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.
Pit
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.

sheol-word-hell

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.

9 thoughts on “Questions I’ve Been Asked – The Bottomless Pit – Part 1

  1. Two thoughts: It is my understanding about the word Sheol that when it was mentioned they would describe like the continuing burning rubbish, etc., outside the city limits.
    Now the Apostle Paul describe what Christ did during those days that His body laid in the tomb. Let me point you to this passage of Scripture:

    Ephesians 4:8-10 KJV
    8  Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
    9  (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
    10  He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)

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    1. I have understood the same about the garbage heap on fire outside of Jerusalem.
      I am unsure how eph 4 relates to the garbage dump. Help me out.
      Are you equating lower parts of earth to be the garbage dump out side of jerusalem.
      Let me know. I am curious of your understanding.
      Thanks

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sorry, I was trying to give insight of what Paul thought the bottomless pit was. To him it was where Christ went to preach to captive and led them out.
        Sorry, sometimes my brain goes to fast and I don’t always proof my comments.
        I do love your blog though. How you encourage dialogue.

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  2. Well written, my friend. I have come to a similar conclusion as well. I believe the key to gaining a proper understanding of the bottomless pit is a clear understanding of what happens when you die.

    Jesus, many times called death sleep. Verses like Job 14:10-12; Ecclesiastes 9:5,6,10; Psalm 115:17; and Psalm 146:3,4 are just a few of the verses that have formed my view of death. Luke 16 brings your last post to mind. We need to remember that Jesus was telling a parable. Parables are clearly figurative and used to impress a lesson on the mind of its hearer rather than give literal details.

    I’m looking forward to your next post on this subject.

    God Bless

    Like

      1. Exactly. I think Jesus had some pretty good reasons for telling the parable or He would not have told it. The most clear book I’ve read on the subject is called Christ’s Object Lessons. There is a whole chapter dedicated to Luke 16. The depth of the lessons in that parable are amazing. The author made some good points throughout the chapter. I’ll quote just a couple paragraphs for your interest.

        Christ’s Object Lessons – “A Great Gulf Fixed”

        “In this parable Christ was meeting the people on their own ground. The doctrine of a conscious state of existence between death and the resurrection was held by many of those who were listening to Christ’s words. The Saviour knew of their ideas, and He framed His parable so as to inculcate important truths through these preconceived opinions. He held up before His hearers a mirror wherein they might see themselves in their true relation to God. He used the prevailing opinion to convey the idea He wished to make prominent to all—that no man is valued for his possessions; for all he has belongs to him only as lent by the Lord. A misuse of these gifts will place him below the poorest and most afflicted man who loves God and trusts in Him.”

        “Christ desires His hearers to understand that it is impossible for men to secure the salvation of the soul after death. “Son,” Abraham is represented as answering, “remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed; so that they which would pass from hence to you can not; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.” Thus Christ represented the hopelessness of looking for a second probation. This life is the only time given to man in which to prepare for eternity.”

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