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We will swallow them alive, just as Sheol does,
and whole, just as those who go down into the pit. Bible

“Sheol.” In this verse, the Hebrew word Sheol is transliterated directly into English. Sheol is most accurately, “the state of being dead.” Although sometimes the “grave” is an acceptable translation of Sheol, the Hebrew has a specific word for the physical grave, qeber (#06913קֶבֶר). The fact that Sheol has no accurate English equivalent word, we chose to transliterate Sheol so the English reader could see when it was used.

Translating the Hebrew word “Sheol” as “hell” or “Hades” is a mistake and causes confusion because according to tradition, the dead people in Hell and Hades are alive and suffering, while the Bible makes it clear that people in Sheol are dead—totally dead, with no part of them alive. The biblical truth is that when a person dies, they enter Sheol, the state of death, and are dead. Every person goes to Sheol, the state of being dead, when they die (cp. Gen. 3:19; Ps. 90:3; Ecc. 3:20).

Here in Proverbs 1:12, Sheol is personified as having a mouth with which it “swallows” its victims into the earth (cp. Num. 16:30-34; 26:10; Deut. 11:6).

[For more information on Sheol, and the Greek word hadēs that was used by the Septuagint translators as the Greek translation of Sheol, see commentary on Rev. 20:13, “the grave.” For more on the fact that when a person dies he is dead in every way and form, including his “soul” and “spirit,” see Appendix 4, “The Dead Are Dead”].


Commentary for: Proverbs 1:12