JESUS DIDN’T USE THE WORD “HELL.” That’s an English word invented to help convey a Jewish idea about punishment for sin.
When we read in our English Bibles about Jesus saying “Hell,” he’s usually talking about a valley on the south side of Jerusalem. Gehenna Valley. The word is literally Gehenna, Aramaic for “Valley of Hinnom,”
Jews associated that valley with God’s punishment. It was, for a time, the constantly smoldering city dump.
But in Old Testament times, some Jews sacrificed to idols there. King Manasseh (reigned 696-642 BC), Hezekiah’s son, “sacrificed his own sons in the fire in Hinnom Valley” (2 Chronicles 33:6).
Later, in 586 BC, Babylonian invaders from what is now Iraq arrived. They leveled the Jewish cities including Jerusalem and erased the Jewish nation from the world map. Some Jews considered that as God’s judgment on their nation’s lingering idolatry.
For the Jews, Hinnom Valley became a synonym for God’s judgment, much like 9/11, for Americans, refers to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the twin towers in New York City.
English Bible translators created the word “hell” to express the idea that “Gehenna” means more than a valley, but that it points to God’s judgment.
Frankly, I struggled over how to paraphrase the word for the Casual English Bible.
What I opted to do is avoid the word “hell” because of all the imaginative and sometimes distorted teaching about it. And I add a footnote to try to explain what’s going on.
See what you think about the three approaches to Matthew 5:22.
“Hell” in New American Standard Bible
“Whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.”
“Hell” in New Living Translation
“If you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.”
“Judgment” in Casual English Bible
“Anyone who addresses someone as ‘You fool!’ is going to get burned when it’s time to pass judgment.“
What do you think?