THE HEBREW WORD SHEOL IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
[The following was compiled by a fellow brethren who wishes to remain anonymous]
PART I: SHEOL TRANSLATED “PIT”
The word “pit” is found 77 times in the King James Version of the Old Testament, but only 3 times is it translated from the Hebrew word sheol:
1. “If these men DIED the common DEATH of all men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men; then the Lord has not sent me. But if the Lord make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the PIT [Heb: sheol]; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the Lord.” (Numbers 16:29-30)
2. “And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the GROUND clave asunder that was under them: and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods. They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the PIT [Heb: sheol], and the EARTH closed upon them: and they PERISHED from among the congregation.” (Numbers 16:31-33)
Now then, what can we learn from this word “sheol” in these verses? We learn that sheol is in “the GROUND… under them.” Korah and his men all “died” an uncommon “death” in this sheol–pit. And it says that “they PERISHED.”
While the ground was “opened up,” it was a PIT. After the ground closed up the pit, it became a GRAVE. This whole episode was a supernatural “mass burial in a mass grave,” and nothing more. All these men are “dead and perished.”
What does the word “perished” signify? Are they lost for all eternity, because God caused them to “perish?” No, not at all. Even righteous people “perish.”
“The righteous perish and no man lays it to heart…” (Isaiah 57:1)
Also consider, if sheol is a hell of torture in fire, did you notice that God consigned the “houses” of Korah and his men to this same fate. Do we reckon that the “houses” of Korah and his men will also be “tortured in the fire of hell for ever?” Good, so we are making progress – two down and 61 to go.
3. “If I wait, the GRAVE [Heb: sheol] is mine HOUSE: I have made my BED in the DARKNESS. I have said to CORRUPTION, You are my father; to the worm, You are my mother, and my sister. And where is now my hope? As for my hope, who shall see it? They shall go down to the bars of the PIT [Heb: sheol], when our REST together is in the DUST.” (Job 17:13-16)
Wow. See anything wrong with this picture of “sheol” being an “eternal hell of torture in fire?” What I see here is: “grave, house, bed, darkness, corruption, worm, pit, rest, and dust.” There are all kinds of problems with these verses if we desire to pervert them into an “eternal hell of fire.”
A “grave” is in the ground. A “house” is an abode, not a place designed for torture in fire. A “bed” is where one sleeps, and God likens death in the grave [sheol] to “sleep” “…lest I sleep the sleep of death.” (Psalm 13:3)
“Darkness” is something that is found in a grave beneath the earth, not something you would find where there is a huge fire present. “Corruption” is what happens when a corpse decays in a relatively short period of time, not something that is accomplished in an eternity of burning in the fabled Christian hell.
“Worms” live in the ground in dead bodies, and in garbage where they continue to live and multiply as long as there is food present, but they don’t do very well in literal fire. A “pit” is “a hole in the ground” according to Webster’s Dictionary. We would hardly be at “rest” if we were being eternally tortured by literal fire. And “dust” is what bodies return to when they are dead. God formed man from the “dust of the ground,” not from “eternal hell fire.”
Besides all this proof, does anyone think that God would eternally torture Job (apparently the most righteous man on the face of the earth in his day) in literal fire when he died? Neither do I.
PART II: SHEOL – TRANSLATED “GRAVE”
1. “And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave [Heb: sheol] unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.” (Genesis 37:35)
Here “grave” (sheol) is used figuratively. Jacob did not literally go into the grave of his son Joseph, seeing that Joseph was not even “literally” dead at this time.
2. “And he [Jacob] said, My son [Benjamin] shall not go down with you; for his brother [Joseph] is dead [Jacob thought Joseph was dead], and he is left alone: If mischief befall him by the way in the which you go, then shall you bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave [Heb: sheol].” (Genesis 42:38)
Gray hairs can only figuratively “sorrow.” And “hair” does not do well in fire.
3. “And if you take this also from me, and mischief befall him, you shall bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.” (Genesis 44:29)
Once again, Jacob uses the word “grave” (sheol) figuratively, and there is no mention of fire.
4. “…and thy servants shall bring down the gray hairs of thy servant our father with sorrow to the grave [Heb: sheol].” (Genesis 44:31)
5. “The Lord kills, and makes alive: He brings down to the grave [Heb: sheol], and brings up.” (I Samuel 2:6)
And so, just as surely as God “brings down to the grave,” He likewise, “brings up [from the grave].” Therefore, the “grave” [sheol] is not an eternal place. Plus, no mention of “fire” in this place called sheol.
