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Few words call for more careful study than this; because few words are more obscured in translation,

or are more important in their teaching.

Moreover, it is peculiarly a word of Divine origin : a word coined, so to speak, by the Holy Spirit Himself.

It can therefore be understood only by our observing the way in which He has used it; learning there from

the meaning He has thus given it.

It is different with the Greek word Hades, which is used in the New Testament to represent the Old Testament

word Sheol. Hades is a Greek word. It belongs to Greek mythology, and comes to us surrounded with heathen

traditions. These are all discarded, and set for ever aside, the moment the Holy Spirit takes it up and uses it as

the substitute and equivalent for the Hebrew word Sheol. The Holy Spirit has, in doing this, "purified" it

(in accordance with Ps. 12: 6). Whatever Sheol means in the 01d Testament, that .Hades means in the New

Testament. In Greek works, of course, it still bears the meaning the Greeks put upon it; but that meaning has no

place in Scripture.

It matters not, therefore, what Heathen Mythology may have imagined; or what Tradition has handed down;

what man may say; or what we may think. There is only 1 one question : and that is a matter of supreme

importance -What does God say about it; and How does the Holy Spirit use it in the Word of God?

If we know this we know all that can be known. No one can get beyond this. If, therefore, we put our

readers in possession of the facts, they will have all the evidence before them, and be independent of all

earthly and human teachers.

This Hebrew word Sheol, about which there is so much misunderstanding and controversy, occurs sixty-five

times in the Old Testament. We propose to give the list, complete, from the A.V. with the R.V.variations;

calling attention to the fact that the American R.V. does not translate the word at all, but simply transliterates

it thus


To enable the eye to help the understanding, we have given the three renderings in three different types;

and have referred to the R.V. text and margin in the notes. In all cases where not otherwise noted, the R.V.

text is the same as the A.V.

The variations are indicated as follows

* R.V. marg., Heb. Sheol.

# R.V, pit; marg., Heb.Sheol.

(( R.V. Sheol.

|| R.V. Sheol; marg., Or grave.

R.V. marg., Or, thegrave; Heb., Sheol.

** R.V. hell; marg., Heb. Sheol.


1. Gen. 37:35, I will go down into the grave*
(* This being the first occurrence of the word Sheol, the R.V, gives a note in the margin, "Heb. Sheol,

the name of the abode of the dead, answering to the Greek Hades, Acts ii. 2y." This note is altogether

wrong. (t) It is interpretation and not translation. (2) It prejudges the word from the outset, fixing upon

it the word " abode," which has a technical meaning applicable only to the living : thus anticipating the

conclusion which cannot be arrived at until we have obtained all the evidence, and have it before us.

(3) It has nothing in it answering to the Greek Hades." Hades must have the same meaning as Sheol;

and must answer to that. It must have the meaning which the Holy Spirit puts upon it, and not the meaning

which the heathen put on it)

2. "  "    62:38, * then shall ye bring down my grey hairs with sorrow to the grave.

3.  "  "   64:29;* with sorrow to the grave.

4.  " "    64:31,*  with sorrow to the grave.

5.  Num. 26:30,*  they go down quick into the PIT.

6.  " "      26:33,*  they went down alive into the PIT.

7.  Deut. 32:ss, #  shall burn unto the lowest hell.

8. 1  Sam. 2:6,* He bringeth down to the grave.

9. 2 Sam. 22:6,(( the sorrows (R.V. cords) of hell compassed me.

10. 1 Kings 2:6,* let not his hoar head go down to the grave in peace.

11. " " 2:9, *  his boar head bring the thou down to the grave.

12. Job 7:9, ||  he that goeth down to the grave

13. " " 11:8, ||  deeper than hell; what canst thou know?:

14. " " 14:13, ||  wouldest hide me in the grave.

15. " " 17:13, ||  the grave is my house.

16. " " 17:16, || they shall go down to the bars of the pit.

17. " " 21:13,||  in a moment go down to the grave

18. " " 24:19, || so doth the grave (consumed those who have sinned.

19. " " 26:6, ||  hell is naked before him.

20.  Ps. 6:5, ((  in the grave who shall give it

21. " " 9:17, * the wicked shall be turned (R.V. returned) into hell.

22. " " 16:10, ((  thou wilt not leave my soul in hell

23. " " 18:5, ((  the sorrows (R.V. cords) of hell compassed me.

24. " " 30:3, (( thou hast brought up my soul from the grave.

25. " " 31:17, (( let them be silent in the grave

26. " " 49:14, ((  like sheep are they laid in they are laid in the grave.

27. " " 49:14, ((  their beauty shall consume in the grave.

28. " " 49:15, (( God will redeem my soul from of the grave.

29. " " 55:15, #  let them go down quick into hell (A.V. marg., the grave.)

30. " " 86:13, || thou hast delivered my soul the lowest hell. (A.V. marg., the grave.)

31. " " 88:3, || my life draweth nigh unto the grave.


32. " " 89:48, || shall he deliver his soul from of the hand of the grave.

33. " " 116:3, || the pains of hell gat hold upon me.


34. " " 139:8, (( if I make my bed in hell thou art there.


35. " " 141:7, (( our bones are scattered at the grave's mouth.

36. Prov. 1:12, ||  let us swallow them up alive as the grave.

37. " " 5:5, || her steps take hold on hell.

38." " 7:27, || her house is the way to hell.

39. " " 9:18, (( her guests are in the depths of hell.

