Hell and sheol

JehovahsWitness wrote:

otseng wrote: ..Sheol, it can refer to a literal physical grave …

Can you provide a text where you believe this to be the case?

I’m surprised so many people want to debate this. Even if it does not refer to a physical grave, it’s not that important. I don’t see how it alters what the view of hell would be.

But, anyways, I believe it refers to a physical grave because translators sometimes use the word “grave”, not “hell”, for Sheol. If translaters believe Sheol referred to the spiritual location, they would use hell. If they believed it referred to the physical location, they would use grave. If Sheol always referred to the spiritual, why even translate it to grave?

Even more important is when Sheol does refer to hell, I don’t believe it should always be interpreted literally. Sometimes it can be, but not all the time. For example,

[Pro 23:13-14 KJV] 13 Withhold not correction from the child: for [if] thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. 14 Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell (Sheol).

Should we interpret this to mean disciplining a child would prevent him from literally going to hell? I see it more as an expression. Just like if someone tells me to “go to hell”, it’s not that he’s literally commanding me to go to hell, but it’s more expressing his feelings in an idiom that we all understand.

Another example,

[2Sa 22:6 KJV] 6 The sorrows of hell (Sheol) compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me;

Was David literally in hell? No, rather it’s an expression to describe the level of grief that David felt.


shnarkle wrote: It appears that you just provided examples to support JW’s position rather than supporting the idea that it refers to an actual grave. Now that I think of it, I can’t think of any examples where Sheol refers to a literal grave with a physical dead body in it. I’d kind of like to see if there are any examples as well.

Whether Sheol represents a physical grave or not is not important. I’m merely pointing out that translaters use various words to translate Sheol.

But, it is important if Sheol should always be interpreted literally or can it sometimes be just an idiom.

I maintain sometimes it is simply used as an idiom. I don’t think JehovahsWitness believes this.


[Replying to post 37 by shnarkle]

I found a verse where Sheol refers to a physical location, not a spiritual location.

[Num 16:32-33 KJV] 32 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. 33 They, and all that [appertained] to them, went down alive into the pit (Sheol), and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation.


At the risk of breaking the rules (but, since I’m the admin, I’ll make an exception for myself), the word hell is used quite often in English idioms. So, I imagine it would also be used as an idiom in other languages.

Here’s just a sampling:
All hell broke loose
As hot as hell
Bat out of hell
Beat the hell out of it
Come hell or high water
For the hell of it
Give them hell
Go to hell
Hell hole
Hell in a handbasket
Hell on earth
Hell yes
Mad as hell
One hell of a gun, shot, throw, car, ___
Raise hell
Rot in hell
Shot to hell
Snowball chance in hell
To hell and back
Until hell freezes over
What the hell

https://www.phrases.org.uk/cgi-bin/phra … cgi?w=hell


Divine Insight wrote:

otseng wrote: I’d like to start with what the Old Testament says.

I could be wrong, but it’s my understanding that the Jews don’t believe in hell. It’s my understanding that the concept of hell was introduced by Jesus in the New Testament in verses along the lines of those I previously posted. I believe there are other references that Jesus made along these lines as well.

Therefore going back to the Old Testament looking for references to hell would be irrelevant since the original Jews didn’t believe in a hell. Hell is a concept that Jesus made up apparently. Jesus is the one who introduced that concept of hell as a place of eternal torment and suffering. Where the “worm” never dies.

I’ll eventually get to what the New Testament says about hell, but it’s best to start with an understanding of the Old Testament.

For Jewish beliefs on the afterlife, they seem to be ambivalent/agnostic. Though they believe in the afterlife, they do not claim much.

What happens after we die? Judaism is famously ambiguous about this matter. The immortality of the soul, the World to Come, and the resurrection of the dead all feature prominently in Jewish tradition, but exactly what these things are and how they relate to each other has always been vague.

Indeed, the notion of heaven and hell may be the most ambiguous of all Jewish afterlife ideas.

https://www.myjewishlearning.com/articl … ter-death/

Traditional Judaism firmly believes that death is not the end of human existence. However, because Judaism is primarily focused on life here and now rather than on the afterlife, Judaism does not have much dogma about the afterlife, and leaves a great deal of room for personal opinion. It is possible for an Orthodox Jew to believe that the souls of the righteous dead go to a place similar to the Christian heaven, or that they are reincarnated through many lifetimes, or that they simply wait until the coming of the messiah, when they will be resurrected. Likewise, Orthodox Jews can believe that the souls of the wicked are tormented by demons of their own creation, or that wicked souls are simply destroyed at death, ceasing to exist.


Olam ha­Ba (afterlife) is rarely discussed in Jewish life, be it among Reform, Conservative, or Orthodox Jews.

Jewish teachings on the subject of afterlife are sparse: The Torah, the most important Jewish text, has no clear reference to afterlife at all.

Because Judaism believes that God is good, it believes that God rewards good people; it does not believe that Adolf Hitler and his victims share the same fate. Beyond that, it is hard to assume much more. We are asked to leave afterlife in God’s hands.

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/af … in-judaism


JehovahsWitness wrote: Maybe you misunderstood my question, I propose that SHEOL always refers to the ultimate condition all living breathing creatures end up in, “the grave(dom)” ie the common grave of all mankind, not to a specific burial location (tomb) that someone can literally go and stand on.

Are you contesting this point if so, is that contestation based on the above biblical passages?

My position is the word Sheol in the Bible can refer to a physical location (grave, pit), a spiritual location (where all the souls of the dead go to), or used in an idiom (doesn’t literally refer to any physical or spiritual location, but is just an expression).

I’m not sure what you mean by Sheol “always refers to the ultimate condition all living breathing creatures end up in.”

You said earlier, “When a person dies, they cease to exist and are in the exact same state as they were before they were conceived or created, in short a dead person no longer exists anywhere as a conscious feeling thinking being.”

If that’s the case, then there is no afterlife for anyone. Everyone would be buried in the ground and that would be final. Wouldn’t that be a literal place that someone could stand on? Or would Sheol simply be a symbolic term and doesn’t refer to either a location or condition?


I think we can all agree Sheol is not similar to the New Testament concept of hell, whether you believe in the afterlife or not.

People may agree on all or some of the following:
– All people go to Sheol
– There is no judgment of the dead
– There is no punishment of the dead
– Sheol can refer to a physical location (grave, pit), a spiritual location (where all the souls of the dead go to), or used in an idiom (doesn’t literally refer to any physical or spiritual location, but is just an expression).