As with most confusion, concerning the Bible, it all comes down to perception. The concept of Hell is no different. When attempting to perceive Hell, from a biblical point of view, one must go to the roots of it all, the Tanakh, the same words that Y'shua used, during his time of earth. You can go on the internet and find bunches of posts and articles explaining Hell. Well, this post will try to eliminate the confusion and reveal what the Bible says about Hell and how did the Jews, at the time of Y'shua and before, view Hell.
I would like to make this as concise as possible and get down to the bottom line. Therefore, I will not bring in anything, other than the Bible, into this discussion. Let's get started.
Within the pages of the Tanakh, the Old Testamemt, we find only three Hebrew words directly reflecting Hell or its effects. That is Sheol, Abaddon and Gehenna. As we go through the pages of the Tanakh and the Talmud and Mishnah, we find the following facts:
1. In the same way as the Heavens, Sheowl has different levels, as referenced in Deuteronomy 32:22, where it eludes to Tachtiy Sheol, the lowest parts of Sheol or Hell.
Fire burns from my nostrils. My Anger burns to the lowest parts of Sheol, consuming earth ever increasingly, scorching the foundations of the mountains.
2. Supporting the different levels of Hell or Sheol, we have Job 11:8. Also, here Job tells us that God presently watches over and takes care (extends his coalescing force) of everything from the unsearchable depths of Sheol to the highest Heavens.
High as the Heavens. Creating. Unsearchable depths of Sheol, you intimately know.
Colossians 1:17 drives that point home.
And he is superior to all things and by him all things are bound together.
3. Even though not named, Song of Solomon 8:6 gives us our first fiery reference of Gehenna, the lowest part and the fire and brimstone level of Sheol.
Set in place a signet seal upon your heart and soul. A signet seal of mighty arms. A love, fierce and mighty was with the penalty of death, severe as Sheol’s fiery coals, firey coals of fire, the flames of Yah
Once again, this verse also shows that God is in control of Sheol and Gehenna.
4. Many Jews and non-believers will tell you that Y'shua made up the concept of Gehenna, as the fiery punishment section of Sheol. However, the actual history of the name of Gehenna goes back to Jeremiah 7:31 and 19:6
After this manner, watch and see, a day will come, declares Yahweh, this very place will no longer be called a place of fire, a valley of the son of lamentation, but GehHaregah (Gehanna), valley of slaughter.
5. Before the time that Y'shua walked upon this earth, the Talmud revealed the name of Gehenna as the place where the young children of Israel were tossed into flames, as a sacrifice to Baʿal, signifying the future place of the dead beneath the earth and the place of punishment, where they will feel the residual effects of Abaddon, which we'll get to, in a few seconds. Generally speaking, the wicked inherits the punishment of Gehenna, while the righteous inherit the Garden of Eden or Paradise or the life of the world to come, after going through the resurrection. So, no, Y'shua didn't make up the concept of Gehenna. God revealed it in his Word, before the incarnation of Y'shua.
6. For those who follow the significance of numbers, within the Bible, amazingly or "coincidentally", the word, Abaddon, appears only six times. Six is the number of the unrighteous man and Abaddon is the "destiny" of unrighteous man. Also, Abaddon is a Hebrew word that could be a noun or verb. That's why you find Apollyon, the Greek equilivent, in the B'rit Hadashah, the New Testament, as The Angel of the Bottomless Pit.
Who And What is the significance of Abaddon?
Throughout the Tanakh, Old Testament, Abaddon is destruction. The actual word means to destroy, is the manner of deconstructing, break apart. The acts associated with Abaddon are described by the Hebrew word Moog, which means to dissolve, fall apart from one form to the small parts that make up the whole. So, unrighteous man will be casted out from the presence of God, go through the boundary of the last level of Sheol, pass Abaddon, the gatekeeper of Gehenna and be totally separated from God. Going through this process, the unrighteous man will feel the effects of being dissolved and their soul will feel the effects within their separated reality. 2 Thessalonians tell us about this punishment of Abaddon and the resulting separation.
When the Lord is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.
Now, as for Hades and Tartarus, they are the Greek words for the same thing. Hades is the same as Sheowl and Tartarus is the same as Gehenna. However, there are myths and folklore concerning Hades and Tarturus, which I won't get into. In the end, all of Sheol (Hades) will be cast into Gehenna (Tartarus) Rev. 20:14-15. This means that, at God's command, Adaddon will close the door on the unrighteous chapter of man.
How About When We Die And Are Judged?
When we die, our souls will be in God's dimensionality, Again, there is no time. Our physical bodies go to the Sheol, which are restricted to time and this dimension, to wait out the end of time. You see, the amazing thing about God's dimensionality is that the events of our conception, birth, death, rapture, soul destination, all coexists because God's reality is not constrained by time. We can't fully fathom that reality, yet. In our minds, we see things in a linear form, one thing happening another. We see a glimpse of this in Isaiah 46:10. In God's reality, we are, in the same way as God is. He tries to tell us and Moses this, when he responded to Moses' question, "Who, shall I say to the Israelites, sent me?". God responded, "I AM." We are eternal. We existed before we were constrained to the limitations of our bodies.
How About The Supernatural Aspect Of Sheol And Gehenna?
However, within God's dimensionality, God has prepared Gehenna, an isolated dimension, which has no bottom or no end. It is supernaturally and physically connected to Sheol, the physical grave, which is a place of confinement for the dead body. Gehenna is reference the lowest part of Sheol.
In God's reality, the Spiritual Realm, where there is no time, where the beginning and the end are nothing but a time construct. Gehenna does not contain Satan, his angels and all the unbelievers and the wicked....the anti-God. They are allowed to run about the Spiritual Realm, according God's Will. As Job 1 tells us, Satan still has limited access to God's presence.
In our reality, Gehenna has been reserved for Satan, his angels and those who refuse God's salvation. Satan, some of the Fallen Angels, Demons and Evil Spirits have been stripped of their physical dimensionality and are allowed to try and convinced us to join their ranks, from the Spiritual Realm. The one exception are those who left their God given positions and originally rebelled with Satan. These Angels and Demons are kept in the darkness, in eternal chains.
At the conclusion of the Judgement, the multiple levels of Sheol will implode into Gehanna. Amazingly, modern quantum physics tells us that if our physical universe would implode, like some models predict, it would spread out in one dimension. If such condensation occurs, that reality would be immensely hot. From God's point of view, it would look like a lake of fire.
With all this said, God's presence is everywhere and at anytime, even in Sheol. Psalm 138:7-8 tells us that. He holds all things together. Colossians 1:16-17. In Psalm 75:2-3, we find that there will be a time, in our reality, when one of God's dimensions, we believe that to be Y'shua, the Messiah, will fetch the assembly, the church. He will judge them, Satan and his evil ones, fairly and justly and the earth and rest of it's inhabitants will dissolve, in a feeling of immense heat. Peter reiterates this in 2Peter 3:12.
In the end, their soul will be completely separate from God and will feel the pain, suffering and desperation, Y'shua felt on the Cross and until his resurrection. How can this be, since we will be desolved? Because the soul is eternal and will always exist. It can and will exist with or without God. That's how God made us. We have the choice, right here and now, to choose. Will you spend eternity with God or separated from God and his power that holds all things together.