Hades and Eternal Punishment: Pages 2-7

After the foreword to his book is finished Mr. Pollock both begins laying the foundation of his argument as well as identifying the groups that are propagating the falsehoods. Early on in today’s excerpt, Mr. Pollock mentions a “Pastor” Russell, this together with references to “New Dawnism” later on, leads me to believe that he has Charles Taze Russell and the Jehovah’s Witnesses in mind here. From the Jehovah Witness Wikipedia page here is what they believe about life after death:

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe death is a state of non-existence with no consciousness. There is no Hell of fiery torment; Hades and Sheol are understood to refer to the condition of death, termed the common grave. Jehovah’s Witnesses consider the soul to be a life or a living body that can die. Watch Tower Society publications teach that humanity is in a sinful state, from which release is only possible by means of Jesus’ shed blood as a ransom, or atonement, for the sins of humankind.

In the course of his polemic he also explicitly mentions two other groups. First is the Christadelphians who, according to their Wikipedia page, believe this about our salvation:

Christadelphians believe that people are separated from God because of their sins but that mankind can be reconciled to him by becoming disciples of Jesus Christ. This is by belief in the gospel, through repentance, and through baptism by total immersion in water. They do not believe we can be sure of being saved, believing instead that salvation comes as a result of a life of obedience to the commands of Christ After death, believers are in a state of non-existence, knowing nothing until the Resurrection at the return of Christ. Following the judgement at that time, the accepted receive the gift of immortality, and live with Christ on a restored Earth, assisting him to establish the Kingdom of God and to rule over the mortal population for a thousand years (the Millennium). Christadelphians believe that the Kingdom will be centred upon Israel, but Jesus Christ will also reign over all the other nations on the earth. Some believe that the Kingdom itself is not worldwide but limited to the land of Israel promised to Abraham and ruled over in the past by David, with a worldwide empire.

And last but not least the Seventh Day Adventist Church who, according to their Wikipedia page, hold these beliefs:

• Wholistic human nature (fundamental beliefs 7, 26)—Humans are an indivisible unity of body, mind, and spirit. They do not possess an immortal soul and there is no consciousness after death (commonly referred to as “soul sleep“).

• Conditional immortality (fundamental belief 27)—The wicked will not suffer eternal torment in hell, but instead will be permanently destroyed.

One common thread that I see among these different groups is that they hold to a form of Monism (see my post on the Theological Models of Man) which believes that body, soul, and spirit are an indivisible unity. Because of this it causes them to believe that when the human body dies that consciousness dies with it. Also please keep in mind that I believe that the unbeliever has a body and soul only (dichotomy) and that the believer has body, soul, and spirit (trichotomy). Pollock expends a lot of effort arguing against this idea of a loss of consciousness upon death (an idea that I don’t hold to either).

Before performing a study of the Hebrew words Sheol and Qeber Pollock favorably quotes a Mr. W. E. Gladstone:

The late Mr. W.E.Gladstone, commenting on the denial of an eternal hell, said:-

“What is this but to emasculate all the sanctions of religion, and to give to wickedness already under too feeble restraint a new range of licence?”

Apparently Pollock is endorsing the traditional view of eternal conscious torment in the Lake of Fire in order to keep the sinful natives in line. The truth of the matter is that unbelievers aren’t going to be restrained by any doctrine we claim the Bible teaches. What about believers? Do we obey biblical teaching because we are afraid God will throw us in hell anyway? The answer to that is a resounding “no”! Here is why we obey:

23 Jesus answered, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.
John 14:23

We should obey, and really only can obey, when we have a true love for Jesus Christ.

Now Pollock begins a lengthy section discussing the Hebrew words Sheol and Qeber. The definitions of, and distinctions between, these words are central to his argument:

Two words are largely translated ‘grave’ in the Old Testament

1. Qeber – grave, sepulchre, i.e., a locality.
2. Sheol – the state of disembodied souls, i.e. a condition.

* Qeber is always rightly translated grave or burying place.
* Sheol is never rightly translated grave.

It makes sense to me that in the Hebrew scriptures that there is no reason to use the word “Sheol” for a grave when they already had a perfectly good word for it with “Qeber”. I certainly agree that translating two different Hebrew words with the same English word would be likely to cause confusion. [If anyone would like to dig a little more deeply it is easy to find reference material for “Sheol” (Strong’s H7585) and “Qeber” (Strong’s H6913) online.] However Pollock does a lot more than that.

Please notice what Pollock just did with that definition, he defined Sheol as a condition (that of being a disembodied soul) and not a place. He continues emphasizing that Sheol is not a place but a condition with statements like:

Sheol has no geographical position assigned to it. A condition has no geography.

