EXPOSING SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISM
Appendix 1: Sheol, Abaddon and the Soul
Home
The Sabbath Has Benn Changed Many Times
ARTICLES
122 Errors in GC Intro, 317-408 (1 of 3)
1. My Testimony and Introduction
2. Seventh-day Adventism in a Nutshell
3. Biblical Inspiration and Ellen G. White
4. DANIEL 8:8-14 LAUNCHING SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISM 3-2018
5. The Sanctuary in Daniel
WHAT IS THE SANCTUARY? A REBUTTAL
6. The 2300 Day Prophecy and the Year-Day Principle
7. The Cleansing of Daniel 8:14
8. The Daily Sacrifice
9. Pattern-Fulfillment
9. SDA PATTERN FULFILLMENT, HEBREWS 8 AND 9 (2017)
10. Sin Transfer into the Sanctuary
Chapter 11: INVESTIGATIVE JUDGMENT BASIS EXPOSED
11. The Truth about the Biblical Sanctuary
12. Books of Heaven
13. Rooms in the Heavenly Sanctuary
14. Inside the Veil
THE SCAPEGOAT: ARTICLE
15. The Day of Atonement and the Scapegoat
16. Antiochus IV Epiphanes; 164 B.C.
17. Creation Sabbath
18. Weekly Sabbath
19. Shadow Sabbaths
20. Greater and Lesser Sabbaths
21. Jesus and the Sabbath
22. The Sabbath in Acts
23. Christian Liberty and Holy Days
24. The United States, Roman Catholicism and the Mark of the Beast
25. Two Different Three Angels' Messages
SHEOL: CONSCIOUS SOULS; ARTICLE
Appendix 1: Sheol, Abaddon and the Soul
Appendix 2: Hades and the Soul
Appendix 3: Jewelry, Dress Code and Deceit
103 QUESTIONS ABOUT THE SOUL AND SHEOL
160 QUESTIONS ABOUT THE SABBATH
214 QUESTIONS ABOUT THE INVESTIGATIVE JUDGMENT
165 ERRORS FROM GC P411-444 (2 OF 3)
50 Errors in GC P563-678 (3 of 3)
1260 YEARS OF INEPT POPES
Achilles' Heel of Seventh-day Adventism: Daniel 8:8-13
BATCHELOR, DOUG; SDA AMAZING FACTS
BRIEF DIALOG WITH AMAZING FACTS
Ben Carson, Dishonest Seventh-day Adventist
BOOK INDEX: SUBJECT-TEXT-GC-BOOK PAGE
Book Reviews and Endorsements
Dialog with SDA on the Law, 2014
Hell: After-Death Punishmetn
"LAW" IN THE BIBLE
LAW-UNITY TEXTS WHICH DESTROY SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISM
PAPAL WEAKNESSES
Questions on Daniel from an Andrews University Scholar
Marc Rasell and Russell Kelly dialog, Oct 2009
Marc Rasell and Russell Kelly dialog-2, Oct2009
MILLENNIUM: BIBLE VERSUS GREAT CONTROVERSY
14 REASONS WHY THE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST DOCTRINE OF DEATH IS WRONG
SABBATH-BREAKING IS NOT ON SIN LIST AFTER CALVARY
SDA DOCTRINAL STATEMENT AND COMMENTS
SITE INDEX: TEXT, NAME, WORD
Sunday Blue Law Paranoia of SDAs
TEN COMMANDMENTS ARE NOT FOR ALL MANKIND
UNCLEAN FOOD HISTORY AND LAWS

Please allow up to one minute for download.

Exposing Seventh-day Adventism
Russell Earl Kelly, PHD

When taught as a unit, Seventh-day Adventists indirectly teach that Christ is the Anti-Christ little horn of Daniel 8:9-14 who defiled the sanctuary by transferring sin into it. See page one and chapter 4.

Appendix 1

 

SHEOL AND THE SOUL

Edited: 8-2007

 

1.                     Introduction and Purpose                                        

2.                     Sheol: Confusing Definitions                                              

3.                     Sheol: A Comprehensive Definition                                  

4.                     Sheol and Grave are Not Identical                         

5.                     Sheol is an Ancient Concept                                                

6.                   Sheol Descends Much Deeper Than the Grave                  

7.                     Sheol and Death are Companions                          

8.                     Sheol and Unconsciousness                                                

9.                     Sheol: A Place for Souls and Bodies                                  

10.                   Sheol for the Righteous                                            

11.                   Sheol for the Wicked                                                             

12.                   Sheol and the Pit                                                       

13.                   Sheol and the Raphaim (Spirits of the Dead)        

14.                   Sheol and Necromancy (Conjuring the Dead)        

15.                   Sheol and Abaddon                          

16.                   Sheol: Jesus and Psalm 16:10                              

17.                   Sheol and the Judgment     

18.                   Summary and Conclusion                                       

Appendix:       KJV, NKJ, NIV, NAS, RSV                                     

Translations of Sheol Texts

 

1.         INTRODUCTION AND PURPOSE:

 

Sheol is one of the most mysterious words in all of the Bible. It conjures up such Old Testament companion words as the “rephaim,” or “spirits of the dead,” “the nether world,” “shadows,” “the bottoms of the mountains,” and Abaddon.  However, it is unfortunate that most of us have never noticed Sheol in our Bibles because it is usually translated into words such as “grave,” pit” and “Hell.”

 

What happens to the soul at death? Does the soul immediately enter its full reward or punishment before the resurrection of the body?  Does the soul enter only a partial reward or punishment and await its full reward or punishment after resurrection?  Does the soul cease to exist entirely until the resurrection for one judgment of both body and soul? Do only the souls of the righteous survive death and the souls of the wicked cease to exist without any punishment? All of these views are current within Christianity today.

 

I have been a member of churches which advocated the first (Baptist) and third (Seventh-day Adventist) views which have used the King James Version to validate both doctrines. It will be shown that a proper understanding of Sheol is one of the most important keys in researching this mystery.

 

The greatest difficulty in understanding the intermediate state of the soul is caused by the different ways that the word Sheol is translated in some of the most accepted Bible versions. Sheol is the Hebrew word for Hades. The most accepted versions widely disagree concerning their translation of Sheol. For example, the King James Version translates it as “Hell” 31 times, “grave” 30 times and “pit” 3 times. The New King James revisers left Sheol as “Hell” 18 of the 31 occurrences; however, it changed “Hell” to Sheol 13 times, “grave” to Sheol 4 times, “pit” to Sheol once and “grave” to “Hell” once. Unfortunately, the New International Version never uses the word “Hell” in the Old Testament!  It translates Sheol as “grave” in 56 of its 64 occurrences; “death” is used 6 times and “depths” once. Only in Deuteronomy 32:22 does the NIV approach the truth with “the realm of death below.” However, in contrast to these, the New American Standard Version and the Revised Standard Versions wisely avoid interpretation and conjecture by simply leaving the word as Sheol in all occurrences. A comparative chart is supplied at the end of this article.

 

Those Christians who deny the doctrine of the intermediate conscious state of souls between death and the resurrection quote the KJV and NIV for textual support and avoid the NAS and RSV.

 

Something has gone seriously wrong within the realm of Bible translations when versions differ this much! While claiming to be written for contemporary man’s clear comprehension of God’s Word, at least here many translations have actually lessened our understanding of how the men and women of the Bible perceived life and death.

 

Some Christians believe the Bible teaches that there is not an independent “soul” which survives the death of the body in a conscious intermediate state. Prominent among these are Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh-day Adventists. Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that physical death is the absolute end for the unbeliever. They deny a resurrection of unbelievers, a final judgment of them and any kind of after-life punishment, whether it is in Sheol, Hell, Hades, Gehenna or the lake of fire.

 

Seventh-day Adventists, like Jehovah’s Witnesses, teach that the soul does not exist apart from the body, and, therefore, both the righteous and unrighteous actually cease to exist at death. Although SDAs soften this by calling it “soul-sleep,” it is really a doctrine of “non-existence,” or “annihilation.” Only after an after-death judgment (which began in 1844) and re-creation, they teach, will the righteous enter the presence of God. The wicked will then be judged and finally completely destroyed soon after they are cast into the lake of fire. In recent years similar views to this have gained proponents in almost every major liberal denomination.

 

Other Christians, especially conservatives, accept the traditional position. These believe the Bible teaches that, for mankind, life and death are both physical and spiritual. The physical part ends when the body dies. On the other hand, at the moment of death, man's spiritual being continues a conscious existence in another place. The Old Testament name for the place of both bodies and souls is Sheol.

 

Many of these believe that, before the resurrection of Christ, the souls of both the righteous and the wicked went into one of several regions of Sheol the New Testament Hades. At Christ’s ascension, he transplanted the upper Paradise portion of Sheol containing the souls of the righteous to heaven itself, into the presence of God. They believe that this is a conscious existence, an intermediate state, between the death of the body and the resurrection of the body. The souls of the wicked remain in conscious, or semi-conscious, torment in Sheol, or Hades.

 

Which view is correct? The doctrine of Sheol is very important in deciding the answer to this question. Is Sheol equal to the grave and only a storage place for the body because souls have ceased any conscious existence? Or did O. T. Sheol contain both dead bodies and conscious souls? Or is the truth somewhere in between? It is extremely difficult to comprehend Old Testament man’s understanding of the afterlife without proper discernment of the word Sheol.

 

As previously stated, these differing doctrines about the intermediate state result partially from the understanding and definition of Sheol and Hades. Both Seventh-day Adventists and Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that Sheol/Hades and “the grave” are wholly identical Bible terms which refer only to the body between death and the resurrection. They support their doctrine by quoting many texts which incorrectly translate Sheol as “grave.”

 

However, a thorough Old Testament study of Sheol reveals that it must mean much more than only the Agrave.@ Anyone who earnestly wants to know the truth about the subject should begin with an exhaustive study of every Old Testament reference to Sheol. Rather than limiting the study to inconclusive discussions about immortality and the meaning of “spirit” and “soul,” try to discover the mind-set of Old Testament writers. Try to discover what they actually thought about the afterlife as shown by their actions.

 

Again, the King James Version, New International Version, and many popular modern versions have contributed much to the confusion by translating the Hebrew word, Sheol  as “grave” instead of leaving it accurately as Sheol as does both the New American Standard and the Revised Standard Versions. Moreover, because many Christians confuse Sheol, Hell and Hades with the “lake of fire” (Gehenna), then translating  Sheol  as “Hell” also contributes to the confusion. Sheol is the better word because it does not interpret itself by theological speculation; if misunderstood, it at the least stimulates inquiry.

 

It is my purpose to demonstrate that Sheol should be left un-translated. The integrity of God’s Word and the clear understanding of Bible doctrine depends on translations which retain unchangeable truth.

 

2.         SHEOL: CONFUSING DEFINITIONS

 

The following are direct quotations, though excerpts, from several leading source materials. Oddly, several insist on using the word “grave” for Sheol, but their extended definitions reveal that their use of “grave” includes the concepts of “soul,” “body,” “death,” and “the pit.” This is confusing, at the least, because contemporary usage of the word “grave” has mostly changed from usage over the centuries.

 

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia:  Sheol  

 

This word is often translated in the King James Version “grave”....  It means really the unseen world, the state or abode of the dead.... The English Revisers have acted somewhat inconsistently in leaving “grave” or “pit” in the historical books and putting Sheol in the margin, while substituting Sheol in the poetical writings, and putting “grave” in the margin....

