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said of immortal souls, in a place of endless misery, that they were dead, slain, etc. This language was evidently used with reference to those whose animal life had been destroyed, and whose dead bodies had been consigned to the grave.
27. Sheol is used to signify a state of moral impurity, 2 Sam. 22: 6; Ps. 18:5, and 30: 3, and 84: 13, and 116: 3; Prov. 23: 14, and 5: 5, and 9: 18; Isa. 57: 9. The grave is a place of physical defilement and death, and might, therefore, with great propriety, be used as an emblem of moral impurity, defilement and death.
28. Sheol is often used as a term synonymous with death, Isa. 38: 18, and 28: 15, 18; Ps. 55: 15; Cant. 8: 6; Prov. 5:5; Hosea 13: 14. Death precedes, the grave follows in quick succession. Hence the propriety of using the terms death and grave as synonymous.
29. The inmates of sheol are said to consume and vanish away, and to be eaten up of worms, Job 7: 9, and 24: 19; Ps. 49: 14. Do the believers in a place of endless misery believe that immortal souls will there consume, vanish away, and be eaten up of worms? Surely this language can have no other reference than to the dead bodies of men after they are deposited in the grave.
30. Sheol is spoken of as a place of rest. Job 17: 16, "They shall go down to the bars of the pit (sheol), where our rest together is in the dust." A place of misery could not certainly be regarded as a place of rest. Hence sheol here does not signify such a place.
31. Sheol is spoken of a place of silence, Ps. 31: 17. If it be a place of silence, then it cannot be a place from which the cries, groans, shrieks, howlings, imprecations and blasphemies, of the damned will be forever ascending.
32. Sheol is spoken of as a place of absolute and entire unconsciousness. Ps. 6: 5, "In death there is no remembrance of thee; in the grave (sheol) who shall give thee thanks?" Isa. 38: 18, "The grave (sheol) cannot praise thee; death cannot celebrate thee." Eccl. 9: 10, "There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave (sheol) whither thou goest.' It needs no argument to prove that a place of utter unconsciousness cannot be a place of either limited or endless misery.
33. Sheol is used as synonymous with Keber. Is. 14: 11, Thy pomp is brought down to the grave (sheol), and the noise of
thy viols the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee." Verse 19, "But thou art cast out of thy grave (keber) like an abominable branch, and as the remnant of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcass trodden under feet." Ezek. 32: 21-27, "The strong among the mighty shall speak to him out of the midst of hell (sheol), with them that help him; they are gone down, they lie uncircumcised, slain by the sword. Asshur is there, and all her company; his graves (keber) are about him, all of them slain, fallen by the sword. Whose graves (keber) are set in the sides of the pit, and her company is round about her grave (keber); all of them slain, fallen by the sword, which caused terror in the land of the living. There is Elam, and all her multitude round about her grave (keber), all of them slain, fallen by the sword, which are gone down uncircumcised into the nether parts of the earth, which caused their terror in the land of the living; yet they have borne their shame with them that go down to the pit. They have set her a bed in the midst of the slain with all her multitude; her graves (keber) are round about him.
There is Meshech, Tubal, and
all her multitude; her graves (keber) are round about him. And they shall not lie with the mighty that are fallen of the uncircumcised, which are gone down to hell (sheol) with their weapons of war; and they have laid their swords under their heads; but their iniquities shall be upon their bones, though they were the terror of the mighty in the land of the living.”
All admit that the Hebrew word keber signifies the literal grave. Every one can see that in the above texts sheol and keber are used as synonymous terms. In Isa. 14: 11, it is said of the king of Babylon, "Thy pomp is brought down to the grave (sheol), and the noise of thy viols; the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee." In verse 19 he is said to be cast out of his grave (keber) “as an abominable branch, as a carcass trodden under foot." The worms of sheol, and the carcass in keber, have the same reference. The expression, sides of the pit, used in connection with sheol, verse 15, and the stones of the pit, mentioned in connection with keber, verse 19, are evidently the same. The dead of sheol, verse 9 of this chapter, and the slain of keber, verse 19, signify precisely the same thing.
In Ezek. 32: 21, 27, the inmates of sheol are said to be slain,
to be laid with the uncircumcised, and to have their swords laid under their heads. In verses 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, the same or similar expressions are used in connection with keber. The only difference in the usage of these terms is, that, whereas sheol is always used in the singular number, keber is often used in the plural number. But it must be borne in mind that sheol was the common receptacle of all the dead, good, bad, and indifferent. All went to sheol, whether they were buried in tombs, sepulchres graves, caves or pits; yea, whether they were burned with fire devoured by wild beasts, or left unburied. Sheol signifies the state of the dead in general; it does not signify a particular grave. It was not a thing of individual appropriation, as the grave, or keber, was, but a state or condition common to all the dead. It was very proper, then, that it should be used in the singular number; for, although the graves, or kebers, were many, there was but one sheol for all.
