into the gates of Sheol.

Our bones are scattered at the mouth of Sheol,… -Psalms 18:5

(Fyfe 55)

A good description of what Sheol is is being reflected in the following lines:

My soul is full of troubles,

And my life draweth nigh unto Sheol.

I am counted with them that go down into the pit.

I am as a man that hath no help:

Cast off among the dead,

Like the slain that lie in the grave,

Whom thou rememberest no more:

And they are cut off from Thy hand.

Thou has laid me in the lowest pit,

In dark places, in the deeps:

Thy wrath lieth hard upon me.

And thou hast afflicted me with all Thy waves. –Isaiah 38:10

(Fyfe 55)

From here it is being indicated that Sheol is a pit or a grave for the spirits, one that is a dark place in the deeps where affliction is being felt and experienced.

From here it appears that there are two sides of Sheol, one that is meant for the pious and the righteous, as well as, another side meant for the evil and the unrighteous souls.  All souls go to Sheol after leaving this earth.

Hell

The word Hell refers to the side of Sheol that is meant only for the evil and the unrighteous souls.  Unlike Sheol however, the word Hell refers to a place of eternal punishment; thus, it is a permanent place for the souls of the evil ones.  It is more of a vague term, since it does not recognize the place of temporary punishment, as well as, the place of permanent or eternal punishment.  Used only in the negative sense, the word Hell refers to a place where no soul is to be saved or will be saved.  It may refer to the place in Sheol for the evil and the unrighteous, or it may refer to Hades where the evil souls are also being placed.  It is an ambiguous and non-descriptive term that came from the term Sheol, where the words Hell and Hades were also being taken.  Unlike Sheol and Hades that are sometimes translated into the word ‘grave’ however, the term Hell is a place only for the soul and not for the body.

The term Hell, according to Edward Bedore, can be defined as “a place of torment where the souls of the wicked go after physical death” (1).  It is the Lake of Fire, which is “a literal place of everlasting fire that was originally created by God as a place of punishment for Satan and the angels that followed him in his rebellion against God” (Bedore 1).  It is the outer darkness, located in the farthest reaches of creation.  It is sometimes called the Gehenna, the furnace of fire, the everlasting punishment of a lake of fire burning with brimstone.  This has been the Final Hell that was created for the fallen angels of creation.

As the everlasting reward of those that die in their sins, the Hell or the Lake of Fire, at this time, holds no one but Satan and his fallen angels.  However, at the end of time, this shall hold a vast multitude of those that have fallen because of sin.  It shall hold the Beast or the Antichrist as well as the False Prophet that shall come about during the Great Tribulation.  This pertains to the Future Hell or Hell as most people call it.  As for the Present Hell, this pertains to Sheol or Hades, which could differ in terms of being Greek or Hebrew.

The idea of God’s punishment and the ordeal that come to those that are wicked can be reflected in the words of King Solomon when he said…

He that speaketh unrighteous things cannot be hid; neither shall justice, when it punisheth, pass him by.  For there shall be inquisition into the counsels of the ungodly, and the knowledge of his words shall come unto the Lord for the punishment of his wicked deeds… Righteousness is immortal.  They, the ungodly, say life is short, death is inevitable; there is no hereafter.  The spirit shall vanish as the soft air.” –The Wisdom of Solomon 1:8, 9, 13-16

(Fyfe 89)

From here it is being reflected that there shall be a distinction between the good and the evil, the wise and the imprudent, as well as, the godly and the ungodly.  When he stated that righteousness is immortal, it refers to the eternal life that the righteous people are to inherit.  Heaven and Hell are being reflected in these words.

It is also stated in The Wisdom of Solomon that…

As for the mysteries of God they knew them not, neither hoped they for the wages of righteousness, nor discerned a reward for blameless souls.  For God created man for immortality, and made him to be an image of is own Being; but through envy of the devil came death into the world, and they that are of his class do experience it.  But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, there shall no torment touch them. –The Wisdom of Solomon 2:1-21

(Fyfe 89)

From here it is being depicted that God has created man for the sake of immortality like His own being, so that those who follow Him shall not experience death nor sorrow but life, peace, and happiness in Heaven.  As it is said, “the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God” (Fyfe 89), so does the souls of the unrighteous are in the hand of the evil one to bring him to everlasting fiery in the Lake of Fire, or Hell, as it is being called.