 

Not a state of unconsciousness: Yet it would be a mistake to infer, because of these strong and sometimes poetically heightened contrasts to the world of the living, that Sheol was conceived of as absolutely a place without consciousness, or some dim remembrance of the world above. This is not the case. Necromancy rested on the idea that there was some communication between the world above and the world below.

 

Post-canonical Period:  There is no doubt, at all events, that in the post-canonical Jewish literature (the Apocrypha and apocalyptic writings) a very considerable development is manifest in the idea of Sheol. Distinction between good and bad in Israel is emphasized; Sheol becomes for certain classes an intermediate state between death and resurrection; for the wicked and for Gentiles it is nearly a synonym for Gehenna (Hell).

 

Nelson’s Bible Dictionary:  Sheol

 

The abode of the dead. Sheol is the Hebrew equivalent of the Greek Hades, which means “the unseen world.”

 

 Sheol was regarded as an underground region, shadowy and gloomy, where disembodied souls had a conscious but dull and inactive existence. The Hebrew people regarded Sheol as a place to which both righteous and unrighteous go at death, a place where punishment is received and rewards are enjoyed. Sheol is pictured as having an insatiable appetite.

 

However, God is present in Sheol. It is open and known to Him. This suggests that in death God's people remain under His care, and the wicked never escape His judgment. Sheol gives meaning to Psalm 16:10. Peter saw the fulfillment of this messianic psalm in Jesus' resurrection.

 

Oxford Companion to the Bible: “Hell”

 

Both Sheol and Hades refer to a general dwelling place of souls after death. It was also called “the pit,” “the abyss,” and “the lower parts.” ... There was a general conviction that existence continued in some way after its separation from earthly life. The wicked dwell in a deeper section than those of the righteous. ... From a neutral viewpoint, Sheol was regarded as the dwelling place of all the dead. When ethical viewpoints are involved, however, Sheol is said to be a place of punishment.

 

Seventh-Day Adventist Bible Dictionary, 1960: “Grave”

 

The Hebrew Sheol, a poetic expression for the grave, is difficult to translate. In poetic sections of the Bible it frequently appears in parallel constructions with “death” and “pit,” a poetic word for grave. Because of the theological implications of “Hell” (not inherent in the Hebrew word), this rendering is less desirable than grave.

 

Smith’s Bible Dictionary: “Hell”

 

It would perhaps have been better to retain the Hebrew word, Sheol, or else render it always by “the grave” or “the pit.” It is deep and dark in the center of the earth, having within it depths on depths, and fashioned with gates and bars. In this cavernous realm are souls of dead men, the Rephaim and ill spirits. It is clear that in many passages the O.T. Sheol can only mean the grave.

 

New Unger’s Bible Dictionary: Sheol

 

The world of the dead....  There seems to be an allusion to the belief that there is a dark and deep abyss beneath the center of the earth, inhabited by departed spirits, but not necessarily a place of torment....  In the great majority of cases in the OT, Sheol is used to signify the grave....

 

Vine’s Expository Dictionary:  Sheol

 

First, the word means the state of death....  It is the final resting place of all men.... Sheol is parallel to Hebrew words for “pit” or “Hell,” “corruption” or “decay,” and “destruction.”

 

Second, Sheol is used of a place of conscious existence after death....  It is an undesirable place for the wicked and a refuge for the righteous. Thus Sheol is also a place of reward for the righteous....

 

3.   SHEOL: A COMPREHENSIVE DEFINITION

 

Sheol is the proper place-name for “death,” “the pit,” and “the realm of the dead.” Although it includes the place for both the conscious “soul” and the “grave” for the body, it never stands for either of them alone. While Sheol is the place-name, “death” is the general description, and “the pit” is the geographical description. All three terms contain souls and graves.

 

It is my purpose to demonstrate that the preceding definition of Sheol, at least as far as the Old Testament is concerned, is correct. This definition has been derived as the result of several years of pondering a definition that is consistent with every Bible usage of the word Sheol.

 

Accordingly, the Old Testament doctrine of the intermediate state as used in this thesis is as follows:

 

One: Sheol, death and the pit are all-inclusive and inter-changeable terms.

 

Two: Sheol is the proper place-name which includes death and the pit. It most often focuses on the soul.

 

Three: “Death” is the general descriptive term which includes Sheol and the pit. It also can be a personification.

 

Four:  “The pit” is the geographical description of Sheol and death. The pit is a very deep multi-chambered chasm in the earth with caves, or recesses. It contains both the graves and the souls of the dead.

 

Five:   In Sheol, souls are in a conscious, or semi-conscious, dull and dark condition. They can become aroused, become excited, see, speak and hear.

 

Six: Before the resurrection of Christ, the souls of the righteous were also in Sheol at rest and peace.

 

Seven: The souls of the wicked in Sheol receive some kind of torment and suffering.

 

Eight: “Souls” are located in the deeper and deepest parts of Sheol, death and the pit.

 

Nine: “Graves” are only one part of Sheol, death and the pit. They are usually located in the upper parts around its mouth.

 

Ten: “Grave” is NOT equivalent to Sheol, death and the pit. It is only a part of them.

 

4.         SHEOL AND GRAVE ARE NOT IDENTICAL

 

The following word comparisons are crucial to a proper understanding of this subject. The word counts are from the King James Version of the Bible as listed in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible.

 

One: Sheol (Strong’s #7585) occurs in the Hebrew Old Testament 64 times. It is a singular place name. As previously stated, in the King James Version it is translated 31 times as “Hell,” 30 times as “grave” and 3 times as “pit.” Sheol is identical to the Hebrew concept of Hades (not the Greek), but is not the same as the Hebrew or Greek concept of Gehenna, or the lake of fire. Significantly, while the KJV usually translates it as “grave,” it is never translated as “tomb” or “sepulcher.” Therefore, since “sepulcher” and “tomb” are equal, because of the common connection between “grave” and “tomb,” it only confuses correct doctrinal study to translate Sheol as “grave.”

 

Two: Qabar (#6912) is the verb root of qeber and qeburah. It means “to bury” and occurs 132 times. Very significantly, the “soul” is never said to be buried, only the body.

 

Three: Qeber (#6913), a masculine noun, occurs 70 times: 35 times “grave,” 28 times “sepulcher,” 7 times “burying-place,” but never as “Hell.” It is significant to note, that, while the KJV translators often translated Sheol as “grave,” they never translated qeber as “Hell.”

 

Four: Qeburah (#6900), a feminine noun, occurs 15 times: 5 times “grave,” 5 times “sepulcher” and 5 times “burial,” but never as “Hell.” When combined, qabar, qeber, and qeburah occur 275 times. While often being translated as “grave,” they are never translated as “Hell/Sheol.” The only logical conclusion is that the translators recognized that Sheol means much more than the present use of “grave.”

 

Five: Bor (#953) occurs 75 times: 33 times “pit,” 23 times “well,” 14 times “dungeon,” 4 times “cistern,” once “fountain,” but never as “Hell.” The “pit” contains tombs and also the upper and lower chambers of Sheol, bor parallels Sheol and death and contains graves and souls.

 

Six: Shachat (#7845) occurs 23 times: 12 times “pit,” 4 times “corruption,” 3 times “grave,” 2 times “ditch” and 2 times “destruction.” It is a snare, or trap. The KJV never translates it as “tomb” or “sepulcher.” As “pit,” it includes the concept of  Sheol (See Ps. 16:10 and Isaiah 38:17,18).

 

Seven: Abaddon (#11) occurs 6 times in the Old Testament as “destruction” and once in Revelation 9:11 as Abaddon, the angel of the bottomless pit. It is neither translated Sheol nor the grave.

 

Eight: Pachat (#6354) occurs 11 times: 9 times “pit,” once “snare” and once “hole.” It is neither translated Sheol nor the grave.

Nine: Gadiysh (#1430) occurs 4 times: it is a pile, heap or stack and is identical with qeber as “tomb” in Job 21:32. It probably refers to an above-ground sepulcher.

 

For the following linguistic reasons, Sheol should never be translated as “grave.”

 

One:   Old Testament translators concede that Sheol is the only word permissible for the Greek Hades.


 

Two:  In contrast to qeber and qeburah, which are often plural, Sheol is always a singular place name.

 

Three: While Sheol is never translated as “tomb,” “sepulcher,” or “burying place,” qeber and qeburah are the commonly accepted words for “grave.”

 

Four: Since other very common words were in use for “grave” and “tomb,” Sheol must have been deliberately chosen through inspiration to indicate something other than the grave.

 

Five: Since Sheol is never “tomb,” and qeber and qeburah are never Sheol or Hades/Hell, then Sheol should never be translated as “grave.”

 

Six: Scripture consistently states that the soul goes to Sheol or the pit at death, never to qeber or qeburah.

 

[Note: For the sake of clarity, the New American Standard Version will be used as the main text.]

 

5.         SHEOL IS AN ANCIENT CONCEPT

 

                                                                    JOB AND SHEOL

 

Job 7:9 When a cloud vanishes, it is gone, so he who goes down to Sheol does not come up.

Job 11:8  {They are} high as the heavens, what can you do? Deeper than Sheol, what can you know?

Job 14:13 Oh that Thou wouldst hide me in Sheol, that Thou wouldst conceal me until Thy wrath returns {to Thee,} that Thou wouldst set a limit for me and remember me!

Job 17:13 If I look for Sheol as my home, I make my bed in the darkness.

Job 17:16 Will it go down with me to Sheol?  Shall we together go down into the dust?

Job 21:13 They spend their days in prosperity, and suddenly they go down to Sheol.

Job 24:19 Drought and heat consume the snow waters, {so does} Sheol {those who} have sinned.

Job 26:6 Naked is Sheol before Him and Abaddon has no covering.

 

Since Job does not mention any of the patriarchs or the Mosaic Law, the events described probably preceded that era. Conservative theologians consider Job to be the earliest book in the Bible, therefore, its discursion about what Old Testament man believed happened at death demonstrates that the Biblical concept of Sheol is very ancient indeed.

 

The word, Sheol, occurs eight times in Job, but is usually undetectable because it is not translated as Sheol in most versions. In the KJV, Sheol is translated “grave” five times, “Hell” twice and “pit” once. However, significantly, it is never translated as “sepulcher” or “tomb.” Qeber occurs five times in Job; it is translated “grave” four times and “tomb” once. Gadiysh occurs twice: as a stack of grain and as a tomb. Obviously, such interchanging of words has caused much difficulty in understanding the concept of Sheol and death from the book of Job.

 

Those speaking in Job knew the difference between the place of Sheol in general and the grave specifically. Job said that some yearn for death and the “grave” (qeber) (3:21, 22); the body is carried to the “grave” (qeber) (10:19); when his days end, the “grave” (qeber) comes next (17:1).  “Yet shall he be brought to the “grave” (qeber), and shall remain in the “tomb” (gadiysh) (21:32).

 

While the grave (qeber) specifically received the body, Sheol was known as the place-name of both bodies and souls in death. Job said “my flesh is clothed with worms” (7:5), “my life is but breath” (7:7) and man vanishes into Sheol at death (7:9). Zophar said that the “depths of God” and the “limits of the Almighty” are “as high as the heavens” and “deeper than  Sheol” (11:7, 8).

