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apostles addressed the people in the language of the Old Testament scriptures and it is not to be supposed that they would use words and phrases in any different sense from what they are used in the Old Testament without giving some plain intimation of it. To have done so would have been to purposely deceive the people. The question, then, is not in what sense is the word (Gehenna) used by the Rabbinical writers, or in the Jewish Targums, but what is it used to signify in the Old Testament scriptures? And its meaning there must determine its meaning in the New Testament.
The word Gehenna is used in the New Testament twelve times, and is invariably rendered hell. The following facts, stated in the language of Mr. Balfour, show that it is not used to signify a place of endless misery:
1. "The term Gehenna is not found in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, called the Septuagint, or the translation of the Seventy, nor in the Apocrypha, nor in any classic Greek author. It is, therefore, primarily and exclusively, a Jewish or Hebrew term.
2. "The translators had no authority for translating this term by the word hell, as it is the name of a place, as much so as Sodom and Gomorrah, and, therefore, the original word should have been retained. And I would here remark, that in some excellent versions the original word is left untranslated. It is so in the French Bible, and in the Improved Version, Wakefield's Version, and Newcomb's Translation. The Hebrew words for the valley of Hinnom are Ge-hinnom, and the Greek word Gehenna is a compound of these two words united in one, without a change of meaning. The English words to signify this place are valley of Hinnom. Now, if this term had been left untranslated in those passages where it occurs, or if it had been translated valley of Hinnom, as it ought to have been, there would have been no difficulty in understanding their true meaning. Their meaning would have been obvious to every observing mind.
3. "The word Gehenna is used but twelve times in the New Testament; and, properly speaking. it does not occur even as many times as this. It occurs eleven times in the gospels written by Matthew, Mark, and Luke; and, by comparing the places, it is evident that these historians relate the same discourses in which our Lord used this word." So that, in point of fact, the word was used
but eight times;
seven times by our Lord, and once by James.
I mention this fact, because this is the only word which the learned pretend signifies a place of endless misery. And, admitting that this is the proper signification of the term, it is certain it is not mentioned so often in the whole Bible as some of our modern divines mention it in a single sermon.
4. "This word is used by our Lord, and by the apostle James, and by no other person in the New Testament." Neither Paul, John, Peter nor Jude, have used this word in all their writings. "How can this fact be accounted for, if they understood our Lord to mean by it a place of endless misery?
5. "All that is said about Gehenna was spoken to the Jews. It is not once named to the Gentiles in all the New Testament; nor are any of them ever threatened with such a punishment. This fact is indisputable. Now, how can this fact be accounted for, except on the supposition that the punishment of Gehenna was that which alone concerned the Jews? And, as the punishment of Gehenna did not concern the Gentiles, hence nothing is said to them about it."
6. We have seen that our Lord used this word seven times. Five times out of this number he used it when addressing his own immediate disciples. Now, if he used it to signify a place of endless misery, how is it to be accounted for that he should say so much about it to his own disciples, and so little to the unbelieving part of the world?
7. Our Lord used this word but twice, when addressing the inbelieving part of the Jewish nation; and in one of those instances, at least, the connection shows conclusively that no reference was had to punishment in another world. Matt. 23: 33, "Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell (Gehenna)?" To learn what this "damnation of Gehenna" was, see the next words: "Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes; and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them ye shall Scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, all these things shall come upon this generation.' It is plain from
this that the damnation of Gehenna was something which they were not going to, but something which was coming to them. Who can doubt that it was the same punishment which was predicted by Jeremiah, in the seventh and nineteenth chapters of his book?
