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A Hebrew word (š e'ôl ) that occurs more than 60 times in the Old Testament to signify the nether world. Its etymology is very uncertain, being variously derived from šāal, "ask, inquire," [thus, a place that keeps asking for more (Prv 27.20; 30.1516) or a place of interrogation of the dead], from šāâl, "be hollow, deep," from šwl, "be low," from šāâ, "be desolate," plus an archaic suffix l, or from various Akkadian roots.

In the Bible it designates the place of complete inertia that one goes down to when one dies whether one be just or wicked, rich or poor.

See Also: afterlife, 2; gehenna; abraham's bosom.

Bibliography: Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Bible, translated and adapted by l. hartman (New York, 1963) 2196.

[h kÖster]

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