40." " 15:11, || Hell and destruction are before the Lord.

41. " " 15:24, ||, that he may depart from hell beneath.

42. " "  23:14, || and shalt deliver his soul from hell.

43. " " 27:20,(( Hell and destruction are never full.

44. " " 30:16, * the grave; and the barren womb.

45. Ecc. 9:10, * no device, nor knowledge in the grave.


46. Song. 8:6, jealousy is cruel as the grave.


47.  Isa. 5:14, hell hath enlarged herself.

48. " " 14:9, hell from beneath is moved for thee (A.V. marg., the grave.)

49. 14:11, * *thy pomp is brought down to the grave.


50. " " 14:15, * thou shaft be brought down to hell.


51. " " 28:15, * with hell are we at agreement.


52. " " 28:18, * your agreement with hell shall not stand.

53. " " 38:10, * I shall go to the gates of the grave.

54. " " 38:14, * the grave cannot praise thee.

55. " ' 57:9, *  and didst debase thyself even unto hell.

56. Ezek. 31:15, * * he went down to the grave.


57. Ezek. 31:16, *  I cast him down to hell.

58. " " 31:17, * they also went down into hell.

59. " " 32:21, * shall speak to him out of the midst of hell.

60. " " 32:27, * are gone down to hell with their weapons.

61. Hos. 13:14,* I will ransom them from the grave.

62. " " 13:14, * O grave, I will be thy destruction.

63. Amos 9:2, * though they dig into hell.

64. Jonah 2: 2, out of the belly of hell cried I. (A.V. marg., the grave.)

65. Hab. 2:5, who enlargeth his desire as hell.

On a careful examination of the above list, we are almost bewildered with what looks like an

utter absence of any settled plan or principle in the translation of the word Sheol; in either the

 A.V. or R.V.

The American R.V. is alone consistent with itself, as it preserves the word Sheol, uniformly,

in each case.

Not only are three renderings used in the other two Versions; but they are used almost at random.

Now one is in the text and another is in the margin; then one is in the margin and another in the text.

If the confusion be so great with the Translators, How much more must it be so with the English readers?

The confusion will be further seen from the following Analysis:

Sheol is rendered

In the TEXT, by the grave 31 times,

                               hell 31 times,

                               pit 3 times.
                              65 times in all.

In the MARGIN "the grave" is put 4 times for "hell," thus neutralising 4 passages, by reducing the

total of "hell" renderings to 27, and correspondingly raising the total of "the grave " renderings to 35

instances out of 65.

We leave the Analysis of the R.V. renderings to our readers; and go on to call attention to a few points

which stand out clearly in studying the above list.

1. It will be observed that in a majority of cases Sheol is rendered "the grave." To be exact, 54 percent:

 while "hell " is 41 1/2 percent; and "pit " only 4 1/2 per cent.

The grave, therefore, stands out on the face of the above list as the best and commonest rendering.

2. With regard to the word "pit," it will be observed that in each of the three cases where it occurs

(Num. 26:30, 33; and Job 17:16), the grave is so evidently meant, that we may at once substitute

that word, and banish "pit" from our consideration as a rendering of Sheol.

3. As to the rendering "hell," it does not represent Sheol, because both by Dictionary definition and

by colloquial usage "hell" means the place of future punishment. Sheol has no such meaning, but denotes

the present state of death. "The grave" is, therefore, a far more suitable translation, because it visibly

suggests to us what is invisible to the mind, viz., the state of death. It must, necessarily, be misleading to the

English reader to see the former put to represent the latter.

4. The student will find that "the grave," taken literally as well as figuratively, will meet all the requirements

of the Hebrew Sheol: not that Sheol means so much specifically A grave, as generically THE grave.

Holy Scripture is all-sufficient to explain the word Sheol to us. .

5. If we enquire of it in the above list of the occurrences of the word Sheol, it will teach

(a) That as to direction it is down.

(b) That as to place it is in the earth.

(e) That as to nature it is put for the state of death. Not the act of dying, for which we have no

English word, but the state or duration of death. The Germans are more fortunate, having the word

sterbend for the act of dying.

Sheol therefore means the state of death; or the state of the dead, of which the grave is a tangible

evidence. It has to do only with the dead. It may sometimes be personified and represented as speaking,

as other inanimate things are. It may be represented by a coined word, Grave-dom, as meaning the dominion

or power of the grave.

(d) As to relation it stands in contrast with the state of the living, see Deut.30:15, 19, and 1 Sam. 2:6-8.

It is never once associated with the living, except by contrast.

(e) As to association, it is used in connection with mourning (Gen. 37:34, 35),

sorrow (Gen.42:38.  2 Sam. 22:6.  Ps. 18:5 ;  116:3),  fright and terror (Num. 16:27, 34),

weeping (Isa. 38:3, 10, 15, 20), silence (Ps. 31:17; 6:5. . Ecc. 9:10), no knowledge (Ecc. 9:5, 6, 10),
punishment (Num. 16: 27, 34. 1 Kings 2:6, 9. Job 24:19. Ps. 9:17, R.V. RE-turned, as before their resurrection).

(f) And, finally, as to duration, the dominion of Sheol or the grave will continue until, and end only with,

resurrection, which is the only exit from it (see Hos. 13:14, etc. ; and compare Ps. 16:10 with

Acts 2:27, 31; 13:35).

Our readers can follow out the further study of this important word for themselves: and can judge as to the correctness of the few conclusions we have drawn from the above list; and thus be stablished in God's truth.