Sheol/Hades was a place where the disembodied spirits (rephaim) went before the cross and resurrection of Yeshua. One part was called “Abraham’s Bosom” where believers went, and the other compartment was called “Torments” where unbelievers went. There was a great “chasm” or “abyss” between the two places (Luke 16.26).
When the Day of Judgment comes, Sheol/Hades will be emptied and the inhabitants (all unbelievers now) will stand before God (Rev 20.13-15). Sheol/Hades is a temporary, intermediate state between death and the second resurrection, where the wicked go for now. Sheol/Hades is without Paradise/Abraham’s Bosom now because when Yeshua resurrected he brought all the believers there with him to Heaven. All who remain there now are unbelievers and Sheol/Hades will be emptied into the Lake of Fire at the second resurrection and judgment (Rev 20.14-15) .
Let’s look into this further. Paradise is another name for Abraham’s Bosom and Paradise was in Sheol/Hades (Luke 16.19-31). Yeshua descended into Sheol/Hades, into Paradise (Luke 23.43; Eph 4.7-10; Psa 68.17-18). All those who died in faith before Yeshua’s resurrection went there “on credit” so to speak. It was the Lord’s “lay away” plan and this is how that worked. Yeshua’s death and resurrection was planned and decided on before the world was (1 Pet 1.20; Rev 13.8).
Rom 3.25-26 tells the story. It was decided on what Yeshua would do and what the Father would do. When God placed in front of himself the cross of Messiah, or the “Kipporet” or mercy seat (hilasterion in Greek, where “hilarious” comes from) he was satisfied, with joy bursting forth. This demonstrated his righteousness in passing over the sins previously committed (Acts 14.16; 17.30). What does that mean? Sin demanded death (Gen 2.17) but the Lord had confidence in (faith) in Yeshua that he would finish the work of the cross.
So, he “passed over” the sins demanding the death penalty for the ones that were chosen “in him” since the foundation of the world (Eph 1.4). Satan accused the Lord of lying and having no integrity because he said those people would die and be lost because they sinned, but they weren’t. The Lord put them in Abraham’s Bosom when they died, to await the finished work of Yeshua on the cross. Yeshua was resurrected, validating the fact that he was the Messiah, and the blood is “proof” that the Lord was righteous all along in “letting death pass over” the elect. This silenced Satan’s accusations against God and the believer for all time.
Yeshua is the “kipporet” or mercy seat before God and God looks through that on our behalf. Now, when Yeshua came and took those believers to Heaven, he gave spiritual gifts due to his victory (Eph 4.8-14). On the festival of First Fruits, Yeshua was resurrected from the dead and he ascends from Paradise (Eph 4.8-10) with everyone that was waiting in Abrahams Bosom. He enters Heaven with all of them, briefly stopping first to talk to Mary (John 20.11-18). Paradise is now in Heaven (2 Cor 12.2-4).
Now, let’s look at a place called “Gehenna” as seen in Matt 5.22,29,30; 10.28; 18.9; 23.15,33; Mark 9.43; Luke 12.5; James 3.6). It is a transliteration of the Hebrew “gey Hinnom” or “valley of Hinnom” (Josh 15.8; 18.16; Neh 11.30). This valley was on the west side of Jerusalem and it wound around to the south of the city. It was a place of human sacrifices (2 Kings 23.10; 2 Chr 28.3; 33.6) and idolatry. It was considered an unclean place and hated by pious Jews.
In the first century, it was so hated that that it became the city “dump” with fires burning all the time. Yeshua spoke of it 11 times, using well known rabbinical language like “unquenchable fire” and “where the worms dies not” and so on. It symbolized “hell” and the “Lake of Fire” with descriptions given like a “place of torment “(Matt 23.33); “hell of fire” (Matt 5.22); a place of conscious torment (Mark 9.42-48; Isa 66.24), where the body and spirit are punished (Matt 10.28; Isa 66.24). Obviously, this is not a place of annihilation. Gehenna is the same place as the Lake of Fire.
Now, Isa 66.23-24 describes things after Yeshua returns. Isa 66.24 says “Then they will go forth and look upon the corpses of the men (mankind) who have transgressed before me. For their worm shall not die and their fire shall not be quenched; and they shall be an abhorrence to all mankind.” It is the same place as described in Rev 22.15. Gey Hinnom, or the valley of Hinnom, was where unbelieving, idolatrous Jews were buried. They were thrown on this pile of “garbage” at one point. This is a “picture” of the judgment that will fall on the people (the “goats” of Matt 25) who will not believe in Yeshua (Rev 19.21; Ezek 32.2,17-34; Rev 14.14-16; Isa 14.9-22; Matt 25.31; Isa 24.21-24; Joel 3.9-10; Luke 19.27; Matt 24.29-31; Jer 7.27-34; Luke 17.33-37).
This area is at the base of the letter “shin” that is on Jerusalem (the Hebrew letter that symbolizes the name of God -Deut 12.11; 2 Chr 6.6), where the three valleys of Hinnom, Tyropoeon and Kidron meet (see the article on “the Shin” this site). This area is also called “the Tophet” (see the article “the Tophet” this site). This area was associated with Ba’al and Molech worship (Jer 32.35) and considered unclean.
When Judas died, a field was bought with the thirty pieces of silver and they called it “Akeldama” which means “field of blood” (Acts 1.18–19) and this was located in Gehenna, south of the city. Recent archeological digs have also found the burial tomb of the High Priest Caiaphas and his family. This area was seen as the most cursed place on earth, and that is where Caiaphas was. This area called Gehenna is also the setting for the story of Lazarus and the Rich man. Gehenna is synonymous with Hell and the Lake of Fire. Nobody is there yet, it is awaiting the results of the Great White Throne judgment of Rev 20.11-15, and when you read those verses, notice that death (where the body was) and Sheol/Hades (where the spirit was) are both “thrown into the Lake of Fire” or Gehenna (Matt 10.28).
In conclusion, there are several other words to know. Tartarus is translated as “hell” in 2 Pet 2.4. This is separate from Sheol/Hades and seems to be a place for fallen angels. No people are there. Another word is “abyss” or “bottomless pit” as seen in Rev 9-1-11, 11.7 and 17.8. Satan will be chained there (Rev 20.1). “Legion” in Luke 8.30-31 did not want to be sent there. This may also be the “chasm” in the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Luke 16.26).