1. (a) Who did Paul say to Governor Felix would come forth in a resurrection? (b) How can we make sure whether such kinds of persons are in line for resurrection?
ONCE the Christian apostle Paul spoke in court before the Roman Governor Felix, who did not believe in the Bible and its teaching of a resurrection. Paul said: “I am rendering sacred service to the God of my forefathers, as I believe all the things set forth in the Law and written in the Prophets; and I have hope toward God, which hope these men themselves also entertain, that there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Acts 24:14, 15) Well, then, does the Bible teach that there are unrighteous persons in Sheol or Haʹdes, which place will be emptied of all its dead by God’s kingdom? We can make sure of the answer to this question. How? By learning who else are in Sheol (Haʹdes) and what the Bible has to say about their morality and their position during their past earthly life.
UNRIGHTEOUS PERSONS ALSO IN SHEOL (HAʹDES)
2. How, in the book of Numbers, does Moses use the word Sheol in calling down judgment upon three rebels and their households?
2 The Hebrew word Sheol (Greek LXX, Haʹdes) occurs four times in the first book of the Bible, called Genesis and written by the prophet Moses. The next occurrences of Sheol are in the fourth book of the Bible, called Numbers, also written by Moses. Twice the word is there used, in connection with the households of the Israelites Korah, Dathan and Abiram. Those three men became rebellious against Jehovah, and so he used his prophet Moses to call down his judgment upon them. First the other Israelites were told to get away from the tabernacles of those three rebels and their households. Then Moses showed that the judgment would be from God by saying: “If it is something created that Jehovah will create, and the ground has to open its mouth and swallow up them and everything that belongs to them and they have to go down alive into Sheol [Haʹdes], you will then know for certain that these men have treated Jehovah disrespectfully.”—Num. 16:20-30.
3. So what punishment did Moses ask to come upon those condemned ones, and where did they go at their execution?
3 Notice that the prophet Moses did not pray or ask for those three family groups to go down into everlasting destruction. He did not call for the worst punishment possible to be executed upon them. He asked for the ground beneath them to open up and swallow them down alive and bury them out of sight, that in this way they might go down “into Sheol.” Did they go to Sheol (Haʹdes), or to a worse place? The very next verses (Num. 16:31-33) tell us, saying: “And it came about that as soon as he had finished speaking all these words, the ground that was under them began to be split apart. And the earth proceeded to open its mouth and to swallow up them and their households and all humankind that belonged to Korah and all the goods. So down they went, and all who belonged to them, alive into Sheol [Haʹdes, LXX], and the earth went covering them over, so that they perished from the midst of the congregation.”
4, 5. (a) How was Korah himself executed at that time? (b) Who of those households were spared, and why?
4 Apparently the leading man Korah was not with those who went down alive in this manner into Sheol. He was a Levite and evidently was in the courtyard of the tabernacle of worship among the two hundred and fifty Levites who sided with Korah against Moses and Aaron. “And a fire came out from Jehovah and proceeded to consume the two hundred and fifty men offering the incense.”—Num. 16:35.
5 Thus by the miraculous splitting of the ground and by miraculous fire those three rebels and their households were cleared out from the congregation of Israel at about the same time. Sheol or Haʹdes holds them. The sons of Korah did not side in with their father and hence were not burned up. As Numbers 26:9-11 tells us: “However, the sons of Korah did not die.” In support of this, see also the superscriptions of Psalms 42-49, 84, 85, 87, 88.
6. According to Deuteronomy 32:22, how far-reaching is the expression of God’s anger, and how does Amos 9:2 agree with this?
6 In the Bible’s fifth book, called Deuteronomy, Moses used the word Sheol. In his farewell song to the congregation of Israel, Moses warned them about how thoroughly God would express his fiery anger against those who incite him to jealousy by their false worship. In giving this warning Jehovah God says through Moses: “A fire has been ignited in my anger and it will burn down to Sheol, the lowest place, and it will consume the earth and its produce and will set ablaze the foundations of mountains.” (Deut. 32:22) In pictorial language this warns us that Jehovah’s fiery anger goes down to the very roots of things. It is so thorough in its execution that if people try to dig as far down into the earth as Sheol in an attempt to escape, they will be overtaken by Jehovah’s searching anger. The reach of his ability to execute destructive judgment goes as far as earthly man can go. (Amos 9:2) Jerusalem was a city built upon a mountaintop, but God’s expression of anger reached her and caused her destruction.