Hades

Hades refers to “a place of temporary torment that we might refer to as the immediate, or present, Hell” (Bedore 1).  It is not the Future Hell, as referred to in the word ‘Hell’, but one that refers to the Present Hell.  It is built only for temporary torment because when the body dies, the souls of the unrighteous go straight to Hades, where they are supposed to suffer in fiery furnace until Hell is permanently opened in the future.  When the Last Judgment comes, these souls shall be cast into the Lake of Fire, which is Hell; but as of the moment, they shall be cast into Hades, where they, too, suffer in torment.  The word ‘Hades’ is, according to Edward Bedore, “the New Testament equivalent of the Old Testament word Sheol” (1).  They both refer to the Present Hell, but unlike Hades, the term Sheol has been used to mean ‘grave’, ‘pit’, as well as ‘hell’.  When we speak of Hades however, we refer to the Present Hell where unrighteous souls are being cast into a fiery furnace.  As the abode of the shades, Hades is a place of sorrow, as reflected in the Book of Psalms:

A deadly flood surrounded me,

Devilish torrents rushed at me;

Caught by the cords of the grave,

I was brought to the snares of death. –Psalms 18:5-6

(Grogan 1030)

Hades is referred to as a deadly flood, devilish torrents, the grave, and the snares of death.

When the cords of death entangled me,

The snares of the grave laid hold of me,

When affliction got the better of me … -Psalms 116:3

(Grogan 1105)

Here, Hades is depicted as the cords of death, the grave, and the place of affliction.

The Pelasgi or the Greeks once believed that Cronos, the father of the gods, had three sons, who divided the world among them: Zeus who becomes the god of heaven; Poseidon, the god of the sea; and Hades, the god of the nether world.  According to Homer,

Hades was a vast shadowy world, where the spirits were the shades or shadows of what they had been in the present world, and where their experience corresponded to the lives they had lived here.  The good and the bad seem to live and mingle freely together, although the bad were suffering punishment.  (Fyfe 20)

From here it appears that Hades is very much like Sheol in the sense that it is divided into two: a place for the good and righteous, as well as, a place for the evil and the unrighteous.  Unlike Sheol however, those that are in Hades live and mingle freely together, whether they are good or evil, righteous or unrighteous.

The Greeks had divided the nether world into two: the Tartarus of the great sinners (or Titans as it is called); as well as the Elysium of the heroes, the demi-gods, and all that is good (Fyfe 20).  From here, it is being made evident that the term Hades is also influenced by the Greeks or the Pelasgi, who once ruled the world; yet the word also refers to the Sheol of the Hebrews.  It refers to the underworld or nether world, which is Sheol in Hebrew, Orcus in Latin, and Hell in Anglo-Saxon (Fyfe 46).  All these names refer to the “world beyond this, where disembodied spirits live, and move, and have their being” (Fyfe 46).  As Fyfe stated,

The terms hell, grave, and the pit, may, at some former period, have simply indicated the state of the dead, but they have long ceased to have that meaning, and to retain them is misleading.  The grave is now nothing more than the receptacle of the dead body, and hell is the distinctive name of the place of punishment. (46)

All these translations make Sheol, Hell, and Hades vague and indistinct, especially that the definitions of these terms do change over the course of time.  Like Sheol however, Hades refers to “the designation of the prison of lost souls” (Fyfe 46).  And because it is a designation for the lost souls, this tells us that it would be remarkable if we are not among those lost souls that would someday be among those that are to be imprisoned in Hades or in Hell.  The implication of this topic is that, despite the vagueness of the definitions of the three terms that were just mentioned, it is significant to be prepared in case our souls slide downward to the fiery furnace of Hell.  We should be watchful in case our souls become like shadows and shades of Hades that are like lost sheep in a ghastly jungle.  It is still important even nowadays to be significant of the future, of our future, lest we turn out to be one of the appalling creatures that suffer in Hades, Sheol, or Hell.

