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.

As a word, the original Hebrew word ‘sheol’, translated ‘hell’, refers to the grave [the death state—gravedom]. Some say it means ‘a covered place’. There are some parallels between ‘sheol’ and ‘covering’ in the Bible, e.g. “Sheol is naked before God… Abaddon has no covering“(Job 26:6) “Your pomp is brought down to the grave [she’ol]… and the worms cover thee” (Isaiah 14:10,11) “In the day when he went down to the grave [she’ol] I caused a mourning: I covered the deep for him” (Ezekiel 31:15).

‘Hell’ is the anglicised version of ‘sheol’; thus when we read of ‘hell’ we are not reading a word which has been fully translated. A ‘helmet’ is literally a ‘hell-met’, meaning a covering for the head. In old English, especially in Scotland, there was the practice of “helling potatoes”, burying them underground in Winter, covering them, in order to preserve them; putting a thatched roof on a building was to “hell a house”, to cover it. The village of Hellington in Eastern England was originally so named because of the thatchers who lived there—those who ‘helled’ rooves. Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, defines “Hell” as coming “from… helan, to conceal”. Biblically, this ‘covered place’, or ‘hell’, is the grave¹. There are many examples where the original word ‘sheol’ is translated ‘grave’. Indeed, some modern Bible versions scarcely use the word ‘hell’, translating it more properly as ‘grave’. A few examples of where this word ‘sheol’ is translated ‘grave’ should torpedo the popular conception of hell as a place of fire and torment for the wicked.

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Author: Duncan Heaster

Keywords: Hell, Gehenna, Sheol, Hades, Tartarus, Grave, Pit, Death, Afterlife, Intermediate state, Abraham's bosom, Going to hell, immortal soul

Bible reference(s): Matthew 5:22, Matthew 5:29, Matthew 5:30, Matthew 10:28, Matthew 11:23, Matthew 18:9, Matthew 23:15, Matthew 23:33, Mark 9:43, Mark 9:45, Mark 9:47, Luke 10:15, Luke 12:5, Luke 16:23, Acts 2:27, Acts 2:31, James 3:6, 2 Peter 2:4, Revelation 1:18, Revelation 6:8, Revelation 20:13, Revelation 20:14, Tobit 13:2, Wisdom of Solomon 1:14, Wisdom of Solomon 2:1, Wisdom of Solomon 16:13, Wisdom of Solomon 17:14, Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 14:12, Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 14:16, Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 17:27, Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 21:10, Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 28:21, Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 41:4, Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 48:5, Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 51:5, Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 51:6, Baruch 2:17, Baruch 3:11, Baruch 3:19, 2 Maccabees 6:23, 2 Esdras 2:29, 2 Esdras 4:7, 2 Esdras 4:8, 2 Esdras 4:41, 2 Esdras 7:36, 2 Esdras 8:53

Source: “The Real Devil A Biblical Exploration.”

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