If there is NO “Hell”
why did Jesus use the word “Gehenna”
when He knew it was associated with “Burning”?
Lorraine Day, M.D.
We are well aware that the word “hell” does not appear in the Bible. It is a mistranslation of 4 different words: Sheol (in Hebrew), hades and Tartarus (in Greek) all three of which mean “the grave” or more literally “the unseen.” There is no “burning” associated with any of these three words.
The fourth word that is mistranslated “hell” is the word “gehenna” which is associated with burning. Jesus used this word ten times as recorded in the New Testament.
Meaning of the word “Gehenna”
Gehenna means valley of Hinnom. The Hinnom Valley in Jerusalem is basically a deep, fine narrow valley on the south end of Jerusalem. In this valley, the Israelites worshipped the pagan god Molech by offering human sacrifices. They burned their own children alive by placing the baby on the fiery hot hands of the statue while the pagan priests beat the drums to cover up the screams of the baby as it was being incinerated.
Historically, it has been written that in order for the child sacrifice to be accepted by Molech, the parents had to stand motionless and emotionless while the child was burned to death.
Even King Solomon, who started his reign obeying God, degenerated to the point that he also sacrificed his children to Molech, as a result of his marrying numerous pagan wives to unite his interests with the surrounding pagan nations.
When the Israelites finally abandoned child sacrifices and made some attempts to return to the worship of the true God, the pagan gods of Molech and Baal were removed from Gehenna (the valley of Hinnom) and the high places, respectively.
The Valley of Hinnom (Gehenna) then was held in such detestation that it was made into a garbage dump where the fire burned the refuse continuously.
The Valley of Kidron
The Valley of Kidron was on the Eastern side of Jerusalem and connected with the Valley of Hinnom (Gehenna) on the south side. About the 4th century A.D., the Kidron valley was also called the Valley of Jehosophat which means in Hebrew, the Valley of Judging.
From then on, the perversion of Scripture by the Jews and evangelical Christians went out of control. This is what appears in Jewish literature:
“The Valley of Jehosophat appears in Jewish eschatologic prophecies, which include the return of Elijah, followed by the arrival of the Messiah, and also the war of Gog and Magog and Judgment day. According to the prophecies, in the war of Gog and Magog, the two major coalitions of gentile nations will join forces against the Jewish state in Israel. Israel will be overwhelmed and conquered, and the last stronghold will be Jerusalem, which will also be conquered by the gentiles. After the gentiles finally succeed and destroy Israel, God will commence Judgment. God will save Israel and battle "with diseases, rain, fire and stones" against all the gentile nations that set to destroy Israel, and will fill the Land of Israel with their bodies which will take the Jews 7 months to bury all. In the prophecies, it says he will bring the gentiles down to Emek-Yehoshafat (Kidron Valley), and then he will judge all of the gentiles for all of the wrong they have done against Israel since the beginning of time, and only the gentiles that helped Israel will be spared.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kidron_Valley
This is yet another result of the mistranslations of the words “Jew” and “Gentile” in the Bible, as explained in “Who is the Church? Who is Israel” http://www.goodnewsaboutgod.com/studies/israel2.htm
Why Did Jesus use the term Gehenna?
In approximately 640 B.C., Josiah became the sixteenth king of Judah (the two southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin). When he began to reign, he was only 8 years old, and reigned 31 years in Jerusalem. The Bible tells us:
“And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of David his father (ancestor), and turned not aside to the right or to the left.” 2 Kings 22:2
With few exceptions, such as King Josiah, the kings of Judah had done “evil in the sight of the Lord.”
When Josiah was 26 years old, the eighteenth year of his reign, he sent a scribe named Shaphan to Hilkiah, the high priest, to ask him to count the silver that had been brought into the Lord’s house. This was to be used to pay the carpenters, and builders, and masons to repair the temple.
This is the account as recorded in 2 Kings 22:8-20.
Hilkiah, the high priest, told Shaphan:
“I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord. And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan and he read it.
“And Shaphan the scribe came to the king, and brought the king word again, and said, Thy servants have poured out the money that was found in the houses (temple), and have delivered it into the hand of them that do the work, that have the oversight of the house of the Lord.
“And Shaphan the scribe showed the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest has delivered me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king.
“And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes.”
“And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest. . . and Shaphan the scribe saying, “Go ye, enquire of the Lord for me, and for the people and for Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us.”
Obviously, the Israelites had wandered very far from God, as will be seen by the occurrences recorded in the next chapter (23) of 2 Kings, and the king was horrified. He sent Hilkiah the priest and Shaphan the scribe to Huldah the prophetess, who told them:
“Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Tell the man that sent you to me,
“Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil (calamity) upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah hath read.”
“Because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke Me to anger with all the works of their hands (idols); therefore my wrath shall be kindled against this place, and shall not be quenched.
“But to the king of Judah (Josiah) which sent you to enquire of the Lord, thus shall ye say to him, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, As touching the word which thou has heard;
“Because thine heart was tender, and thou has humbled thyself before the Lord, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and has rent thy clothes, and wept before Me; I also have heard thee, saith the Lord.
“Behold therefore, I will cause you to join your ancestors in death and thou shalt die a natural death; and thine eyes shall not see all the evil (calamity) which I will bring upon this place. And they brought the king word again.
It is almost beyond belief how far the Israelites had fallen into paganism, as recorded in 2 Kings 23:3-28.
“And the king (Josiah) stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people took their stand for the covenant.
“And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the temple of the Lord all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove (Asherah, a Canaanite goddess), and for the host of heaven (the gods of the Assyrians): and he burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron and carried the ashes of them unto Bethel.
