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The Scriptural. Argument.
Under this division we propose to state succinctly the scriptural doctrine, referring, as we proceed, to the erroneous positions and statements of the author.
I. On the usage of certain terms.
Various terms employed by the writers of the Old Testament in a lower and mostly physical sense, are, as is well known, transferred by the writers of the New Testament to a higher sense. Of these, such words as Paradise, Zion, Gehenna, are familiar examples. Even in the Old Testament, the term Zion is elevated by the prophets from its original geographical use to a high spiritual meaning ; while, in the New Testament, Mount Zion becomes a symbol for the church universal. In all such cases to insist upon the original lower meaning against the obvious higher application, would bo absurd. Because, for example, the original Zion was nothing but"a hill in Jerusalem, this does not prove that the Mount Zion of the New Testament is a hill in any sense. It must be what the attributes ascribed to it make it. By the aid of this simple principle let us examine a few of these terms.
1. Gehenna.1 This is the Hebrew n'sri is, valley of Hinnom, or more fully, nan "jS i», valley of the son of Hinnom, lying south of Jerusalem, and infamous for the human sacrifices there offered to Moloch. Josiah defiled this place, probably with human bones; and, according to the common view, it became thenceforward the receptacle of all manner of filth, in which worms revelled, and to consume which a fire was kept constantly burning. Thusit is supposed that it came to be used as an image of the place of future punishment. This representation is not altogether certain. To
1 In the Greek yccvva, always rendered in our version hell, and thus confounded with adi?!', which is (with a single exception, 1 Cor. 15: 55) rendered liy the same word. The aJi/c of the New Testament answers to the Vrss-i of the Old.
us it seems more probable that, as Vitringa suggests,' this usage comes from two passages in Isaiah (30: 33. 66: 24), both of which the Jewish interpreters referred to the punishment of the wicked in the world to come, and which must plainly be taken in a higher than the literal sense. In the former of these : "For Tophet" (i"wsri, which they rightly understand to be the same as r?h in the valley of Hinnom) "is prepared of old;2 also for the king is it made ready; he hath made it deep and broad; its pile is fire and wood in abundance; the breath of Jehovah, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it," they understood the prophet as representing, in the words of Jarchi," Gehenna, into which every one who deceives himself by his lust falls."8 In the latter passage : " And they shall go forth," that is, the men who have come to Jerusalem to worship (ver. 23), "and look upon the carcasses of the men who have transgressed against me; for their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched; and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh," they understand, in like manner, the fire and the worm as representing the punishment of the wicked in the world to come. For the very reason that the fire and the worm are symbolic, not literal, both can exist together; and, for the same reason, both can prey upon their victims without end. It would be the merest trifling to say that because, in the case of a literal carcass, fire and worms do not torment, but destroy, therefore the symbolical fire and worm of hell are instruments, not of pain, but of annihilation.4 Rather must we reverently inquire what God has revealed on this awful subject.
As to the Jewish doctors, they do not all hold the same
1 Com. on Isa. 66: 24.
- Literally, from yesterday (V?Kfi!Os nsed here, as elsewhere, of past time Indefinitely). Hence the Rabbinic conceit that the fire of Gehenna was created on the second day of creation, which had only a yesterday before it. This is a fair sample of the unspeakable puerility of their interpretations of Scripture.
4 The Rabbinic idea is altogether different. "R. Isaac said: The worm is as painful to the dead man as a needle to live flesh." Quoted by Wctstein on Mark 9: 44, 46, 48.
opinion concerning the punishment of the wicked in Ge■ henna. Some teach that the punishment of hell is inflicted upon the souls of the wicked in their separate state,1 and such seem to restrict the resurrection of the body to the righteous.2 With this agree the statements of Josephus respecting the doctrine of the Pharisees : "They also believe that souls have an immortal vigor; and that beneath the ground there are rewards and punishments to those who have practised virtue or wickedness in life; and that to those of one class an eternal prison is appointed, but to those of the other class the privilege3 of living again." 4 And again: "that every soul indeed is incorruptible, but that the soul of the good alone passes into another body, while that of the wicked is punished with eternal penalty." s
Another opinion is that the resurrection will include all men.s These are divided, at the day of judgment, into three companies (nvo) — the wholly righteous (f^tmi cp-nx), die iwholly wicked (pTos Brow-fl, and the middle (n^wn). "The wholly righteous are enrolled and sealed immediately for eternal life. The wholly wicked are enrolled and sealed immediately for Gehenna, according to that declaration: 'Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.'7 But the middle class shall descend into Gehenna wailing, and shall ascend [thence], as it is said : 'And I will bring the third part of thein through the
1 See in Meier's Annotations to the Seder Olara the statement of Abarbanel. pp. 1108, 1109.
2 But here also there arc conflicting statements. See below. 8 fooTuvrjv, which may be also rendered relief.
4 Antiq. 15. XVIII. Chap. 1. 3.
5 Jewish War, B. II. Chap. 8. 14. The doctrine of the Essenes also was. according to Josephus, that souls, being immortal, endure forever, though they connected it with false Gnostic ideas. Jewish War, as above, Clinp. 8. 11. The authority of Josephus on the main question, that of the immortality of souls and eternal rewards nnd punishments as held by the Pharisees, is unimpeachable. Our author lias been able to allege nothing valid against it.