8. "It is admitted on all hands that this word is never used to signify a place of misery in a future world in all the Old Testa
9. It is also admitted that it is used in the Old Testament to signify punishment in this world; yea, that it is used to signify that very punishment which came on the Jewish people within forty-five years after Christ threatened them with the damnation of Gehenna; and which consisted in the destruction of their city and temple, the destruction of millions of their lives, and the dispersion of the rest throughout the inhabited globe. This fact is made perfectly plain by those passages where the word occurs. See Jer. 7:30-34. "For the children of Judah have done evil in my sight, saith the Lord: they have set their abominations in the house which is called by my name, to pollute it. And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart. Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall no more be called Tophet, nor the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of slaughter for they shall bury in Tophet till there be no place. And the carcasses of this people shall be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth; and none shall fray them away. Then will I cause to cease from the cities of Judah, and from the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride; for the land shall be desolate." See, also, chapter 8: 1—3, “ At that time, saith the Lord, they shall bring out the bones of the kings of Judah, and the bones of his princes, and the bones of the priests, and the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, out of their graves and they shall spread them before the sun, and the moon, and all the host of heaven, whom they have loved, and whom they have served, and after whom they have walked, and whom they have sought, and whom they have worshipped; they shall not be gathered, nor be buried; they shall be for dung upon the face of the earth. And death shall be
chosen rather than life by all the residue of them that remain of this evil family, which remain in all the places whither I have driven them, saith the Lord of hosts." See, also, Jeremiah, chapter 19. "Thus saith the Lord, Go, and get a potter's earthen bottle, and take of the ancients of the people, and of the ancients of the priests, and go forth unto the valley of the son of Hinnom, which is by the entry of the east gate, and proclaim there the words that I shall tell thee; and say, Hear ye the word of the Lord, O kings of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem; thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, the which whosoever heareth, his ears shall tingle. Because they have forsaken me, and have estranged this place, and have burnt incense in it to other gods, whom neither they nor their fathers have known, nor the kings of Judah, and have filled the place with the blood of innocents; they have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind; therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that this place shall no more be called Tophet, nor the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of slaughter. And I will make void the counsel of Judah and Jerusalem in this place; and I will cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies, and by the hands of them that seek their lives; and their carcasses will I give to be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth. And I will make this city desolate, and an hissing; every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished and hiss, because of all the plagues thereof. And I will cause them to eat of the flesh of their sons, and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat every one of the flesh of his friend, in the siege and straitness wherewith their enemies, and they that seek their lives, shall straiten them. Then shalt thou break the bottle in the sight of the men that go with thee, and shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Even so will I break this people, and this city, as one breaketh a potter's vessel, that cannot be made whole again; and they shall bury them in TOPHET, till there be no place else to bury. Thus will I do unto this place, saith the Lord, and to the inhabitants thereof, and even make their city as TOPHET: And the houses of Jerusalem, and the houses of the kings of Judah, shall be defiled as the place of TOPHET, because of all the houses upon whose roofs they have burned
incense unto all the hosts of heaven, and have poured out drink offerings unto other gods. Then came Jeremiah from TOPHET, whither the Lord had sent him to prophesy; and he stood in the court of the Lord's house, and said to all the people, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Behold, I will bring upon this city, and upon all her towns, all the evil that I have pronounced against it; because they have hardened their necks, that they might not hear my words." The prophet Isaiah has reference to the same thing in chapter 66: 24, " And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me; for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh."
Here we see the origin of the expression "undying worm." It was derived from the fact that worms were constantly preying upon the filth and putrefying flesh which were deposited in Gehenna. Here, also, we see the origin of the expression "unquenchable fire." It was derived from the fact that a fire was kept constantly burning in Gehenna, for purposes which have already been stated. We see, too, that fire and worms are spoken of, in the Old Testament, in connection with the valley of the son of Hinnom. This accounts for the fact that, in the New Testament, the same things are spoken of in connection with Gehenna. And hence the judgment which came upon the Jewish people is called the "damnation," or punishment, "of Gehenna," "Gehenna fire," or the fire of Gehenna. Hence, Gehenna is also spoken of as the place "where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." Rev. Mr. Parkhurst, in his Lexicon, referring to Matt. 5: 21, 22, says: "The phrase here translated hell-fire (literally Gehenna of fire), does, I apprehend, in the outward and primary sense, relate to that dreadful doom of being burnt alive in the valley of Hinnom."
No one can doubt that the predictions of Jeremiah and Isaiah, just quoted, were fulfilled at the destruction of Jerusalem. Then the valley of Hinnom became the valley of slaughter. Then Jerusalem became as Tophet. Then the Jews did eat the flesh of their sons and of their daughters. Then the land of Judea was made lesolate. Then the carcasses of the Jewish people became meat for the fowls of heaven, and the beasts of the field; for six hundred thousand of their dead bodies were carried into the valley of Hinnom, and were suffered to lie there unburied. Then the wrath of