34. If the reader will examine every passage where the word sheol occurs, he will see that it is used in two different senses, the one literal, and the other figurative. It is used in a literal sense to signify the grave, or, as some suppose, the invisible state of the dead. It is used in a figurative sense to denote trouble and sorrow.
35. Ps. 9: 17, is supposed by some to teach the doctrine of endless hell torments; but the reader will bear in mind that the hell, or sheol, there spoken of is either the same as that in which David was while living here in this world, or the same as that into which Jacob expected to go, in which Job prayed to be hid, and in which Korah, Dathan, Abiram and their company, were swallowed up alive. If the latter, then it signifies that the wicked, and those nations that forget God, should be suddenly cut off and destroyed by the judgments of God, -be overwhelmed in calamity, and be brought to an untimely grave.
On the supposition that sheol signifies a place of endless misery, and that the scripture writers understood it so, we see of no way to account for the following additional facts:
us an account of Moses has given
1. Not one of the scripture writers has given the origin, history, or location, of such a place. us an account of the creation of the heavens and the earth, but he says not a word about the creation of a place of endless misery. Nor is any such account contained between the lids of the Bible.
Now, if there is such a place God must have created it; and if Moses knew that he had created such a place, why should he overlook so important a fact in his history of the creation?
2. God never informed mankind that he had created such a place. He forewarned Adam and Eve of the consequences of partaking of the forbidden fruit. He forewarned the Jews of the consequences of departing from the law of the Lord; and he has communicated various kinds of information to the children of men. But he has nowhere in the Bible informed any man that he had created an endless hell.
3. It is nowhere said in the Old Testament that sheol is a place of endless misery. We have seen that the word sheol occurs sixty-four times. It was used by Moses, Jacob, Samuel, Ezra, Job, David, and others; but not one of these persons ever intimated that they understood by it a place of endless misery.
4. God never informed the Jewish people that sheol signified a place of endless misery. In addressing that people he frequently uses the word sheol, but always speaks of it as something which existed in this world.
5. Endless punishment in sheol is not annexed as a penalty to any known law of God. God gave to the Jewish people various laws and institutions, and he annexed penalties to those laws; but we shall search in vain to find a law to which is annexed the penalty of endless misery in sheol, or anywhere else.
6. God never threatened the Jewish people with punishment in sheol after death. He frequently threatened them with punishment, and with tremendous and awful judgments; but in no single instance did his threatenings extend beyond death.
7. The Jews were never threatened with punishment in sheol after death by any of their prophets, priests or kings. If the reader thinks we are mistaken, let him examine the Old Testament, and see if he can find an instance of this kind.
8. No person, of whom we have any account in the Old Testament, old or young, rich or poor, bond or free, holy or unholy, ever expressed any fears of suffering misery in sheol after death.
9. No Jew, of whom we have any account in the Bible, ever prayed to be saved from punishment in sheol.
10. It is never said, in the Old Testament, of any person who had died, whether he died a natural death, or was publicly exe
cuted for his crimes, or was cut off by the judgments of God, or whether he was a good or a bad man, that he had gone to a place of endless misery.
11. When persons died, among the Jews, their surviving relatives and friends never expressed any fears that they had gone to a place of misery. If they knew of any such place, they certainly felt very differently about it from what people do in our day.
12. The Jews never express themselves as if they expected to be separated from their friends after death. Now, if they believed that heaven was a place of endless happiness for some, and sheol a place of endless misery for others, how is this fact to be accounted for? We see no way of accounting for this fact only on the suppo sition that they had no knowledge of the existence of a place of endless misery.
13. Not one of the Old Testament writers has ever connected the words everlasting, eternal, forever, endless, &c., with sheol. We nowhere read of an everlasting sheol, of an eternal sheol, of an endless sheol, or of a sheol that shall endure forever.
14. Cruden, in his Concordance, admits that sheol "most commonly signifies the grave, or the place or state of the dead." - Seo Cruden's Concord., art. Hell. And George Campbell, D.D., F.R.S., Edinburgh, and Principal of the Marischal College, Aberdeen, a divine of the Presbyterian church, says that sheol "signifies the state of the dead in general, without regard to the goodness or badness of the persons, their happiness or misery." — See Prel. Dis. 6, p.
This word occurs in the New Testament eleven times. It is rendered ten times hell, and once grave. That it does not signify a place of endless misery, is proved by the following facts:
1. In the translation of the Old Testament into Greek, by the Seventy, they rendered the Hebrew sheol by the Greek word hades. Hence, sheol in Hebrew, and hades in Greek, as they occur in the Scriptures, are synonymous terms. And, as our Lord and his disciples always quoted from the version of the Seventy, or Septuagint Version, they would, of course, use words and terms and phrases in accordance with their usage there; and hence sheol in the Old Testament, and hades in the New, signify precisely the same thing