What the Hell…Gehenna

Luke 12:5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him! – Jesus

hinnom

Hell, is it real or not? There are many terms in the Bible that are related and quoted as synonymous. Some of these include Hades, the pit, outer darkness, Sheol, the Lake of Fire, Gehenna, and the chasm from the Bosom of Abraham. They are different places. Some of these terms are not the same as Hell.

The first of these terms to be addressed in this series is Gehenna. This term is used 12 times in the New Testament. Jesus uses the term 11 times and the one other is utilized by His half-brother, James. Jesus teaches about Hell more than anyone in the Bible.

Per Strong’s Concordance, Gehenna is the Greek word used by Jesus. It means: Hell is the place of the future punishment called Gehenna or “Gehenna of Fire“. This was originally the Valley of Hinnom, south of Jerusalem, where the filth and dead animals of the city were cast out and burned; a fit symbol of the wicked and their future destruction.

Gehenna is translated from the Hebrew ge-hinnom or the Valley of Hinnom. In the Hebrew, Hinnom means “lamentation” per Strong’s.

Per Easton’s Bible Dictionary: The Valley of Hinnom became the common receptacle for all the refuse of Jerusalem. Dead bodies of animals, criminals, and all kinds of filth were cast and consumed by fire kept always burning. During the process of time, the valley became the image of everlasting destruction.

The Valley of Hinnom is below Jerusalem to the south and west. The valley is located below what would have been the site of the Temple. God notes this through the prophet and the book of Jeremiah. The Israelites made and placed idols in God’s Temple. They made idols in the valley. The Jewish people sacrificed their children by fire to the false god Molech. Other gods were worshipped. It is not in God’s will for us to sacrifice our children.

Jeremiah 7:30-31  “For the sons of Judah have done that which is evil in My sight,” declares the LORD, “they have set their detestable things in the house which is called by My name, to defile it. They have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, and it did not come into My mind.”

2 Chronicles 33:6 He made his sons pass through the fire in the valley of Ben-hinnom; and he practiced witchcraft, used divination, practiced sorcery and dealt with mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him to anger.

Israel broke the first three commandments of the 10 Commandments with their actions at this site: 1) no other gods before God, 2) building of idols, 3) idol worship or worship of other gods.

The irony is Gehenna or the Valley of Hinnom was a place where Israel used fire to sacrifice to and worship other gods. In the final analysis, God will use fire to judge.

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