« VorigeDoorgaan »
Clarke, Parkhurst, Wynne, Wakefield, Macknight, Heylin, Rosen muller, and others. Indeed, this fact is not disputed by a single respectable biblical critic. Its meaning, in the New Testament, must, therefore, be determined by its signification in the Old. In order that the reader may see the scripture usage of it in the Old Testament, we will give every passage from that book where it
Josh 15 8. And the border went up by the valley of the son of Hinnom unto the south side of the Jebusite; the same is Jerusalem: and the border went up to the top of the mountain that lieth before the valley of Hinnom westward.
2 Kings 23 10. And he (Josiah) defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or daughter to pass through the fire to Molech.
2 Chron. 28: 3. Moreover, he (Ahaz) burnt incense in the valley of the son of Hinnom, and burnt his children in the fire, after the abominations of the heathen.
Jer. 7: 31, 32. And they (the children of Judah) 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.
Jer. 19: 2. 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.
Verse 6. 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.
From the above passages the following facts are perfectly obvious; 1. The valley of Hinnom was one of the landmarks, or boundaries, of the inheritance of the tribe of Judah. 2. If the reader will consult Lev. 18: 21, and 20: 2, he will learn that the idol god Moloch was set up in this valley, and that the Jews sacrificed their sons and their daughters to him. Professor Stuart says:
may credit the Rabbins, the head of the idol was like that of an ox, while the rest of its body resembled that of a man. It was hollow within; and, being heated by fire, children were laid in its arms, and were there literally roasted alive." We cannot wonder, then, at the severe terms in which the worship of Moloch is everywhere denounced in the Scriptures. 3. This valley was called Tophet, as Stuart says, "from Toph, to vomit with loathing; " or, as Schleusner says, "from Toph, a drum; because the administrators of these horrible rites beat drums, lest the cries and shrieks of the infants
who were burned should be heard by the assembly;" or, as Adam Clarke says, "from tophet, the fire-stove, in which some suppose they burnt their children alive to the idol Moloch." 4. The good king Josiah abolished these nefarious practices, and polluted the place where they had been committed. Schleusner says: "After this, they (the Jews) held the place in such abomination, it is said, that they cast into it all kinds of filth, together with the carcasses of beasts, and the unburied bodies of criminals who had been executed. Continual fires were necessary, in order to consume these, lest the putrefaction should infect the air; and there were always worms feeding on the remaining relics." Stuart says, Josiah polluted this by causing the filth of the city of Jerusalem to be carried there; and, he adds, "It would seem that the custom of desecrating this place, thus happily begun, was continued in after ages, down to the period when our Saviour was on earth. Perpetual fires were kept up, in order to consume the offal which was deposited there. And as the same offal would breed worms (for so all putrefying meat of course does), hence came the expression, Where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched." 5. This valley is made an emblem of that terrible temporal calamity which came on the Jewish nation in the destruction of their city and temple.
This valley lay south of Jerusalem, or on the south and west of Mount Sion, and was very deep, so that the city was inaccessible in that part. Sometimes it was made the place of execution, and the manner of executing criminals there was this: After the malefactor was condemned by the Sanhedrim (a Jewish council, composed of seventy-two persons, six from each of the twelve tribes of the Jews), they set him in a dung-hill up to his knees, and put a towel about his neck, and one pulled one way, and another the opposite, till they forced him to open his mouth. They then poured boiling lead into his mouth, which went down into his belly, and so burnt his bowels. After destroying the life of the unfortunate being in this manner, they then cast his body into the fire, which burned without cessation in that horrid place of defilement and death. Sometimes the criminal was cast alive into this fire, and his life and body destroyed in this manner.
We have seen that this place was made an emblem of the judgment, which came on the Jewish nation in the destruction of their city and temple. Now, let it be borne in mind that Jesus and his
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 unbelieving 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