Did you know there are two hells mentioned in the New Testament? Luke tells of a rich man who is caught in one kind:
Luke 16:19-31 (Young's Literal Translation)
`And -- a certain man was rich, and was clothed in purple and fine linen, making merry sumptuously every day, and there was a certain poor man, by name Lazarus, who was laid at his porch, full of sores,and desiring to be filled from the crumbs that are falling from the table of the rich man; yea, also the dogs, coming, were licking his sores.
`And it came to pass, that the poor man died, and that he was carried away by the messengers to the bosom of Abraham -- and the rich man also died, and was buried;
and in the hades having lifted up his eyes, being in torments, he doth see Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom, and having cried, he said, Father Abraham, deal kindly with me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and may cool my tongue, because I am distressed in this flame.
`And Abraham said, Child, remember that thou did receive -- thou -- thy good things in thy life, and Lazarus in like manner the evil things, and now he is comforted, and thou art distressed;
and besides all these things, between us and you a great chasm is fixed, so that they who are willing to go over from hence unto you are not able, nor do they from thence to us pass through.
`And he said, I pray thee, then, father, that thou mayest send him to the house of my father,
for I have five brothers, so that he may thoroughly testify to them, that they also may not come to this place of torment.
`Abraham saith to him, They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them;
and he said, No, father Abraham, but if any one from the dead may go unto them, they will reform.
And he said to him, If Moses and the prophets they do not hear, neither if one may rise out of the dead will they be persuaded.'
But the rich man is only there temporarily until Judgment Day. We know this because the parable mentions that Lazarus is nearby in the Bosom of Abraham. What does this term mean?
The phrase "Bosom of Abraham" refers to the place of comfort in sheol (Greek: hades) where the Jews said the righteous dead awaited Judgment Day. The phrase "Bosom of Abraham" occurs in the Bible only in the New Testament in Luke 16:22-23 in Jesus' story of Lazarus and the Rich Man.
The Old Testament doesn't refer to this, but according to Wikipedia 1 Enoch does:
Book of Enoch
The Book of Enoch (ca. 160 BCE) purportedly records Enoch's vision of the cosmos. The author describes Sheol as divided into four sections: one where the faithful saints blissfully await Judgment Day (see Bosom of Abraham), one where the moderately good await their reward, one where the wicked are punished and await their Judgment at the resurrection (see Gehenna), and the last where the wicked who don't even warrant resurrection are tormented.
Here's the passage it is talking about:
1 Enoch CHAPTER XXII: 1-13
And thence I went to another place, and he showed me in the west ⌈another⌉ great and high mountain [and] of hard rock.
And there were †four† hollow places in it, deep and very smooth: †three† of them were dark and one bright; and there was a fountain of water in its midst. And I said: '†How† smooth are these hollow places, and deep and dark to view.'
Then Raphael answered, one of the holy angels who was with me, and said unto me: 'These hollow places have been created for this very purpose, that the spirits of the souls of the dead should assemble therein, yea that all the souls of the children of men should assemble here. And these places have been made to receive them till the day of their judgement and till their appointed period ⌈till the period appointed⌉, till the great judgement (comes) upon them.'
I saw the spirits of the children of men who were dead, and their voice went forth to heaven and made suit. Then I asked Raphael the angel who was with me, and I said unto him: 'This spirit--whose is it whose voice goeth forth and maketh suit?'
And he answered me saying: 'This is the spirit which went forth from Abel, whom his brother Cain slew, and he makes his suit against him till his seed is destroyed from the face of the earth, and his seed is annihilated from amongst the seed of men.'
Then I asked regarding all the hollow places: 'Why is one separated from the other?'
And he answered me saying: 'These three have been made that the spirits of the dead might be separated. And this division has been made for the spirits of the righteous, in which there is the bright spring of water. And this has been made for sinners when they die and are buried in the earth and judgement has not been executed upon them in their lifetime. Here their spirits shall be set apart in this great pain, till the great day of judgement, scourgings, and torments of the accursed for ever, so that (there maybe) retribution for their spirits. There He shall bind them for ever. And this division has been made for the spirits of those who make their suit, who make disclosures concerning their destruction, when they were slain in the days of the sinners. And this has been made for the spirits of men who shall not be righteous but sinners, who are godless, and of the lawless they shall be companions: but their spirits shall not be punished in the day of judgement nor shall they be raised from thence.
So in Jesus time they believed that after you died you could suffer in torment in the temporary hell, (a section of Hades) then, after Judgment Day, you'd be physically resurrected and your body (as well as your soul) could suffer permanently in Gehenna.
Matthew 10:28 (Young's Literal Translation)
`And be not afraid of those killing the body, and are not able to kill the soul, but fear rather Him who is able both soul and body to destroy in gehenna.
Wikipedia says this about it:
The New Testament thus seems to draw a distinction between Sheol and "Gehinnom" or Gehenna. The former is regarded as a place where the dead go temporarily to await resurrection (according to some traditions, including Jesus himself), while the latter is the place of eternal punishment for the damned.
