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For the Naglfar album, see Sheol (album).

She'ol (/ˈʃl/ SHEE-ohl or /ˈʃəl/ SHEE-əl; Hebrew שְׁאוֹל Šʾôl), translated as "grave", "pit", or "abode of the dead", is the Hebrew term for the place of the dead, the common grave of humans, or underworld of the Old Testament/Hebrew Scriptures. It is a place of darkness to which all the dead go, both the righteous and the unrighteous, regardless of the moral choices made in life, a place of stillness and darkness cut off from life and from God.[1][2]

Traditional views[edit]

The inhabitants of Sheol were the "shades" (rephaim), entities without personality or strength.[3] Under some circumstances they are thought to able to be contacted by the living, as the Witch of Endor contacts the shade of Samuel for Saul, but such practices are forbidden (Deuteronomy 18:10).[4] While the Old Testament writings describe Sheol as the permanent place of the dead, in the Second Temple period (roughly 500 BCE-70 CE) a more diverse set of ideas developed: in some texts, Sheol is considered to be the home of both the righteous and the wicked, separated into respective compartments; in others, it was considered a place of punishment, meant for the wicked dead alone.[5] When the Hebrew scriptures were translated into Greek in ancient Alexandria around 200 BC the word "Hades" (the Greek underworld) was substituted for Sheol, and this is reflected in the New Testament where Hades is both the underworld of the dead and the personification of the evil it represents.[6]

Judaism[edit]

According to Herbert C. Brichto, writing in Reform Judaism's Hebrew Union College Annual, the family tomb is the central concept in understanding biblical views of the afterlife. Brichto states that it is "not mere sentimental respect for the physical remains that is...the motivation for the practice, but rather an assumed connection between proper sepulture and the condition of happiness of the deceased in the afterlife".

According to Brichto, the early Israelites apparently believed that the graves of family, or tribe, united into one, and that this unified collectivity is to what the Biblical Hebrew term Sheol refers, the common Grave of humans. Although not well defined in the Tanakh, Sheol in this view was a subterranean underworld where the souls of the dead went after the body died. The Babylonians had a similar underworld called Aralu, and the Greeks had one known as Hades. For biblical references to Sheol see Genesis 42:38, Isaiah 14:11, Psalm 141:7, Daniel 12:2, Proverbs 7:27 and Job 10:21,22, and 17:16, among others. According to Brichto, other Biblical names for Sheol were: Abaddon (ruin), found in Psalm 88:11, Job 28:22 and Proverbs 15:11; Bor (the pit), found in Isaiah 14:15, 24:22, Ezekiel 26:20; and Shakhat (corruption), found in Isaiah 38:17, Ezekiel 28:8.[7]

Most Jewish ideas about the afterlife developed in post-biblical times. The Hebrew Scriptures themselves have few references to life after death. Sheol, the bowels of the earth, is portrayed as the place of the dead, but in most instances Sheol seems to be more a metaphor for oblivion than an actual place where the dead "live" and retain consciousness. The notion of resurrection appears in two late biblical sources, Daniel 12 and Isaiah 25-26.[8]

Anthropomorphic interpretation[edit]

The traditional biblical interpretations explain that Sheol is a grim and desolated land below, occupied by the dead who continue their colorless existence irrespective of their earthly conduct. Contrary to this exposition however, the Hebrew Bible supports the descriptions of Sheol which suggest that it is something more than just a place. In terms of sheer numbers the amount of anthropomorphic descriptions is significant. Sheol is either portrayed by means of human qualities (ערום, Job 26:6;קשה , Canticles 8:6) or attributed with the elements of human anatomy: womb (בטן, Jonah 2:3), hand (יד, Psalms 49:15; 89:48; Hosea 13:14) or throat (נפש, Isaiah 5,14) and mouth (פה, Psalms 141:7; Isaiah 5:14).

In addition, Psalm 49:16 praises Elohim who is said to ransom one’s soul from the hand of Sheol, Proverbs 27:20 acknowledges Sheol’s insatiability whereas Isaiah 5:14 depicts Sheol as a gargantuan monster. In sum, the verbs connected with Sheol can be divided into two sub-groups. The first one refers to the relation between Sheol, Yahveh and men: Sheol does not praise (ידה) Yahveh but Yahveh can ransom (פדה) from the hand of Sheol whereas men can make a deal (עשה חזה) with Sheol and one’s soul (nephesh) can escape (מלט) from Sheol’s hand. The second one comprises of verbs which present Sheol as a devouring monster: Sheol enlarges (רחב נפש) her throat, swallows (בלע) but cannot satiate (שבע). Moreover, the doubtful etymology of the word along with the fact that she’ol is never preceded by a definite article suggests its foreign origins.