Conclusion

In the Book of Job, Sheol has been identified as a house appointed or a place of assembly for spirits that have permanently left their bodies.  It is a place of assembly for everyone who once lived in this world.  It is also a place of pain, sorrow, hardship and trouble, as reflected in the Book of Psalms.  From the stated lines it appears that Sheol is being divided into two: one that is meant for the pious and the righteous, as well as, another side meant for the evil and the unrighteous souls.  This is different from the term Hell, which refers to a place of eternal punishment, or a permanent place for the souls of the evil ones.  It is meant only for the evil and the unrighteous souls, a place of torment where evil souls go after death.  It is the Lake of Fire in the outer darkness, a place of everlasting fire that was created as punishment for Satan and the evil angels.  It is the Final Hell, the Future Hell where a furnace of fire puts everlasting punishment to those souls that are unrighteous.  This is also different from Hades, the Present Hell, and a place of temporary torment where souls of the unrighteous go immediately after death until the time comes when Hell is opened to these lost souls.  Hades is almost equal to the term Sheol that is used in the Old Testament, although unlike Sheol, Hades is not used to mean grave, pit, or hell.  It does not literally mean the grave but a place for the souls and not for the body.  It refers more to the Present Hell—a place of sorrow, a deadly flood, devilish torrents, the snares of death, the cords of death, and a place of affliction.  However, it is similar to Sheol in the sense that it is divided into two: the place for the good and righteous, as well as, the place for the evil and the unrighteous.  It is different from the term Sheol in the sense that those that are in Hades live and mingle freely together, whether they are good or evil.  It refers to the prison of lost souls.

Despite the similarities of the words Sheol, Hell, and Hades, it is significant for the scholars to know that the differences between the three terms lie on the use of the term, on what they refer to, as well as the cultures (e.g., Greek) that have led to differences in the use of the term.  Words do have histories, and these three words are not exceptions.  Over the period of time, Sheol and Hell both developed from the German word holle or hohle, which means a hollow cavern (Fyfe 47).  Hades developed from Sheol, with the help of the Greek culture and their beliefs.  However, it would be remarkable if other scholars would be able to go over, in detail, the histories of these three words.  Words develop over time with the influence of people and their environment.  If they would have the opportunity to know the histories of the three words, then it becomes evident how the words formed over time.

Works Cited

Bedore, Edward. Hell, Sheol, Hades, Paradise, and the Grave. N.d. Berean Bible Society. 14 May 2009 <http://www.bereanbiblesociety.org/articles/1192569770.html>.

Fyfe, James. The Hereafter: Sheol, Hades, and Hell, the World to Come, and the Scripture Doctrine of Retribution according to Law. George Street, Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1890.

Grogan, Patricia. Christian Community Bible (30th ed.). Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines: Pastoral Bible Foundation, 2000.

Martin, Charlie. Hell, Hades, Sheol, Gehenna. 24 November 2007. CharlieTripod.com. 14 May 2009 <http://acharlie.tripod.com/bible_study/hell_hades.html>.

McGee, Matthew. Hell Part 2: The Differences between Hades and the Lake of Fire. 1997. Wielding the Sword of the Spirit. 14 May 2009 <http://www.matthewmcgee.org/helwords.html>.

Other Source

Boadt, Lawrence. Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1984.

Sheol according to the Wisdom Books of the Old Testament

Sheol is a Hebrew word that pertains to “the non-permanent place or temporary address of the disembodied souls of dead” (McGee, 1997).  It does not refer to the eternal place where souls of the righteous or of the unrighteous are taken.  It is, in a way, similar to the Greek word Hades, which refers to the place of the ‘underworld’ or abode of the dead (Martin 1).  It is a place of no return; a place where praising or praying to God is not allowed; a place where the wicked are being sent for punishment.  Sheol refers to a place of torment or of exile where souls are being taken after departing from this world.

This paper revolves around Sheol and its similarities and differences to the word ‘Hell’ and ‘Hades’.  Different definitions and viewpoints are to be used in accordance to the words that are being mentioned in the Old Testament, precisely in the Wisdom Books or the books of Job, Psalms, and the Songs of Solomon.  Using these books from the Holy Bible, the different concepts of hell shall be analyzed, with the intention of knowing how the word Sheol differs from Hell and Hades, as well as, how it is similar to the two other words.  In the end, it shall be concluded that, despite the similarities of the words Sheol, Hell, and Hades, it is evident that the differences lie on the use of the term, on what they refer to, as well as the cultures that have led to differences in the use of the term.  Sheol is more similar to Hades than to Hell, since they both refer to the Present Hell, but unlike Hades, Sheol is sometimes used to denote ‘grave’ or ‘pit’, unlike Hades that refer only to the spiritual grave.

Main Body

Sheol

From the time of Enoch, which proved that the body has a soul, as he walked with God to a world that was not of this world, it proves therefore that there is eternal life after living in this world.  This is the reward for piety and righteousness, and even Jacob has uttered the words that he will go down to Sheol to his son mourning (Fyfe 54).  Job, in his affliction, uttered the following lines:

Lo!  I wait for Sheol, my house.

