Questions I’ve Been Asked – The Bottomless Pit – Part 1

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Our next topic under our “Questions I’ve Been Asked” is gonna take a few posts, and I hope you will continue with me on this study.

I was listening to a Bible teacher on you tube a while back and he was teaching on the topic of the Bottomless Pit. Although many of the issues he raised were very questionable (IMHO) , a friend asked me what I thought the Bible taught concerning it.

You know, at the time, all I knew was that it was bad – real bad!

But I don’t think that would satisfy this brother, so off I go into studying – “The Bottomless Pit”

First off – Definitions!

Strong’s concordance explains “abussos” as follows:
G12 abussos {ab’-us-sos} AV – bottomless pit 5, deep 2, bottomless 2; Total: 9

  • bottomless
  • unbounded
  • the abyss
    • the pit
    • the immeasurable depth
    • of Orcus, a very deep gulf or chasm in the lowest parts of the earth used as the common receptacle of the dead and especially as the abode of demons.

Secondly – Source Material

What might the Old Testament teach us about the “Pit” before we venture into the New Testament? At this time, I understand the term bottomless to be a modifier to pit, and not necessarily defining a proper name.

The following nine Hebrew terms are translated pit in the Old Testament and have varying degrees of importance in our study as we consider how the Old Testament may give light in relation to the apostles understanding of this topic, and especially John’s use of “pit” in Rev 20.

(Links for lists of verses of each of these OT terms can be found in a post called “Questions I’ve Been Asked – What about the Bottomless Pit – OT References”)

1.) H875 ‘er (be-ayr’) n-f.
a pit, especially a well
2.) H953 bowr (bore) n-m.
a pit hole (especially one used as a cistern or a prison)
3.) H1360 gebe (geh’-beh) n-m.
a reservoir
by analogy, a marsh
4.) H1475 guwmmats (goom-mawts’) n-m.
a pit
5.) H6354 pachath (pakh’-ath) n-m.
a pit, especially for catching animals
6.) H7585 sh’owl (sheh-ole’) (or shol {sheh-ole’}) n-f.
Hades or the world of the dead (as if a subterranean retreat), including its accessories and inmates
7.) H7745 shuwchah (shoo-khaw’) n-f.
a chasm
8.) H7816 shchuwth (shekh-ooth’) n-f.
9.) H7882 shiychah (shee-khaw’) n-f.
a pit-fall

The majority of these terms define a simple hole in the ground, usually with dire consequences. An example would be – Joseph was thrown in a pit.

Sometimes the term used simply defines a well, sometimes, though rarely, with a positive connotation (a well of living waters – Song 4:15)

Where it gets interesting is in the 6th term – Sheol. This term is used 63 times in the Old Testament, translated as

  • grave – 29 times
  • pit – 3 times
  • hell – 31 times

Sheol is usually referring to a hole in the ground, but it represented death, decay and the end. Although there are two texts that speak of a resurrection …

Job 19:26

And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God

Dan 12:2

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

…it is not completely clear (at least to me) what the Jewish population believed about the grave.

If the Old Testament Saints believed in a physical resurrection, Sheol, as a physical hole in the ground, represented the greatest enemy.


If Sheol represented a specific place of reward or punishment, I have not found it stated as such in the Old Testament. (I said Old Testament folks – I heard some of y’all thinking bout Luke 16!!!)

With that said, at the very least we can know is that Sheol represented the grave.

The next post will begin dealing with New Testament light on this subject!

I hope you can join me as we dig into this interesting and somewhat emotionally charged topic.

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Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.