Thursday, March 2, 2023

The Hebrew noun שאול (sheól) is the Hebrew word for the "underworld," literally a "pit" or "wasteland," though it is typically rendered directly as "Sheol" in translations. For example, in Genesis 42:38, when Israel, formerly known as Jacob, initially refuses to send Benjamin with his brothers to Egypt, he states, "If harm should come to him on the journey that you are to make, you would bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to Sheol (שאולה)." An example of the "pit" connotation associated with שאול (sheól) can be seen in Isaiah 14:15, "But you are brought down to Sheol (שאול), to the depths of the Pit." שאול (sheól) is not always depicted as a passive place but also appears as a personified force, as in Isaiah 5:14, "Therefore Sheol (שאול) has enlarged its appetite and opened its mouth beyond measure; the nobility of Jerusalem and her multitude go down, her throng and all who exult in her."