She'ol (SHEE-ohl or SHEE-əl; Hebrew שְׁאוֹל Šʾôl), translated as “grave,” “pit,” or “abode of the dead,” is the Hebrew term for the place of the dead, the common grave of humans of the Old Testament/Hebrew Scriptures. It is a place of darkness to which all the dead go, both the righteous and the unrighteous, regardless of the moral choices made in life, a place of stillness and darkness cut off from life and from the Hebrew god(s).
While the Old Testament writings describe Sheol as the permanent place of the dead, in the Second Temple period (roughly 500 B.C.—70 A.D.) a more diverse set of ideas developed: in some non-Biblical texts, Sheol is considered to be the home of both the righteous and the wicked, separated into respective compartments; in others, it was considered a place of punishment, meant for the wicked dead alone. When the Hebrew scriptures were translated into Greek in ancient Alexandria around 200 B.C. the word “Hades” (which in Greek mythology represented an underworld ruled by the deity of the same name) was substituted for Sheol, and this is reflected in the New Testament where Hades is both the state of the dead and the personification of the evil it represents.
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Bible reference(s): Genesis 37:35, Genesis 42:38, Genesis 44:29, Genesis 44:31, Numbers 16:30, Numbers 16:33, Deuteronomy 32:22, 1 Samuel 2:6, 2 Samuel 22:6, 1 Kings 2:6, 1 Kings 2:9, Job 7:9, Job 11:8, Job 14:13, Job 17:13, Job 17:16, Job 21:13, Job 24:19, Job 26:6, Psalms 6:5, Psalms 9:17, Psalms 16:10, Psalms 18:5, Psalms 30:3, Psalms 31:17, Psalms 49:14, Psalms 49:15, Psalms 55:15, Psalms 86:13, Psalms 88:3, Psalms 89:48, Psalms 116:3, Psalms 139:8, Psalms 141:7, Proverbs 1:12, Proverbs 5:5, Proverbs 7:27, Proverbs 9:18, Proverbs 15:11, Proverbs 15:24, Proverbs 23:14, Proverbs 27:20, Proverbs 30:16, Ecclesiastes 9:10, Isaiah 5:14, Isaiah 7:11, Isaiah 14:9, Isaiah 14:11, Isaiah 14:15, Isaiah 28:15, Isaiah 28:18, Isaiah 38:10, Isaiah 38:18, Isaiah 57:9, Ezekiel 31:15, Ezekiel 31:16, Ezekiel 31:17, Ezekiel 32:21, Ezekiel 32:27, Hosea 13:14, Amos 9:2, Jonah 2:2, Habakkuk 2:5
Source: This article uses material from the Wikipedia article “Sheol,” which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.
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