 If you refer back to my earlier post “The Place of the Dead” you will find that I define Sheol as a place. In fact I had never heard anyone say that Sheol isn’t an actual place which makes Pollock’s definition very novel to me. Of course this got my curiosity up and I began doing some internet research. At the homepage of A. Philip Brown II (link here) I found a document where he is beginning to do a word study on Sheol (link here) where footnote 7 says:

It is noteworthy that sheol never has the definite article prefixed to it, and that it frequently has a suffixed hey locative [my emphasis].  These two syntactical features strongly suggest that sheol is specific place and is therefore inherently definite.

If this statement is true then Pollock is probably wrong on this point and the evidence leans toward my current understanding of Sheol as a place. If any future reader has expertise in this area then I encourage them to share some insights in the comments section.

I also found this write-up on the Hebrew letter “he” (or “hey”) at Wikipedia:

Attached to words, He may have three possible meanings:

• A preposition meaning the definite article “the”, or the relative pronouns “that”, or “who” (as in “a boy who reads”). For example, yeled, a boy; hayeled, the boy.
• A prefix indicating that the sentence is a question. (For example, Yadata, You knew; Hayadata?, Did you know?)
• A suffix after place names indicating movement towards the given noun. (For example, Yerushalayim, Jerusalem; Yerushalaymah, towards Jerusalem.)

It is that third bullet point that Mr. Brown was referring to in his footnote about Sheol being suffixed with the Hebrew letter Hey. So it does appears that the hey locative is frequently affixed to sheol which, given Hebrew grammar, provides strong evidence that sheol is a place.

Given how many words Mr. Pollock spends discussing sheol it might seem like I am giving his analysis short shrift. However his analysis is quite repetitive and doesn’t challenge the evidence I have just presented. Until I have more proof that “Sheol” is a condition and not a place I see no reason to change my understanding of what Sheol is.

There is one more statement that Pollock makes that I would like to comment on before I call it quits on this post. He states that:

Sheol for the wicked is connected with pain and sorrow. “For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell [sheol]” (Deut. 32:22). “The sorrows of hell [sheol] compassed me about (2 Sam. 22:6). “The pains of hell [sheol] gat hold upon me.” (Ps. 116:3).

In this one quote Pollock seems to have found three verses from the Old Testament that imply that someone is burning in Sheol. However I learned a long time ago to be leery of using just one translation when studying the Bible (please see Translation as Interpretation from Daniel Gracely’s book Calvinism: A Closer Look). Let’s double check these verses by providing a bit longer of a quote for some along with both the King James Version (KJV), which Pollock uses, and Young’s Literal Translation (YLT):

22 For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.
Deuteronomy 32:22

22 For a fire hath been kindled in Mine anger, And it burneth unto Sheol — the lowest, And consumeth earth and its increase, And setteth on fire foundations of mountains.
Deuteronomy 32:22

It looks to me that in this passage it was God’s anger that was burning and there was nowhere to hide from it. It isn’t people who are burning here.

When the waves of death compassed me, the floods of ungodly men made me afraid;
The sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me;
In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried to my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter into his ears.
2 Samuel 22:5-7 (KJV)

When the breakers of death compassed me, The streams of the worthless terrify me,
The cords of Sheol have surrounded me, Before me have been the snares of death.
In mine adversity I call Jehovah, And unto my God I call, And He heareth from His temple my voice, And my cry [is] in His ears,
2 Samuel 22:5-7 (YLT)

In this passage it is King David who is speaking and not “the wicked” as Pollock implied. While I do believe that David went to Sheol when he died (to Abraham’s bosom to be precise) I don’t believe that he was ever in fear of pain and sorrow here. This passage also fails to support Pollock’s point.

1 I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.
Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.
The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.
Then called I upon the name of the Lord; O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul.
Psalm 116:1-4 (KJV)

1I have loved, because Jehovah heareth My voice, my supplication,
Because He hath inclined His ear to me, And during my days I call.
Compassed me have cords of death, And straits of Sheol have found me, Distress and sorrow I find.
And in the name of Jehovah I call: I pray Thee, O Jehovah, deliver my soul,
Psalm 116:1-4 (YLT)

Once again this is King David speaking not one of “the wicked” suffering in Sheol. The “pains of hell” and “sorrows of hell” in the KJV magically disappear when we use the YLT.


So far Pollock has tried to convince me that Sheol is not the grave, is a condition and not a place, and that the Old Testament states that Sheol is a place of suffering. He succeeded with the first one which was easy since I already believed that. However he did fail to convince me that Sheol is a condition and that it involves suffering. Maybe he will have better success when he comes to the New Testament.

Below is the entire text (pages 2-7) that I based my comments on.

***** Begin Quote *****

HADES and Eternal Punishment

How do we know there is a heaven? Our only source of information is the Bible. We cannot logically receive the revelation of heaven without receiving all that the Bible teaches, and the Bible as clearly tells us there is a hell.

