First Mention of Hell in The Bible

First Mention of Hell in The Bible

In folklore and religious texts, hell is seen as an afterlife location where there is punitive and unending suffering. Some scholars have argued that hell is nothing more than a metaphor.

In different mythologies and traditional folklore, hell is synonymous with the souls of the departed. Hell is seen as a punishment for the sins committed before the afterlife. This begs the question:

What is the First Mention of Hell in the Bible?

The first mention of Hell in the Bible is in the Book of Genesis 37:36:

All his sons and daughters tried to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said. “I will go down to Sheol mourning for my son.” So his father wept for him.

Sheol is a Hebrew word that means destruction or pit. It also infers a place where those that have departed congregate.

The Concept of Hell as a Destruction for the Wicked

While Hell might have first been mentioned in the Book of Genesis, some would argue that the context isn’t entirely what we’ve come to associate with the concept.

There is the school of thought that hell come into existence after the fall of Lucifer and his followers. Matthew 25:41:

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

The Bible explicitly states that Hell was meant for the devil and his followers. The word ‘hell’ is mentioned 54 times in the Bible.

What Does the Bible Say About Hell?

Hell is seen as a place of torment and unimaginable terror according to the Bible. This can be found throughout the Old and the New Testaments.  As much as some verses might be open to interpretation, there are those clearly stating hell is a real place that awaits those that have fallen short of the glory of God.

Jesus talked exhaustively about the subject of hell. In the Book of Mark, He describes hell as a place where the fire is not quenched. There are also numerous references to weeping and gnashing of the teeth of those that have been condemned to darkness.

There are some Christians that can’t fathom the idea of hell taking refuge in the fact that God is loving and wouldn’t want His children to be subjected to eternal condemnation.

What is Hell Like?

Just like heaven, the reality of hell has been debated and contested over the years among Christians and non-Christians alike. In the New Testament, hell is described as horrifying and eternal for sinners.  The reason for debate on what hell is like is because of the different metaphors used to describe it that aren’t easily relatable to us humans.

How is Hell Described in the Bible?

The weight of the torment of hell is described in detail in the Bible. God is gracious enough to provide an understanding and at the same time warn us.

Darkness

The Book of Job is the oldest in the Bible with numerous descriptions of hell. In Job 10:21-22, hell is described as a place of ‘darkness and disorder’. Other passages might refer to it as a realm of unending darkness.

Fire

In the Old Testament, Isiah refers to hell as a place of unquenchable fire. Isaiah 66:24:

And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind

Gnashing of Teeth

The phrase gnashing of teeth first comes to light when Jesus was narrating the Parable of Weeds to His disciples.  Matthew 13:41-43:

The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.

 Separation From God

Everyone that is alive experiences God’s blessings. This is true even for those that don’t believe in Him. Those that are still alive are offered the ultimate gift of repentance. There is free will and those that don’t end up accepting God’s grace and forgiveness tragically end up spending an eternity in hell. Hope can only be found in Jesus and it starts by accepting him as your personal Savor.

Barbara Hartshorn
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