6. “Do therefore according to your wisdom, and let not his hoar head go down to the grave [Heb: sheol] in PEACE.” (I Kings 2:6)
Obviously, this verse tells us that the “grave (sheol)” is a place of “peace,” and that is why David didn’t want his enemy’s death to be a peaceful one.
7. “Now therefore hold him not guiltless: for you are a wise man, and know what you ought to do to him; but his hoar head bring you down to the grave [Heb: sheol] with BLOOD.” (I Kings 2:9)
Kind David is called a “bloody man” in the Scriptures. David liked blood and violence. His dying words are for His son Solomon to be a “hit man” for him, and to violently destroy David’s long-time enemies (for which David will have to bitterly repent in the Great White Throne Judgment). David wanted Solomon to make their deaths painful and “bloody,” as even David himself knew that his enemies would merely “sleep the sleep of death” once they were killed. But again, no “fire” in this “grave” – only “peace,” even for David’s worst enemies.
8. “As a cloud is consumed and vanishes away; so he that goes down to the grave [Heb: sheol] shall come up no more.” (Job 7:9)
Job was inspired to write that a person “vanishes away” in sheol. No fire there.
9. “O that You would hide me in the grave [Heb: sheol] …If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.” (Job 14:13-14)
Job knew that he would not stay in sheol forever. No fire there.
10. “If I wait, the grave [Heb: sheol] is mine house: I have made my bed in the darkness.” (Job 17:13)
Same words Job used previously.
11. “They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the grave [Heb: sheol].” (Job 21:13)
Job goes on to say in verses 23-26 that both those blessed and those cursed, “They shall lie down alike in the dust, and the worms shall cover them.”
12. “Drought and heat consume the snow waters: so does the grave [Heb: sheol] those which have sinned.” (Job 24:19)
“ALL have sinned,” and so all “consume” away in the grave until they return to the dust from where they came.
13. “For in death there is NO REMEMBRANCE of Thee: in the grave [Heb: sheol] who shall give You thanks?” (Psalm 6:5)
King David knew and was inspired to write that if he were to die, he knew that there would be no remembrance of God in the grave. No fire here either.
14. “O Lord, You have brought up my soul from the grave [Heb: sheol]: You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit [this time pit is not translated from sheol].” (Psalm 30:3)
Here King David is likewise speaking figuratively, as he was not literally killed or put into a grave.
15. “Let me not be ashamed, O Lord; for I have called upon you: let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave [Heb: sheol].” (Psalm 31:17)
Well, so much for all the supposed cries of anguish by the wicked in sheol. David knew that sheol was a place of complete “silence.”
16 & 17. “Like sheep they are laid in the grave [Heb: sheol]; death shall feed on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall consume in the grave [Heb: sheol] from their dwelling.” (Psalm 49:14)
There is “death” in the grave (sheol). There is not living torture in fire.
18. “But God will REDEEM MY SOUL from the power of the grave [Heb: sheol]: for he shall receive me. Selah.” (Psalm 49:15)
Well there you have it! Souls can be “redeemed from the power of sheol!” No eternal torture in fire where souls can and will be “REDEEMED!” It should be self-explanatory as to why the translators didn’t translate this particular “sheol” into the English word “hell.” They sure didn’t want anyone to know that souls will be “redeemed from hell.”
19. “For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draws nigh unto the grave [Heb: sheol].” (Psalm 88:3)
King David knew that when he died he was going to be placed in sheol.
20. “What man is he that lives, and shall not see death? Shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave [Heb: sheol]. Selah.” (Psalm 89:48)
And so according to this verse of Scripture, there is not a man who ever lives (that’s all humanity) that shall not go to sheol when he dies. Everyone goes to the grave; everyone goes to sheol. But it is silent there. No remembrance. No pain, suffering, or fire.
21. “Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit.” (Proverbs 1:12)
This too is speaking of the grave in figurative language.
22. “…There are three things that are never satisfied, yea, four things say, not, it is enough. The grave [Heb: sheol]; and the barren womb; the earth that is not filled with water; and the fire that says not, it is enough.” (Proverbs 30:15-16)
The earth is our “grave,” and it can hold billions of bodies.
23. “Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave [Heb: sheol], where you go.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10)
The word “device” means “contrivance, intelligence and reason.” And there are none of these in sheol. Neither is there any work, knowledge, or wisdom there. Since there are not any of these faculties of consciousness there, how can “sheol” be translated “hell” which is supposed to be a conscious place of eternal torture in fire?