For I know that Thou wilt bring me to death,

And to the house appointed for all living. –Job 17:13

(Fyfe 54)

Sheol here is being depicted as a house appointed or a place of assembly for those spirits that have left their bodies.  Then again he said,

As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away,

So he that goeth down to Sheol shall come up no more. –Job 30:23

(Fyfe 54)

From here it is being made evident that Sheol is not a temporary place of assembly for those who has left the world of the living but a place permanent for those that have already died.

According to James Fyfe, the following lines reflect the most beautiful lines of Job concerning the spirit world:

Why died I from the womb?

For now should I have lien down and been quiet.

I should have slept—then had I been at rest

With kings and counselors of the earth,

Or with princes that had gold.

There the wicked cease from troubling,

And the weary be at rest.

There the prisoners are at ease together:

They hear not the voice of the task-master:

The small and the great are there,

And the servant is free from his master. –Job 3:11-19

(Fyfe 55)

Here we see a place of assembly for everyone, righteous and unrighteous, that live in this world.  It is a place also of pain, sorrow, hardship and trouble, as depicted in these lines:

The cords of Sheol were round about me,

The snares of death came upon me.

The cords of death compassed me,

The pains of Sheol gat hold upon me,

I found trouble and sorrow.

I said… I shall go into the gates of Sheol.

Our bones are scattered at the mouth of Sheol,… -Psalms 18:5

(Fyfe 55)

A good description of what Sheol is is being reflected in the following lines:

My soul is full of troubles,

And my life draweth nigh unto Sheol.

I am counted with them that go down into the pit.

I am as a man that hath no help:

Cast off among the dead,

Like the slain that lie in the grave,

Whom thou rememberest no more:

And they are cut off from Thy hand.

Thou has laid me in the lowest pit,

In dark places, in the deeps:

Thy wrath lieth hard upon me.

And thou hast afflicted me with all Thy waves. –Isaiah 38:10

(Fyfe 55)

From here it is being indicated that Sheol is a pit or a grave for the spirits, one that is a dark place in the deeps where affliction is being felt and experienced.

From here it appears that there are two sides of Sheol, one that is meant for the pious and the righteous, as well as, another side meant for the evil and the unrighteous souls.  All souls go to Sheol after leaving this earth.

Hell

The word Hell refers to the side of Sheol that is meant only for the evil and the unrighteous souls.  Unlike Sheol however, the word Hell refers to a place of eternal punishment; thus, it is a permanent place for the souls of the evil ones.  It is more of a vague term, since it does not recognize the place of temporary punishment, as well as, the place of permanent or eternal punishment.  Used only in the negative sense, the word Hell refers to a place where no soul is to be saved or will be saved.  It may refer to the place in Sheol for the evil and the unrighteous, or it may refer to Hades where the evil souls are also being placed.  It is an ambiguous and non-descriptive term that came from the term Sheol, where the words Hell and Hades were also being taken.  Unlike Sheol and Hades that are sometimes translated into the word ‘grave’ however, the term Hell is a place only for the soul and not for the body.

The term Hell, according to Edward Bedore, can be defined as “a place of torment where the souls of the wicked go after physical death” (1).  It is the Lake of Fire, which is “a literal place of everlasting fire that was originally created by God as a place of punishment for Satan and the angels that followed him in his rebellion against God” (Bedore 1).  It is the outer darkness, located in the farthest reaches of creation.  It is sometimes called the Gehenna, the furnace of fire, the everlasting punishment of a lake of fire burning with brimstone.  This has been the Final Hell that was created for the fallen angels of creation.

As the everlasting reward of those that die in their sins, the Hell or the Lake of Fire, at this time, holds no one but Satan and his fallen angels.  However, at the end of time, this shall hold a vast multitude of those that have fallen because of sin.  It shall hold the Beast or the Antichrist as well as the False Prophet that shall come about during the Great Tribulation.  This pertains to the Future Hell or Hell as most people call it.  As for the Present Hell, this pertains to Sheol or Hades, which could differ in terms of being Greek or Hebrew.

