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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 the Hebrew god(s).[1]

Traditional views[edit]

The inhabitants of Sheol were the "shades" (rephaim), entities without personality or strength.[2] 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).[3] While the Old Testament writings describe Sheol as the permanent place of the dead, in the Second Temple period (roughly 500 B.C.-70 A.D.) 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.[4] When the Hebrew scriptures were translated into Greek in ancient Alexandria around 200 B.C. 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.[5]

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.[6]

Most Jewish ideas about the after-life developed in postbiblical times. The Hebrew Scriptures themselves have few references to existence after death. Sheol, the grave, is portrayed as the place of the dead, but Sheol is a metaphor for oblivion and not 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.[7]

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 49:15 praises the Elohim, who are 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.

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.[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rainwater 1996, p. 819
  2. ^ Longenecker 2003, p. 188
  3. ^ Knobel 2011, pp. 205–206
  4. ^ Longenecker 2003, p. 189
  5. ^ Longenecker 2003, p. 189
  6. ^ Herbert Chanon Brichto "Kin, Cult, Land and Afterlife – A Biblical Complex", Hebrew Union College Annual 44, p.8 (1973)
  7. ^ Life After Death - My Jewish Learning - Retrieved 10 July 2014.
  8. ^ 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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681 news items

The Guardian

The Guardian
Tue, 25 Nov 2014 22:00:00 -0800

The Old Testament refers exclusively to sheol, the traditional Hebrew underworld, a place of stillness in which both the righteous and the unrighteous wander in shadows. There's no fiery torment, no wailing or gnashing of teeth. In the New Testament ...

The Guardian

The Guardian
Sat, 22 Nov 2014 07:00:00 -0800

The Bone Season ended with Paige, the protagonist, escaping Sheol 1. Book 2 picks up immediately following its events so its beginning straight away hauls you in until your white-knuckled gripping the page. It is a lot easier to slip into the second ...

Patheos (blog)

Patheos (blog)
Sat, 15 Nov 2014 14:41:15 -0800

But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit” (Isaiah 14:14-15). How far is it from heaven down to earth? Apparently a long way but Satan's pride caused him to be cast out of heaven down to the earth, thus it was written that he ...
 
Patheos (blog)
Fri, 07 Nov 2014 15:16:26 -0800

Generally there are two extreme positions that Christians can take when talking about where other religions come from. Some Christians would say that in order for Christianity to be uniquely right, we have to believe that Buddhism, Islam, Sikhism ...
 
Huffington Post (blog)
Fri, 31 Oct 2014 11:59:23 -0700

...our marriages an "abomination" -- our love declared to condemned both partners to Sheol. Even after death, having left behind these bodies deemed by the righteous to be "disordered," these self-righteous lovers of Law keeping casting stones at our ...

The Daily News Online

The Daily News Online
Sat, 08 Nov 2014 03:03:45 -0800

Non-Christians go to Sheol (also called the Bosom of Abraham or Hades), where they are sent to either an upper compartment or a lower one. There they wait until the end of time to be judged and are sent to hell. Bellavia admits early in his book he is ...
 
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Christian Post (blog)

Christian Post (blog)
Fri, 31 Oct 2014 10:42:02 -0700

'Your pomp and the music of your harps have been brought down to Sheol; Maggots are spread out as your bed beneath you and worms are your covering.' (Isa. 14:11). So then, how well do you know your God? Because if you know Him at all, then there's no ...
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