24. “Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave [Heb: sheol]: the coats thereof are coats of fire, which have a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench LOVE, neither can the floods drown it…” (Song of Solomon 8:6-7)
I included verse 7 here so that no one would be confused and think that the “flames of fire” are in “sheol,” but are rather the “coats of fire and flame” of jealousy.
25. “Thy pomp is brought down to the grave [Heb: sheol], and the noise of your viols [harps]: the worm is spread under you, and the worms cover you.” (Isaiah 14:11)
This is figurative language once more. “Pomp” is a character flaw, and “harps,” or musical instruments, do not literally go anywhere, but they do cease to exist from the perspective of the person possessing them.
26. “I said in the cutting off of my days, I shall go to the gates of the grave [Heb: sheol]: I am deprived of the residue of my years.” (Isaiah 38:10)
If one were to continue living in a place called hell, he could hardly declare that his days and years would end. If hell is eternal, then he would continue to live forever.
27. “For the grave [Heb: sheol] cannot praise Thee, death can not celebrate Thee: they that go down in to the pit cannot hope for Thy truth.” (Isaiah 38:18)
Of course “sheol cannot praise Thee,” seeing that there is no intelligence or reason in sheol, as we just learned a few Scriptures above.
28. “Thus said the Lord God; In the day when he [Pharaoh] went down to the grave [Heb: sheol] I caused a mourning: I covered the deep for him, and I restrained the floods thereof, and the great waters were stayed: and I caused Lebanon to mourn for him, and all the trees of the field fainted for him.” (Ezekiel 31:15)
Ezekiel 31:16-17 again contains the word “sheol,” but there it is translated “hell” which we will cover when we cover all the verses with “hell” in them. But there is no eternal torture by fire in this verse.
29 & 30. “I will RANSOM them from the power of the grave [Heb: sheol]; I will REDEEM them from death: O DEATH, I will be your plagues; O grave [Heb: sheol], I will be your destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.” (Hosea 13:14)
This verse all by itself destroys the whole eternal torture in fire theory. If sheol is “hell,” then this verse plainly tells us that  God will “ransom” those who are in sheol.  God will be the plague of DEATH.  God tells us that sheol itself is to be “DESTROYED.” And isn’t this exactly what we are told in Revelation 20:14 – “And DEATH and hell [Gk: hades/Heb: sheol] were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second DEATH.”
31. “Our BONES are scattered at the grave‘s [Heb: sheol] mouth, as when one cuts and cleaves wood upon the earth. ” (Psalm 141:7)
Once more King David is speaking figuratively in a poetic style. The grave does not literally have a “mouth.”
That concludes the 31 places sheol is translated “grave.” Not one of these 34 verses cited (for both grave and pit) uses sheol to mean a place or condition of conscious torture in literal fire for all eternity. Why then would we suppose that the next 31 verses that use this exact same word, sheol, suddenly change the meaning into a place of conscious torture of wicked people in literal fire for all eternity? How can those who still possess a functioning mind accept such a travesty of scholarship?
CAN CONTRADICTING OPPOSITES DEFINE ONE WORD?
The Hebrew word laban means “white” – like milk, like teeth – WHITE. First, imagine we would translate this word laban in 31 verses of Scripture into the English word “white.” So far; so good. But next, imagine we translate this word laban in 31 different verses of Scripture into the English word “BLACK.” Does anyone see a problem with such scholarship?
It’s crazy, and yet this IS what has happened in the KJV with regards to the Hebrew word sheol – 31 times “grave,” and 31 times “hell.” And what does UNCONSCIOUS DEATH IN THE GRAVE have in common with A CONSCIOUS LIFE OF ETERNAL TORTURE IN FIRE? Nothing – absolutely NOTHING! It’s as different as “black” and “white.”
I do not even contend that this is bad scholarship. This is NO scholarship at all. This is nothing less than FRAUD – a Christian HOAX! Show me where else in historic academia we find such reckless abandonment of the facts? I am not contending for my personal preference in translating the Scriptures, but to merely translate accurately and consistently what we find in ALL THE HEBREW AND GREEK MANUSCRIPTS.
ONCE MORE: In the Hebrew manuscripts, we find the word sheol 65 times, therefore, in our English translations we should find ONE WORD for all 65 times sheol appears. But, no, we find ONE Hebrew word translated into THREE DIFFERENT ENGLISH WORDS – “pit, grave, and hell.”
And in the New Testament we have the opposite of this Hebrew fraud: We have the ONE English word “hell” translated from THREE DIFFERENT GREEK WORDS – “gehenna, hades, and Tartarus.”