“And he removed the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places (to pagan gods) in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about Jerusalem; them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven (the constellations of the zodiac).
“And he brought out of the grove (Asherah Ishtar Easter - a Canaanite goddess) from the house of the Lord outside Jerusalem, unto the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and ground it to ashes and cast the powder there upon the graves of the children of the people.
“And he broke down the houses of the sodomites, that were by the house of the Lord, where the women wove hangings for the grove (the pagan gods).
“And he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and destroyed the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beersheba, and broke down the high places of the gates that were in the entrance of the gate of Joshua, the governor of the city, which were on a man’s left hand at the gate of the city.
Nevertheless the priests of the high places came not up to the altar of the Lord in Jerusalem, but they did eat of the unleavened bread among their brethren.
“And he destroyed Topheth, which is in the valley of the sons of Hinnom (Gehenna), that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech.
“And he took away the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun, at the entrance of the house of the Lord, by the chamber of Nathanmelech, the officer, which was in the suburbs, and burned the chariots of the sun with fire.
“And the altars that were on the top of the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars which Mannaseh had made in the two courts of the house of the Lord, did the king brake down, and pulverized them down from thence, and casts the dust of them into the brook Kidron.
“And the high places (places of pagan worship) that were before Jerusalem which were south of the Mount of Olives which Solomon the king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth, the abomination of the Zidonians, and for Chemosh, the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom, the abomination of the children of Ammon, did the king destroy.
“And he broke in pieces the images, and cut down the places for pagan worship, and filled their places with the bones of men. . .
“And all the temples also of the pagan shrines that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the Lord to anger, Josiah took away, and did to them according to all the acts that he had done in Bethel.
“And he slew all the priests of the high places (shrines) that were there upon the altars (places for pagan worship), and burned men’s bones upon them, and returned to Jerusalem. . .
“Moreover the workers with familiar spirits (those who consulted mediums), and the wizards (spiritualists), and the images (household gods), and the idols, and all the abominations that were spied in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, did Josiah put away, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the Lord.
“And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.
“Notwithstanding the Lord turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Mannesseh had provoked him withal.
“And the Lord said, I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there.”
As stated above, the apostasy of the Israelites was almost beyond comprehen-
* the pagan gods Baal and Molech were inside the temple of God,
* the Israelites were sacrificing their children through the fire to Molech,
* the priests were burning incense to pagan gods, the kings of Judah had dedicated their horses to the sun (obviously the sun god)
* there were houses for sodomites right next door to the temple,
* witches and spiritualists were operating unhindered in Israel,
* the Israelites had pagan gods in their households.
King Josiah slew all the priests associated with these pagan worship practices and burned their bones on the pagan shrines.
King Josiah’s reign was approximately 1,000 years after the Exodus (1550 B.C.). Just look how far the Israelites had fallen into apostasy in 1,000 years since Jesus Christ, Himself, had led the Israelites out of Egypt and into the Promised Land.
It has now been 2,000 years since Jesus was on earth and look how far the “Christian” churches have fallen into apostasy. Churches are nothing more than social clubs. Almost none are studying the Bible in depth. False doctrines abound such as:
The secret rapture
A literal burning hellfire forever or as long as you “deserve
Belief in self defense
A False interpretation of the “Judgment”
The worship of a “Killer” God
A False interpretation of what it means to be “Saved by Grace”
The False doctrine of the Trinity and the Holy Spirit
A total distortion of God’s character of Love
Speaking in tongues
The word “Lucifer” has been written into the Bible falsely
Christmas and Easter are Pagan holidays
Communion is nothing more than a useless ritual
A total distortion of what the Bible says about Divorce and Remarriage
A complete rejection of the way God commands us to care for our body: drinking, smoking, a horrible diet, the use of drug therapy (sorceries and witchcraft according to the Bible)
Believing in “man” (doctors) rather than God for healing (through God’s natural health plan)
Phony “Miracle” Signs and Wonders
The False Doctrine of Dispensationalism
The Total Misinterpretation of Armageddon and the Millennium
A Literal (and False) Interpretation of the Book of Revelation,
And many more.
We are horrified that the Israelites had defiled the temple with pagan idols and that incense was burned for pagan gods by priests who at one time worshipped the true God.
But there is as much paganism in the “churches” of today as there was in ancient Israel. Most churches have steeples which are obelisks occult phallic symbols. They have crosses that are symbols of the pagan god, Tammuz. (Jesus was crucified on a “pole” not a cross. See the literal Greek.) And many of these crosses are made in the form of the Egyptian pagan ankh, or the Maltese cross of the Knights Templar. These are symbols to Satan.
God will instigate the same “cleaning out” process soon the way He did in Josiah’s reign. The pagan symbols will be gone as will be the church buildings all destroyed by the One World Government and One World Religion. And the congregations will be forbidden to worship Jesus Christ, under penalty of death.
Then every Christian will have to stand on his own.
In Israel of old, all these pagan altars and idols were broken down and burned in the Valley of Kidron which was contiguous with the Valley of Hinnom (Gehenna). Therefore, in Gehenna, the sinful things were burned up.
The Israelites of Christ’s time were aware of the history of pagan worship in ancient Israel and its destruction during the reign of King Josiah. They would have understood Christ’s reference to Gehenna where the “sinful things” were burned but not the Israelite sinners.
God burns the sin out of the sinner’s life; He does not destroy the sinner. Instead God changes the sinner, through “fiery” trials, and puts in him a new nature the character and disposition of Jesus Christ.
“Behold, I make ALL new.” Rev 21:5