"Sheol" (pronounced "Sheh-ole") [Strong's "Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries" and "
Strong's Concordance"] , in Hebrew שאול (Sh'ol), is the "abode of the dead", the " underworld", "the common grave of mankind" or "pit".Metzger & Coogan (1993) "Oxford Companion to the Bible", p277.] "Sheol" is the common destination of both the righteous and the unrighteous dead, as recounted in Ecclesiastesand Job.
"Sheol" is sometimes compared to "
Hades", the gloomy, twilight afterlifeof Greek mythology. The word "hades" was in fact substituted for "sheol" when the Hebrew scriptures were translated into Greek (see Septuagint). The New Testament(written in Greek) also uses "hades" to refer to the abode of the dead.
By the second century BC, Jews who accepted the
Oral Torahhad come to believe that those in "sheol" awaited the resurrection either in comfort (in the bosom of Abraham) or in torment. This belief is reflected in Jesus' story of Lazarus and Dives. At that time Jews who rejected the Oral Torah believed that Sheol meant simply the grave.
Anglicans, who do not share a concept of "hades" with the
Eastern Orthodox, have traditionally translated "sheol" (and "hades") as "hell" (for example in the King James Version). However, to avoid confusion of what are separate concepts in the Bible, modern English versions of the Bible tend either to transliterate the word "sheol" or to use an alternative term such as the "grave" (e.g. the NIV). Roman Catholicsgenerally translate "sheol" as "death."
The origin of the term "sheol" is obscure.
William Foxwell Albrightsuggests that the Hebrew root for "SHE'OL" is "SHA'AL", which means "to ask, to interrogate, to question." "Sheol" therefore should mean "asking, interrogation, questioning." John Tvedtnes, also a Biblical scholar, connects this with the common theme in near-death experiences of the interrogation of the soul after crossing the Tunnel.
An alternative theory is that Sheol is connected ša'al, the root of which means "to burrow" and is thus related to šu'al "fox" or "burrower". [Brief Communications. "The Original Meaning of Sheol." "Journal of Biblical Literature", Vol. 36, No. 3/4, (1917): 258.]
As regards the origin not of the term but of the concept, the "Jewish Encyclopedia" considers more probable the view that it originated in primitive animistic conceits: "With the body in the grave remains connected the soul (as in dreams): the dead buried in family graves continue to have communion (comp. Jer. xxxi. 15). Sheol is practically a family grave on a large scale. Graves were protected by gates and bolts; therefore Sheol was likewise similarly guarded. The separate compartments are devised for the separate clans, septs, and families, national and blood distinctions continuing in effect after death. That Sheol is described as subterranean is but an application of the custom of hewing out of the rocks passages, leading downward, for burial purposes." [ [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=614 Sheol] ]
heol in the Hebrew Bible
Tanakh, which is the Hebrew Bible (the books that Christians call the Old Testament), the word "sheol" occurs more than sixty times. It is used most frequently in the Psalms, wisdom literature and prophetic books. Jacob, not comforted at the reported death of Joseph, exclaims: "I shall go down to my son a mourner unto Sheol" ( Genesis37:35). "Sheol" may be personified: "Sheol" is never satiated (Proverbs 30:16); she "makes wide her throat" ( Isaiah5:14).
Other examples of its usage:
* Job 7:9 "Just as a cloud dissipates and vanishes, those who go down to Sheol will not come back."
Psalm18:5-7 "The breakers of death surged round about me; the menacing floods terrified me. The cords of Sheol tightened; the snares of death lay in wait for me. In my distress I called out: LORD! I cried out to my God. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry to him reached his ears."
* Psalm 86:13: "Your love for me is great; you have rescued me from the depths of Sheol."
* Psalm 139:8: "If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there."
* Jonah 2:2: "...Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, And You heard my voice."
The Hebrew concept is paralleled in the Sumerian
Netherworldto which Inannadescends. See Irkalla.
"Book of Enoch"
Book of Enoch" (ca. 160 BCE) purportedly records Enoch's vision of the cosmos. The author describes Sheol as divided into four sections: one where the faithful saints blissfully await Judgment Day(see Bosom of Abraham), one where the moderately good await their reward, one where the wicked are punished and await their Judgment at the resurrection (see Gehenna), and the last where the wicked who don't even warrant resurrection are tormented.
heol in the New Testament
New Testamentfollows the Septuagintin translating "sheol" as " hades" (compare Acts 2:27, 31 and Psalm 16:10). The New Testament thus seems to draw a distinction between "Sheol" and "Gehinnom" or Gehenna ( Jahannamin Islam). The former is regarded as a place where the dead go temporarily to await resurrection(according to some traditions, including Jesus himself), while the latter is the place of eternal punishment for the damned (i.e. perdition). Accordingly, in the book of Saint John's Revelation, "hades" is associated with death (Revelation 1:18, 6:8), and in the final judgment the wicked dead are brought out of "hades" and cast into the lake of fire, which represents the fire of Gehenna; "hades" itself is also finally thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15).