Then we come to the greatest New Testament fraud of all regarding “hell.” One time and one time only we find the Greek word hades, translated not “hell,” but “grave.” Why? Why just one time, “grave?” Why? Because the translators did not want us “dumb sheep” to ever know what hades really means. [Be sure to read the article O Hell, Where is Thy Victory?]
If “grave” and “hell” had very similar meanings, then their use would not be so damning, but as they are opposites in every way, there is no justifiable reason for their use. And if the Greek words “hades” and “gehenna” were very similar in meaning it might be justifiable to translate them into the same one English word, but they are not; they are totally different.
At least half of the translations in the Old Testament are correct, in that sheol can be translated correctly as “grave.” But in the New Testament, not even once is the English word “hell” a justifiable translation for any Greek word found in the manuscripts.
WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED SO FAR ABOUT SHEOL / HADES?
We have now seen 34 verses of Scripture in which we find the ancient Hebrew word sheol, and how it is used in context. We have seen “sheol” used in poetic, figurative language as a place, condition, or realm of “sorrow and mourning,” as for a dead or presumed dead child. Only figuratively does someone still living go down to “sheol.” It is decidedly the realm of the dead, and therefore is figuratively used sometimes to represent something very ghastly or frightening (as we will later see was the case with Jonah).
When God kills someone, it is said that God brings them down to “sheol.”
When someone goes down to “sheol,” he is not able to come back up.
In Job we learned that when we die we are hid in “sheol” until an appointed time when we will be changed from whatever our condition in “sheol” is.
Also, Job likens “sheol” to a bed in a dark place (not unlike sleeping in our bedroom with the lights off). And Job also informs us that the blessed and cursed both go to “sheol.”
We consume away in this place called “sheol.”
In “sheol” there is no remembrance or communication with the world of the living.
The hand of “sheol” is called death, and every one who lives will be drawn to it.
Ecclesiastes 9:10 is probably the most telling Scripture of all with regards to what we do NOT find in “sheol.” No work, device [intelligence/reason], knowledge or wisdom.
Not even the righteous can celebrate or praise God in “sheol.”
Hosea informed us that God will be death’s PLAGUE. In other words, God will be a plague to “sheol” itself, not the dead people who reside in sheol. In fact God says He will RANSOM AND REDEEM those in “sheol.” Oh yes, God will ransom and redeem them ALL who go down to sheol, but not all at the same time. Remember there are TWO resurrections – One to life with Christ in His Kingdom, and another to the Great White Throne/Lake of Fire/Second Death, Judgment (where the individual will suffer loss, but be saved! – I Corinthians 3:15).
PART III: SHEOL TRANSLATED AS “HELL”
We will now go through all 31 references to “hell” in the Old Testament of the King James Bible. All 31 “hells” are translated from the one Hebrew word sheol. We will then see if there is a lick of difference between those verses where sheol is translated grave and where it is translated hell. I hope that you will be as shocked and outraged as I was when I discovered these truths. To save time, I will not comment on every single reference to “hell” translated from “sheol,” but I will quote them all and point out the fallacies on those that make mention to fire or anything vaguely related to the Christian hell.
In all the “Torah” – the Law, that is all the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, the word “hell” appears but once in the King James Bible. Here it is:
1. “For a fire is kindled in mine anger and shall burn unto the lowest hell [Heb: sheol], and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.” (Deuteronomy 32:22)
Well, at last. There it is, “fire” is found with the word sheol, so surely now we have found Scriptural proof that sheol sometimes does mean the Christian “hell of eternal torture in fire,” right? WRONG! This verse says nothing of burning people in sheol with fire. The whole chapter is a “Song of Moses” (See verse 1). God prophesies through Moses’ Song, His anger over Israel’s lack of faith and the fact that they will turn to other gods, and for this God will punish them. He will not, however, torture them in an eternal fire of a Christian hell. Here is what God will do to them:
“For the Lord shall judge His people… I KILL, and I make ALIVE: I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of My hand.” (Deuteronomy 32:36a & 39)
Notice that according to God Himself, the only way that someone He “kills” can ever live again is if God also “makes alive” again. Do Christians believe that dead people must be made alive again? No, of course not. They don’t believe that dead people are even dead, so why would God ever have to “make [them] alive” again? It is not Scientifically, Physiologically, or Scripturally possible to physically DIE and yet be alive.
