International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
hel (see SHEOL; HADES; GEHENNA):
1. The Word in the King James Version:
The English word, from a Teutonic root meaning "to hide" or "cover," had originally the significance of the world of the dead generally, and in this sense is used by Chaucer, Spenser, etc., and in the Creed ("He descended into hell"); compare the English Revised Version Preface. Now the word has come to mean almost exclusively the place of punishment of the lost or finally impenitent; the place of torment of the wicked. In the King James Version of the Scriptures, it is the rendering adopted in many places in the Old Testament for the Hebrew word she'ol (in 31 out of 65 occurrences of that word it is so translated), and in all places, save one (1 Corinthians 15:55) in the New Testament, for the Greek word Hades (this word occurs 11 times; in 10 of these it is translated "hell"; 1 Corinthians 15:55 reads "grave," with "hell" in the margin). In these cases the word has its older general meaning, though in Luke 16:23 (parable of Rich Man and Lazarus) it is specially connected with a place of "torment," in contrast with the "Abraham's bosom" to which Lazarus is taken (16:22). 2. The Word in the Revised Version:
In the above cases the Revised Version (British and American) has introduced changes, replacing "hell" by "Sheol" in the passages in the Old Testament (the English Revised Version retains "hell" in Isaiah 14:9, 15; the American Standard Revised Version makes no exception), and by "Hades" in the passages in the New Testament (see under these words).
Besides the above uses, and more in accordance with the modern meaning, the word "hell" is used in the New Testament in the King James Version as the equivalent of Gehenna (12 t; Matthew 5:22, 29; Matthew 10:28, etc.). the Revised Version (British and American) in these cases puts "Gehenna" in the margin. Originally the Valley of Hinnom, near Jerusalem, Gehenna became among the Jews the synonym for the place of torment in the future life (the "Gehenna of fire," Matthew 5:22, etc.; see GEHENNA).
In yet one other passage in the New Testament (2 Peter 2:4), "to cast down to hell" is used (the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American)) to represent the Greek tartaroo, ("to send into Tartarus"). Here it stands for the place of punishment of the fallen angels: "spared not angels when they sinned, but cast them down to hell, and committed them to pits (or chains) of darkness" (compare Jude 1:6; but also Matthew 25:41). Similar ideas are found in certain of the Jewish apocalyptic books (Book of Enoch, Book of Jubilees, Apocrypha Baruch, with apparent reference to Genesis 6:1-4; compare ESCHATOLOGY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT).
On theological aspect, see PUNISHMENT, EVERLASTING. For literature, see references in above-named arts., and compare article "Hell" by Dr. D. S. Salmond in HDB.