7. Against whom were Korah, Dathan and Abiram directly speaking, and so why would it have otherwise gone far worse for their rebellion?
7 In the above-mentioned cases of the Israelites Korah, Dathan and Abiram, we must remember that they were rebelling and speaking against typical or prophetic figures. Both Moses as prophet and his brother Aaron as high priest were types of Jesus Christ in similar offices. (Deut. 18:15-19; Acts 3:20-23; Heb. 3:1, 2; 5:4-6; 9:23-26) When Jesus was on earth and was being spoken against he said: “Whoever speaks a word against the Son of man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the holy spirit, it will not be forgiven him, no, not in the present system of things nor in that to come.” (Matt. 12:32) Korah, Dathan and Abiram were speaking against the two men, Moses and Aaron, who were types or prophetic figures of the Son of man, Jesus Christ. Had that not been so, it might have gone far worse with them than merely to descend with their households into Sheol or Haʹdes.
8. How did King David use language like that of Moses when speaking to Solomon concerning the Benjaminite Shimei?
8 Another man who used language like that of the prophet Moses was David, the first Jewish king of Jerusalem. He also was a type or prophetic figure of Jesus Christ, who was born into David’s own royal family. When David gave final instructions to his son Solomon to whom he had abdicated the throne of Jerusalem, David said: “Here there is with you Shimei the son of Gera the Benjaminite from Bahurim, and he it was that called down evil upon me with a painful malediction on the day that I was going to Mahanaim; and he it was that came down to meet me at the Jordan, so that I swore to him by Jehovah, saying, ‘I shall not put you to death by the sword.’ And now do not leave him unpunished, for you are a wise man and you well know what you ought to do to him, and you must bring his gray hairs down to Sheol with blood.” In due time Solomon carried out his father’s orders.—1 Ki 2:8, 9, 42-46.
9. How was this true also with regard to David’s former army general Joab?
9 Concerning his former army general named Joab, the aged David said to Solomon as his successor: “You yourself also well know what Joab the son of Zeruiah did to me in what he did to two chiefs of the armies of Israel, to Abner the son of Ner and Amasa the son of Jether, when he killed them and placed the blood of war in peacetime and put the blood of war on his belt that was about his hips and in his sandals that were on his feet. And you must act according to your wisdom, and not let his gray hairs go down in peace to Sheol.” In due time, in the interest of the peace and unity of the kingdom, Solomon found it necessary to send his army officer Benaiah to execute Joab, who tried to take sanctuary at Jehovah’s altar. “Then Benaiah the son of Jehoiada went on up and fell upon him and put him to death; and he got to be buried at his own house in the wilderness.” (1 Ki. 2:5, 6, 28-34) Thus Joab’s gray hair did not go down in peace to Sheol.—Contrast Genesis 42:38.
10. Did David understand his use of terms in the case of Sheol, and to what, therefore, did he ask Solomon to bring Joab and Shimei down?
10 When giving such instructions to his son Solomon concerning Joab and Shimei, King David knew what he was talking about. He understood the meaning of the language that he was using. He knew what Sheol meant. In eleven of his psalms David, under inspiration, used the word Sheol and used it in a correct way.a He foretold, in Psalm 16:10, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from Sheol. This resurrection of Jesus laid the basis for all others in Sheol to be resurrected during the rule of God’s kingdom by his Messiah Jesus the descendant of David. So, in ordering Solomon to bring down Joab and Shimei violently to Sheol, David knew that he was not asking Solomon to bring down these disobedient men to everlasting destruction without hope of any future existence.
11. In Psalm 31:17, 18 David asked for the wicked to be silenced where, and why was that the correct location?
11 David’s psalms and those of other Israelites are in harmony with David’s orders to Solomon as to the place to which to bring down men like Shimei and Joab. In Psalm 31:17, 18 David appeals to God and says: “O Jehovah, may I not be ashamed, for I have called on you. May the wicked ones be ashamed; may they [the wicked] keep silent [where?] in Sheol. May false lips become speechless, that are speaking against the righteous one, unrestrainedly in haughtiness and contempt.” In reading the prayer of David let us remember that it was written under inspiration by God’s spirit and that the right terms and locations are used.
12. In Psalm 9:17-20, what appeal to God does David make against nations leaving Him out of account?
12 In Psalm 9:17-20 the inspired David makes this appeal to God against the nations that leave God out of account and that therefore march to the attack upon David and his people: “Wicked people will turn back to Sheol, even all the nations forgetting God. For not always will the poor one be forgotten, nor will the hope of the meek ones ever perish. Do arise, O Jehovah! Let not mortal man prove superior in strength. Let the nations be judged before your face. Do put fear into them, O Jehovah, that the nations may know that they are but mortal men.”