Our belief in the one stands on precisely the same ground as our belief in the other.

We cannot be consistent in believing there is a heaven, and at the same time refuse to believe there is a hell. We must believe in both, or disbelieve in both.

“To the law and the prophets” then. Let the Scriptures speak for themselves.

To clear our ground it will be necessary to go step by step carefully over Scriptures bearing on this subject.

At the outset we may say that appeals to Hebrew and Greek often cover gross ignorance of, and crafty attacks on, the Word of God.

For instance, we heard the late self-styled “Pastor” Russell tell nearly a thousand hearers that the Hebrew word, Sheol , means the grave. It means no such thing. And yet hundreds of unthinking people believed his statement because it was palatable to them. One of his hearers – a thoroughly worldly man – exclaimed with delight that he would liberally subscribe to the funds of the cause for it made a man comfortable to feel there was no hell.

The late Mr. W.E.Gladstone, commenting on the denial of an eternal hell, said:-

“What is this but to emasculate all the sanctions of religion, and to give to wickedness already under too feeble restraint a new range of licence?”

We cannot begin our enquiry better than by considering the meaning of the word, Sheol.

Two words are largely translated ‘grave’ in the Old Testament.

  1. Qeber – grave, sepulchre, i.e., a locality.
  2. Sheol – the state of disembodied souls, i.e. a condition.
  • Qeber is always rightly translated grave or burying place.
  • Sheol is never rightly translated grave.



Qeber is translated ‘grave’ thirty-four times; ‘sepulchre,’ twenty-six times; ‘burying place,’ four times; in short it is always translated by the word ‘grave’ or its equivalents. Seeing that man, from the earliest times, had been sadly familiar with the grave, references to such would obviously present no difficulty to the translator. Qeber means the grave and nothing else. This is undisputed.



Sheol is translated ‘hell’ thirty-one times; ‘pit’ three times; ‘grave’ thirty-one times. In the case of qeber the translators give us the same word or its equivalents throughout. Why do they not do the same with sheol? They render it ‘grave’ thirty-one times and ‘hell’ thirty one times. On the face of it, it cannot be rendered by two words so dissimilar in meaning. If grave means the place of interment for bodies without souls, and sheol the condition of souls without bodies; they are no more interchangeable than if the same word were translated London and lunacy. London is a place. Lunacy is a condition.

In giving Scripture on this important point, we shall find in every case locality is connected with qeber, and never condition; and condition with sheol, and never locality.

  • Qeber occurs in the plural twenty-seven times.
  • Sheol never occurs in the plural.


The burial of five hundred bodies in a cemetery means many graves.

The entrance of five hundred disembodied souls into eternity means only one condition.


  • Qeber is referred to as the EXCLUSIVE qeber, or grave, of an individual.
  • Sheol is never spoken of as the EXCLUSIVE sheol of any individual. It is plain that one condition, viz. that of being disembodied, is common to all who have died. To illustrate this, we adduce the following Scriptures:
  • Qeber is spoken of as “my grave” (Gen. 1:5); “a grave” (Num. 19:6); “grave of Abner” (2 Sam. 3:32); ” his own grave” (1 Ki. 13:30); “thy grave” (2 Chron. 34:28); “their graves” (Jer. 8:1); etc., etc.
  • Sheol is thirty-one times wrongly translated “grave”, but in each case without exception it should be translated “the grave.” It is never translated “my grave,” “a grave,” “his grave,” etc., etc. Now if sheol had meant grave it would, like qeber, possess these variations, but it does not. The reason is very obvious. Sheol does NOT mean grave, it is wrongly translated thus.


  • Qeber has geographical position assigned to it. “A burying place of Ephron the Hittite, before Mamre ” (Gen. 1:13); “No graves in Egypt” (Ex. 14:11); “In Zelah in the sepulchre of Kish” (2 Sam. 21:14); “the city of my fathers’ sepulchres” (Neh. 2:5); “I will give unto Gog a place there of graves in Israel ” (Ezek. 39:11).
  • Sheol has no geographical position assigned to it. A condition has no geography.


  • Qeber is spoken of in relation to the body going into it, “And he laid his carcase in his own grave” (1 Ki. 13:30); “they cast the man [that is his dead body] into the sepulchre of Elisha” (2 Ki. 13:21); “The slain that lie in the grave” (Psalm 88:5); “Cast his dead body into the graves of the common people” (Jer. 26:23).
  • Sheol is never spoken of in relation to the body. The reason is obvious. It has no relation to it. It has to do only with the soul.


