Having Eyes to See The Myth of Eternal Hell Fire
When I heard there was no concept of eternal hell fire in the original Hebrew Scriptures, I googled the origin of this widely accepted theology. Prior to Greek Hellenization, around 4 B.C., and the first Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, 3rd to 2nd B.C, the Hebrew word Sheol simply meant the Grave. Its synonyms are the Pit and the Abyss.
The Hebrew Word Sheol vs The Greek Word Hades
Hades was the only Greek equivalent for the Hebrew word Sheol. Yet the Greek idea of the afterlife came attached to the word Hades, the mythological god of the underworld. The abode of the dead was not the grave but the place where the immortal soul experience eternal, flesh burning, torment.
The Origin of Our English Word Hell
Why does today’s Bible say, “Eternal Hell Fire?” Our Old English Bibles routed through Greek, Roman Catholic Latin and German. When English translators chose an equivalent word for Hades the Old English/German root was Hel, Helle, attaching Germanic, Teutonic and Scandinavian Norse mythology. Like any translation, there was no other cognate word available in the English language to describe Hades.
When St. Jerome translated the Latin Vulgate, in 380 A.D., from the Hebrew Scriptures, his Latin word choice for Sheol was Infernum, to fit the description of Hades. This is where English derives its word Inferno, adding even more fuel to the Hell fire doctrine, and fear based converts.
Early Bible translators began substituting the word Hell for The Grave, Gehenna, Tartarus-The Pit, and The Lake of Fire, which is the Second Death. An example can be seen by the number of times the word Hell is translated; 54 times in the KJV, 13 in the NIV yet not even once in the Complete Jewish Bible. (www.christianbiblereference.org/faq_WordCount.htm)
Alexander The Great and The Greek Septuagint.
Moses, was called a Hebrew, like Abraham, (Hebrew means, Crossed Over). He was given the Torah in Hebrew. These five books along with the Prophets and Writings that line up with our Creator’s Torah were compiled into a book called TaNaK, (a Hebrew acronym for Torah, Prophets and Writings).
The first Greek translation of the TaNaK was called the Septuagint, meaning seventy, because it was translated into Koine Greek by seventy men from the twelve tribes of Israel, (See Septuagint-Wikipedia).
Same gods, Different Names.
Still, the philosophy of the immortal soul and the god of the underworld did not originate with the Greeks. Their gods were known by Greek names but their origin can be traced back to ancient Egyptian mythology. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anubis)
Remember when God called His created/first-born nation, (Israel) out of Egypt, including its mythological gods? His Perfect, Unchanging Word continues to call Israel, (meaning, those who struggle/contend with man and with God and prevail), out of the world and its false/mytology, Genesis 32:28; Exodus 4:22; 20:2; John 15:19; Matthew 10:22
Is Gehenna Hell?
Gehenna is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew Ge Hinnom or Valley of Hinnom. Along with Topheth, it is known in the TaNaK as the Valley of Slaughter, Jeremiah 19:6. This is where people would burn their children to the god Molech, Jeremiah 7:31; 2 Kings 23:10; Isaiah 30:33
YHVH (He Is, Was and Always Will Be) called this a detestable place. These pagan sacrifices also included immorality/temple prostitution to appease the angry god: 2 Chronicles 28:3; 33:6; Jeremiah 19:4, Leviticus 18:20-22; Leviticus 20:1-32 ; 2 Kings 23:9-11; Isaiah 30:33; Jeremiah 32:34-36; Isaiah 66:23-2; Joshua 15:8, Matthew 5:22 & 29,30; 10;28; 18:9; 23:15 & 33; Mark 9:42-44 Luke 12:5; and James 3:6 all refer to the valley of Gehenna.
Gehenna Later Became the Garbage Dump
Jesus/Yeshua spoke in parables, using the physical example of Gehanna, the Garbage Dump, to describe the coming destruction that would be “Like” the garbage when it is consumed by the fire and the worm/maggot, Matthew 13:34; Isaiah 66:24; Mark 9:48-50.
Jerusalem’s Coming Destruction
In 27 A.D., when Y’shua began warning Jerusalem of its coming destruction that came to pass in 70 A.D. Gehenna was the place where trash was burned and maggots thrive on dead flesh.
*(Jeremiah the prophet had also warned the people prior to the first Temple destruction in 586 B.C.)
In 70 A.D. Jerusalem lay waste and not one stone of the Temple was left on the other. It literally perished in the fire of the Roman army’s destruction, Matthew 24:1-3.
Today the Hinnom Valley is no longer burning, nor is it a garbage dump, it looks like this:
It has “eternally” perished. It is not “eternally” burning.
Is Sodom and Gomorrah Eternally Burning?
“In like manner, Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, who indulged in sexual immorality and pursued strange flesh, are on display as an example of those who sustain the punishment of eternal fire.“ Jude 1:7; Genesis 19:24
The answer is no. Anyone who visits the desert of Sodom and Gomorrah will notice it perished forever in the fire. Before it was destroyed the Bible says it was a well watered garden, Genesis 13:10.