In Luke 16:19-31 (the story of
Lazarus and Dives), Jesus portrays "hades" as a place of torment, at least for the wicked. Jesus also announces to St. Peterthat "the gates of "hades" will not overpower the church (Matthew 16:18), and uses "hades" to pronounce judgment upon the city of Capernaum (Matthew 11:23).
The English word "
hell" comes from Germanic mythology, and is now used in the Judeo-Christian sense to translate the Greek word "Gehenna"—a term which originally referred to a valley outside Jerusalem used for burning refuse, but came to designate the place of punishment for sinners. Although older translations (such as the King James Version) also translated " Hades" as "hell", modern English translations tend to preserve the distinction between the two concepts by transliterating the word "hades" and reserving "hell fire" for "gehenna fire".
Esperantotranslation of the New Testament, wherever the word "Hades" might appear, it is merely transliterated; but in places where the New Testament quotes from the Old Testament it uses Sheol, rendered into Esperanto spelling, corresponding with Zamenhof's translation in the original. (Cf. Acts 2:31, Psalm 16:10.)
According to Professors
Stephen L. Harrisand James Tabor, sheol is a place of "nothingness" that has its roots in the Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament).
:"The ancient Hebrews had no idea of an immortal soul living a full and vital life beyond death, nor of any resurrection or return from death. Human beings, like the beasts of the field, are made of "dust of the earth," and at death they return to that dust (Gen. 2:7; 3:19). The Hebrew word
nephesh, traditionally translated "living soul" but more properly understood as "living creature," is the same word used for all breathing creatures and refers to nothing immortal...All the dead go down to Sheol, and there they lie in sleep together–whether good or evil, rich or poor, slave or free (Job 3:11-19). It is described as a region "dark and deep," "the Pit," and "the land of forgetfulness," cut off from both God and human life above (Pss. 6:5; 88:3-12). Though in some texts Yahweh's power can reach down to Sheol (Ps. 139:8), the dominant idea is that the dead are abandoned forever. This idea of Sheol is negative in contrast to the world of life and light above, but there is no idea of judgment or of reward and punishment. If one faces extreme circumstances of suffering in the realm of the living above, as did Job, it can even be seen as a welcome relief from pain–see the third chapter of Job. But basically it is a kind of "nothingness," an existence that is barely existence at all, in which a "shadow" or "shade" of the former self survives (Ps. 88:10)." [ [http://www.religiousstudies.uncc.edu/jdtabor/future.html "What the Bible says about Death, Afterlife, and the Future,"] James Tabor ]
Professor Harris shares similar remarks in his "Understanding the Bible": "The concept of eternal punishment does not occur in the Hebrew Bible, which uses the term "Sheol" to designate a bleak subterranean region where the dead, good and bad alike, subsist only as impotent shadows. When Hellenistic Jewish scribes rendered the Bible into Greek, they used the word "Hades" to translate Sheol, bringing a whole new mythological association to the idea of posthumous existence. In ancient Greek myth, Hades, named after the gloomy deity who ruled over it, was originally similar to the Hebrew Sheol, a dark underground realm in which all the dead, regardless of individual merit, were indiscriminately housed." [ "Understanding the Bible: the 6th Edition", Stephen L Harris. (McGraw Hill 2002) p 436. ] While some believers in the Bible think that it contains one doctrine of Hell (regardless of what they think about the nature of Hell), Harris and
nontheistsmay view the doctrine as changing throughout the Bible.
By the time of Jesus, many Jews had come to believe in a future resurrection of the dead. The dead in Sheol were said to await the resurrection either in comfort or in torment, as in the story of
Lazarus and Dives.
In popular culture
In the "
The Wheel of Time" book series by Robert Jordan, Shayol Ghulis a giant black mountain in which lies the Pit Of Doom; an otherworldly place where the Dark Oneis closest to touching the world and his presence can be most keenly felt.
Sheol is the name of an album by Swedish blackened-death metal band Naglfar.
Robert A. Heinlein science fictionnovel " Starship Troopers", Sheol is also the name of an Arachnid colony planet, decimated by a Terran military attack. Likewise in the Walter Jon Williams novel "Voice of the Whirlwind", Sheol is the name of a planet on which a terrible war is waged.
In the book "
Memnoch the Devil" by Anne RiceSheol is a name given to the realm where the spirits of the dead go, should they not be worthy to go to Heaven. This land is turned into Hell by Memnoch as a way to show these souls the error of their ways so that they may pass on into Heaven and so that he can end the suffering of the human race and return to God himself. Cordwainer Smithused the variant spelling "Shayol" for the Instrumentality of Mankind's prison planet, a world in which humans exposed to the native microbiallife would begin growing additional limbs and organs, all the while experiencing horrific pain. These organs would then be harvested for transplantation, which was seen as a restitution for their crimes. Eventually, after a pair of children were wrongfully sent there to be imprisoned, the underpeople serving as jailors rebelled, and the prisoners were released from their punishment.