13. In Job 21:7-14, who did Job say descended down to Sheol?
13 It was not the delirious raving of a deathly sick man when Job said concerning the location of wicked people after death: “Why is it that the wicked themselves keep living, have grown old, also have become superior in wealth? . . . They spend their days in good times, and in a moment down to Sheol they descend. And they say to the true God, ‘Turn away from us! And in the knowledge of your ways we have found no delight.”’—Job 21:7-14.
14. What did Job 24:19, 20 say snatches away sinners?
14 To those words Job added these about sinners: “The drought, also the heat, snatch away the snow waters; so does Sheol those who have sinned! The womb will forget him, the maggot will sweetly suck him, he will be remembered no more. And unrighteousness will be broken just like a tree.”—Job 24:19, 20.
15, 16. (a) Do the lower animals go to Sheol or Haʹdes at death? (b) How is it that stupid men, though in honor, have been appointed to Sheol like sheep, but how is it different with the upright ones?
15 Do the lower animals, such as sheep, go to Sheol or Haʹdes? No; even though their carcasses may have been buried along with human corpses or though images of animals may have been put in the sepulchers of believers in the immortality of animal souls as well as of human souls. However, just as helpless sheep are slaughtered in great numbers, so persons of all stations, high and low, rich and poor, have been slaughtered or killed in great numbers and thus been brought down to the common grave of humans who are dead in the dust of the ground. (Ps. 44:22; Rom. 8:36) The Levite sons of Korah sang of this fact, in Psalm 49:12-15:
16 “And yet earthling man, though in honor, cannot keep lodging; he is indeed comparable with the beasts that have been destroyed. This is the way of those who have stupidity, and of those coming after them who take pleasure in their very mouthings. Like sheep they have been appointed to Sheol itself; death itself will shepherd them [as if they were slaughtered sheep, the flock of Death]; and the upright ones will have them in subjection in the morning [of the day of deliverance of the upright ones], and their forms are due to wear away; Sheol rather than a lofty abode is for each one. However, God himself will redeem my soul from the hand of Sheol, for he will receive me.”
17. How was the counsel of Ahithophel esteemed, but against whom did he turn traitor?
17 There was a man who was high in honor in the court of King David. That man was Ahithophel, the intimate adviser of David. “The counsel of Ahithophel, with which he counseled in those days, was just as when a man would inquire of the word of the true God. That was the way all the counsel of Ahithophel was both to David and to Absalom.” (2 Sam. 16:23) However, Ahithophel turned traitor to King David and joined in the revolt of his son Absalom.
18. (a) How did Ahithophel die, and with whom was he buried? (b) In Psalm 55:13-16, what punishment did David pray to befall the treacherous one?
18 In Absalom’s chamber of counselors God caused the wily counsel of Ahithophel to be frustrated. Hence, Ahithophel went off and committed suicide, hanging himself. “So he was buried in the burial place of his forefathers.” (2 Sam. 17:23) The treacherous person referred to by King David in Psalm Fifty-five is understood to be Ahithophel. Concerning the treacherous friend, David says under inspiration: “But it was you, a mortal man who was as my equal, one familiar to me and my acquaintance, because we used to enjoy sweet intimacy together; into the house of God we use to walk with the throng. Desolations be upon them! Let them go down into Sheol alive; for during their alien residence bad things have been within them. As for me, to God I shall call out; and Jehovah himself will save me.”—Ps. 55:13-16.
19. (a) In this connection, of whom was David a type? (b) Of whom was Ahithophel a prototype, and why is this latter one barred from a resurrection?
19 King David was a type or prophetic figure of his most eminent descendant, Jesus Christ, the Permanent Heir of the kingdom. So Ahithophel was a traitor, not to the Messiah or Christ himself, but to one who was merely a type of the Messiah. In harmony with this fact David’s prayer was that those like Ahithophel committing treachery against him should go down alive into Sheol, just as the household of Korah, Dathan and Abiram had done in Moses’ day. However, Ahithophel was a prototype of Judas Iscariot, who betrayed the real Christ to his enemies for thirty silver pieces of money. Hence, the crime of Judas Iscariot was far more serious than that of Ahithophel, and Jesus called Judas, not the son of Sheol, but “the son of destruction.”b Jesus also called him a “slanderer” or a “devil.” (John 17:12; 6:70, 71) The destruction of Judas bars any resurrection for him.