The idea of God’s punishment and the ordeal that come to those that are wicked can be reflected in the words of King Solomon when he said…

He that speaketh unrighteous things cannot be hid; neither shall justice, when it punisheth, pass him by.  For there shall be inquisition into the counsels of the ungodly, and the knowledge of his words shall come unto the Lord for the punishment of his wicked deeds… Righteousness is immortal.  They, the ungodly, say life is short, death is inevitable; there is no hereafter.  The spirit shall vanish as the soft air.” –The Wisdom of Solomon 1:8, 9, 13-16

(Fyfe 89)

From here it is being reflected that there shall be a distinction between the good and the evil, the wise and the imprudent, as well as, the godly and the ungodly.  When he stated that righteousness is immortal, it refers to the eternal life that the righteous people are to inherit.  Heaven and Hell are being reflected in these words.

It is also stated in The Wisdom of Solomon that…

As for the mysteries of God they knew them not, neither hoped they for the wages of righteousness, nor discerned a reward for blameless souls.  For God created man for immortality, and made him to be an image of is own Being; but through envy of the devil came death into the world, and they that are of his class do experience it.  But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, there shall no torment touch them. –The Wisdom of Solomon 2:1-21

(Fyfe 89)

From here it is being depicted that God has created man for the sake of immortality like His own being, so that those who follow Him shall not experience death nor sorrow but life, peace, and happiness in Heaven.  As it is said, “the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God” (Fyfe 89), so does the souls of the unrighteous are in the hand of the evil one to bring him to everlasting fiery in the Lake of Fire, or Hell, as it is being called.

Hades

Hades refers to “a place of temporary torment that we might refer to as the immediate, or present, Hell” (Bedore 1).  It is not the Future Hell, as referred to in the word ‘Hell’, but one that refers to the Present Hell.  It is built only for temporary torment because when the body dies, the souls of the unrighteous go straight to Hades, where they are supposed to suffer in fiery furnace until Hell is permanently opened in the future.  When the Last Judgment comes, these souls shall be cast into the Lake of Fire, which is Hell; but as of the moment, they shall be cast into Hades, where they, too, suffer in torment.  The word ‘Hades’ is, according to Edward Bedore, “the New Testament equivalent of the Old Testament word Sheol” (1).  They both refer to the Present Hell, but unlike Hades, the term Sheol has been used to mean ‘grave’, ‘pit’, as well as ‘hell’.  When we speak of Hades however, we refer to the Present Hell where unrighteous souls are being cast into a fiery furnace.  As the abode of the shades, Hades is a place of sorrow, as reflected in the Book of Psalms:

A deadly flood surrounded me,

Devilish torrents rushed at me;

Caught by the cords of the grave,

I was brought to the snares of death. –Psalms 18:5-6

(Grogan 1030)

Hades is referred to as a deadly flood, devilish torrents, the grave, and the snares of death.

When the cords of death entangled me,

The snares of the grave laid hold of me,

When affliction got the better of me … -Psalms 116:3

(Grogan 1105)

Here, Hades is depicted as the cords of death, the grave, and the place of affliction.

The Pelasgi or the Greeks once believed that Cronos, the father of the gods, had three sons, who divided the world among them: Zeus who becomes the god of heaven; Poseidon, the god of the sea; and Hades, the god of the nether world.  According to Homer,

Hades was a vast shadowy world, where the spirits were the shades or shadows of what they had been in the present world, and where their experience corresponded to the lives they had lived here.  The good and the bad seem to live and mingle freely together, although the bad were suffering punishment.  (Fyfe 20)

From here it appears that Hades is very much like Sheol in the sense that it is divided into two: a place for the good and righteous, as well as, a place for the evil and the unrighteous.  Unlike Sheol however, those that are in Hades live and mingle freely together, whether they are good or evil, righteous or unrighteous.

The Greeks had divided the nether world into two: the Tartarus of the great sinners (or Titans as it is called); as well as the Elysium of the heroes, the demi-gods, and all that is good (Fyfe 20).  From here, it is being made evident that the term Hades is also influenced by the Greeks or the Pelasgi, who once ruled the world; yet the word also refers to the Sheol of the Hebrews.  It refers to the underworld or nether world, which is Sheol in Hebrew, Orcus in Latin, and Hell in Anglo-Saxon (Fyfe 46).  All these names refer to the “world beyond this, where disembodied spirits live, and move, and have their being” (Fyfe 46).  As Fyfe stated,

The terms hell, grave, and the pit, may, at some former period, have simply indicated the state of the dead, but they have long ceased to have that meaning, and to retain them is misleading.  The grave is now nothing more than the receptacle of the dead body, and hell is the distinctive name of the place of punishment. (46)

All these translations make Sheol, Hell, and Hades vague and indistinct, especially that the definitions of these terms do change over the course of time.  Like Sheol however, Hades refers to “the designation of the prison of lost souls” (Fyfe 46).