  • Qeber is spoken of as a possession on this earth, just as we may own a house or a field. “A possession of a burying-place” (Gen. 23:4); “a possession: of a burying-place” (Gen. 24:9); “a possession of a burying-place” (Gen. 23:20).
  • Sheol is never so spoken of. We cannot possess a condition. We can have no title-deeds to a condition.


  • Qeber can be dug or made. “In my grave which I have digged for me” (Gen. 50:5); “I will make thy grave” (Neh. 1:14).
  • Sheol is never said to be dug or made.


A seeming exception to the above only serves to emphasize the truth of what has been shown. In connection with the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram we read:-

“If the Lord make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick [that is alive ] into the pit [sheol]; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the Lord” (Num. 16:30).

The new thing referred to is very obvious here. The bodies of the rebels found interment through the earth opening her mouth and swallowing them up. But it may be urged they went “down quick into the pit“, language which seems to be applicable to the “grave.”

A little further on we shall refer to the word “down” in this connection. As to the word “into” we can speak of an individual going into death, who may never be in the grave at all. The moment a man dies he is in death, though the body has generally to wait some hours or days before being placed in the grave. “In” or “into” can apply to a condition equally with a locality. We may add that the word “quick” does not refer to the suddenness of the act, but means they went down living into sheol.

So far we have been looking at sheol in relation to what it is not, that it is not the grave. Let us now examine Scripture to see what it stands in relation to.


  • Sheol for the wicked is connected with pain and sorrow. “For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell [sheol]” (Deut. 32:22). “The sorrows of hell [sheol] compassed me about (2 Sam. 22:6). “The pains of hell [sheol] gat hold upon me.” (Ps. 116:3).
  • Qeber is never connected in this way with judgment and sorrow. The body in the grave is unconscious and cannot feel pain or experience sorrow. A conscious entity, the soul, in the condition of sheol can experience such things.


  • Sheol is always connected with the soul, never with the body. “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [sheol]” (Psalm 16:10). “Thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell [sheol]” (Psalm 86:13).
  • Qeber is never connected with the soul, but always with the body, as we have already seen.


  • Sheol is connected with distress such as is evidenced by crying aloud with the voice. “Out of the belly of hell [sheol] cried I, and thou heardest my voice” (Jonah 2:2).
  • Qeber has no such thought connected with it. A dead body cannot cry aloud or experience distress.


  • Sheol is connected with the thought of going down.

“I will go down into the grave [sheol] unto my son mourning” (Gen. 37:35). This thought is expressed in several other passages. Evidently the thought of going down is an acknowledgment of the judgment of God in death. These things were only dimly known in the Old Testament times.

But that it cannot mean here the grave is evident from the fact that in the Scripture just quoted, Jacob, believing his son Joseph was dead and deceived by the appearance of his son’s coat of many colours dyed red in blood, exclaimed, “Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces,” He therefore had not the slightest hope of his own body being put in his son’s grave when he did not believe it existed at all.

A similar thought is involved when Samuel said to Saul, “Tomorrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me” (1 Sam. 28:19). That could not mean the grave, for Samuel knew that warriors slain on the field of battle are not generally buried on the same day, if at all. As to Saul’s body, the Philistines did not find it till the day after his death or two days after his interview with Samuel. They cut off his head and sent it into their land on show fastening his body on the walls of Beth-shan. Some time must have elapsed before the inhabitants of Jabesh-Gilead heard of this. They travelled all night, secured the bodies of Saul and his sons and returned with them to Jabesh and burnt them there.

Moreover, Samuel was buried at Ramah and the bones of Saul and his sons were interred at Jabesh-Gilead; therefore it is clear that Samuel did not mean the grave when he said, “Tomorrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me.”

How clear it is that Samuel recognized that the soul survived after death and knew the true meaning of sheol. He knew it in his own case, knew that it would be so in Saul’s, as of all who die.

  • Qeber is never connected in Scripture with the thought of going down. Of course, as a matter of fact, dead bodies do go down into the grave, hence it is all the more significant that Scripture never uses the expression in regard to qeber but does in connection with sheol, conveying most assuredly a moral idea in regard to a condition.
  • Sheol is connected with the thought of desire, etc. “Who enlargeth his desire as hell [sheol]” (Hab. 2:5).
  • Qeber has no such thought connected with it. But, it may be urged, ‘Does it not say, “There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave [sheol]” (Eccl. 9:10)?’ Yes, but this is NOT revelation but the inspired record of what Solomon summed up as to his knowledge of things “under the sun.” Solomon was looking at things as they affected his work and knowledge and wisdom in connection with the affairs of this life, and such things do not go beyond this life in the experience of persons alive on the earth.

HADES and Eternal Punishment
A J Pollock
pp. 2-7

[Click on this link to see the next installment in this series: Hades and Eternal Punishment: Pages 7-12]

Explore posts in the same categories: Annihilationism

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