Sheol is the name of an asteroid mining base referred to in the user manual's plot foreword for the computer game "".
In the "
Fury3"/"Hellbender" game universe, "red sheol" is a mineral, the "isomorphic decay" of which can be used to attract wormholesfor faster than lighttravel. In "Fury3", it is found on the planet Ares, the setting of one of the game's missions.
At Regent's Park College, the
Baptist Permanent Private Hallat the University of Oxford, the subterranean complex comprising a laundry and bathrooms is amusingly known as Sheol.
Sheol is the name of one of the Ravers in the series of books, "
The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant", by Stephen Donaldson.
Sheol is the name of one of the
TimeKeeper Demonsin the series of books, " The Wayfarer Redemption" by Sara Douglass.
MMORPG" Anarchy Online", there is a massive area called "Scheol" in the Shadowlands, an alternate universe that is slowly degrading into nothingness.
In the "
Hellboy" comics collection, "Strange Places," Hellboy's father is described as a "Prince of Sheol".
Sheol is also the name of a
San Franciscobay area rock band.
On the back cover of the
Megadethalbum, United Abominations, Vic Rattleheadis carrying a ring of keys; one reads death, one reads Hades, and one reads Sheol.
Christianyouth fantasy series Dragons In Our Midst, Sheol contains seven circles, the last of which is Hades.
In a Season 2 episode of Transformers, Smokescreen bargains for his friends' lives in a town on a bleak asteroid, and the town is named Sheol.
Sheol is also referred to in the John Constantine:Hellblazer book Subterranean. in on of the chapters one of the characters refers to the underworld: "some call it Shambala, some call it Sheol"
Shores of Sheolis an Austrian one-man black metalproject by Marko Köfler.
The protagonist of
Walter Jon Williams' novel Voice of the Whirlwindis the clone of a man who fought a brutal war on an alien planet named Sheol. The planet was named for its devastating winter storms, though it appeared paradisical during the warm seasons.
In the RPG In Nomine, Shoel is principality of hell. Specficly it belongs to Belial the prince of Fire. It's described as hell's only volcano (it's about the size of Mt. everest)
Bosom of Abraham
Spirit world (Latter Day Saints)
first =Bruce M. (ed)
coauthors = , Michael D. Coogan (ed)
title = The Oxford Companion to the Bible
Oxford University Press
date = 1993
location = Oxford, UK
isbn = 0-19-504645-5
* [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=614&letter=S&search=sheol Sheol] entry in Jewish Encyclopedia
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Sheol — (שאול) est un terme hébraïque intraduisible, désignant le séjour des morts , la tombe commune de l humanité , le puits, sans vraiment pouvoir statuer s il s agit ou non d un au delà. La Bible hébraïque le décrit comme une place sans confort, où… … Wikipédia en Français
Shéol — Sheol Sheol (שאול) est un terme hébraïque intraduisible, désignant le séjour des morts , la tombe commune de l humanité , le puits, sans vraiment pouvoir statuer s il s agit ou non d un au delà. La Bible hébraïque le décrit comme une place sans… … Wikipédia en Français
Sheol — Sheol, (en hebreo: שאול) es la sepultura común de la humanidad, una morada común que constituiría la región de los muertos, una tierra de sombras habitada por quienes perecieron. No se refiere a una sepultura individual (heb. qé•ver, (Jueces… … Wikipedia Español
shéol — ● shéol ou schéol nom masculin (mot hébreu) Séjour des morts dans la Bible. ● shéol ou schéol (citations) nom masculin (mot hébreu) Bible Car l amour est fort comme la Mort la jalousie inflexible comme le Shéol. Ses traits sont des traits de feu … Encyclopédie Universelle
Sheol — She ol (sh[=e] [=o]l), n. [Heb. sh[e^][=o]l.] The place of departed spirits; Hades; also, the grave. [1913 Webster] For thou wilt not leave my soul to sheol. Ps. xvi. 10. (Rev. Ver.) [1913 Webster] … The Collaborative International Dictionary of English
Sheol — 1590s, from Heb., lit. the underworld, Hades, of unknown origin. Used in R.V. in place of Hell in many passages … Etymology dictionary
Sheol — [shē′ōl] n. [Heb < ? shaal, to dig] Bible a place in the depths of the earth conceived of as the dwelling of the dead … English World dictionary
sheol — This word (from Hebrew) refers to the underworld, which was considered a place of shadows and darkness inhabited by the departed after death; among Christians, the word sheol is sometimes used as a synonym for hell, a place of punishment … Glossary of theological terms
Sheol — noun Etymology: Hebrew Shĕ ōl Date: 1597 the abode of the dead in early Hebrew thought … New Collegiate Dictionary
Sheol — Scheol (hebr. שאול) ist im Tanach eine Bezeichnung für das Totenreich. Das Wort hat in anderen semitischen Sprachen keine Entsprechung. Seine Etymologie ist ungeklärt. Es wird im Tanach stets ohne bestimmten Artikel verwendet und ist deshalb… … Deutsch Wikipedia