 

Job 14:10-22 should be viewed as Job’s unenlightened complaint rather than as theological doctrinal truth about death. Job did not understand doctrines of progressive revelation such as Christ, His judgment, and the resurrection. Job ignorantly wished that he could be like a tree which is cut down and springs to life again when its still-existing roots find water (14:7-9). He did not know that this was also true of those who believe in Christ (John 4:14). Job wanted to be hidden in Sheol and hope for a future resurrection (14:13).

 

While expecting the grave (17:1), Sheol (17:13) and the pit (17:14), Job’s unenlightened hope was to go down into Sheol with him (17:15, 16). Job said that the “rephaim,” or “departed spirits,” consciously “tremble under the waters and their inhabitants” because Sheol is naked before God who sees all (26:5, 6).

 

                                                               GENESIS AND SHEOL  

 


Gen. 37:35 Then all his sons and all his daughters arose to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. And he said, “Surely I will go down to Sheol in mourning for my son.” So his father wept for him.

Gen. 42:38 But Jacob said, “My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead and he alone is left. If harm should befall him on the journey you are taking, then you will bring my gray hair down to Sheol in sorrow.”

Gen. 44:29 And if you take this one also from me, and harm befalls him, you will bring my gray hair down to Sheol in sorrow.

Gen. 44:31 It will come about when he sees that the lad is not {with us} that he will die. Thus your servants will bring the gray hair of your servant our father down to Sheol in sorrow.

 

It is very important to notice that, like Job, the Hebrew of Genesis makes a clear distinction between the “grave” and Sheol. Qeber and qeburah, the usual words for “grave,” “tomb,” “sepulcher” and “burying place,” occur thirteen times in Genesis. For example, Abraham called Sarah’s burial cave a qeber (23:4, 6, 9, 20); Jacob called Rachel’s grave a qeburah  (35:20); Jacob’s grave was a qeburah (47:30) and a qeber (49:30); Joseph called his own grave a qeber (50:5, 13, 14).

 

Significantly, though, like Job, the word, Sheol, not qeber, or qeburah, was chosen by Jacob when he complained about not seeing Joseph or Benjamin again. Certainly Jacob carefully chose his words because he knew the difference! Jacob did not believe that his sorrow would end in the grave, but that it would continue into Sheol, the conscious realm of the departed souls after death. Jacob expected to go “down to Sheol in sorrow.”

 

                           OTHER SHEOL STATEMENTS REFLECT ANCIENT BELIEFS

 

1 Sam. 2:6 [Hannah’s prayer] The LORD kills and makes alive; He brings down to Sheol and raises up.

 

2 Sam. 22:6 [David] The cords of Sheol surrounded me; the snares of death confronted me.

 

I Kings 2:6,9 [David to Solomon concerning Joab] “So act according to your wisdom, and do not let his gray hair go down to Sheol in peace....  Now therefore, do not let him go unpunished, for you are a wise man; and you will know what you ought to do to him, and you will bring his gray hair down to Sheol with blood.”

 

Although Sheol can also mean “death,” “death” should only be an acceptable translation when it is inclusive of both Sheol for the soul and the grave for the body. Sheol is the whole and its parts are places for both souls and graves for bodies. “Grave,” a part of Sheol, should not be used for the whole. Hannah’s statement in First Samuel 2:6 that “the LORD brings down to Sheol” can, therefore, include “death,” but it also goes beyond our idea of “grave.”

 

From Joshua to Second Chronicles, God’s Word focuses on the history of Israel. These books only contain Sheol four times (1 Sam. 2:6; 2 Sam. 22:6 and 1 Kg. 2:6, 9). On the other hand, qeber/qeburah for “grave, tomb, sepulcher” occur thirty times. Over and over again Scripture describes the judges, important leaders and kings as being placed in their graves, or sepulchers (qeber), at death. However, Scripture does not state that any person died and the “body” was placed by man into Sheol at death!!! Again this demonstrates that “grave” and Sheol are not interchangeable terms!

 

6.         SHEOL DESCENDS MUCH DEEPER THAN THE GRAVE

 

Job 11:7-9 Can you discover the depths of God? Can you discover the limits of the Almighty? {They are} high as the heavens, what can you do? Deeper than Sheol, what can you know? Its measure is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea.

 

Numb. 16:30 But if the LORD brings about an entirely new thing and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that is theirs, and they descend alive into Sheol, then you will understand that these men have spurned the LORD.

 

Deut. 32:22 For a fire is kindled in My anger, and burns to the lowest part of Sheol, and consumes the earth with its yield, and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains.

 

Ps. 86:13 For Thy loving-kindness toward me is great, and Thou hast delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

 

Ps. 139:8 If I ascend to heaven, Thou art there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, Thou art there.

 

Prov. 9:18 But he does not know that the dead are there, {that} her guests are in the depths of Sheol.

 

Isa. 7:11 Ask a sign for yourself from the LORD your God; make {it} deep as Sheol or high as heaven.

 

Isa. 14:14-15 >I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.' Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit.

 

Ezek. 31:16  I made the nations quake at the sound of its fall when I made it go down to Sheol with those who go down to the pit; and all the well‑watered trees of Eden, the choicest and best of Lebanon, were comforted in the earth beneath [nether world].


 

Jonah 2:2 And he said, "I called out of my distress to the LORD, and He answered me. I cried for help from the depth of Sheol; Thou didst hear my voice.

 

Jonah 2:6 I descended to the roots of the mountains. The earth with its bars {was} around me forever, but Thou hast brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God.

 

Amos 9:2 Though they dig into Sheol, from there shall My hand take them; and though they ascend to heaven, from there will I bring them down.

 

Where is the place called Sheol located? It is very obvious from these texts that at least part of Sheol is much deeper than the grave! Several texts are comparisons of extremes. When asked to name the lowest places one could imagine, none of us would stop at the grave; instead, we would name the lowest, or deepest, places on earth. Inspired Bible writers believed that Sheol was located far below the earth’s surface. Even the King James translators translated Sheol in the above texts as “Hell” instead of their usual “grave.”  However, the New International Version only admits to “depths” in Psalm 139:8. The word “grave” simply does not fit the description given in these texts. Translating Sheol as “grave” confuses sincere Bible students and questions the logic of those claiming to disperse God’s Word in an understandable format to the entire world. Common sense also argues against Sheol meaning a “place” where the soul is “non-existent.”

 

7.                   SHEOL AND DEATH ARE COMPANIONS

 

Job 17:13 If I look for Sheol as my home, I make my bed in the darkness;

Job 17:14 If I call to the pit [shachat ], ‘You are my father’; to the worm, ‘my mother and my sister’;

Job 17:15 Where now is my hope? And who regards my hope?

Job 17:16 “Will it go down with me to Sheol?  Shall we together go down into the dust?”

 

Job 24:19,20 Drought and heat consume the snow waters, {so does} Sheol {those who} have sinned. A mother will forget him; the worm feeds sweetly till he is remembered no more. And wickedness will be broken like a tree.

 

Prov. 5:5 Her feet go down to death, her steps lay hold of Sheol.

 

Prov. 7:27 Her house is the way to Sheol, descending to the chambers [chader: 2315] of death.

 

Ps. 55:15 Let death come deceitfully upon them; let them go down alive to Sheol, for evil is in their dwelling, in their midst.

 

Isa. 28:15, 18 Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol we have made a pact. The overwhelming scourge will not reach us when it passes by, for we have made falsehood our refuge and we have concealed ourselves with deception.... And your covenant with death shall be canceled, and your pact with Sheol shall not stand; when the overwhelming scourge passes through, then you become its trampling {place.}”

 

Hab. 2:5 Furthermore, wine betrays the haughty man, so that he does not stay at home. He enlarges his appetite like Sheol, and he is like death, never satisfied. He also gathers to himself all nations and collects to himself all peoples.

 

Job 17:13-16; 21:13,32 and 24:10,20 can give an incorrect conclusion if not compared to Job 11:7,8 and other texts which make Sheol much more than and much deeper than the grave.

 

Sheol, “death,” and “pit” are not limited to only “grave” in the Bible and equating them merely confuses theology. Although “death” often focuses on the grave, death and Sheol are described as traveling companions, or very close friends. Since Sheol, “death” and “the pit” all include “grave,” all three have more than one inner “chamber” and all three include both the destiny of the body and the destiny of the soul.

 

Old Testament man, like modern man, used the term “death” to refer to the destiny of the body, the soul, either, or both! Compare the following with the Bible equivalents. How often do we hear phrases such as: “God is going to bring that man down to the grave” (1 Sam. 2:6). “I feel like Hell; I think I'm going to die” (2 Sam. 22:6). “I’ll be with the Lord soon, and you’ll be putting flowers on my grave” (Job 17:13-16). “Hitler is probably in Hell; he’s not coming back from the grave” (Job 21:13, 32). “They are probably rotting in Hell” (Job 24:19, 20). “He is so evil; I wish he would die and go to Hell” (Ps. 55:15). “Prostitution” will lead you straight to Hell” (Prov. 5:5; 7:27). “Greedy as Hell” (Hab. 2:5). “My grandparents are buried there!”

 

The point is that our everyday language does not always distinguish between what we believe happens to someone’s body and their soul! That does not mean that we do not understand the difference!  When we compare Scripture with Scripture, the truth that is clear and undeniable must override that which is unclear. The “house” of “death” is named Sheol; that house has rooms which contain souls and bodies; the house looks like a deep pit.

 


Rev. 6:8 And I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. And authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.

 

Rev. 20:13-14 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one {of them} according to their deeds. And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.

 

The New Testament sheds further light on the relationship between death and Sheol, or Hades, especially Revelation 6:8 and 20:13-14. In these texts “death” AND Hades  are distinct companions. In Revelation 6:8 death claims the bodies, while Hades claims the souls. In Revelation 20:13-14, in accordance with Old Testament Sheol, the depths of the “sea” contain both bodies and souls. However, since most do not perish at sea, the general description will be that “death” will give up the bodies, while Hades will give up the “souls”! Although this differs somewhat from Old Testament usage, the dual residence for departed bodies and souls is still clear. Annihilation is not seen.

 

In summary, although the full revelation of the meaning of death, Sheol, and judgment awaited “the truth” in Jesus Christ, Old Testament writers often, though not always, carefully distinguished between the body and soul by the words they chose. The dualism was clear -- while the body went to the grave in Sheol at death, the souls went to another chamber of Sheol. One could speak of both events as one in reference to time. Both were in the pit, but Sheol extended much deeper than the tomb and was a place of conscious awareness.

 

When death and Sheol/Hades are cast into the lake of fire (Gehenna), the second death, or final separation from God occurs. No longer will any enter THE death, or separation from God (Rev. 21:4). However, those conscious souls from Sheol will either continue in God’s care, or in Gehenna (Rev. 14:11; 21:1-4, 10, 11).

 

8.   SHEOL AND UNCONSCIOUSNESS

 

Job 7:9‑11 When a cloud vanishes, it is gone, so he who goes down to Sheol does not come up. He will not return again to his house, nor will his place know him anymore. Therefore, I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.

 

Job 14:12, 13 So man lies down and does not rise. Until the heavens be no more, He will not awake nor be aroused out of his sleep. “Oh that Thou wouldst hide me in Sheol, that Thou wouldst conceal me until Thy wrath returns {to Thee,} that Thou wouldst set a limit for me and remember me!

