What Do Jews Believe About Hell?
IS HELL A PLACE OF ANNIHILATION OR ETERNAL TORMENT?
In Old Testament times, the Hebrew term "Sheol" (the abode of the dead) contained two compartments separated by an impassable gulf. The righteous awaited resurrection in the "Bosom of Abraham" (Paradise), while the unrighteous awaited resurrection in "Gehenna" (Hebrew) or "Hades" (Greek) a place of torment.
“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.'
"But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.'”
After the Cross, Jesus freed the captives (the righteous who were in Sheol) and brought the disembodied spirits to the Third Heaven (God's abode). Paradise is now with Jesus and Sheol now only contains Gehenna/Hades - called Hell in English.
At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people. Matthew 27:51-53
But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: "When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men."
The Hebrew word abaddon is often translated from Hebrew into English as the word destruction.
The following two definitions are from Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary:
\A*bad"don\ ([.a]*b[a^]d"d[u^]n), n. [Heb. [=a]badd[=o]n destruction, abyss, fr. [=a]bad to be lost, to perish.]
1. The destroyer, or angel of the bottomless pit; -- the same as Apollyon and Asmodeus.
2. Hell; the bottomless pit. [Poetic]
Smith's Bible Dictionary defines Abaddon as follows:
ABADDON, "the angel of the bottomless pit." From the occurrence of the word in (Psalms 88:11) the rabbis have made Abaddon the nethermost of the two regions into which they divide the lower world, but that in (Revelation 9:11) Abaddon is the angel and not the abyss is perfectly evident in the Greek.
The rabbis call the nethermost division of Sheol (deepest division or bottomless pit), Abaddon. Abaddon in the Old Testament is equivalent to Gehenna (Hebrew) or Hades (Greek) or Hell (English). The Abaddon (meaning - Destroyer) referred to in the Book of Revelation is the name of the fallen angel who is king of the demons who emerge from the bottomless pit.
The term Abaddon, although often translated into English as the word destruction, is a place of eternal torment and not a place of annihilation.
Isaiah 66:22-24 speaks of the everlasting Kingdom to come (the enduring new heavens and new earth) and of the eternal punishment of the wicked (their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched):
"As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me," declares the LORD , "so will your name and descendants endure. From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me," says the LORD ."And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind."
Isaiah 66:22-24 NIV
Job 31:12 - Amplified Version:
For [uncontrolled passion] is a fire which consumes to Abaddon (to destruction, ruin, and the place of final torment); [that fire once lighted would rage until all is consumed] and would burn to the root all my [life's] increase.
Death and Destruction [Hebrew [ Sheol and Abaddon ] ] lie open before the LORD - how much more the hearts of men!
Death and Destruction [Hebrew [ Sheol and Abaddon ] ] are never satisfied, and neither are the eyes of man.
Will Your loving kindness be declared in the grave,
Your faithfulness in Abaddon? Psalm 88:11 NASB
Modern day Judaism, even the religion practiced by the Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox, is rabbinical Judaism and not biblical Judaism. The following excerpt concerning the afterlife is from the web site “Judaism 101” (emphasis mine):
Traditional Judaism firmly believes that death is not the end of human existence. However, because Judaism is primarily focused on life here and now rather than on the afterlife, Judaism does not have much dogma about the afterlife, and leaves a great deal of room for personal opinion. It is possible for an Orthodox Jew to believe that the souls of the righteous dead go to a place similar to the Christian heaven, or that they are reincarnated through many lifetimes, or that they simply wait until the coming of the messiah, when they will be resurrected. Likewise, Orthodox Jews can believe that the souls of the wicked are tormented by demons of their own creation, or that wicked souls are simply destroyed at death, ceasing to exist.
Many Jews today deny the existence of hell and Satan, yet there are many passages of Scripture in the Old Testament to support the literal existence of both hell and Satan.
So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head.
Appoint an evil man or [the Evil One]] to oppose him; let an accuser or [let Satan]] stand at his right hand.
Then he showed me Joshua ; the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD , and Satan [ accuser ] standing at his right side to accuse him.
The LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?"
The Old Testament does speak of hell and the Devil although many Jewish people and even rabbis would deny the literal existence of either Satan or eternal torment. There are also a number of Christian cults which falsely teach that hell is a place of annihilation. In the New Testament we find 81 references to hell, devils or Satan. It is clear from the following passage from the Book of Daniel that both the righteous and the unrighteous will be raised to experience eternity.
But at that time your people-everyone whose name is found written in the book-will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Daniel 12:1b-2
Satan is a deceiver and a liar. It is one of his greatest deceptions to have people believe that he does not exist and that there is no place of eternal torment. Pray that the veil is removed from the hearts of the Jewish people. Pray that they may not only read the Word of God, but truly understand the Holy Scriptures and be brought to Godly repentance.
If you are not sure where you will be spending eternity, then go to the following page:
The very first verse of the Book of Revelation declared to the churches of the first century that something “must soon take place.”