20. In harmony with Proverbs 5:5, 6 and Pr 7:27, why have many men gone down prematurely into Sheol or Haʹdes?
20 Even among the Israelites there were those who paid no attention to God’s law. So he let others bring them down to Sheol sooner than necessary. Among persons used as tools for bringing about a man’s premature descent into the common grave of dead mankind has been the harlot or prostitute. Concerning her Proverbs 5:5, 6 warns us in these words: “Her feet are descending to death. Her very steps take hold on Sheol itself. The path of life she does not contemplate.” Thus, if we follow her, we know where we shall end up—in death, in Sheol. So do not go to her house or district: “The ways to Sheol her house is; they are descending to the interior rooms of death.” (Prov. 7:27) For this reason many men have gone to Sheol or Haʹdes early because of their immorality.
21. According to Proverbs 9:13-18, men who stupidly yield to a prostitute are bringing themselves into company with whom?
21 We should not be as stupid as a prostitute by listening to her words enticing us to sexual uncleanness. “Whoever is in want of heart—she has also said to him: ‘Stolen waters themselves are sweet, and bread eaten in secrecy—it is pleasant.’ But he has not come to know that those impotent in death are there, that those called in by her are in the low places of Sheol.” (Prov. 9:13-18) The prostitute may be connected with a pagan temple of religion, but that does not alter matters. The false god worshiped in such a temple cannot save the worshiper from the disastrous results of a course of immorality, even when religiously performed.
22. The “path of life” turns away from what, especially as regards a prostitute?
22 The path of life leads in the direction opposite from where the harlot lives and carries on her business. “The path of life is upward to one acting with insight, in order to turn away from Sheol down below.” (Prov. 15:24) The way to the unlawful satisfaction of sexual passion and to the prostitute is the way to the realm of prematurely dead ones.
WHAT ABOUT THE HEATHEN?
23. After examining the cases mainly of persons like Job, Abraham and Abraham’s descendants, what questions arise about others?
23 In our Biblical examination of the matter up till now we have been looking mostly into the cases of persons who have been in relationship with Jehovah by a covenant with him or by the clean worship of him, such as Job, Abraham and Abraham’s descendants, the Israelites, Jews or Hebrews. But, now, what about the people whom Jews call Gentiles, pagans or heathens? After they die, where are they? Where does God’s written Word place them? Are they within God’s provision for a resurrection from Sheol?
24, 25. (a) As regards the idolatrous Egyptians, what attitude did Jehovah command his people to take toward them? (b) In Ezekiel 31:1-18, what did the prophet say to Egypt’s Pharaoh and his crowd?
24 The idolatrous Egyptians were heathens. For many years in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries before our Common Era they cruelly oppressed the Israelites. Yet God’s law through his prophet Moses said to the Israelites: “You must not detest an Egyptian, for you became an alien resident in his country. The sons that may be born to them as the third generation may come for themselves into the congregation of Jehovah.” (Deut. 23:7, 8) When likening Egypt’s king to an outstanding tree among other trees, Jehovah God said these words through his prophet Ezekiel in an address “to Pharaoh the king of Egypt and to his crowd”:
25 “This is what the Lord Jehovah has said, ‘On the day of its going down to Sheol I shall certainly cause a mourning. On its account I will cover the watery deep, . . . At the sound of its downfall I shall certainly cause nations to rock when I bring it down to Sheol with those going down into the pit, and in the land down below all the trees of Eden, the choicest and the best of Lebanon, all those drinking water, will be comforted. With him they themselves also have gone down to Sheol, to those slain by the sword, and those who as his seed have dwelt in his shadow in the midst of nations. . . . This is Pharaoh and all his crowd,’ is the utterance of the Lord Jehovah.”—Ezek. 31:1, 2, 15-18.