 

Ps. 6:5  For there is no mention of Thee in death; in Sheol who will give Thee thanks?

 

Ps. 31:17  Let me not be put to shame, O LORD, for I call upon Thee; let the wicked be put to shame, let them be silent in Sheol.

 

Eccl. 9:10-11 Whatever your hand finds to do, verily, do {it} with all your might; for there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol where you are going. I again saw under the sun...”

 

Of the 64 Sheol texts, the preceding 5 “proof-texts” seem to teach that Sheol is empty of conscious thought or expression. They are favorites with those who teach that the soul ceases to exist at death. They are also favorites with some who believe that the soul only goes to unconscious sleep awaiting the resurrection. However, reaching such conclusions ignores the clearer teaching of many other Sheol texts and all of them as a unified doctrine.

 

Context clears up much of the confusion concerning these previous texts. Their purpose is to teach that there is no return to the “land of the living” after death to communicate with loved ones or others who are still alive. On the one hand, from the perspective of those still alive, they cannot hope to have their departed loved ones return, or be conjured up, in a séance to impart truth to them. However, on the other hand, from the perspective of those about to die, they should quickly say what they can while they still have the time and opportunity!

 

Job 7:9-10 is explained in 7:11. “Therefore I will not refrain my mouth, I will speak.” He would speak while he was still alive and had the chance to say something to others who are still alive.

 

Job 14:12-13 is partially explained in 14:14-15. While suffering excruciating pain, Job wished that God would “hide” him in Sheol until His wrath had passed, until the end of the world if necessary. He does not state that he would be non-existent or unconscious in Sheol, but only that he would not return to the living until God allowed it. Man will physically “live again” on earth, body and soul, when his body is resurrected and his “change comes” (verse 14). Also note the comments in section 5.

 

In Psalm 6:5 David was physically and emotionally beaten, tired, depressed, and in despair. He called on God in 6:4 to “Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies’ sake.” After David had been delivered, he “remembered” God and praised Him before all Israel! However, those in Sheol could not return (*through a séance or otherwise) and remind others of the goodness and greatness of God. *Note: There were notable exceptions such as resurrection.

 

Psalm 31:17, again, from the perspective of the living, the wicked are silenced in Sheol. [Note: The discussion of consciousness and suffering in Sheol will follow.]

 

Ecclesiastes 9:10 deserves special attention. In practical language, it says that one should do what one can do while one is alive. Once dead, we cannot do anything to help those still alive. The dead cannot return to perform work or to impart knowledge or wisdom. Neither are they going to be able to finish such work or impart such knowledge in Sheol. Jesus Himself made a similar statement in Luke 16:27-31. Though the rich man was certainly conscious and knowledgeable in Hades, he was unable to pass that knowledge back to his relatives who were still alive.

 

Most of Ecclesiastes, like 9:10, is surrounded by texts like 9:9 and 9:11 which refer to “under the sun.” With few exceptions, Solomon was describing how unenlightened vain men see life without God’s guidance. The conclusion of Ecclesiastes is found in 12:13-14 “Fear God and keep His commandments. For God will bring every act to judgment” (12:14). Without future punishment of the wicked and rewards for the righteous, life makes no sense, and God is not fair. Divine justice will be delivered in the next life, whether in Sheol, Hades, Paradise, or Gehenna, the lake of fire!

 

Isa. 38:10 I said, “In the middle of my life I am to enter the gates of Sheol; I am to be deprived of the rest of my years.”

 

Isa. 38:11 I said, “I shall not see the LORD, the LORD in the land of the living; I shall look on man no more among the inhabitants of the world.

....

Isa. 38:15 What shall I say? For He has spoken to me, and He himself has done it; I shall wander about all my years because of the bitterness of my soul.

Isa. 38:16 O Lord, by {these} things {men} live; and in all these is the life of my spirit; O restore me to health, and let me live!

Isa. 38:17 Lo, for {my own} welfare I had great bitterness; it is Thou who hast kept my soul from the pit of nothingness [corruption], for Thou hast cast all my sins behind Thy back.

Isa. 38:18 For Sheol cannot thank Thee, death cannot praise Thee; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for Thy faithfulness. [Note: this text contains all three equals.]

Isa. 38:19 “It is the living who give thanks to Thee, as I do today; a father tells his sons about Thy faithfulness.”

 

Isaiah 38:9-20 reveals how Old Testament man thought. King Hezekiah of Judah is the speaker on his death-bed (38:9). He said “I shall go to the gates of  Sheol”" at death (38:10). Since he will be in Sheol, he will not “see the LORD or man any more in the land of the living” (38:11). Hezekiah asked God for healing (38:16). Afterwards, having been forgiven and healed, he said that God “has in love to my soul [nephesh] delivered it from the pit [bor: 1097] of corruption [7845: shachat ]” (38:17).

 

King Hezekiah continued, “For Sheol cannot thank Thee, death cannot praise Thee; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for Thy faithfulness.” The key text follows immediately, “It is the living who give thanks to Thee, as I do today; a father tells his sons about Thy faithfulness.” The dead in Sheol cannot praise God to the living on earth, because they cannot return to the land of the living from Sheol before the resurrection of the body!  Hezekiah could not praise God to his children from Sheol, neither could he teach them God’s truth.

 

It is not the purpose of these texts to teach that souls in Sheol are either non-existent or unconscious to God or unconscious to each other. They teach that they are unconscious in relation to those still living on earth. They cannot praise God in front of their children to teach the truth of God.

 

9.   SHEOL: A PLACE FOR SOULS AND BODIES 

 

Ps. 16:10 For Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Sheol; neither wilt Thou allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay [shachat ].

 

Ps. 30:3 O LORD, Thou hast brought up my soul from Sheol;  Thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit [bor].

 

Ps. 49:14-15 As sheep they are appointed for Sheol; death shall be their shepherd; and the upright shall rule over them in the morning; and their form [strength, rock] shall be for Sheol to consume, so that they have no habitation. But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol; for He will receive me.

 

Ps. 88:13 For Thy loving-kindness toward me is great, and Thou hast delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

 

Ps. 88:3 For my soul has had enough troubles, and my life has drawn near to Sheol.


 

Ps. 89:48 What man can live and not see death? Can he deliver his soul from the power of Sheol?

 

Prov. 23:14 You shall beat him with the rod, and deliver his soul from Sheol.

 

These texts contain a very important fact about the relationship between the “soul” and Sheol at death. They also provide a remarkable demonstration of Bible inspiration. Consider the questions, “Does the Bible teach that “souls” go to Sheol at death?”  “Does the Bible teach that souls go to the grave, that is, qeber/qeburah, at death?” “Does the Bible teach that souls cease to exist at death awaiting the resurrection?”

 

Comparative research was made trying to link “soul” (Strong's 5315) with qeber and qeburah (6913 and 6900), the usual Hebrew words translated as “grave.” Although nephesh (soul) has many other meanings, one will discover an amazing conclusion. In the Hebrew of the above texts, the “soul” always goes to Sheol or the “pit” at death!!!  The list includes every text that combines “soul” and Sheol. The “soul” is never said to enter qeber or qeburah at death!!! Again, the words, bor and shachat  for “pit” refer to both Sheol for souls and the grave for bodies. However, Sheol is never translated as “tomb” or “sepulcher.”

 

Once again, it is very unfortunate that Bible translators have often translated all three words (Sheol, qeber, and qeburah) as “grave.” They correctly refuse to translate Sheol as “tomb,” or qeber/qeburah as “Sheol/Hell.” Since Sheol does not mean “tomb,” and qeber/qeburah do not mean Sheol/Hades, then why should these words all mean “grave”?  Simple logic states that, if ‘A’ does not equal ‘B,’ and ‘B’ does not equal ‘C,’ then ‘A’ cannot equal ‘C’.

 

Inspired writers were convinced that, at death, the soul faced Sheol, not extinction. Not once did they link the soul going into the grave at death, or becoming non-existent.

 

10.       SHEOL FOR THE RIGHTEOUS

 

Job 14:13 Oh that Thou wouldst hide me in Sheol, that Thou wouldst conceal me until Thy wrath returns {to Thee,} that Thou wouldst set a limit for me and remember me!

 

Ps. 16:10 For Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Sheol; neither wilt Thou allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay.

 

Ps. 49:14-15 As sheep they are appointed for Sheol; death shall be their shepherd; and the upright shall rule over them in the morning; and their form shall be for Sheol to consume, so that they have no habitation. But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol; for He will receive me.

 

Prov. 15:24 The path of life {leads} upward for the wise, that he may keep away from Sheol below.

 

Isa. 57:2 He [the righteous] enters into peace; they rest in their beds, {each one} who walked in his upright way.

 

The Old Testament concept of death was that both righteous and wicked souls went into the various chambers of Sheol at death (1 Sam. 2:6; Job 21:13; Ps. 6:5; 18:5). Concerning the righteous in Sheol, the preceding texts describe it as a place where “peace” is acquired and where Job wanted God to “hide” his soul from His wrath until the resurrection. Also, there is indication of at least some mourning and sorrow over the loss of loved ones in Sheol (Gen. 37:35; 42:38; 44:29; 44:31).

 

What does Proverb 15:24 mean? Does it mean that the righteous will not die, or that they would live longer because they are righteous? Or is it a hint that Old Testament man hoped for something even better than Sheol, perhaps above with God?

 

Although Psalm 16:10 has reference to Christ in the New Testament, could it also have given hope to Old Testament man that God would somehow eventually “redeem” man even from Sheol and not abandon him there (Ps. 49:15)?  Unfortunately, this aspect of Sheol is vague, though partially clarified by Jesus and through the gospel in the New Testament’s further revelation.

 

11.       SHEOL FOR THE WICKED

 

One: Job and Moses believed that Sheol was a place for punishment after the death of the body.

 

Job 21:13 They [the wicked] spend their days in prosperity, and suddenly they go down to Sheol.

 

Job 24:19 Drought and heat consume the snow waters, {so does} Sheol {those who} have sinned.

 

Job 26:5, 6 The departed spirits tremble under the waters and their inhabitants. Naked is Sheol before Him and Abaddon has no covering.

 

Numb. 16:29 If these men die the death of all men, or if they suffer the fate of all men, {then} the LORD has not sent me.


Numb. 16:30 But if the LORD brings about an entirely new thing and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that is theirs, and they descend alive into Sheol, then you will understand that these men have spurned the LORD.

Numb. 16:31 Then it came about as he finished speaking all these words, that the ground that was under them split open;

Numb. 16:32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men who belonged to Korah, with {their} possessions.

Numb. 16:33 So they and all that belonged to them went down alive to Sheol; and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly.

 

Deut. 32:22 For a fire is kindled in My anger, and burns to the lowest part of Sheol, and consumes the earth with its yield, and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains.

 

Numbers 16:29-33 says something interesting about the location of lowest Sheol. When Korah challenged Moses’ authority, Moses said in verses 29-30 “If these men die the death of all men, or if they suffer the fate of all men, {then} the LORD has not sent me. But if the LORD brings about an entirely new thing and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that is theirs, and they descend alive into Sheol, then you will understand that these men have spurned the LORD.”

 

Death was not an “entirely new thing”; neither were men dying in earthquakes. The “entirely new thing” was going “alive” directly into the depths of Sheol, both body and soul!  And so it happened.  Verse 33 states that they “went down alive to Sheol.”

