Hell, what is it

by Anony Mous 20 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Anony Mous
    Anony Mous

    So perhaps we all heard the JW story about Jesus talking to Gehenna and he was referring to a place outside the city where there was a dump burning refuse and everyone knew what it meant.

    According to JW.org: Tradition relates that the Valley of Hinnom thereafter became a place for the disposal of garbage. And the Bible provides confirmation for this. At Jeremiah 31:40, for example, the Valley of Hinnom is evidently called the “low plain of the carcasses and of the fatty ashes.” There was also the “Gate of the Ash-heaps,” a gate that seems to have opened out onto the eastern extremity of the Valley of Hinnom at its juncture with the Kidron Valley.​—Nehemiah 3:13, 14.

    I think I heard that in the study of the Greatest Teacher book first. However recently learned that this is not at all true. There was no refuse dump that continuously burned, there is no literary, biblical or archeological reference to such place, and a place like that would leave quite a footprint you’d think. If you read the scriptures, it doesn’t refer to the Valley of Hinnom, it doesn’t even refer to a dump.

    The word “evidently” is the tail wagging the dog and it is a far stretch to say that the Gate of the Ash Heap which is a JW mistranslation of the Dung Gate which was a small door and wasn’t built until the 1500s is actually what they say it was used for.

    The only reference we have in the Bible to the valley of Hinnom is Jeremiah 19:2 and go out to the Valley of Ben Hinnom, near the entrance of the Potsherd Gate (apparently also for refuse of broken earthenware). For those that can read a map, the Potsherd Gate was on the south side of Jerusalem. The KJV translated that to East Gate and many translations used Dung Gate later to match the gate on the east. Reason being is that most Bible translations aren’t literal, they have a story and canon to uphold so major changes and contradictions in original texts are filtered out by perpetuating more changes where deemed necessary to match the story.

    So where does Valley of Hinnom being a continuously burning dump come from - 1200AD Rabbi Kimchi pretty much is the person that introduced the concept to this place. Note that by this time, Judaism had already integrated Hellenistic viewpoints of Hell (Hades and Tartarus) into its theology, unlike around early Christian time where they may have heard about but the scriptures don’t quite illustrate an eternal tormenting place. The conflation of Gate of the Ash Heap or Dung Gate comes later, with “archeologists” and translators sent out in 1500s-1800s with a shovel in one hand and a Bible in the other, confirming archeological finds on the basis of the Bible, not realizing some things weren’t quite the originals they thought.

    So even about the simplest of things, JW seemingly can’t keep it straight, using apocryphal stories and opinion from a Rabbi to support stories they have told over and over again. Given modern research, they could simply gloss over these mistakes and misconceptions and quietly leave it out, nobody would be any wiser. Instead they double down on things people can quickly find are medieval apologia.

  • smiddy3

    Hell, what is it ?

    That`s where you are when your in the Jehovah`s Witness religion..

  • punkofnice

    Living in the UK

  • Disillusioned JW
    Disillusioned JW

    Anony Mous and anyone else, well then according to the NT what did Jesus mean when talking about being tossed into Gehenna, or from a literary (or Bible as literature) perspective what did the character Jesus mean about Gehenna in the story about being tossed into Gehenna?

    What do you think of what The Oxford Companion to the Bible (Edited by Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan) says about it under the heading of "Gehenna". Under that heading it says "Gehenna was originally the Hebrew name of a valley just south of Jerusalem's southwestern hill (Joshua 15.8) called "the valley of Hinnon". It also talks about later meanings, including in Jewish apocalypticism "influenced by parallelism with Persian ideas of a judgment in fire".

  • TonusOH

    I'm more curious to know how they would have kept such a fire burning continuously. Or perhaps more importantly, why they would. It sounds like a lot of work, and would produce quite a bit of smoke and awful smells. Was it far away from the city? Were the winds always favorable?

  • Rattigan350

    If people burned in hell forever and ever after death. I believe that the Bible would specifically state that. It does not state when such a thing started. The belief is that those who don't believe in Jesus, when they die they go to hell and burn. So the belief is that it started when Jesus started. But wouldn't Jesus teach a death 101 and explain that in no uncertain terms?

  • peacefulpete

    The Jewish notions of death were hardly uniform, however the ancient conception of the dead existing as 'shades' in a quasi-alive, mostly powerless state seemed to continue in some form till the age of Christianity. There were many very explicit writings that anticipated a future judgement of the souls in-waiting in sheol (or lower level in heaven). They were to be resurrected, those who were righteous would receive some blissful reward while those who were evil suffered, body and soul, in a terrible place of fire.

    Leolaia compiled some good material on this topic:


  • Vanderhoven7

    There is not a single verse in scripture which suggests that human souls are immortal.

    There is only one verse of scripture which juxtaposes eternal and torment. However it is found in a symbolic book in a verse pregnant with imagery and does not include a single human being. Revelation 20:10.

  • peacefulpete

    Vanderhoven....The earliest Christian conception of death is a continuation of the intertestamental ideas. Death of the body left the soul in a state of sleep or semiconsciousness until resurrected where their fates were divided. The WT take on this is too literal. They suggest death is a complete cessation of existence and resurrection therefore necessarily means a duplicate clone is created. If you want to get a very good review of this topic try:

    Shades of Sheol: Death and Afterlife in the Old Testament: Johnston, Philip S.: 9780830826872: Amazon.com: Books

    Stories like the witch of Endor is pretty definitive about the belief that the dead were in some state of stasis but can be brought back to interact with the living. The fact that inquiring of the dead was a common practice and gifts of food on the graves also shows this. The appearance of Moses and Elijah with Jesus is pretty clear as well. The rich man and Lazarus story agrees with the idea that was popular that the souls awaited resurrection in different chambers of the heavens with different conditions. Nothing in the NT radically departs from the 'scriptures' of the intertestamental period.

  • Disillusioned JW
    Disillusioned JW

    Vanderhoven7 I remember you made a post in which you said you wrote and published a book stating your analysis and view about human souls and about hell. I haven't read that book but please answer in this forum the following. Do you believe that human souls (or human minds) die when their bodies die? Or, do you believe that some human souls exist alive to some extent (such as a shade) until after the 1,000 years, which according to Revelation is when the dead are released from Hades, after which some of them they then attain full life (by resurrection) and the rest go into Gehenna?

    Are you an independent Christian, or you are a member of a specific church or denomination of Christianity? If the later, which church or denomination are you a member of of? Also, what are your views about evolution; do you believe God used it to make major kinds of living beings? Do you believe the biblical flood account? If so, do you believe it was a global flood or a local flood? If you don't believe the biblical flood account, do you think the writer (or writers) of the account intended it to thought of a global flood or as a local flood?

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