You can see the two contrasted in Revelation 20:13-15 (NIV):
The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
This lake is also described in 1 Enoch CHAPTER LXVII: 4-13
And He will imprison those angels, who have shown unrighteousness, in that burning valley which my grandfather Enoch had formerly shown to me in the west among the mountains of gold and silver and iron and soft metal and tin. And I saw that valley in which there was a great convulsion and a convulsion of the waters. And when all this took place, from that fiery molten metal and from the convulsion thereof in that place, there was produced a smell of sulphur, and it was connected with those waters, and that valley of the angels who had led astray (mankind) burned beneath that land. And through its valleys proceed streams of fire, where these angels are punished who had led astray those who dwell upon the earth.
But those waters shall in those days serve for the kings and the mighty and the exalted, and those who dwell on the earth, for the healing of the body, but for the punishment of the spirit; now their spirit is full of lust, that they may be punished in their body, for they have denied the Lord of Spirits and see their punishment daily, and yet believe not in His name. And in proportion as the burning of their bodies becomes severe, a corresponding change shall take place in their spirit for ever and ever; for before the Lord of Spirits none shall utter an idle word. For the judgement shall come upon them, because they believe in the lust of their body and deny the Spirit of the Lord. And those same waters will undergo a change in those days; for when those angels are punished in these waters, these water-springs shall change their temperature, and when the angels ascend, this water of the springs shall change and become cold. And I heard Michael answering and saying: 'This judgement wherewith the angels are judged is a testimony for the kings and the mighty who possess the earth.' Because these waters of judgement minister to the healing of the body of the kings and the lust of their body; therefore they will not see and will not believe that those waters will change and become a fire which burns for ever.
Jesus said the Judgment Day was going to happen soon and people should do all they could to avoid going to Gehenna. He said to avoid it, they had to leave their families behind and give up all their wealth and possessions and give them to the poor. They had to repent and acknowledge him as Christ. They had to to be diligent in following the Law. They had to love God, and love all people as well, even if they were mean.
In the Sermon on the Mount he said they had to be be meek, humble pure of heart, full of faith, merciful and be peacemakers. They had to be servants to one another and to others without expecting a reward. They should do to others what they would want others to do for them, forgive people with all their heart no matter how often they got hurt, secretly pray and fast,and give to the poor and do other good deeds such as helping strangers in need.
They shouldn't divorce, remarry, or marry a divorced woman, They shouldn't swear oaths, They shouldn't call themselves Rabbi, Father or teacher.They shouldn't judge or condemn anyone, They shouldn't cause anyone to sin. They shouldn't be mean. They shouldn't lust. They shouldn't be angry. They shouldn't defend themselves or retaliate when someone's mean to them, and shouldn't hold grudges.
Their actions words and their thoughts had to be perfect. Jesus said that then their names would be written in heaven.
The Teachers of the Law also believed in Judgment day and this Lake of Fire in Gehenna and they also wanted to protect people from it. We know this because they had an Oral Law which was written down about the same time as the Gospels were. It's interesting to notice the similarities of their advice. Jewish Encyclopedia jewishencyclopedia.com says this:
It is frequently said that certain sins will lead man into Gehenna. The name "Gehenna" itself is explained to mean that unchastity will lead to gehenna so also will adultery, idolatry, pride, mockery, hypocrisy, anger, etc. (Soṭah 4b, 41b; Ta'an. 5a; B. B. 10b, 78b; 'Ab. Zarah 18b; Ned. 22a). Hell awaits one who indulges in unseemly speech (Shab. 33a; Enoch, xxvii.); who always follows the advice of his wife (B. M. 59a); who instructs an unworthy pupil (Ḥul. 133b); who turns away from the Torah (B. B. 79a; comp. Yoma 72b). For further details see 'Er. 18b, 101a; Sanh. 109b; Ḳid. 81a; Ned. 39b; B. M. 19a.
On the other hand, there are merits that preserve man from going to hell; e.g., philanthropy, fasting, visiting the sick, reading the Shema' and Hallel, and eating the three meals on the Sabbath (Giṭ. 7a; B. B. 10a; B. M. 85a; Ned. 40a; Ber. 15b; Pes. 118a; Shab. 118a). Israelites in general are less endangered (Ber. 10a) than heretics, or, according to B. B. 10a, than the heathen. Scholars (Ḥag. 27a; comp. Men. 99b and Yoma 87a), the poor, and the pious (Yeb. 102b) are especially protected. Three classes of men do not see the face of hell: those that live in penury, those suffering with intestinal catarrh, and those that are pressed by their creditors ('Er. 41b). It would seem that the expressions "doomed to hell" and "to be saved from hell" must be interpreted hyperbolically. A bad woman is compared to Gehenna in Yeb. 63b.
The sinners in Gehenna will be filled with pain when God puts back the souls into the dead bodies on the Day of Judgment, according to Isa. xxxiii. 11 (Sanh. 108b).
Interesting! So could Jesus have gotten his teachings from the Oral Law?
That's my next post.
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The Importance of 1 Enoch to Christianity.