Let’s notice one most profound point in this Song of Moses which should remove any and all doubt as to whether Israel is being “tortured in literal fire” in this “lowest sheol.“ Verse 25:
“The sword without, and the terror within, shall destroy both the young man and the virgin, THE SUCKLING [an infant; a BABY] also with the man of gray hairs.”
To be sure, God affirms that sucklings will be in this sheol. Are we to believe that God will TORTURE sucklings in sheol? Is sheol really a hell of torture in fire as orthodoxy demands? No, this is nothing more than the “grave” that we saw in the previous 34 Scriptures, translated from the same Hebrew word sheol.
2. The sorrows of hell [Heb: sheol] compassed [surrounded] me about: the snares of death prevented [confronted] me.” (II Samuel 22:6)
Does anyone believe that David just narrowly escaped the tortures of an eternal hell of pain in literal fire? No? I don’t either. But I can clearly see how he felt death and the grave closing in on him when his enemies were out to kill him.
3. It [the wisdom and secrets of God] is as high as heaven; what can you do? Deeper than hell [Heb: sheol]; what can you know?” (Job 11:8)
This is poetic language and has nothing to do with a place of torture in fire.
4. Hell [Heb: sheol] is naked before him, and destruction has no covering.” (Job 26:6)
5. The wicked shall be turned [Heb: shub] into hell [Heb: sheol], and all the nations that forget God.” (Psalm 9:17)
I heard this verse quoted on TV just this past Sunday. Boy oh boy this one seems pretty hard to side step, isn’t it? “The wicked shall be turned into hell.” Well, maybe not. The translators have tried to do their tricky little deceitfulness once more. You see, the word translated “turned” is the Hebrew word shub and it means “to RETURN,” (not, “turn” or “turned”), but REturn or REturned. In fact this word is translated “return” or “returned” almost 100% of the approximately 450 times it is used. Notice how other versions correct this same verse:
“The lawless shall RETURN [Heb: shub] to hades, All nations forgetful of God.” (Psalm 9:17, Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible)
“The nations shall be TURNED BACK unto sheol, All nations that are forgetful of God.” (Psalm 9:17, The New American Bible)
“The wicked do TURN BACK to sheol, All nations forgetting God.” (Psalm 9:17, Young’s Literal Translation)
“The wicked shall RETURN [Heb: shub] to the unseen, all nations forgetful of God.” (Psalm 9:17 Concordant Literal Old Testament)
Actually “return” is a better translation than “turn back,” but at least we can see that other translators see and use the proper meaning of shub, which of course, The King James did not.
The Bible likens death to a “Return.” The soul RETURNS to sheol/hades – the UNSEEN. The spirit RETURNS to God who gave it. And the body RETURNS to the dust of the ground from whence it came. And so likewise, the wicked nations will be RETURNED to sheol – the grave, sheol, the unseen, DEATH.
If “sheol” is a Christian hell of torture in fire, then they would also have to conclude that these nations also CAME FROM an eternity of suffering in fire, and they are not RETURNING to that same place. Anyone see a problem with such unscriptural nonsense?
6. “For you will not leave my soul in hell [Heb: sheol]; neither will You suffer Your Holy One to see corruption.” (Psalm 16:10)
Although this is a prophecy concerning the Lord, it is nonetheless, the words of David concerning himself and his own salvation from sheol. Notice that David concedes that he (his soul, the conscious, sentient self) will die and go to sheol. But David’s prayer is that God, “will not LEAVE my soul in sheol.” Everyone’s soul goes to sheol at death – both the sinners and the saints.
7. “The sorrows of hell [Heb: sheol] compassed me about: the snares of death prevented [confronted] me.” (Psalm 18:5)
David is not in sheol, but rather is sorrowful in just contemplating death.
8. “Let DEATH seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell [Heb: sheol]: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them.” (Psalm 55:15)
Notice that that one must be “dead” in order to go to sheol.
9. “For great is Thy mercy toward me: and you have delivered my soul from the lowest [depth of] hell [Heb: sheol].” (Psalm 86:13)
10. “The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell [Heb: sheol] got hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.” (Psalm 116:3)
11. “If I ascend up into heaven, You are there: if I make my bed in hell [Heb: sheol], behold, You are there.” (Psalm 139:8)
12. “Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell [Heb: sheol].” (Proverbs 5:5)
Seems pretty clear that feet and steps are one, and they go to one place – death and hell [sheol] are all one.
13. “Her house is the way to hell [Heb: sheol], going down to the chambers of death.” (Proverbs 7:27)
Once more, her house with its chambers goes down to hell/sheol and death.
