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Pathway Machine's picture

The Old English word hell comes from a root word which means to cover or conceal. In the days of King James the word didn't mean what it does today. It meant to cover. For example, the hell potatoes meant to put them underground, like in a cellar, a book heller was a person who put the cover on a book, to hel a house meant to cover a portion of it with tile. This last term is still used in some portions of the New England states.

Then, there are similar words with a similar meaning. Shell, for example. Hull is the covered part of a ship or the covering of a nut. Hall is the part of a building that is covered and used for storage or gathering. Heal is the covering of a wound. Whole is an uncovering, and hill is the level ground covered by earth or stone.

The Hebrew word sheohl and the Greek word haides were accurately translated into the old English word hell in the days of King James because they basically mean the unseen resting place of the dead. The common grave no matter what the form of burial might be. A tomb, burial at sea, or a grave. This is why Jonah called the belly of the fish hell. He thought it would be his grave. And why Jesus was, like Jonah, in hell for parts of 3 days. (Jonah 2:1-2 / Psalms 16:10 / Acts 2:27)

So we are all going to hell, since we all will die and be buried.

Two other Greek words with entirely different meanings are often translated as hell. They are gehenna and tartarus.

Unlike the Hebrew sheohl and the Greek haides, there is really no excuse for mistaking the Greek Geenna (Hebrew Geh Hinnom - English Transliteration Gehenna) with the notion of any hell, either the old English word meaning covered or the pagan hell of today's Christianity.

The Christian Greek Gehenna is a literal place - a valley that lies South and South-West of ancient Jerusalem. It is the modern day Wadi er-Rababi ( Ge Ben Hinnom ), a deep, narrow valley.

Today it is a peaceful and pleasant valley, unlike the surrounding dry and rocky terrain, and most certainly unlike the pagan / apostate Christian hell.

[Image: Photograph of the real gehenna today]

In the days of unfaithful Kings Manasseh and Ahaz idolatrous worship of the pagan god Baal was conducted in the place which was then known as Geh Hinnom, ( the valley of Hinnom ) including human sacrifices to fire. It is ironic that the pagan custom burning in fire would have so clearly infiltrated the Christian teachings, considering that this practice was a detestable thing to Jehovah God, and his prophets spoke of a time when this place would be turned into a defiled and desolate place. ( 2 Chronicles 28:1-3 / 2 Chronicles 33:1-6 / Jeremiah 7:31-32 / Jeremiah 32:35 ).

The prophecy was fulfilled in the days of faithful King Josiah, who had the place, especially the area known as Topeth polluted into a refuse heap. ( 2 Kings 23:10 )

So it was that in the days of Jesus and the early Christian congregations, that the valley was known as a literal place where the carcasses of criminals and animals were thrown, having no hope for resurrection. The refuse there was kept burning with sulphur, which is abundant in the area. When Jesus used Gehenna as a figurative - a symbolic reference to the spiritually dead the people in the area knew what he was talking about.

The Greek Tartarus

The Greek word Tartarus is found only once in scripture, at 2 Peter 2:4. It is often mistranslated as hell. Tartarus in the Christian Greek scriptures refers to a condition of debasement, unlike the pre-Christian pagan tartarus ( Homer's Iliad ) which is a mythological prison.

Peter refers to the angels who in the time of Noah foresook thier original positions and became men in order to have relations with the women of earth. The result was their offspring being giants, the Nephilim, who caused so much trouble God had to bring forth the flood. ( Genesis 6:1-4 / Ephesians 6:10-12 / Jude 1:6 ).

It is interesting that this verse is often mistranslated because when Jesus was resurrected from Sheol / Hades ( Hell in some translations ) on earth, he first went to tartarus - that is to say the disobedient angels whom had been lowered in position - who happened to be in heaven. This means that if you don't understand the mistranslation you would see Jesus go to hell on earth and then hell in heaven.

Since sin equals death, and death is the result of sin, the idea that the wicked are literally punished forever in hell isn't scriptural because,a Paul pointed out, we are acquitted of our sins upon death. (Romans 6:7) Also, since the soul dies (Ezekiel 18:4) the immortal soul can't be literally tormented in hell forever.

