Another Watchtower major error in the evolution of Judaism/Christianity.
Hades is NOT the equivalent of Sheol. Watchtower scholarship is so 3rd grade for explaining Bible doctrine in the time of Jesus it is absolutely pathetic.
Sheol was not well-defined in the Talmud, although it was clear those there were disembodied souls waiting for the resurrection. Everyone went to Sheol as rephaim, or ghosts (Get your New American Standard Bibles out and chuck the less accurate translations that render all these words as "hell" or "the dead." ), until the time when the Messiah would come, and the bodies would be rejoined with the disembodied ghosts of the dead who had various degrees of consciousness, and some passages indicated several levels of Sheol depending upon whether you ate children or not. (just kidding!)
A few hundred years before the time of Christ, Greek philosophy with it's views of immortality, eternal punishment, and the wicked angels in Tartarus later mentioned in Jude and Revelation crept into mainstream Pharisaical thought (which was what Jesus believed, and was the equivalent of "orthodoxy" versus the more cynical Sadduccees, etc. who did not even believe in a resurrection.) The Talmud was frequent in using such myths, and Judaism became enmeshed in it inseparably. Jesus did not discount these myths, but used them to warn his foes.
The OT had no concept of "eternity" or "aoinios ton aoinios" which meant for the ages to the ages, ad infinitum. Greek philosophy had infinites, Hebrew/Aramaic did not.
Jesus' parables and most of his teachings about things like the Rich Man and Lazarus were all basic stories considered true by Jesus and the Pharisees. They needed no extended explanation to his hearers! This was their belief system, and Jesus used it to threaten them with being put on a roasting spit for all eternity. Hence the Lake of Fire.
Eternal torture, hellfire, Tartarus... all came from Greek philosophy and pre-dated the New Testament. The teachings we consider Christian today are really of pretty much the same world-view as the Pharisees, with minor differences as to the coming of the Messiah and the resurrection (Jews viewed it as more of a JW-type "paradise earth", whereas Jesus introduced the concept of heaven, which was a glorified heaven and earth with newer features. So the NT was splattered with Greek ideas to form the basic doctrines of Christianity. This cannot be effectively challenged; just ignored or reinterpreted by people who WANT to believe otherwise.
Jehovah was almost as bloodthirsty as the other tribal gods of the day.
The concept of grace that we see in Jesus, and elaborated on by Paul in Romans and Galatians, really turned the tables on Judaism, and was one of the reasons Christianity was considered an apostasy and a cult of Jesus. It is really a new religion, morphed again out of the Greek-influenced pre-Christian Judaism of the Pharisees. It truly set them free if they did not go back to living by law (legalism). That is the beauty of Christianity over the OT and other contemporary religions. It is also what got me out of the Watchtower. It has power.
If you got to Jerusalem, you will notice that all good believers want to be buried on the Mount of Olives. For centuries they put the bodies in a sarcophagus until the remains are dessicated, then the remains are put in urns and buried there. It is truly an amazing site, such a massive cemetary on both sides of the Mount. The idea was, according to the Talmud, that in the resurrection, when the bodies were miraculously REJOINED with the REPHAIM (ghost) of the believer, they would roll right down in to the NEW Jerusalem! This was a true resurrection, not a "recreation from memory" by Jehovah as the JWs teach.
I have a lot of slides from the mid-80s taken in Israel of the old city, temple excavations, Megiddo, etc. if I ever can get around to having them digitized. Even got the Valley of Hinnom, where the Greek concept of "Gehenna" applies. I had a guide who was fluent in Hebrew and Greek also.
Years ago one of the "anointed" who was DF'd in Canoga Park challenged me as to whether the NT really taught a REAL hellfire. I took the challenge, using the two most authoritative books on the subject, and put the significant texts from each book side-by-side so as to compare the Adventist view of "sleep" in death (Conditionalism) with the evangelical view of a real fiery hell (Traditionalism). You can read it on my site at:
although the print is small, it is available in its original book form at: http://www.freeminds-store.com/books/hell-a-critique-of-two-different-views-traditionalism-vs-conditionalism.html and is much easier to read.
Technically I would have violated copyright issues by quoting so extensively from Morey and Fudge, both excellent scholars, so I did it more as a hobby to answer my "anointed" friend. He was not too happy with my response. But Morey found it and liked it, and gave me post-publication permission to distribute it. A couple of years later, Fudge wrote and said he would give me the same permission if I sent him another copy. He never sent me a rebuttal. Mainly because I let the reader decide, though it is obviously taking the more traditional approach. It is a fascinating study, but don't expect to believe in inerrancy anymore if you dare to read it. Better to believe in a nicer Jehovah and close your eyes to history. Unless, of course, you enjoy the "sinners on the grill" concept, as turned into a Divine Comedy by Dante and incensed the Catholic Church for poking fun at it. Read if you dare!