Conclusion

In the Book of Job, Sheol has been identified as a house appointed or a place of assembly for spirits that have permanently left their bodies.  It is a place of assembly for everyone who once lived in this world.  It is also a place of pain, sorrow, hardship and trouble, as reflected in the Book of Psalms.  From the stated lines it appears that Sheol is being divided into two: one that is meant for the pious and the righteous, as well as, another side meant for the evil and the unrighteous souls.  This is different from the term Hell, which refers to a place of eternal punishment, or a permanent place for the souls of the evil ones.  It is meant only for the evil and the unrighteous souls, a place of torment where evil souls go after death.  It is the Lake of Fire in the outer darkness, a place of everlasting fire that was created as punishment for Satan and the evil angels.  It is the Final Hell, the Future Hell where a furnace of fire puts everlasting punishment to those souls that are unrighteous.  This is also different from Hades, the Present Hell, and a place of temporary torment where souls of the unrighteous go immediately after death until the time comes when Hell is opened to these lost souls.  Hades is almost equal to the term Sheol that is used in the Old Testament, although unlike Sheol, Hades is not used to mean grave, pit, or hell.  It does not literally mean the grave but a place for the souls and not for the body.  It refers more to the Present Hell—a place of sorrow, a deadly flood, devilish torrents, the snares of death, the cords of death, and a place of affliction.  However, it is similar to Sheol in the sense that it is divided into two: the place for the good and righteous, as well as, the place for the evil and the unrighteous.  It is different from the term Sheol in the sense that those that are in Hades live and mingle freely together, whether they are good or evil.  It refers to the prison of lost souls.

Despite the similarities of the words Sheol, Hell, and Hades, it is evident that the differences lie on the use of the term, on what they refer to, as well as the cultures that have led to differences in the use of the term.  Sheol and Hades both refer to the Present Hell, while Hell refers to the Future Hell.  However, Sheol could refer to the pit or grave where the body is taken after death; Hades only refer to the place for the spirit after death.  Both Sheol and Hades are divided into two: a place for the good and righteous, as well as, a place for the evil and the unrighteous.  However, in Hades the souls are allowed to mingle freely, whether they are good or evil, which is different from Sheol.  Both, however, refer to the Present Hell.

The word ‘Sheol’ can be depicted from the term Sheyol, which means a cavity, a hollow, subterranean place (Fyfe 47).  This comes from the same root word as the German word holle or hohle, which means a hollow cavern (Fyfe 47), and from which the term ‘hell’ is taken.  Despite having the same root word, however, the two refer to different places that carry different meanings.  Both refer to the same accessory idea, which is to hide; yet, not both refer to the same meaning or idea.  One thing that is similar in all the three terms is that, they all refer to the world of the spirits.  As Fyfe indicated, “Originally, then, Sheol, Hades, and Hell had the same meaning.  As the material heavens, the hemisphere above the earth, was conceived of as a hollow arch, so Sheol, Hades, and Hell were conceived of as a hollow world or hemisphere under the earth, and these corresponded one to the other” (47).

Works Cited and Consulted

Bedore, Edward. Hell, Sheol, Hades, Paradise, and the Grave. N.d. Berean Bible Society. 14 May 2009 <http://www.bereanbiblesociety.org/articles/1192569770.html>.

Fyfe, James. The Hereafter: Sheol, Hades, and Hell, the World to Come, and the Scripture Doctrine of Retribution according to Law. George Street, Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1890.

Grogan, Patricia. Christian Community Bible (30th ed.). Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines: Pastoral Bible Foundation, 2000.

Martin, Charlie. Hell, Hades, Sheol, Gehenna. 24 November 2007. CharlieTripod.com. 14 May 2009 <http://acharlie.tripod.com/bible_study/hell_hades.html>.

McGee, Matthew. Hell Part 2: The Differences between Hades and the Lake of Fire. 1997. Wielding the Sword of the Spirit. 14 May 2009 <http://www.matthewmcgee.org/helwords.html>.

Reagan, David. Sheol, Hades or Hell. 2009. Learn the Bible. 14 May 2009 <http://www.learnthebible.org/sheol-hades-or-hell.html>.

Yeager, Michael. Eternal Hell: Destiny of All Muslims, Budhists, Destiny of All Practicing Homosexuals Destiny. 2009. Revu.com. 14 May 2009 <http://www.revlu.com/hell.html>.