Sites - Jerusalem: Valley of Hinnom Tombs in the Valleys of Jerusalem
Valley of Hinnom in Wikipedia
Gehenna (Greek γέεννα), Gehinnom (Rabbinical Hebrew: גהנום, גהנם,) and Yiddish Gehinnam, are terms derived
from a place outside ancient Jerusalem known in the Hebrew Bible as the Valley of the Son of Hinnom (Hebrew
גֵי בֶן־הִנֹּם); one of the two principal valleys surrounding the Old City.
In the Hebrew Bible, the site was initially where apostate Israelites and followers of various Ba'als and
false gods, including Moloch, sacrificed their children by fire (2 Chr. 28:3 , 33:6 ; Jer. 7:31 , 19:2-6 .
In both Rabbinical Jewish and early Christian writing, Gehenna as a destination of the wicked is different
from the more neutral Sheol/Hades, the abode of the dead, though English Bibles traditionally translate both
with the Anglo-Saxon concept Hell.
English "Gehenna" represents the Greek Geenna (γεεννα) found in the New Testament, a phonetic transcription
of Aramaic Gēhannā (ܓܗܢܐ), equivalent to the Hebrew Ge Hinnom, literally "Valley of Hinnom". This was known
in the Old Testament as Gai Ben-Hinnom, literally the "Valley of the son of Hinnom", and in the Talmud as
Gehinnam (גהנם) or Gehinnom (גהנום). In the Qur'an, Jahannam (جهنم) is a place of torment for sinners or the
Islamic equivalent of Hell.
The exact location of the Valley of Hinnom is disputed. Older commentaries give the location as below the
southern wall of ancient Jerusalem, stretching from the foot of Mount Zion eastward past the Tyropoeon to
the Kidron Valley. However the Tyropoeon Valley is usually no longer associated with the Valley of Hinnom
because during the period of Ahaz and Manasseh, the Tyropoeon lay within the city walls and child sacrifice
would have been practiced outside the walls of the city. Smith (1907), Dalman (1930), Bailey (1986)
and Watson (1992) identify the Wadi er-Rababi, which fits the data of Joshua that Hinnom ran East to West
and lay outside the city walls. According to Joshua, the valley began in En-rogel. If the modern Bir Ayyub
is En-rogel then the Wadi er-Rababi which begins there is Hinnom.
In the King James Version of the Bible, the term appears 13 times in 11 different verses as "valley of
Hinnom," "valley of the son of Hinnom" or "valley of the children of Hinnom."
The concept of Gehenna --
In the Hebrew Bible --
The oldest historical reference to the valley is found in Joshua 15:8 , 18:16 which describe tribal
The next chronological reference to the valley is at the time of King Ahaz of Judah who sacrificed his sons
there according to 2 Chron. 28:3 . Since his legitimate son by the daughter of the High Priest Hezekiah
succeeded him as king, this, if literal, is assumed to mean children by unrecorded pagan wives or
concubines. The same is recorded of Ahaz' grandson Manasseh in 33:6 . There remains debate about whether the
phrase "cause his children to pass through the fire" meant a simple ceremony or the literal child sacrifice.
The Book of Isaiah does not mention Gehenna by name, but the "burning place" 30:33 in which the Assyrian
army are to be destroyed, may be read "Topheth", and the final verse of Isaiah which concerns the corpses of
the same or a similar battle, Isaiah 66:24 , "where their worm does not die" is cited by Jesus in reference
to Gehenna in Mark 9:48 .
In the reign of Josiah a call came from Jeremiah to destroy the shrines in Topheth and to end the practice
Jeremiah 7:31-32 , 32:35 . It is recorded that King Josiah destroyed the shrine of Molech on Topheth, to
prevent anyone sacrificing children there in 2 Kings 23:10 . Despite Josaiah's ending of the practice,
Jeremiah also included a prophecy that Jerusalem itself would be made like Gehenna and Topheth (19:2-6 , 11-
A final purely geographical reference is found in Neh. 11:30 to the exiles returning from Babylon camping
from Beersheba to Hinnom.
In extra-Biblical Documents
There is a lack of direct references to Gehenna in the Apocrypha, Dead Sea Scrolls, Pseudepigrapha and
Josephus does not deal with this aspect of the history of the Hinnom Valley in his descriptions of Jerusalem
for a Roman audience. Nor does Josephus make any mention of the tradition commonly reported in older
Christian commentaries that in Roman times fires were kept burning and the valley became the garbage dump of
the city, where the dead bodies of criminals, and the carcasses of animals were thrown. Source references
for this tradition seem to be lacking.
The southwestern gate of Jerusalem, overlooking the valley, came to be known as "The Gate of the Valley"
(Hebrew: שער הגיא)...