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Gehinnom (Hebrew: גֵּיהִנּוֹם) is a term for Hell that is used in rabbinic literature. It is also used by Jesus in the New Testament, where it is translated as Gehenna (Greek: Γέεννα, lowercase γέεννα). In the Quran, the term for Hell is Jahannam (Arabic: جهنم). The word Gehinnom derives from the Valley of Hinnom (גֵּיא בֶן־הִנֹּם, gei ben Hinnom), a location in Old Jerusalem. The concept of Gehinnom does not occur in the Hebrew Bible (i.e., the Old Testament), although references to the Valley of Hinnom do. Christian translations often conflate Gehenna with the Hebrew concept of Sheol (Hebrew: שְׁאוֹל), and translate both Sheol and Gehenna as "Hell".
- See also: Tzoah Rotachat
- אֲתָר אִית בְּגֵיהִנָּם, וְדַרְגִּין תַּמָּן דְּאִקְרוּן (רנ״ב ע״א, רס״ה ב׳, פנחס רנ״ח ע״א) צוֹאָה רוֹתַחַת, וְתַמָּן אִיהוּ זוּהֲמָא דְּנִשְׁמָתִין, אִינּוּן דְּמִתְלַכְלְכָן מִכָּל זוּהֲמָא דְּהַאי עָלְמָא. וּמִתְלַּבְּנָן וְסַלְּקִין, וְאִשְׁתְּאָרַת הַהוּא זוּהֲמָא תַּמָּן, וְאִינּוּן דַּרְגִּין בִּישִׁין דְּאִתְקְרוּן צוֹאָה רוֹתַחַת, אִתְמָנָן עַל הַהוּא זוּהֲמָא. וְנוֹרָא דְּגֵיהִנָּם שַׁלְטָא, בְּהַהוּא זוּהֲמָא דְּאִשְׁתְּאָרַת.
- Zohar 2:150b:8
- There's a place in Gehenna which has degrees called Burning Feces in which the poison of the souls that needs to be removed having been incurred in this world is removed. They are whitened and go up and the poison stays there. The bad degrees called Burning Feces absorb that poison and the fire of Gehinom rules over the extracted poison.
- וְאִית חַיָּיבִין, אִינּוּן דְּמִתְלַכְלְכָן בְּחוֹבַיְיהוּ תָּדִיר, וְלָא אִתְלַבְּנָן מִנַּיְיהוּ, וּמִיתוּ בְּלֹא תְּשׁוּבָה, וְחָטוּ וְהֶחטִיאוּ אַחֲרָנִין, וַהֲווּ קְשֵׁי קְדַל תָּדִיר, וְלָא אִתְבָּרוּ קָמֵי מָארִיהוֹן בְּהַאי עָלְמָא. אִלֵּין (וישב ק״צ ע״ב) אִתְדָּנוּ תַּמָּן בְּהַהוּא זוּהֲמָא, וּבְהַהִיא צוֹאָה רוֹתַחַת, דְּלָא נָפְקִין מִתַּמָּן לְעָלְמִין. אִינּוּן דִּמְחַבְּלִין אָרְחַיְיהוּ עַל אַרְעָא, וְלָא חַשְׁשׁוּ לִיקָרָא דְּמָארֵיהוֹן בְּהַאי עָלְמָא, כָּל אִינּוּן אִתְדָּנוּ תַּמָּן לְדָרֵי דָּרִין, וְלָא נַפְקֵי מִתַּמָּן.
- Zohar 2:150b:9
- There are, however, wicked people who have dirtied their souls with their sins daily and did not whiten them and died without repenting. They sin and caused others to sin and were ever stiff-necked and they were not broken before their Master in this life. They will be punished in that poison and in that Burning Feces and not leave there forever. Those who corrupted their way on the land and did not worry about the honor of their master in this life, all those are punished for eternity and will never leave.
- Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη τοῖς ἀρχαίοις· Οὐ φονεύσεις· ὃς δ’ ἂν φονεύσῃ, ἔνοχος ἔσται τῇ κρίσει. ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι πᾶς ὁ ὀργιζόμενος τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ ἔνοχος ἔσται τῇ κρίσει· ὃς δ’ ἂν εἴπῃ τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ· Ῥακά, ἔνοχος ἔσται τῷ συνεδρίῳ· ὃς δ’ ἂν εἴπῃ· Μωρέ, ἔνοχος ἔσται εἰς τὴν γέενναν τοῦ πυρός.
- Matthew 5:21–22 (SBLGNT)
- Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
- You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, "You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment." But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, "Raca," is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, "You fool!" will be in danger of the fire of hell.
- καὶ μὴ φοβεῖσθε ἀπὸ τῶν ἀποκτεννόντων τὸ σῶμα τὴν δὲ ψυχὴν μὴ δυναμένων ἀποκτεῖναι· φοβεῖσθε δὲ μᾶλλον τὸν δυνάμενον καὶ ψυχὴν καὶ σῶμα ἀπολέσαι ἐν γεέννῃ.
- Matthew 10:28 (SBLGNT)
- And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
- Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
- Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν, γραμματεῖς καὶ Φαρισαῖοι ὑποκριταί, ὅτι περιάγετε τὴν θάλασσαν καὶ τὴν ξηρὰν ποιῆσαι ἕνα προσήλυτον, καὶ ὅταν γένηται ποιεῖτε αὐτὸν υἱὸν γεέννης διπλότερον ὑμῶν.
- Matthew 23:15 (SBLGNT)
- Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
- Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.
- Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν, γραμματεῖς καὶ Φαρισαῖοι ὑποκριταί, ὅτι οἰκοδομεῖτε τοὺς τάφους τῶν προφητῶν καὶ κοσμεῖτε τὰ μνημεῖα τῶν δικαίων, καὶ λέγετε· Εἰ ἤμεθα ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις τῶν πατέρων ἡμῶν, οὐκ ἂν ἤμεθα αὐτῶν κοινωνοὶ ἐν τῷ αἵματι τῶν προφητῶν· ὥστε μαρτυρεῖτε ἑαυτοῖς ὅτι υἱοί ἐστε τῶν φονευσάντων τοὺς προφήτας. καὶ ὑμεῖς πληρώσατε τὸ μέτρον τῶν πατέρων ὑμῶν. ὄφεις γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν, πῶς φύγητε ἀπὸ τῆς κρίσεως τῆς γεέννης.
- Matthew 23:29–33 (SBLGNT)
- Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, and say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
- Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, "If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets." So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Go ahead, then, and complete what your ancestors started! You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?
- Καὶ ἐὰν σκανδαλίζῃ σε ἡ χείρ σου, ἀπόκοψον αὐτήν· καλόν ἐστίν σε κυλλὸν εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν ζωὴν ἢ τὰς δύο χεῖρας ἔχοντα ἀπελθεῖν εἰς τὴν γέενναν, εἰς τὸ πῦρ τὸ ἄσβεστον. καὶ ἐὰν ὁ πούς σου σκανδαλίζῃ σε, ἀπόκοψον αὐτόν· καλόν ἐστίν σε εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν ζωὴν χωλὸν ἢ τοὺς δύο πόδας ἔχοντα βληθῆναι εἰς τὴν γέενναν. καὶ ἐὰν ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου σκανδαλίζῃ σε, ἔκβαλε αὐτόν· καλόν σέ ἐστιν μονόφθαλμον εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ ἢ δύο ὀφθαλμοὺς ἔχοντα βληθῆναι εἰς τὴν γέενναν, ὅπου ὁ σκώληξ αὐτῶν οὐ τελευτᾷ καὶ τὸ πῦρ οὐ σβέννυται.
- Mark 9:43–48 (SBLGNT)
- And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
- If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where "the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched."
- ὑποδείξω δὲ ὑμῖν τίνα φοβηθῆτε· φοβήθητε τὸν μετὰ τὸ ἀποκτεῖναι ἔχοντα ἐξουσίαν ἐμβαλεῖν εἰς τὴν γέενναν· ναί, λέγω ὑμῖν, τοῦτον φοβήθητε.
- Luke 12:5 (SBLGNT)
- But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.
- But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.
- καὶ ἡ γλῶσσα πῦρ, ὁ κόσμος τῆς ἀδικίας ἡ γλῶσσα καθίσταται ἐν τοῖς μέλεσιν ἡμῶν, ἡ σπιλοῦσα ὅλον τὸ σῶμα καὶ φλογίζουσα τὸν τροχὸν τῆς γενέσεως καὶ φλογιζομένη ὑπὸ τῆς γεέννης.
- James 3:6 (SBLGNT)
- And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
- The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
- وَقَالُوا۟ لَن تَمَسَّنَا ٱلنَّارُ إِلَّآ أَيَّامًۭا مَّعْدُودَةًۭ ۚ قُلْ أَتَّخَذْتُمْ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ عَهْدًۭا فَلَن يُخْلِفَ ٱللَّهُ عَهْدَهُۥٓ ۖ أَمْ تَقُولُونَ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ بَلَىٰ مَن كَسَبَ سَيِّئَةًۭ وَأَحَـٰطَتْ بِهِۦ خَطِيٓـَٔتُهُۥ فَأُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ أَصْحَـٰبُ ٱلنَّارِ ۖ هُمْ فِيهَا خَـٰلِدُونَ
- Quran 2:80–81
- ˹Some of˺ the Jews claim, "The Fire will not touch us except for a number of days." Say, ˹O Prophet,˺ "Have you taken a pledge from Allah—for Allah never breaks His word—or are you ˹just˺ saying about Allah what you do not know?" But no! Those who commit evil and are engrossed in sin will be the residents of the Fire. They will be there forever.
- We already find in Ezekiel a part of Sheol distinguished as deeper, called the "pit" or "the lowest parts of the earth", where the uncircumcised descend and those who have fallen by the sword, causing terror in the land of the living. In course of time this distinction came to be more definite: the upper part of Sheol, destined for the just, was called "Abraham's bosom", and the lower part became Gehenna, where sinners were tormented in flames.
- Giovanni Schiaparelli: Astronomy in the Old Testament, pp. 30–31.
- The valley is mentioned several times in the Old Testament, first in Joshua 15:8, where it is called "the valley of the son of Hinnom", which in Hebrew is gei ben Hinnom. We don't know who Hinnom was, but his son apparently owned the valley at one point. A later reference calls it instead Hinnom's own valley—that is, in gei-hinnom. Later, that term, gehinnom, came to be Gehenna. It is normally identified as the ravine southwest of Old Jerusalem.
- Bart D. Ehrman: Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife. Simon & Schuster, 2020.
- The place where children were sacrificed to the god Moloch was originally in the "valley of the son of Hinnom", to the south of Jerusalem (Josh. xv. 8, passim; II Kings xxiii. 10; Jer. ii. 23; vii. 31–32; xix. 6, 13–14). For this reason the valley was deemed to be accursed, and "Gehenna" therefore soon became a figurative equivalent for "hell".
- "Gehenna", Jewish Encyclopedia