The Bible is the word of God to humanity, but not all Bibles are the same. Today in the 21 century there are hundreds of different versions in English alone with more than 2000 translations into different languages. Each of these translations and versions may put a slightly different spin on how the text comes across to the reader. They may use a word that does not convey the full scope of an original word used. ‘Lost in translation’ can be a good descriptor as each person reading the text may understand it differently than someone else or even differently than from the last time they read it. When a question about accuracy comes up it is prudent to go back to the original language used and try to determine what the intended meaning should be. Choosing the precise Hebrew word in the Old Testament makes the context easier to discern than the Greek used in the New Testament. The New Testament was spoken in Aramaic but written in the prevailing Greek language of the day. The Greek language was developed within the pagan Greek society and those pagan beliefs are reflected in the words used within the Bible. The authors of the New Testament had Jewish understandings and beliefs. When translating the spoken Aramaic into Greek, they used Greek words that best convey the spoken Aramaic intent. All the pagan beliefs associated with the words used, do not apply to the message they intended to convey. An example of this incongruity would be the use of the English word hell. Limited by their English vocabulary, the King James Bible translates four Hebrew and Greek words, each with different meanings, into the one English word hell. Sheol is the Hebrew word meaning the place, or state of death. Sheol was a place of darkness where all the dead went. During the period of the second temple 500 B.C. to 70 A.D, beliefs about Sheol changed to become the place of torture for the wicked, while paradise became the home of blessings for the righteous dead. They were believed to stay separated until the final judgement. Gehenna is the Greek word for the Valley of Hinnom. Located just outside Jerusalem, this steep, short glen was used by the evil Kings of Israel to practice human sacrifices to the pagan god of Molech. Ahaz even sacrificed his own sons there. King Josiah stopped this practice by destroying the pagan altars and desecrating the valley by turning it into a garbage dump. There, excrement, dead carcasses and rubbish would be eaten by ever present worms and maggots with putrid fires burning continually. Gehenna is used 12 times in the New Testament.  Putting them into context, Gehenna is used to describe this vile garbage dump, an unclean place of death. Using Gehenna as a metaphor his audience would understand, Jesus urged people not to sin. What do you think Jesus was telling those people? What do his words mean to you? Why would the Jewish beliefs about Sheol change during the period of the second temple? Does this history affect you?

Matthew 5:30 Living Bible
30 And if your hand—even your right hand—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. Better that than find yourself in hell.

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