14. “But he knows not that the DEAD are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell [Heb: sheol].” (Proverbs 9:18)
Hell/sheol contains DEAD PEOPLE, not living souls!
15. “Hell [Heb: sheol] and destruction are before the Lord: how much more then the hearts of the children of men?” (Proverbs 15:11)
16. “The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart [keep away] from hell [Heb: sheol] beneath.” (Proverbs 15:24)
17. “You shall beat him with the rod, and shall deliver his soul from hell [Heb: sheol].” (Proverbs 23:14)
18. Hell [Heb: sheol] and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.” (Proverbs 27:20)
19. “Therefore hell [Heb: sheol] has enlarged herself, and opened her mouth with out measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoices, shall descend into it.” (Isaiah 5:14)
20. Hell [Heb: sheol] from beneath is moved for you to meet you at the coming; it stirs up the dead for you, even all the chief ones of the earth; it has raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations.” (Isaiah 14:9)
21. “Yet you shall be brought down to hell [Heb: sheol] to the sides of the pit.” (Isaiah 14:15)
22. “Because you have said, We have made a covenant with DEATH, and with hell [Heb: sheol] are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves.” (Isaiah 28:15)
23. “And your covenant with DEATH shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell [Heb: sheol] shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then you shall be trodden down by it.” (Isaiah 28:18)
Notice in both verses 15 and 18 of Isaiah 28 that “death and hell” keep company together. Another major proof that those in sheol are DEAD, not tortured in fire. Sheol is associated with DEATH, not life.
24. “And you went to the king with ointment, and did increase your perfumes, and did send your messengers far off, and did debase yourself even unto hell [Heb: sheol].” (Isaiah 57:9)
25. “I made the nations to shake at the sound of his fall; when I cast him down to hell [Heb: sheol] with them that descend into the pit and all the trees of Eden, the choice and best of Lebanon, all that drink water, shall be comforted in the nether parts of the earth.” (Ezekiel 31:16)
26. “They also went down into hell [Heb: sheol] with him unto them that be slain with the sword: and they that were his arm, that dwelt under his shadow in the midst of the heathen.” (Ezekiel 31:17)
27. “The strong among the mighty shall speak to him out of the midst of hell [Heb: sheol] with them that help him: they are gone down, they lie uncircumcised, slain by the sword.” (Ezekiel 32:21)
28. “And they shall not lie with the mighty that are fallen of the uncircumcised, which are gone down to hell [Heb: sheol] with their weapons of war: and they have laid their swords under their heads, but their iniquities shall be upon their bones, through they were the terror of the mighty in the land of the living.” (Ezekiel 32:27)
29. “Though they dig into hell [Heb: sheol], thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down.” (Amos 9:2)
30. “And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and He heard me; out of the BELLY of hell [Heb: sheol] cried I, and You heard my voice.” (Jonah 2:2)
Imagine that! The belly of a FISH is also the “belly of hell.” But for sure there was no literal fire inside that fish torturing Jonah.
31. “Yea also, because he transgresses by wine, he is a proud man, neither keeps at home, who enlarges his desire as hell [Heb: sheol] , and is as DEATH, and cannot be satisfied, but gathers unto him all nations, and heaps unto him all people.” (Habakkuk 2:5)
Again we see death and hell keeping company. There is NO CONSCIOUSNESS in sheol / hades / grave / death. Jonah only figuratively (symbolically) cried out from “the belly of hell/sheol.” Jonah was figuratively in sheol, as he had not died, although he was very close to it. David in the same way, cried out in his agony as though he had already been consumed with death, although he had not.
We have now quoted every Scripture from the Hebrew Old Testament which contains the word sheol. 3 times as “pit,” 31 times “grave,” and 31 times “hell.” Not once did we read of “PUNISHMENT,” “TORTURE IN FIRE,” or a place of “EVERLASTING” anything. We have clearly seen that both the righteous and the unrighteous go to this same condition and place called sheol. It is spoken of literally, figuratively, symbolically, and poetically.
A CLOSING THOUGHT
Although everyone has a perception OF death, and many actually experience the process OF dying, absolutely no one will ever experience anything IN the death state itself. There is no experience or perception in death.
And although no one desires to go to sheol [the grave]; that is no one desires to DIE, but nonetheless, it is a safe place to be while we await resurrection. Nothing can harm us there. There is no fear of darkness there, because there is NO PERCEPTION THERE. Sheol is truly like a deep, sound SLEEP, from which our Father will awaken us in the morning. Let us be comforted by that thought.