"HELL" IN THE
KING JAMES VERSION
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 ALTHOUGH MANY translations of the Bible have been made into English (some good and some not as good), the King James Version (initially translated in 1611) is still widely used by many people (among them being this writer). When there are possible question marks about words that seem archaic, we try to supply parallel words that would be helpful in getting the meaning across. This term "hell" is one that needs our attention. The KJV scholars used the one word "hell" to represent several different words in the original Scriptures. This can be confusing unless one makes a background study as to which word is behind the word "hell" appearing in our KJV (or check out other translations). Consequently, some have misrepresented the Scriptures and have tried to teach that the grave is the only hell (and that there is no place of fire). What about this? What are the words in the original Scriptures, what do they mean, and why did the KJV translators represent these words by only one word in English? Following are gleanings, impressions and conclusions from our study on this.
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Three Words as "Hell"
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 In the New Testament, the KJV translators used the word "hell" somewhat generically to represent three different Greek words. The Greek words are (1) gehenna, (2) hades and (3) tartaros. Gehenna is found 12 times in the New Testament (Matthew 5:22,29,30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15,33; Mark 9:43,45,47; Luke 12:5; James 3:6). Hades is found 11 times (Matthew 11:23; 16:18; Luke 10:15; 16:23; Acts 2:27,31; Revelation 1:18; 6:8; 20:13,14) and tartaros 1 time (2 Peter 2:4).
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Gehenna, Hell Proper
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 (1) Gehenna had its origin in association with the valley of Hinnom, actually meaning this. In the Old Testament times, when Israel went into idolatry, human sacrifices took place in this valley next to Jeru salem in the worship of Molech as they would "burn their sons and daughters in the fire" (2 Kings 23:10; 2 Chronicles 28:3; Jeremiah 7:31). The valley was looked upon as being polluted and unclean, and in New Testament times was used somewhat as a city dump with continual burning, we understand. It was with that backdrop the term gehenna was adopted and applied to the place of eternal punishment. Such is its coinage and use. This is hell in what the modern usage of the term "hell" conveys.

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Hades, The Unseen World
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 (2) We are told that Hades, in its etymology, properly means unseen. The basic stem of the word means seen, but it has the little a privative before it, thus making it signify unseen. All behind and beyond the veil of death is unseen. Thus, it is fittingly called Hades. At death the spirit enters into the unseen world of the dead. The word itself does not necessarily specify whether this state is bad or good. By itself it is generic, but it can be more specific, according to the context and other Scripture. Interestingly, in the account of the rich man and Lazarus, it is said that in "hell" (Hades, KJV) the rich man lifted up his eyes being in torment. With his death, Jesus is said to have gone to Hades (Acts 2:27,31). (This is the word behind the KJVís translation of "hell" here). Jesus had earlier said to the thief on the cross, "Today shalt thou be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43). Evidently, the story of the rich man and Lazarus unveils the situation as it was (and perhaps is). The good and the bad are partitioned by a great gulf, it would seem, one being in comfort and the other in discomfort. All of this anticipates the Day of Judgment when eternal heaven and hell will begin.

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Tartarus, The Abyss
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 (3) Tartarus is only referred to in one place in the New Testament, 2 Peter 2:4. It is found in the words "cast them down to hell" (to send into Tartarus). It is the bottomless abyss, the confinement place of the wicked, fallen angels.
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The English Word "Hell"
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 But what is the actual and literal meaning of the English word "hell" used repeatedly in the KJV of the Bible? This may come as a surprise to many, but the English word "hell" back in 1611 meant about the same as hades, that being covered or unseen. The Cyclopedia of Biblical Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature (John McClintock and James Strong) that first came out in 1867, says this of the term, "Hell, a term which originally corresponded more exactly to Hades, being derived from the Saxon helan, to cover, and signifying merely the covered, or invisible placeóthe habitation of those who have gone from the visible terrestrial region to the world of spirits. But it has been so long appropriated in common usage to the place of future punishment for the wicked, that its earlier meaning has been lost sight of." This does not negate the teaching of a place of future punishment and fire as seen in the word Gehenna and the umbrella word, Hades. It just throws more light on the use of the word "hell" in the King James Version.
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The O.T. Sheol in the KJV
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 Sheol is the Hebrew word in the Old Testament that corresponds to the word hades in meaning (referring to the unseen world of the dead). The use of the English word "hell" in translating sheol is quite interesting (and confusing for the uninformed). In the KJV sheol is rendered "hell" 31 times. It is rendered "grave" 31 times, and "pit" 3 times. This is quite revealing. "Hell" would be the more generic representation of sheol, pointing only to the unseen world. Evidently the scholars thought the context justified a more narrow meaning in the translation when they used the terms "grave" and "pit." 
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Sheol Equals Hades in
The O. T. Septuagint Translation
 Further interesting and revealing is to see how the Septuagint scholars of the Old Testament Scriptures brought this word sheol (what they conceived to be its meaning) over in their Greek translation. The Septuagint is a translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek that took place in Egypt about three centuries before Christ. It was quoted and used by the New Testament writers. Reportedly in this translation, the word sheol is found 65 times and is represented 61 times by the Greek word hades, 2 times by thanatos (death), and 2 times not translated. This shows us that they decidedly regarded Sheol and Hades as meaning the same thing. (But Peterís quoting from Psalms 16:10 in Acts 2:27 and applying it in verse 31 makes it even more emphatic that Sheol and Hades are the same in meaning).
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 Thus in a circle we have come back to "hell." In our modern vernacular, this signifies a place of fire and punishment. And this is indeed taught in the Scriptures. (Woe be to those who would teach otherwise!). But it is more exactly defined in the word gehenna. To more exactly understand what is meant by "hell," especially in the KJV, keep in mind the things we have tried to bring out here.
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