Some additional support for this hypothesis comes from the ancient Near Eastern literary materials. For example, the Akkadian plates mention the name shuwalu or suwala in reference to a deity responsible for ruling the abode of the dead. As such it might have been borrowed by the Hebrews and incorporated into their early belief system.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rainwater 1996, p. 819
  2. ^ Philip P. Kapustaii - Sheol and hell in the Old Testament The Bible Study - bibletopics.com. Retrieved 10 July 2014
  3. ^ Longenecker 2003, p. 188
  4. ^ Knobel 2011, pp. 205–206
  5. ^ Longenecker 2003, p. 189
  6. ^ Longenecker 2003, p. 189
  7. ^ Herbert Chanon Brichto "Kin, Cult, Land and Afterlife – A Biblical Complex", Hebrew Union College Annual 44, p.8 (1973)
  8. ^ Life After Death - My Jewish Learning - Retrieved 10 July 2014.
  9. ^ Kosior, Wojciech (2014). "The Underworld or its Ruler? Some Remarks on the Concept of Sheol in the Hebrew Bible". Polish Journal of Biblical Research. Vol 13 No. 1-2 (25-26/2014): 29–37. Retrieved 16 June 2014. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Aune, David E. (2003). "Cosmology". Westminster Dictionary of the New Testament and Early Christian Literature. Westminster John Knox Press. 
  • Bernstein, Alan E. (1996). The Formation of Hell: Death and Retribution in the Ancient and Early Christian Worlds. Cornell University Press. 
  • Hess, Richard S. (2007). Israelite Religions: An Archeological and Biblical Survey. Baker Academic Press. 
  • Kelly, Henry A. (2010). "Hell with Purgatory and two Limbos". In Moreira, Isabel; Toscano, Margaret. Hell and Its Afterlife: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives. Ashgate Publishing. 
  • Knobel, Peter (2011). "Death". In Berlin, Adele; Grossman, Maxine. The Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion. Oxford University Press. 
  • Longenecker, Richard N. (2003). "Cosmology". In Gowan, Donald E. The Westminster theological wordbook of the Bible. Westminster John Knox Press. 
  • Mabie, F.J (2008). "Chaos and Death". In Longman, Tremper; Enns, Peter. Dictionary of the Old Testament. InterVarsity Press. 
  • O'Dowd, R. (2008). "Creation imagery". In Longman, Tremper; Enns, Peter. Dictionary of the Old Testament. InterVarsity Press. 
  • Rainwater, Robert (1990). "Sheol". In Watson E. Mills (General Editor). Mercer Dictionary of the Bible. Mercer University Press. 
  • Reike, Bo (2001). "Hell". In Metzger, Bruce Manning; Coogan, Michael David. The Oxford guide to ideas & issues of the Bible. Oxford University Press. 

External links[edit]

  • Sheol entry in Jewish Encyclopedia

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheol — Please support Wikipedia.
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46 news items

 
Daily Commercial
Sat, 30 Aug 2014 03:07:30 -0700

If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.” I felt like my bed was in Sheol, which isn't identical ...
 
CNN (blog)
Mon, 01 Sep 2014 17:27:34 -0700

Sheol was not heaven, (or hell). Late in their history the concept of personal immortality arose, post-Exile, and only the martyr-heroes were thought to be immortal. Even as late as Paul of Tarsus, HE did not believe in immortality, except for the ...
 
Heber Springs Sun-Times
Sat, 30 Aug 2014 22:25:39 -0700

Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend to heaven, thou art there! If I make my bed in Sheol, thou art there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there thy hand shall lead me, and thy ...

Patheos (blog)

Patheos (blog)
Sun, 31 Aug 2014 01:26:15 -0700

O Sheol, where is your destruction?” (Hosea 13:14). By dying he was subject to the laws of hell, but by rising again he broke them, and destroyed the continuity of death, making it temporal instead of eternal. “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ ...

Patheos (blog)

Patheos (blog)
Fri, 29 Aug 2014 01:37:30 -0700

And because it was through the tree that mankind had fallen into Sheol, so upon the tree they passed over into the dwelling of life. Through the tree in which bitterness was tasted, through it also sweetness was tasted; so that we might learn of him ...
 
Powermetal.de
Mon, 18 Aug 2014 01:37:30 -0700

"Sheol" ist mein Erstkontakt mit der finnischen Band UNDERJORD, die im Roaster von Massacre Records den experimentellen Teil verstärken soll. Spannend und nicht ganz konventionell ist das, was uns die Finnen auf ihrem Debüt auftischen, allemal.

Jewish Daily Forward

Jewish Daily Forward
Tue, 26 Aug 2014 02:00:56 -0700

Despite the above (and other) references to Sheol and life after death, Psalm 115:17 tells us that “the dead do not praise God” (a text which has not stopped generations of Christians and Jews from depicting heaven as a place where the dead do exactly ...
 
First Things (blog)
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 09:07:30 -0700

The Father breaks through our isolation by sending the Son into “eternal identification with us., even unto Sheol, so that we cannot escape being one with the Son and so with one another.” In the Spirit “we willingly live that identification, for the ...
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