What Is the Sheol in the Bible?

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word "Sheol" is mentioned referring to the grave or the home of the deceased. Sheol was believed to be the dwelling place of the dead before the time of Jesus.
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What Is the Sheol in the Bible?

Sheol in the Bible - Meaning and Scripture Quotes

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word "Sheol" is mentioned referring to the grave or the home of the deceased. Before the time of the New Testament, it was assumed that all living creatures ended up in one place, whether human or animal, righteous or wicked. No one could evade Sheol, which was believed to be down in the lowest parts of the earth.

Who can live and not see death, or who can escape the power of the grave?Psalm 89:48 NIV

Unlike this world, Sheol is devoid of love, hate, envy, work, thought, knowledge, and wisdom.

“Their love, their hate and their jealousy have long since vanished; never again will they have a part in anything that happens under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 9:6 NIV

Descriptions of Sheol are very gloom: There is no light, no remembrance, no praise of God, in fact, no sound at all. Its occupants are weak, trembling souls who can never hope to escape from its gates.

“before I go to the place of no return, to the land of gloom and utter darkness, to the land of deepest night, of utter darkness and disorder, where even the light is like darkness.” Job 10:21-22 NIV

“The realm of the dead below is all astir to meet you at your coming; it rouses the spirits of the departed to greet you— all those who were leaders in the world; it makes them rise from their thrones— all those who were kings over the nations. They will all respond, they will say to you, “You also have become weak, as we are; you have become like us.” Isaiah 14:9-10 NIV

Near the end of the Old Testament, God declared that there will be a resurrection of the dead. Sheol will devour no longer; instead, God will swallow up Death. The faithful will be rewarded with everlasting life while the rest will experience eternal contempt. This theology developed further before the New Testament era began.

“But your dead will live, LORD; their bodies will rise— let those who dwell in the dust wake up and shout for joy— your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead.” Isaiah 26:19 NIV

“Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.” Daniel 12:2 NIV


Originally published February 21, 2019.