 

These Bible verses are meaningless if Sheol only means “grave”! While most graves were shallow and could be touched, because of the earthquake, the “graves” for the body were extraordinarily deep inside the earth in Sheol with their souls. This was the “entirely new thing.” It is very difficult to understand how the NIV can translate Sheol as “grave” here.

 

In Deuteronomy 32:22 a “fire is kindled in God's anger towards disobedient Israel that will punish them unto the “lowest Sheol” and “set on fire the foundations of the mountains.” Just as Jacob’s sorrow for Joseph would not stop at the grave, neither does God’s anger stop at the grave. Deuteronomy distinguishes between Sheol and qeber, because, in 34:6 it states that Moses was buried in his grave (qeber). Deuteronomy 32:22 is also the only verse in which the NIV translators ventured beyond “grave,” “death” and “depth” to translate Sheol as “the realm of death below.”

 

Two:  David, Solomon and the other writers of Psalms believed that souls were punished in Sheol after death.

 

2 Sam. 22:6 The cords [sorrows] of Sheol surrounded me; the snares of death confronted me.

 

Ps. 9:17 The wicked will return to Sheol, {even} all the nations who forget God.

 

Ps. 88:13 For Thy loving-kindness toward me is great, and Thou hast delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

 

Ps. 88:3 For my soul has had enough troubles, and my life has drawn near to Sheol.

 

Ps. 88:4 I am reckoned among those who go down to the pit [bor]; I have become like a man without strength,

Ps. 88:5 Forsaken among the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave [qeber], whom Thou dost remember no more, and they are cut off from Thy hand.

Ps. 88:6 Thou hast put me in the lowest pit, in dark places, in the depths.

 

Ps. 116:3 The cords [sorrows] of death encompassed me, and the terrors of Sheol came upon me; I found distress and sorrow.

 

Prov. 23:14 You shall beat him with the rod, and deliver his soul from Sheol.

 

Song of Solomon 8:6 Put me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, jealousy is as severe as Sheol; its flashes are flashes of fire, the {very} flame of the LORD.

 

When out of God’s will, David identified with the wicked, and compared his pain with that of Sheol. David said his “sorrows” were those of Sheol (2 Sam. 22:6) and his soul was delivered from the “lowest Sheol” (Ps. 86:13). Psalm 116:3 may be the strongest verse in the Bible describing the suffering in Sheol with “terrors,” “distress,” and “sorrow.”

 

Texts such as Psalm 9:17 and Proverb 23:14 should be translated as Sheol rather than the NIV’s “grave.” Since all go to the same grave, the statement that “the wicked shall be turned into Sheol” does not make sense unless some kind of justice is indicated (Psalm 9:17). Likewise, Proverb 23:14, says that the child “will not die,” but his “soul” will be delivered “from Sheol” makes no sense if only the grave were meant.

 

Three:  Isaiah believed that suffering would continue in Sheol after death.

 

Isa. 14:9 Sheol from beneath is excited over you to meet you when you come; it arouses for you the spirits of the dead [rephaim], all the leaders of the earth; it raises all the kings of the nations from their thrones.

Isa. 14:10 They will all respond and say to you, “Even you have been made weak as we, you have become like us.

Isa. 14:11 Your pomp {and} the music of your harps have been brought down to Sheol; maggots are spread out {as your bed} beneath you, and worms are your covering.

Isa. 14:12 How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations!

Isa. 14:13 But you said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north.

Isa. 14:14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”

Isa. 14:15 Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit.

Isa. 14:16 Those who see you will gaze at you, they will ponder over you, {saying,} “Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms,

Isa. 14:17 Who made the world like a wilderness and overthrew its cities, who did not allow his prisoners to {go} home?”

Isa. 14:18 All the kings of the nations lie in glory, each in his own tomb [house: bayit].

Isa. 14:19 But you have been cast out of your tomb [grave: qeber] like a rejected branch, clothed with the slain who are pierced with a sword, who go down to the stones of the pit, like a trampled corpse.

Isa. 14:20 You will not be united with them in burial, because you have ruined your country, you have slain your people. May the offspring of evildoers not be mentioned forever.

 

While discussing the future of the king of Babylon, Isaiah 14 is a very vivid description of conscious existence after death in the lower world of Sheol. Verses 10, 11, 16 and 17 are actually spoken by the souls in Sheol. It seriously challenges the assertion of those who deny the continued conscious survival of the soul after death prior to the resurrection of the body.

 

In 14:9 the “spirits of the dead” are “excited,” “aroused,” and “raised” to meet the dead king of Babylon. In 14:10 they “all respond” and speak. In 14:11 they remind the king that his body will be eaten by worms in the grave-part of Sheol. While some part of the king is conscious in Sheol, his body will be eaten by worms in another part.

 

In 14:15 God promised the King of Babylon that he would be brought down to Sheol which is located in the “recesses of the pit” --- here contrasted with qeber, the grave.  The word for “recesses” in the NAS is yerekah. Yerekah is translated as “sides” in the KJV, “depths” in the NIV and RSV, “lowest depths” in the NKJV and “uttermost parts” in the ASV. Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Old Testament Lexicon also includes “extreme parts.” It is very unlikely that these descriptions only refer to the first six feet of the grave.

 

Those that “see” and “speak” in verses 10-18 are the departed spirits, the “rephaim” already in Sheol. Next, verse 19 declares that his body will be cast out of the grave [qeber]. These texts make no sense if the soul has ceased to exist. They clearly indicate conscious activity in Sheol. They also carefully point out that the king’s body will be cast out of qeber, not Sheol. Two different places in the pit are being described here, not one.

 

Four: Ezekiel believed that the dead would continue to be conscious in Sheol.

 

Ezek. 31:16-17 I made the nations quake at the sound of its fall when I made it go down to Sheol with those who go down to the pit; and all the well‑watered trees of Eden, the choicest and best of Lebanon, were comforted in the earth beneath. They also went down with it to Sheol to those who were slain by the sword; and those who were its strength lived under its shade among the nations.

….

Ezek. 32:21 The strong among the mighty ones shall speak of him {and} his helpers from the midst of Sheol, “They have gone down, they lie still, the uncircumcised, slain by the sword.”

….

Ezek. 32:27 Nor do they lie beside the fallen heroes of the uncircumcised, who went down to Sheol with their weapons of war, and whose swords were laid under their heads; but the punishment for their iniquity rested on their bones, though the terror of {these} heroes {was} once in the land of the living.

….

Ezek. 32:31 These Pharaoh will see, and he will be comforted for all his multitude slain by the sword, {even} Pharaoh and all his army, declares the Lord GOD.

 

In Ezekiel 31:16 God promised to cast Pharaoh “down to Sheol” with those who “descend” “into the pit,” or into the “nether parts of the earth.” The other heathen nations also went “down into Sheol” (31:17). The wicked speak to Pharaoh out of Sheol, not out of qeber, the grave (32:21). The wicked nations are “there,” meaning Sheol (32:22, 24, 26, 29). They are all in the “nether parts of the earth” (32:24). The numerous texts describing the location of the wicked in Sheol consistently indicate someplace other than a shallow tomb. God Himself declares that Pharaoh will “see” the other slain nations in Sheol (32:31).

 

Five: Jonah believed that the wicked would continue to suffer in Sheol after death.

 

Jonah 2:1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the stomach of the fish,

Jonah 2:2 and he said, “I called out of my distress to the LORD, and He answered me. I cried for help from the depth of Sheol; Thou didst hear my voice.

Jonah 2:3 For Thou hadst cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the current engulfed me.  All Thy breakers and billows passed over me.

Jonah 2:4 So I said, ‘I have been expelled from Thy sight. Nevertheless I will look again toward Thy holy temple.’

Jonah 2:5 Water encompassed me to the point of death. The great deep engulfed me, weeds were wrapped around my head.

Jonah 2:6 I descended to the roots of the mountains. The earth with its bars {was} around me forever, but Thou hast brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God.”

 

While out of God’s will, Jonah, like David, identified with the wicked, and compared his pain with that of Sheol.  Jonah described himself as being in the “belly of Sheol” (Jonah 2:2), in the “deep” (2:3), “out of Thy sight” (2:4), and “at the roots [bottoms] of the mountains” (2:6-7).

 

Jonah and David both used Sheol and “pit” to describe the location of the conscious soul after the death of the body. Their word selection reflected their belief that Sheol extends much deeper than an ordinary grave, like a prison pit with bars and cords in the very deepest part of the earth and sea.

 

In conclusion, one cannot ignore the fact that Job, Moses, David, Solomon, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Jonah all used the word, Sheol, to describe a place of suffering after death. Admittedly, many of the texts are surrounded by poetic imagery which places tangible descriptions on the hopes and fears of Old Testament man. However, while taking this imagery into consideration, the vocabulary reflects what Old Testament man “believed” happened after death.

 

For the wicked, Sheol was a dark place of consciousness deep inside the earth or in the deepest parts of the sea. God punished sinners there (Numb. 16:29-33; Deut. 32:22; Job 24:19). It was a place of sorrow, distress, terror, trembling and jealousy (2 Sam. 22:6; Job 26:5; Ps. 88:3-6; 116:3; Song of Solomon 8:6; Jonah 2:6).  And it was a place where the wicked were expelled from God’s presence (Jonah 2:4).

 

Although souls in Sheol appear to be in a state of weakness and stillness (Isa. 14:10; Eze. 32:21), they are neither non-existent nor unconscious. The souls are fully capable of becoming aroused and becoming excited (Isa. 14:9). Once fully aroused, the wicked in Sheol could see, hear, and speak (Isa. 14:10; Eze. 32:21, 31).

 

12.       SHEOL AND THE PIT

 

Ps. 30:3 O LORD, Thou hast brought up my soul from Sheol; Thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit [bor].

 

Ps. 88:3 For my soul has had enough troubles, and my life has drawn near to Sheol.

Ps. 88:4 I am reckoned among those who go down to the pit [bor]; I have become like a man without strength,

….

Ps. 88:5 Forsaken among the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave [qeber], whom Thou dost remember no more, and they are cut off from Thy hand.

Ps 88:6 Thou hast put me in the lowest pit [bor], in dark places, in the depths.

 

Ps. 141:7 As when one plows and breaks open the earth, our bones have been scattered at the mouth of Sheol.

 

Prov. 1:12 [Sinners say] Let us swallow them [our victims] alive like Sheol, even whole, as those who go down to the pit [bor].

 

Prov. 7:27 Her house is the way to Sheol, descending to the chambers of death.

 

Isa. 5:14 Therefore Sheol has enlarged its throat and opened its mouth without measure; and Jerusalem's splendor, her multitude, her din {of revelry,} and the jubilant within her, descend {into it.}

 

Isa. 26:19 Your dead will live; their corpses [nebelah] will rise. You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy, for your dew is as the dew of the dawn, and the earth will give birth to the departed spirits.


 

Ezek. 31:16-17 I made the nations quake at the sound of its fall when I made it go down to Sheol with those who go down to the pit [bor]; and all the well‑watered trees of Eden, the choicest and best of Lebanon, were comforted in the earth beneath [nether parts].  They also went down with it to  Sheol  to those who were slain by the sword; and those who were its strength lived under its shade among the nations.

 

Ezek. 32:21 The strong among the mighty ones shall speak of him {and} his helpers from the midst of Sheol, “They have gone down, they lie still, the uncircumcised, slain by the sword.”

