The following articles have been compiled and indexed by inWORD Bible software.
In the [King James Version] of the Old Testament the word ‘hell’ appears thirty-one times: Deuteronomy 32:22; 2 Samuel 22:6; Job 11:8; 26:6; Psalms 9:17; 16:10; 18:5; 55:15; 86:13; 116:3; 139:8; Proverbs 5:5; 7:27; 9:18; 15:11,24; 23:14; 27:20; Isaiah 5:14; 14:9,15; 28:15,18; 57:9; Ezekiel 31:16,17; 32:21,27; Amos 9:2; Jonah 2:2; Habakkuk 2:5.
Longing to Put on Our Heavenly Dwelling
“For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven...” (2 Corinthians 5:2)
Paul Wants to be Clothed with the Eternal House from Heaven
“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (2 Corinthians 5:1)
Sheol: The Old Testament Consensus
There were 400 silent years – a gap between the closing of the Old Testament prophets and the writing of the New Testament. During this time the doctrine of the intermediate state (that state between death and the resurrection) underwent a sort of evolution. Jews became immersed in pagan communities which held to the doctrine made popular by Greek philosophy: the immortality of the soul.
The Pit with No Water
Question: Zechariah 9:11 says: “As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.” What is referred to by the word “pit”?
The popular conception of hell is of a place of punishment for wicked ‘immortal souls’ straight after death, or the place of torment for those who are rejected at the judgment. It is our conviction that the Bible teaches that hell is the grave, where all men go at death.
A hole in the ground (Exodus 21:33, 34), a cistern for water (Genesis 37:24; Jeremiah 14:3), a vault (41:9), a grave (Psalms 30:3). It is used as a figure for mischief (Psalms 9:15), and is the name given to the unseen place of woe (Revelation 20:1, 3). The slime-pits in the vale of Siddim were wells which yielded asphalt (Genesis 14:10).
a-bis ́, (ἡ ἄβυσσος, hē ábussos): In classical Greek the word is always an adjective, and is used (1) literally, “very deep,” “bottomless”; (2) figuratively, “unfathomable,” “boundless.” “Abyss” does not occur in the King James Version but the Revised Version so transliterates ἄβυσσος, ábussos in each case. The King James Version renders the Greek by “the deep” in two passages (Luke 8:31; Romans 10:7). In Revelation the King James Version renders by “the bottomless pit” (Revelation 9:1-2, 9:11; 11:7-8; 20:1, 20:3). In the Septuagint abussos is the rendering of the Hebrew word תּהום, tehō̄m̌. According to primitive Semitic cosmogony the earth was supposed to rest on a vast body of water which was the source of all springs of water and rivers (Genesis 1:2; Deuteronomy 8:7; Psalms 24:2; 136:6). This subterranean ocean is sometimes described as “the water under the earth” (Exodus 20:4; Deuteronomy 5:8). According to Job 41:32 tehō̄m is the home of the leviathan in which he plows his hoary path of foam. The Septuagint never uses abussos as a rendering of שׁאול, she‘ōl (= Sheol = Hades) and probably tehōm never meant the “abode of the dead” which was the ordinary meaning of Sheol. In Psalms 71:20 tehōm is used figuratively, and denotes “many and sore troubles” through which the psalmist has passed (compare Jonah 2:5). In Romans 10:7 the word is equivalent to Hades, the abode of the dead.
The word translates different Hebrew words of which the most important are: (1) בּור, bōr, “pit” or “cistern,” made by digging, (Genesis 37:20); hence, “dungeon” (Jeremiah 38:6, margin “pit”); (2) כּאר, be‘ēr, “pit” or “well” made by digging (Genesis 21:25); (3) שׁאל, she‘ōl, generally rendered “hell” in the King James Version (see HELL); (4) שׁחת, shaḥath, a pit in the ground to catch wild animals. (1), (2) and (4) above are used metaphorically of the pit of the “grave” or of “sheol” (Psalms 28:1; 30:3; Job 33:24). The King James Version sometimes incorrectly renders (4) by “corruption.” (5) פּחת, paḥath, “pit,” literally (2 Samuel 17:9), and figuratively (Jeremiah 48:43). In the New Testament “pit” renders βόθυνος, bóthunos (Matthew 15:14), which means any kind of hole in the ground. In the corresponding passage Lk (Luke 14:5 the King James Version) has φρέαρ, phréar, “well,” the same as (2) above. For “bottomless pit” (Revelation 9:1, the King James Version, etc.). See ABYSS.
(1) (בּאר, be‘ēr; compare Arabic bi'r, “well” or “cistern”; usually artificial: “And Isaac’s servants digged (dug) in the valley, and found there a well of springing (margin “living”) water” (Genesis 26:19); some times covered: “Jacob ... rolled the stone from the well’s mouth” (Genesis 29:10). Be‘ēr may also be a pit: “The vale of Siddim was full of slime pits” (Genesis 14:10); “the pit of destruction” (Psalms 55:23). (2) (בּור, bōr), usually “pit”: “Let us slay him, and cast him into one of the pits” (Genesis 37:20); may be “well”: “drew water out of the well of Beth-lehem” (2 Samuel 23:16).
Abyss, (῎Αβυσσος). The Greek word means literally “without bottom,” but actually deep, profound. It is used in the Sept. for the Heb. tehom’ (תּהוֹם), which we find applied either to the ocean (Genesis 1:2; 7:11) or to the under world (Psalms 71:20; 107:26). In the New Testament it is used as a noun to describe Hades, or the place of the dead generally (Romans 10:7)... In the Revelation the authorized version invariably renders it “bottomless pit;” elsewhere “deep.” SEE PIT.
Pit In the A. V. this word appears with a figurative as well as a literal meaning. It passes from the facts that belong to the outward aspect of Palestine and its cities to states or regions of the spiritual world. With this power it is used to represent several Hebrew and Greek words, and the starting-point which the literal meaning presents for the spiritual is, in each case, a subject of some interest.
Joseph’s Brothers Place Him in a Pit (17th c. engraving)
Joseph’s Brothers Threw Him into a Pit
Joseph cast into the Pit by his Brethren
Joseph in a Well
Joseph Placed in a Pit
Reuben Returns to the Cistern
They Took Joseph and Cast Him into a Pit