The brief excursus on the word
"Hell" contained in this volume, aims to treat the subject in a
popular style, and at the same time to present all the important facts, so
fully and comprehensively that any reader can obtain in a few pages a
birds-eye-view of "The Bible Hell."
The author ventures to hope that any
one who will read candidly, not permitting the bias of an erroneous education
to warp his judgment, will not fail to agree with the conclusions of this
book,----that the doctrine of unending sin and woe finds no support in the
Bible teachings concerning Hell.
THE BIBLE HELL
Does the Bible teach the idea
commonly held among Christians concerning Hell? Does the Hell of the Bible
denote a place of torment, or a condition of suffering without end, to begin
at death? What is the Hell of the Bible? Manifestly the only way to arrive at
the correct answer is to trace the words translated Hell from the beginning to
the end of the Bible, and by their connections ascertain exactly what the
divine Word teaches on this important subject. It seems incredible that a wise
and benevolent God should have created or permitted any kind of an endless
hell in his universe. Has he done so? Do the Scripture teachings concerning
Hell stain the character of God and clothe human destiny with an impenetrable
pall of darkness, by revealing a state or place of endless torment? Or do they
explain its existence, and relieve God's character, and dispel all the
darkness of misbelief, by teaching that it exists as a means to a good end? It
is our belief that the Bible Hell is not the heathen, nor the
"orthodox" hell, but is one that is doomed to pass away when its
purpose shall have been accomplished, in the reformation of those for whose
welfare a good God ordained it.
ENGLISH WORD HELL
The English word Hell grew
into its present meaning. Horne Tooke says that hell, heel, hill, hole, whole,
hall, hull, halt and hold are all from the same root. "Hell, any place,
or some place covered over. Heel, that part of the foot which is covered by
the leg. Hill, any heap of earth, or stone, etc., by which the plain or level
surface of the earth is covered. Hale, i.e., healed or whole. Whole, the same
as hale, i.e., covered. It was formerly written whole, without the w, as a
wound or sore is healed, or whole, that is, covered over by the skin, which
manner of expression will not seem extraordinary if we consider our use of the
word recover. Hall, a covered building, where persons assemble, or where goods
are protected from the weather. Hull, of a nut, etc. That by which a nut is
covered. Hole, some place covered over. 'You shall seek for holes to hide your
heads in.' Holt, holed, hol'd holt. A rising ground or knoll covered with
trees. Hold, as the hold of a ship, in which things are covered, or the
covered part of a ship."
The word was first applied to the
grave by our German and English ancestors, and as superstition came to regard
the grave as an entrance to a world of torment, Hell at length became the word
used to denote an imaginary realm of fiery woe.
Dr. Adam Clarke says: "The word
Hell, used in the common translation, conveys now an improper meaning of the
original word; because Hell is only used to signify the place of the damned.
But as the word Hell comes from the Anglo-Saxon helan, to cover, or hide,
henee the tiling or slating of a house is called, in some parts of England
(particularly Cornwall), heling, to this day, and the corers of books (in
Lancashire), by the same name, so the literal import of the original word
hades was formerly well expressed by it."---Com. in loc.
WORDS TRANSLATED HELL
In the Bible four words are
translated Hell: the Hebrew word Sheol, in the original Old testament; its
equivalent, the Greek word Hadees, in the Septuagint; and in the New
Testament, Hadees, Gehenna and Tartarus.