Ezek. 32:22 Assyria is there [in Sheol] and all her company; her graves [qeburah] are round about her. All of them are slain, fallen by the sword,

Ezek. 32:23 whose graves [qeburah] are set in the remotest parts of the pit [bor], and her company is round about her grave [qeburah]. All of them are slain, fallen by the sword, who spread terror in the land of the living.

Ezek. 32:24 Elam is there [in Sheol] and all her multitude around her grave [qeburah]; all of them slain, fallen by the sword, who went down uncircumcised to the lower parts [nether parts] of the earth, who instilled their terror in the land of the living, and bore their disgrace with those who went down to the pit [bor].

Ezek. 32:25 They have made a bed for her among the slain with all her multitude. Her graves [qeburah] are around it, they are all uncircumcised, slain by the sword (although their terror was instilled in the land of the living), and they bore their disgrace with those who go down to the pit [bor]; they were put in the midst of the slain.

Ezek. 32:26 Meshech, Tubal and all their multitude are there [in Sheol]; their graves [qeburah] surround them. All of them were slain by the sword uncircumcised, though they instilled their terror in the land of the living.

Ezek. 32:27 Nor do they lie beside the fallen heroes of the uncircumcised, who went down to Sheol with their weapons of war, and whose swords were laid under their heads; but the punishment for their iniquity rested on their bones, though the terror of {these} heroes {was} once in the land of the living.

Ezek. 32:28 But in the midst of the uncircumcised you will be broken and lie with those slain by the sword.

Ezek. 32:29 There also is Edom [in Sheol], its kings, and all its princes, who for {all} their might are laid with those slain by the sword; they will lie with the uncircumcised, and with those who go down to the pit [bor].

Ezek. 32:30 There also are the chiefs of the north, all of them, and all the Sidonians, who in spite of the terror resulting from their might, in shame went down with the slain. So they lay down uncircumcised with those slain by the sword, and bore their disgrace with those who go down to the pit [bor].

Ezek. 32:31 These Pharaoh will see, and he will be comforted for all his multitude slain by the sword, {even} Pharaoh and all his army, declares the Lord GOD.

 

Without a proper definition of Sheol these passages in Ezekiel become extremely confusing. Sheol, the pit, and the grave are all mentioned. Again, Sheol is the specific name of the place where souls and corpses go at death. “Death” is the general description of the souls and corpses in Sheol. The “pit” is the geographical description of the place of death named Sheol. To use another metaphor, in Sheol “death” and “the pit” are the “house” while “souls” and “corpses” are the residents of its “chambers.”

 

The pit is best described as containing the graves of bones and corpses scattered around its mouth and sides. The souls of the wicked occupy the pit’s lowest regions at the bottoms of the mountains either in the heart of the earth or the bottom of the sea. While “souls” are located in one part of Sheol, death and the pit – “graves” occupy another part of Sheol, death and the pit. Sheol and the pit “swallow whole” its inhabitants, both body and soul (Prov. 1:12).

 

It is important to note that, while Sheol and bor are always singular, qeber, and the feminine form qeburah, are often plural.

 

13.   SHEOL AND THE REPHAIM (SPIRITS OF THE DEAD)

 

Job 26:5-6 The departed spirits [RSV: shades] tremble under the waters and their inhabitants. Naked is Sheol before Him and Abaddon has no covering.

 

Ps. 88:3, 10 For my soul has had enough troubles, and my life has drawn near to Sheol .... Wilt Thou perform wonders for the dead? Will the departed spirits rise {and} praise Thee?

 

Prov. 2:18 For her house sinks down to death, and her tracks {lead} to the dead [rephaim].

 

Prov. 9:18 But he does not know that the dead [rephaim] are there, {that} her guests are in the depths of Sheol.

 

Prov. 21:16 A man who wanders from the way of understanding will rest in the assembly of the dead [rephaim].

 

Isaiah 14:9 Sheol from beneath is excited over you to meet you when you come; it arouses for you the spirits of the dead, all the leaders of the earth; it raises all the kings of the nations from their thrones.

 

Isa. 26:14 The dead [of our other masters] will not live, the departed spirits will not rise; therefore Thou hast punished and destroyed them, and Thou hast wiped out all remembrance of them.

….


Isa. 26:19 Your dead [of your nation] will live; their corpses will rise. You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy, for your dew is as the dew of the dawn, and the earth will give birth to the departed spirits.

 

Like Sheol and Abaddon, rephaim (Strong=s #7496) is another word that remains unrevealed in many versions. It only occurs in the eight texts quoted. The KJV usually translates it as “the dead” and the RSV prefers “shades.” The NIV does, however, read “spirits of the departed” and “departed spirits” in Isaiah 14:9 and 26:14 respectively. Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon calls the rephaim “ghosts of the dead,” “shades” and “spirits.”

 

The rephaim are not dead bodies in a tomb. Job 26:5 says they “tremble.” Proverbs 21:16 mentions the “assembly,” or “congregation of departed spirits.” In Isaiah 14:9, Sheol is excited and arouses the “spirits of the dead.”

 

Isaiah 26:19 is the most interesting rephaim text. First it says that the “dead” [mut: 4191] will live and Atheir@ “dead bodies” or “corpses” [nebelah: 5038] will rise. Secondly it says that the “departed spirits,” or rephaim will awake and shout. By defining Sheol as the place of both souls and bodies, this passage makes sense. None of the rephaim texts remotely suggest that they are either unconscious or non-existent.

 

14.   SHEOL AND NECROMANCY

 

Lev. 19:26 You shall not eat {anything} with the blood, nor practice divination or soothsaying.

….

Lev. 19:31 Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God.

 

Lev. 20:6 As for the person who turns to mediums and to spiritists, to play the harlot after them, I will also set My face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.

 

Deut. 18:10 There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer.

 

1 Chron. 10:13-14 So Saul died for his trespass which he committed against the LORD, because of the word of the LORD which he did not keep; and also because he asked counsel of a medium, making inquiry {of it} and did not inquire of the LORD. Therefore He killed him, and turned the kingdom to David the son of Jesse. [See 1 Samuel 28.]

 

Isa. 8:19 And when they say to you, “Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter,” should not a people consult their God? {Should they} {consult} the dead on behalf of the living?

 

Isa. 29:4 Then you shall be brought low; from the earth you shall speak, and from the dust {where} you are prostrate, your words {shall come.} Your voice shall also be like that of a spirit from the ground, and your speech shall whisper from the dust.

 

"Necromancy" was (and still is) an almost universal practice of consulting “familiar spirits” through séances using witches, wizards or spiritual mediums. “Familiar spirits” occurs sixteen times in the Old Testament, and its companion, “unclean spirits,” occurs twenty-five times in the New Testament. Although the “spirits” (if actually conjured up) are fallen angels, or demons, unenlightened mankind believes that they are the departed souls of their loved ones. Our actions reveal our belief system. Our actions demonstrate that we reject the idea of an unconscious, or non-existent, soul at death.

 

Although the Old Testament teaches that souls are conscious in Sheol, Scripture also teaches that God does not normally allow communication between them and the living. King Saul attempted to seek counsel from one who consulted with the dead.

 

Whether one believes that King Saul actually spoke with a familiar spirit, or Samuel himself is irrelevant. Either conclusion is an admission that King Saul believed that some part of mankind survives death in another realm. The point is that the prohibitions against the practice prove that Old Testament man believed that consciousness survived death.

 

15.   SHEOL AND ABADDON

 

Job 26:6 Naked is Sheol before Him, and Abaddon has no covering.

 

Job 28:22 Abaddon and death say, “With our ears we have heard a report of it.”

 

Job 31:12 For it would be fire that consumes to Abaddon, and would uproot all my increase.

 

Prov. 15:11 Sheol and Abaddon {lie open} before the LORD, how much more the hearts of men!

 

Prov. 27:20 Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied, nor are the eyes of man ever satisfied.

 

Sheol and Abaddon are paired in Job 26:6; Proverb 15:11, and 27:20. While the King James translates it as “destruction” all five times, the New King James, and the New International Version, often capitalize the word, thus indicating that it is either a place-name or personification. Sheol and Abaddon, like Sheol and death, appear to be inseparable. Since “destruction” is translated from twenty-four different words in the KJV, here again, the NAS’s Abaddon is best left un-translated in order to avoid doctrinal error in God’s Word.

 

Even more mysterious than Sheol, Abaddon may be the deepest part of Sheol, even deeper than the place for the departed wicked souls of mankind. God is constantly viewing two places -- Sheol and Abaddon (Job 26:6). This would not be necessary if they only contained dead bodies!!!  Both those in Abaddon and those in the death of Sheol consciously “hear” (Job 28:22). If God knows what is happening in Sheol and Abaddon, then He certainly knows what is happening in men's hearts (Prov. 15:11).

 

Matt. 25:41 Then He will also say to those on His left, “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.”

 

2 Pet. 2:4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into Hell [tartaros] and committed them to pits of darkness [gloomy dungeons: NIV; gloomy caves: TLB], reserved for judgment.

 

Rev. 9:11 They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon.

 

Rev. 20:1‑3 And I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the abyss, and shut {it} and sealed {it} over him, so that he should not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.

 

It is very likely that Abaddon, Tartaros and the “bottomless pit” are identical. Abaddon’s description also fits the “pit” of deepest Sheol. Abaddon may be the same place where some of the fallen angels are kept and thus corresponds to Tartaros. In Revelation 9:11, Abaddon is the angel of the abyss, or bottomless pit, thus connecting Abaddon with the pit. Since Satan, “Death and Hades (or  Sheol  )” will all be cast into “the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:10, 14), one may conclude that Abaddon and its inhabitants will meet the same fate as the wicked in Sheol.

 

16.   SHEOL: JESUS AND PSALM 16:10 

 

Ps. 16:10 For Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Sheol; neither wilt Thou allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay [qeburah: pit, corruption].

 

Acts 2:27 Because Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Hades, nor allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay [corruption].

….

Acts 2:31 he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay.

 

Eph. 4:9 (Now this {expression,} “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth?

 

1 Pet. 3:18, 19 For Christ also died for sins once for all, {the} just for {the} unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;  in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits {now} in prison.

 

Psalm 16:10 is quoted in Acts 2:27, 31; 13:35 and alluded to in Acts 13:34, 36, 37. It is applied to Jesus Christ.

 

One:   The texts prove that the New Testament meaning of Hades and the Hebrew Sheol are interchangeable. 

 

Two: The texts reveal that Jesus’ “soul” [psuche] did not cease to exist at death.

 

Three: Jesus’ “soul” went to Sheol/Hades at death. It did not cease to exist.

 

Four: Jesus’ body, or flesh, did not see corruption or decay in the pit [qeburah ]. Although “pit” includes all of the “death” concept, the words for “grave,” “tomb,” and “sepulcher” are not used here. The Greek word of “corruption” is diaphthora (Strong’s 1312) and is defined as the bodily decay after death. The word occurs six times in the New Testament and always refers to Psalm 16:10.

 

Five:   According to Ephesians 4:9, Jesus “descended into the lower parts of the earth.” This is another clear connection between Sheol and Hades, and not to the grave. Jesus’ grave, tomb, or sepulcher was a cave above ground (Mt. 27:61, 64, 66; 28:1). Although the Greek word for grave occurs forty times in the New Testament, it is clearly not the “lower parts of the earth” which has a distinctly Sheol or Hades implication.