*Remember the Hebrew word, Olam and the Greek words, Aei and Aion, do not mean eternal but Spiritual, a period of time, age lasting, perpetual, from one point to the next or until death.
Tartarus is a Dark, Deep Pit or Abyss With No Mention of Fire.
The Hebrew word “Pit” is “Bor” and often used as a synonym for “Sheol, ” the Grave.
“For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into Hell…” 2 Peter 2:4
The original Greek word was Tartarus, an Egyptian word, borrowed by the Greeks, also referred to as the darkest, deepest abyss or bottomless pit. Below are two other references of a Dark Abyss or Grave.
“And the angels who did not stay within their own domain, but abandoned their proper dwelling, He keeps under darkness, in eternal, (from aei #104) chains for judgment on that great day.“ Jude 1:6.
The Abyss/Bottomless Pit/ Sheol/Grave is also the place of the Destroyer Angel, Abaddon, the Beast, the Devil and his angels, Dragon, Serpent…all synonyms for satan. Satan is God’s Adversary, (that describes the majority of mankind) and will be bound for 1,000 years, Matthew 25:41; Revelation 9:1; Revelation 9:11; Revelation 11:7; Revelation 20.
Translators have taken the liberty of adding their mythical bias to God’s spiritual metaphors. Words like demon, dragon and devil do not exist in the original Hebrew. The serpent represented satan, which is every corrupt way/sin leading to death.
Is The Outer Darkness Hell?
Yeshua uses the phrase, Outer Darkness, in His parables describing those outside of God’s Kingdom, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, Matthew 8:12; Matthew 22:13; Matthew 25:30; Luke 13:28; Psalm 112:10.
“Weeping and gnashing teeth” describe some very upset and angry people. Not only are they cast outside the Kingdom, we see the same description linking the outer darkness to, “the blazing furnace.”
Is The Blazing Furnace Hell?
The Torah and Prophets reveal the meanings of these ancient Hebrew metaphors and idioms. What does fire do? It cleanses away combustible material. God is referred to as an All Consuming Fire, Hebrews 12:29, and a Blazing Torch/Furnace; Exodus 15:7; 24:17; Deuteronomy 4:24; 9:3; 2 Samuel 22:9; Psalm 97:3; Geneses 15:17…
“…for you will heap burning coals on his head,” Proverbs 25:22; Romans 12:20
When we repay an insult with God’s Merciful Loving Kindness it is said to heap burning coals on our enemies head. The burning coals are obviously figurative, our enemies will not be physically burned but spiritually convicted.
Isaiah describes his vision of standing in God’s presence as a house full of smoke with an alter of live (burning) coals. When a coal touches his unclean lips it makes them clean, Isaiah 6:7
“For everyone will be salted with fire, salt is good…” Mark 9:49, 50
Is The Lake of Fire He“The Lake of Fire is The Second Death,” Revelation 20:14; Revelation 21:8
The Lake of Fire means The Second Death, and Death is the last enemy to be destroyed.
Death means separation from our Spiritual Creator, but death was never eternal. Death will be no more, it will pass away, it will be swallowed up, Isaiah 25:8; Revelation 21:4.
The Example of The Rich Man and Lazarus.
If we re-read the story of Luke 16:19-31, without the eternal Hell-fire mythology and view the physical examples as metaphors, we see an example of the Second Death.
Observe the rich man reversing roles with Lazarus, the poor, tormented beggar who longed for the food that fell from the rich man’s table.
They both die but Lazarus is carried by angels to “Abraham bosom,” (an idiom meaning the place of honor at a banquet). While the rich man was buried, and in the Grave, not Hell, where he is in torment, like the place of weeping and gnashing of teeth. In the story he sees Abraham and Lazarus from afar and begs Abraham to have mercy and let Lazarus dip his finger in water and give him a drop to cool his tongue, he says, “I am suffering in this flame.”
Torah and Living Water are used as similes in Hebrew and Firey trials produce repentance.
Abraham addresses the rich man as Child and explains their reversal of roles and the chasm/gulf/wide space that cannot be crossed. The rich man refers to Abraham as Father and asks him to send Lazarus to his father’s house where he has 5 brothers, (I only have a speculation about who these represent.)
Abraham replies, they have Moses/Torah and the Prophets, let them hear.
The rich man’s final plea is if someone from the dead would go they will repent, but Abraham said, “if they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets they will not be persuaded if someone would rise from the dead.”
Many people believe this story supports their eternal Hell Fire doctrine but I believe we must view God’s Word with eyes and ears that can perceive these parables, metaphors, similes, idioms and spiritual symbolism.
For Those Who Have Eyes to See, Let Them See The Metaphors.
The dead are not tormented eternally in a flesh burning fire. There is a Second Death but death is not eternal, it is a second, age lasting/spiritual, separation from our Spiritual Creator.
“Where oh death is your victory, where oh death is your sting?” Hosea 13:14; 1 Corinthians 15:55
Our Creator is greater than death! The word Hell, along with the man-made, mythological concept of eternal, flesh burning fire and the god of the underworld, does not match up to the plum-line of the Original, Perfect, Unchanging Word of Truth, Psalm 18:30; Deuteronomy 4:24; Isaiah 33:14