8 Found in the Talmud, Rosh hashshana. In the Sedar Olam, Chap. III., is a similar account 'Dan. 12: 2.
fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried ; they shall call on my name, and I will hear them.'"1 Other quotations are added, which it is not necessary to repeat here. Returning to the wholly wicked, the account distributes them again, not formally but really, into two classes. The former, containing " the transgressors of Israel," and " the transgressors of the Gentiles," descend into Gehenna, and are punished in it twelve months; but "after twelve months their body perishes (^"a), and their soul is burned (nB-raa),8 and the wind scatters them under the soles of the feet of the righteous, as it is said : ' And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet.'"8 The remaining class of sinners, of whom an enumeration is given including heretics, traitors, Epicureans, deniers of the law, etc., and ending with "Jeroboam the son of Nebat and his companions," "descend into Gehenna and are punished in it forever and ever,4 as it is said: 'And they shall go forth and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me; for their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched ; and they shall be an abhorrence unto all flesh.'" 5
1 Zccli. 13: 9. This the Gcmara tells us is the doctrine of the school of Shammai respecting the middle class. But the school of Hillel teaches that God, who al-.vays inclines to mercy, releases them from the penalty of descending into Gehenna.
2 In the Seder 01am occurs this variation: "After twelve months, as to the transgressors of Israel who have transgressed the law and the commandments, their soul shall decay (riVn), and their body shall perish (n'is), and they shall be reduced to ashes. And Gehenna shall cast them out, and the wind shall scatter them," etc.
* Mai. 4: 3. Their purification seems to last twelve months. Sec below.
* In the Seder 01am: "Gehenna shall be shut up before them, and they shall be punished in the midst of it forever and ever," etc.
* There is, however, still another view, viz. that at the resurrection "the wicked, after they have appeared in shame and abomination and contempt before all the living" (in allusion to Dan. 12: 2), "shall return to death'' (that is, as it respects their bodies), ''but their spirit and soul shall return to Gehenna, in which it was before." Aharbanel on the opinions of the Jewish Iinbbies, as quoted by Meier, Annotations to the Seder 01am, p. 1108. This he gives as the opinion of Maimonides, but ho adds: "Or their opinion may have been that the wicked will not rise in the judgment, nor return to life, but will always remain in Gehenna in the future time also."
The fiction of a twelve months' punishment the Jews derive from a fanciful interpretation of Isa. 66: 23, on which they have long disquisitions. They did not, however, rest it wholly on exegetical grounds, as will be manifest from the following extract, which we copy from Meier's Annotations to the Seder Olam, referring apparently to the purification of the middle class: "This punishment, whether it pertain to the body alone, or to the soul with the body, or to the soul alone, differs according to each one's state and condition. For it cannot be that he in whom are partly good qualities and partly evil, should be eternally tortured with those extreme torments which have been mentioned; for, after the lapse of a certain time, that punishment will cease; namely, when that habit of sinning shall have been wholly wiped away and abolished by a perpetual oblivion, which according to our doctors of blessed memory, will be the time of twelve months."1 We beg the reader to notice here, first, that the writer bases his argument on the assumed unreasonableness of endless punishment for any but the worst sinners. "It cannot be," etc.; secondly, that he and all the other Jewish writers understand by eternal punishment, not annihilation, but eternal misery. Of those who, according io the above figment, are reduced to ashes at the end of twelve months and scattered by the wind, it is expressly said they are " punished twelve months." It may be Well to remember this, since the author under review, who frequently quotes the opinions of the Jewish doctors, endeavors to maintain that by eternal punishment we may understand the eternal loss of life by annihilation. In this the Jewish usage is as directly against him, as are the principles of sound exegesis.2
Our readers are, we trust, convinced by this time, that on this momentous subject the Jewish schools have each its
1 Annotations, p. 290.
2 In the Talmud (Sanhedrim, Chap. 11) is an enumeration of those who hare no portion in the world to come (s:r; C;"sV pVn DnV Vx~)- These are plainly all who are excluded from the Paradise of the righteous, whatever mny be their particular destiny, a point on which, as we have seen, the Jewish doctors are not agreed.