 

The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary says, “[This is] not the place of torment; nor, on the other hand, merely the grave, which is not referred to until the next clause; but the unseen world of disembodied souls: the Hebrew Sheol, the Greek Hades.” [Acts 2:27]

 

Barnes Notes says, “The language used here implies, of course, that what is here called the soul would be in the abode to which the name Hell [Sheol] is given, but “how long” it would be there is not intimated. The thought simply is, that it would not be “left” there; it would not be suffered to “remain” there. [Acts 2:27]

 

The Keil & Delitzsch Commentary says, “There is no passage of Scripture that so closely resembles this as 1 Thess. 5:23....  David here expresses as a confident expectation; for ‘ap (Heb. 639)] implies that he also hopes for his body that which he hopes for his spirit‑life centered in the heart, and for his soul raised to dignity both by the work of creation and of grace.” [Acts 2:27]

 

Luke 16:22-23, 26  Now it came about that the poor man died and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried.  And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom....  And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, in order that those who wish to come over from here to you may not be able, and {that} none may cross over from there to us.”

 

Luke 23:43  And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

 

2 Cor. 12:4 [He] was caught up into Paradise, and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.

 

Rev. 2:7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God.

 

Before the resurrection of Christ, “Paradise” is first seen corresponding to the upper division of Sheol/Hades, the habitation of the righteous souls. In Luke 16:19-31 Lazarus is conscious and at rest with Abraham and the rich man is conscious and in torment in the lower region of Hades. Jesus promised the dying thief on the cross, “Today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” There is a great gulf separating the two regions.

 

After Christ’s resurrection, “Paradise” seems to have been transferred to heaven. When did the change occur? At the time of Christ’s crucifixion, Paradise, or upper Sheol, was still part of Hades. Jesus did not “ascend” that day, but “descended” (John 20:17)!  Ephesians 4:8-9 states that “When he [Christ] ascended up on high, he led captivity captive,” because He had “descended first into the lower parts of the earth.” Years later, the Apostle Paul described “Paradise” as being “in the third heaven” (2 Cor. 12:2-4). Even later, the Apostle John on Patmos also placed Paradise in heaven (Rev. 2:7). The change of Paradise from Sheol/Hades into Heaven must have occurred between Christ’s resurrection and ascension. This change may also explain the events of Matthew 27:52-53 as “firstfruits” to God. Compare also Colossians 2:15, First Corinthians 15:20-23, and possibly First Peter 3: 18-22. The souls of the departed righteous had not ceased to exist and lost consciousness. David knew that God would not leave the righteous in Sheol (Ps. 16:10 and especially 49:15).

 

Those who believe that souls cease to exist at death and await re-creation along with the resurrected body must ask themselves, “Where did Jesus’ soul go when He died? Did Jesus the God-man cease to exist from Friday evening until Sunday morning? Was His “soul” “nothing-ness,” or was His “soul” a “something” which continued to exist?@

......................................................

.......................................................

……………………………………….

 

17.       SHEOL AND THE JUDGMENT

 

Job 14:10 But man dies and lies prostrate. Man expires, and where is he?

 

Job pondered the question that we are still trying to answer many centuries later. The NAS says “man expires,” the KJV says “gives up the ghost,” and the NIV and RSV say “breathes his last.” The Today=s Living Bible reads “But when a man dies and is buried, where does his spirit go?”

 

Job 10:11 {As} water evaporates from the sea, and a river becomes parched and dried up,

Job 10:12 So man lies down and does not rise. Until the heavens be no more, He will not awake nor be aroused out of his sleep.

Job 10:13 Oh that Thou wouldst hide me in Sheol, that Thou wouldst conceal me until Thy wrath returns {to Thee,} that Thou wouldst set a limit for me and remember me!

Job 10:14 If a man dies, will he live {again?}  All the days of my struggle I will wait, until my change comes.

Job 10:15 Thou wilt call, and I will answer Thee; Thou wilt long for the work of Thy hands.

 

When the body dies, where does the soul go?  Job asked God to “hide me in Sheol” until His wrath is finished and wait “until my change comes” when God calls. This is not God’s statement of the facts of death; it is Job’s hope.


 

Isa. 28:15 Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol we have made a pact. The overwhelming scourge will not reach us when it passes by, for we have made falsehood our refuge and we have concealed ourselves with deception.”

 

Isa. 28:16 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone {for} the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes {in it} will not be disturbed.

Isa. 28:17 And I will make justice the measuring line, and righteousness the level; then hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the secret place.

Isa. 28:18 And your covenant with death shall be canceled, and your pact with Sheol shall not stand; when the overwhelming scourge passes through, then you become its trampling {place.}

 

Hosea 13:14 Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from death? O death, where are your thorns? O Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion will be hidden from My sight.

 

One’s pre-conceived view of the judgment influences what one believes happens to the soul at death. Note the two views presented below.

 

Nelson’s Bible Dictionary: “Judgment”: “The final judgment will be comprehensive in scope; it will include all people and nations from the beginning of the world to the end of history, as well as fallen angels. Those who trust in the Lord, repent of sin, and walk in His ways will not be condemned but will enter into eternal life. The purpose of the final judgment is the glory of God through the salvation of the ELECT and the condemnation of the ungodly.”

 

Nelson’s view: (1) fits the idea of “soul-sleep” or “soul non-existence” at death; (2) it makes Sheol an unconscious grave for the body only; (3) it also fits the view that God has not yet decided who will be finally saved before the judgment; (4) it implies that the believer only has forgiveness of past sins at the moment of justification, because future sins can cause him to fall from grace. (5) Therefore those in Sheol have not been pre-determined by God to be either righteous or wicked before the judgment.

 

The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary: “Intermediate State”: “From what is revealed in the Scriptures it may reasonably be concluded (a) that the intermediate state is not for the wicked that of their final misery, nor for the righteous that of their completed and final blessedness. They await the resurrection and the judgment of the great day. (b) The state of those “who die in the Lord” is, even for this period, pronounced “blessed.”  It is so, for the reason that though they wait for the final consummation, they are “with Christ.”

 

The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary: “Judgment Seat of Christ”: 2 Cor. 5:10 “The manifestation of the believer’s works is in question in this judgment. It is most emphatically not a judgment of the believer’s sins. These have been fully atoned for in the vicarious and substitutionary death of Christ, and remembered no more. It is quite necessary, however, that the service of every child of God be definitely scrutinized and evaluated (Matt. 12:36; Rom. 14:10; Gal. 6:7; Eph. 6:8; Col. 3:24‑25). As a result of this judgment of the believer’s works, there will be reward or loss of reward. In any event, the truly born‑again believer will be saved (1 Cor. 3:11‑15). The judgment seat, literally bema, evidently is set up in heaven previous to Christ’s glorious second advent to establish His earth rule in the millennial kingdom. The out‑taking of the church must first be fulfilled. The Judgment Seat of Christ is necessary for the appointment of places of rulership and authority with Christ in His role of ‘King of kings and Lord of lords’ at His revelation in power and glory.”

 

Unger’s view: (1) fits the idea that the souls continue in conscious existence after death either in Sheol/Hades or Heaven; (2) it separates Sheol into separate chambers for bodies, the souls of the righteous and the souls of the wicked; (3) it fits the view that God already knows who will be eternally saved before the judgment; (4) it holds that the believer is free from the condemnation of even his future sins at the moment of justification and can only fall from fellowship, but not from relationship with God. (6) Therefore, the righteous in Sheol, do not face a judgment of condemnation because they have already been given the judgment sentence of eternal life before death.

 

Unger’s view holds that there are two future key judgments after death. First, at the Judgment Seat of Christ, the righteous will be judged and their faithfulness of service will determine, not salvation, but the degrees of their rewards. Second, at the Great White Throne Judgment, the wicked will be judged, not to determine salvation, but to determine the degrees of punishment they will receive in Gehenna, the lake of fire. However, there are many other views which are accepted and are between these two opposites.

 

The “soul-sleep” (more accurate “annihilationist”) position rests primarily on a pre-supposition that the “soul” does not exist separate from the body and that there is no consciousness after death. A secondary pre-supposition equates Sheol with “the grave.” Since it has become very clear that Sheol is never solely the grave, the “soul-sleep” position must be abandoned.

 

What does happen at death? The doctrine that the “soul becomes non-existent at death” is simply unscriptural. This can only be used as an explanation of a handful of the Sheol texts. It ignores the definition of Sheol, the location of Sheol, and the conscious status of souls in Sheol.

 

The view that souls enter a very active full reward or punishment immediately at death is also far from adequate. First, if one places the Bema, or Judgment Seat of Christ, in the future, then one implies that Christ has not yet determined the “degrees” of reward for the saints whose souls are already with God in heaven. Likewise, if the Great White Throne Judgment will decide the “degrees” of punishment for the wicked, then they must not already be suffering to their full extent in Hades.

 

In other words, the joy of souls in the presence of God without their immortal bodies must be less than the joy experienced after the Bema and after the time when they will receive their immortal bodies. Likewise, the suffering of the wicked in Hades must be less than when they receive varying degrees of punishment and are cast into the lake of fire.

 

18.       AFTER-LIFE JUDGMENT

 

The following is this author’s suggested solution. It accounts for the Sheol texts and the status of souls both before and after death.   

 

Eccl. 12:14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

 

One:   After-death “judgments,” whether the “Judgment Seat of Christ” for the righteous or the “Great White Throne Judgment” for the wicked, do not determine whether or nor one is “righteous” or “unrighteous”! Judgment is the time when God “evens things out.” The wicked who have prospered will suffer loss. The righteous who have suffered will be blessed. Only degrees of reward or punishment are determined in the after-death judgments.

 

Heb. 9:26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

Heb. 9:27 And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this {comes} judgment,

Heb. 9:28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without {reference to} sin, to those who eagerly await Him.

 

Two:  Although the declaration in Hebrews 9:27 that “it is appointed for men to die once and after this {comes} judgment” is used by many to prove that God will not determine anybody’s salvation until after death, it actually does not say, or mean, that at all.

 

Verse 26 has just stated that Christ died once for all time for all sins. At Calvary he brought together “all of the ends” (Greek: sun-te-lei-a) of all ages and paid one sacrifice for all sin (past, present, and future). All of the guilt and condemnation of judgment for all sins fell on Christ when he offered himself a perfect sacrifice (Rom. 5:18-19; Heb. 7:27; 9:12; 10:10; 1 Jn. 2:2). 

 

The key word in Hebrews 9:26-28 is “once,” not “judgment.” Christ died “once” for all sin (verse 26); man is appointed to die “once” for his sins (verse 27); Christ’s sacrifice, having been offered “once,” is sufficient to guarantee salvation to believers (verse 28). It is linguistically and theologically improper to separate verse 27 from verses 26 and 28. Verse 27 begins with “and inasmuch as...” and verse 28 continues the thought with “so also....” Those who “eagerly await Him” have already had Christ’s judgment imputed, or placed into their account. Those who have accepted Christ do not face a  judgment of condemnation but look forward to His appearing “a second time for salvation,” for the final redemption of the body (Jn. 5:24; Rom. 8:1, 14-23; 2 Cor. 5:21).