Hell ( as is often translated from the Hebrew Sheohl ) can't be a separation from God, since God is in effect there - it is in front of him. He watches sheol for the time when the dead shall be resurrected. ( Proverbs 15:11 / Psalm 139:7-8 / Amos 9:1-2 )

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Spewer's picture
Got anything on the

Got anything on the significance of the architectural style of Hogwarts?

Pathway Machine's picture


Sorry, no. Not my thing. Don't you think, though, that the information I gave might come in handy in case you run into Kirk Cameron?

Zaphod's picture
Very interesting read, are

Very interesting read, are you studying word origin in a college or as a hobby, either way this is some interesting stuff your unhelling!

Pathway Machine's picture
Thanks, Zaphod,

Thanks, Zaphod,

No, I'm just giving simple information based mostly on linguistics and comparing that to tradition. I have known young children who know this stuff. Very similar to what the Jehovah's Witnesses teach, since they dropped the pagan influence in their understanding of the Bible.

Stuff I'm unhelling . . . funny! And shows you are paying attention, I like that.

sarahevanston's picture
Thanks Pathway! That was an

Thanks Pathway! That was an interesting lesson and it's always good to come to the forums and learn something new. :)

mattyn's picture
Hi, and welcome aboard. You

Hi, and welcome aboard. You are sure to find a lot of new ideas and concepts from the people here in the forums, I know I have learned a lot!

Chey97.'s picture
I enjoyed reading this. Thank

I enjoyed reading this. Thank you for posting. I never knew any of this before so it's nice to learn something interesting everyday. :) Best of wishes Pathway.

ginamoon's picture
Interesting long post.

Interesting long post.
It is nice to learn history of words as it changes meanings or definitions. There could be some or lots of other words in the bible that was misinterpreted due to changing of word meanings.

Pathway Machine's picture
Thanks everyone for the

Thanks everyone for the compliments.

Ginamoon, not as many words as you might think cause a problem through mistranslation and meaning change. Hell is one, soul is another; shambles; which used to mean a meat market but now means a mess; fowl used to mean any flying creature, like bat, or butterfly, cattle used to mean any heard of grazing domestic animal, rather than just cow.

Part of the problem is that the KJV is such an irresponsible version and yet it is very popular since it was the primary English translation for such a long time. The original King James Version actually had quotes from William Shakespeare within the text, and translated various mundane animals into things like unicorns.

Not many people know that there are actually two types of Bibles. The Version and the Translation. The translation tries to translate in a literal sense, word for word, whereas a version uses, to a greater or lesser extent, creative license. They try to capture the essence of the phrasing rather than the literal meaning of the words themselves.

ginamoon's picture
Well, I am one of those who

Well, I am one of those who are not aware of that Translation.
I do not think it is right to translate the bible word by word in my own opinion.

SammyShazaam's picture
I'd be very interested in

I'd be very interested in hearing the historical background of the soul concept... I have a very stubborn person on my hands that keeps wanting to engage me in discussions about it and could use some fuel :)

Schibaka's picture
Why are these things relevant

Why are these things relevant today? You realize all these "prophets" who wrote these books were running around on heroin and other psychadelic drugs while writing the scriptures? If you wanted some heavy shit to fuck with your mind you could just grab it outside. Ditto, i think everyone in that age was high as fuck on drugs and writing bullshit to tease us today

SammyShazaam's picture
Hey now. I have a fairly

Hey now. I have a fairly thick skin and am able to withstand almost any offhanded comments on things I hold in high esteem...

But there's no reason to undermine the value of psychedelics :)

And btw, heroin is psychoactive, but it's not a psychedelic.

Schibaka's picture
But good information thread

But good information thread owner^^

SammyShazaam's picture
Etymology threads make me

Etymology threads make me miss UnknownTypist....

But very interesting information overall. Thanks Pathway Machine.

mysticrose's picture
Very informative post. Thanks

Very informative post. Thanks for sharing the meaning of hell long ago. I didn't know that.

firebolt's picture
A history lesson here for us

A history lesson here for us all! Thanks, it really did teach me something and that's the main reason I come to the forum, to learn and become more enlightened with every post.

Zaphod's picture
Where did PM Go? kind of miss

Where did PM Go? kind of miss his post!

Hamlet's picture


rosydam's picture
Embark on fusion-centric

Embark on fusion-centric quests that take you deep into the lore and mechanics of https://pokemoninfinitefusion.io . Solve puzzles, overcome challenges, and unlock rare fusion recipes as you progress.

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