 

Three: God is omniscient, that is, He knows all things. God does not require an after-death judgment to determine who shall be saved (Hebrews 4:13; 1 John 3:20; Isa. 46:10). Revelation 6:9 describes the righteous as already under the altar B God recognizes them as His own. In 9:4 and 14:1 God knows who have His seal, or name.

 

Four: The names of the redeemed are written in the book of life before the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:15).

 

Five: While yet alive, mankind’s faith response to God=s truth and calling determines his ultimate standing before God.  Although man’s destiny is to die and enter some kind of judgment before God, God’s judgment on Christ at Calvary moved up the judgment which determines salvation to decisions made while alive (Heb. 9:27-28).


 

John 3:18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

 

John 5:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and -does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

 

Rom. 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  [Note: “no condemnation” literally means “no contrary judgment sentence or verdict”]

 

Gal. 3:9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.

 

Tit. 2:11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men.

 

Six: The “righteous” are called “righteous” even BEFORE they enter Sheol. As one of the righteous, Job expected his part of Sheol to be a place of safety until God's wrath was past, until the end of time if necessary (Job 14:13; 17:13-16). Other righteous persons looked to Sheol without fear (Ps. 16:10; 49:15; 88:13; Prov. 15:24; 23:14).

 

Seven: In addition to the preceding texts, the following texts also teach that believers already possess God’s judgment verdict of eternal life, access into His presence, adoption as His children, deliverance, an eternal guaranteed seal, forgiveness of all sin guilt, judgment-guilt immunity, justification, ownership by God, peace, perfection, presence as sinless in Christ, sanctification, a seating with him in heaven, and holy standing in His presence. Matt. 28:20; John 3:16; 14:16, 27; Rom. 3:24; 4:3; 5:1, 2; 8:15, 33; 1 Cor. 1:30; 6:19, 20; Eph. 1:7, 13; 2:8; 3:12; 4:30; Phil. 4:7; Col. 1:13; 2:13; 3:1, 3; Titus 3:5; Heb. 9:26; 10:14, 19, 22.

 

Eight: The souls of the righteous are already safe and secure at peace in the custody of God. This was upper Sheol, or upper Hades, and is now called “Paradise” in the presence of God. Although their ultimate salvation is secure, and they are in God’s presence, their bodies have not been resurrected and they have not been “judged” to determine the “degrees” of their final reward. Their present reward is much more than an unconscious sleep, but less than with the resurrected body (Rom. 8:14-23).

 

Nine: The “wicked” are also “wicked” BEFORE they enter Sheol and judgment (Job 21:13, 29, 30; Numb. 16:30; Ps. 9:17; 31:17; 49:14; 55:15; Prov. 5:5; 7:27; 9:16; Isa. 5:14; 14:9 - 15; Ezek. 31:15 - 17). They are designated as such before death.  Most of the book of Revelation describes God’s wrath falling on them before the judgment  because they were already determined to be wicked (Rev. 6:17; 8:4; 11:18; 12:12; 14:8, 10, 19; 15:1, 7; 16:1, 19; 18:3; 19:15).

 

Therefore the Great White Throne Judgment does not determine whether or not the wicked are guilty. This final Judgment demonstrates to the entire creation that God’s judgments are “true and righteous” because the wicked steadfastly continued to “blaspheme” God and refused to repent (Rev. 16:7, 11).

 

Ten: The souls of the wicked are still in the lower regions of Sheol, or Hades, expelled from the presence of God, but not His sight. Their ultimate damnation was decided when they rejected God while alive. However, their bodies have not been resurrected and they have not yet been “judged” to determine the “degrees” of their final punishment in the lake of fire, or Gehenna. Although they are already suffering some kind of punishment for rejecting God, their current consciousness is also more than sleep, but less than their full punishment.

 

Eleven: The Great White Throne Judgment will totally, finally, and eternally separate the wicked from the righteous and, especially, from God. Whatever punishment is received in lower Sheol, or Hades, will be infinitely greater in the “lake of fire.”

 

Twelve: Due to the nature of progressive revelation, one should not expect to find a complete understanding of what happens at death in the Old Testament. Even Job admitted that he had declared wonderful things that he did not understand (42:3).

 

19.  CONCLUDING REMARKS

 

Sheol is a “place” and not a “state of mind” or non-existence. The inspired Bible writers used terminology such as “going down to Sheol,” “into  Sheol,” “lowest  Sheol,” “deeper than Sheol,” “Sheol is my house,” “gates of  Sheol” and many other physical terms to describe Sheol. They give no evidence that it simply means a total cessation of existence at death. God unleashes his anger against the wicked in Sheol even before the judgment of the last day.

 

Man’s vocabulary, especially his slang, reveals beliefs that his society has long accepted. When we hear phrases such as “hot as Hell,” “tired as Hell,” “go to Hell,” “low-down as Hell,” “vicious as Hell,” “scared as Hell,” “mean as Hell,” and “crazy as Hell,” exactly what do we mean? We would not substitute the words “grave” or “tomb” because we know the difference between Hell and the grave. Our society has accepted Hell as a concept for comparing reality; otherwise the term and phrases which employ it are meaningless.

 

Old Testament man was no different. Even more so than us, because God inspired Bible writers to deliberately choose Sheol because of its specific inclusion beyond the grave to the place of the soul. Sheol is the name of the multi-chambered place where all souls and bodies went prior to the resurrection of Christ. The word “soul” is most often connected to Sheol and the “grave” is that part of Sheol where the bodies reside. Both souls and bodies are in the pit of death.

 

Just as Sheol or Hell are never translated from the common Hebrew words for “grave,” neither should Sheol be translated as “grave.” First, translating Sheol as “grave” diminishes its all-inclusive meaning and assigns it to a mere six-foot deep hole in the earth. Second, translating Sheol as “grave” robs it of its meaning as the place-name where both souls and bodies reside after death. Third, translating Sheol as “grave” breaks its vital connection with the “soul.”

 

It is also incorrect to translate Sheol as Hell. For many, this incorrectly makes it identical to Gehenna, or the “lake of fire” instead of merely Hades. Since Jesus Himself distinguished between Hades and Gehenna, it is difficult to understand why so many reference books also equate these two terms. Just as our language would not permit us to use Hell when we meant the grave, Bible writers would not use Hades when they meant Gehenna.

 

In order for the truth of God’s Word to make us free, we must be allowed to grasp that truth in any reputable translation. Confusion should never be associated with God=s Word. The highest integrity should be applied to translations of the greatest book ever written, The Holy Bible!

 

 SHEOL  TEXTS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

Genesis 37:35; 42:38; 44:29,31;  Numbers 16:30,33;  Deuteronomy 32:22;  1st Samuel 2:6;  2nd Samuel 22:6;  1st Kings 2:6,9;  Job 7:9; 11:8; 14:13; 17:13,16; 21:13; 24:19; 26:6; Psalm 6:5; 9:17; 16:10; 18:5; 30:3; 31:17; 49:14,15; 55:15; 86:13; 88:3; 89:48; 116:3; 139:8; 141:7;  Proverb 1:12; 5:5; 7:27; 9:18; 15:11,24; 23:14; 27:20; 30:16; Ecclesiastes 9:10; Song of Solomon 8:6; Isaiah 5:14; 14:9,11,15; 28:15,18; 38:10,18; 57:9; Ezekiel 31:15,16,17; 32:21,27; Hosea 13:14,14; Amos 9:2; Jonah 2:2; Habakkuk 2:5

 

64 SHEOL  TEXTS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT (Strong’s 7585)

WHERE TEXTS DIFFER FROM KJV

                                     KJV           NKJV            NIV                 NAS/RSV

Genesis 37:35              grave                                              Sheol  

Genesis 42:38              grave                                              Sheol  

Genesis 44:29              grave                                              Sheol  

Genesis 44:31              grave         ...                  ...                    Sheol  

Numbers 16:30             pit                               grave              Sheol  

Numbers 16:33             pit                               grave               Sheol  

Deu 32:22                    lowest Hell  .      realm of death below    lowest Sheol/depths of Sheol  

1st Sam 2:6                 grave          ...                 ...                      Sheol  

2nd Sam 22:6              Hell             Sheol          grave                Sheol  

1st Kings 2:6               grave          ...                                      Sheol  

1st Kings 2:9               grave                                                   Sheol  

Job 7:9                        grave                                                       Sheol  

Job 11:8                      Hell             Sheol           grave                Sheol  

Job 14:13                    grave                                                       Sheol  

Job 17:13                    grave                                                       Sheol  

Job 17:16                    pit               Sheol            death               Sheol  

Job 21:13                    grave                                                       Sheol  

Job 24:19                    grave                                                       Sheol  

Job 26:6                      Hell             Sheol            death               Sheol  

Psalm 6:5                    grave                                                       Sheol  

Psalm 9:17                  Hell                                  grave               Sheol  

Psalm 16:10                Hell             Sheol            grave               Sheol  

Psalm 18:5                  Hell             Sheol            grave               Sheol  

Psalm 30:3                  grave                                                       Sheol  

Psalm 31:17                grave                                                       Sheol  

Psalm 49:14(2)            grave                                                       Sheol  

Psalm 49:15                grave                                                       Sheol  

Psalm 55:15                Hell                                  grave               Sheol  

Psalm 86:13                Hell            Sheol              grave              Sheol  

Psalm 88:3                  grave                                                       Sheol  

Psalm 89:48                grave                                                       Sheol  

Psalm 116:3                Hell            Sheol              grave              Sheol  

Psalm 139:8                Hell                                   depths             Sheol  

Psalm 141:7                grave                                                        Sheol  

Proverb 1:12               grave         Sheol                                      Sheol  

Proverb 5:5                 Hell                                    grave              Sheol  

Proverb 7:27               Hell                                    grave              Sheol  

Proverb 9:18               Hell                                    grave              Sheol  

Proverb 15:11             Hell                                    death              Sheol  

Proverb 15:24             Hell                                    grave              Sheol  

Proverb 23:14             Hell                                    death              Sheol  

Proverb 27:20             Hell                                    death              Sheol  

Proverb 30:16             grave                                                        Sheol  

Eccl 9:10                     grave                                                        Sheol  

Song  8:6                    grave                                                         Sheol  

Isaiah 5:14                  Hell              Sheol             grave              Sheol  

Isaiah 14:9                  Hell                                    grave              Sheol  

Isaiah 14:11                grave           Sheol                                     Sheol  

Isaiah 14:15                Hell              Sheol             grave               Sheol  

Isaiah 28:15                Hell              Sheol             grave               Sheol  

Isaiah 28:18                Hell              Sheol             grave               Sheol  

Isaiah 38:10                grave           Sheol             death               Sheol  

 

Isaiah 38:18                grave           Sheol                                     Sheol  

Isaiah 57:9                  Hell              Sheol             grave               Sheol  

Ezekiel 31:15              grave            Hell                grave              Sheol  

Ezekiel 31:16              Hell                                     grave              Sheol  

Ezekiel 31:17              Hell                                     grave              Sheol  

 

Ezekiel 32:21              Hell                                     grave              Sheol  

Ezekiel 32:27              Hell                                      grave             Sheol  

Hosea 13:14               grave                                                          Sheol  

Amos 9:2                    Hell                                     grave               Sheol  

Jonah 2:2                    Hell          Sheol                 grave               Sheol  

Habakkuk 2:5              Hell                                    grave                 Sheol  

Enter content here

Enter supporting content here

Russell Earl Kelly, PH. D., 316 Aonia Road, Washington, Ga 30673