26-29. According to Ezekiel 32:18-31, who else are in Sheol besides Egypt’s Pharaoh and his crowd?,
26 However, Pharaoh the king of Egypt and his crowd are not the only Gentiles, heathens or pagans down below in Sheol or Haʹdes. Jehovah God, to whom Sheol or Haʹdes is naked and open, tells us of the many other Gentiles besides the dead Egyptians who are down there. In continuing his prophecy concerning ancient Egypt, Jehovah God says to his prophet Ezekiel:
27 “Son of man, lament over the crowd of Egypt and bring it down, her and the daughters of majestic nations, to the land down below, with those going down into the pit.” The ancient Egyptians practiced circumcision, but, to their chagrin, they were going to lie down in death with Gentiles that did not practice circumcision:
28 “‘The foremost men of the mighty ones will speak out of the midst of Sheol even to him, with his helpers. They will certainly go down; they must lie down as the uncircumcised, slain by the sword. There is where Assyria and all her congregation are. . . . There are Elam and all her crowd round about her grave, all of them slain ones, those falling by the sword, who have gone down uncircumcised to the land down below, those who have caused their terror in the land of those alive; and they will bear their humiliation with those going down into the pit. . . .
29 “‘There is where Meshech and Tubal and all her crowd are. Her burial places are round about him. . . . And will they not lie down with mighty ones, falling from among the uncircumcised, who have gone down [where?] to Sheol with their weapons of war? . . . There is where the dukes of the north are, all of them, and all the Sidonians, who have gone down with the slain ones, . . . These are the ones that Pharaoh will see, and he will certainly be comforted over all his crowd. Pharaoh and all his military force will be people slain by the sword,’ is the utterance of the Lord Jehovah.”—Ezek. 32:18-31.
30. (a) Are there other Gentiles in Sheol besides those named by Ezekiel, and where is this indicated? (b) How sensational did Isaiah say the destruction of Babylon’s line of kings was to be?
30 Notice that array of Gentile nations, whose dead people are in Sheol or Haʹdes, namely, Egypt, Assyria, Elam, Meshech, Tubal, Edom and Sidon. But that the dead of still other Gentile nations are there is indicated for us in the words addressed to the king of Babylon by Jehovah’s prophet Isaiah. He foretold the destruction of the family line of kings of Babylon who held the Jews as exiles for over seventy years. This destruction is spoken of as being so sensational as to cause even the dead in the common grave of mankind to get excited. It is so sensational as to wake them out of their death sleep and make them talk in amazement.
31. To what did Isaiah, chapter fourteen, liken the “king of Babylon”?
31 Jehovah’s prophet Isaiah likens the “king of Babylon” to a majestic tree against which no woodchopper had even been able to get but which is at last cut down. To this line of Babylonian kings the prophet Isaiah says:
32, 33. (a) What was to be agitated at the king’s coming, and who therein were to speak to him? (b) In what dishonorable state was the “king of Babylon” to be brought down to Sheol?
32 “Even Sheol underneath has become agitated at you in order to meet you on coming in. At you it has awakened those impotent in death, all the goatlike leaders of the earth. It has made all the kings of the nations get up from their thrones [with which they had been buried]. All of them speak up and say to you, ‘Have you yourself also been made weak like us? Is it to us that you have been made comparable? Down to Sheol your pride has been brought, the din of your stringed instruments. Beneath you, maggots are spread out as a couch; and worms are your covering.’
33 “O how you have fallen from heaven, you shining one, son of the dawn! How you have been cut down to the earth, you who were disabling the nations! . . . down to Sheol you will be brought, to the remotest parts of the pit. . . . All other kings of the nations, yes, all of them, have lain down in glory, each one in his own house. But as for you, you have been thrown away without a burial place for you, like a detested sprout, clothed with killed men stabbed with the sword that are going down to the stones of a pit, like a carcass trodden down. You will not become united with them in a grave, because you brought your own land to ruin, you killed your own people.”—Isa. 14:4, 9-20.
34, 35. (a) What does Isaiah’s prophecy thus reveal about the inmates of Sheol? (b) Where will more on this general subject appear?
34 Thus the “king” or royal dynasty of Babylon is brought down to Sheol, but not with the glorious burial such as was given to kings and world rulers of the earth. However, besides that fact Isaiah’s prophecy shows that “goatlike leaders of the earth” and “kings of the nations” are in Sheol or Haʹdes. Such personages as these would be “the great” that will stand before the great white throne of judgment, when, as Revelation 20:11-13 says, “death and Haʹdes [Sheol] gave up those dead in them.”
35 However, more concerning this general subject will appear in further articles of this series to be published in the forthcoming issues of The Watchtower.
a See 2 Samuel 22:6; also the superscriptions of Psalms 6 sup, Ps 9 sup, Ps 16 sup, Ps 18 sup, Ps 30 sup, Ps 31 sup, Ps 55 sup, Ps 86 sup, Ps 139 sup, Ps 141 sup, in all of which psalms David used the Hebrew word Sheol, which corresponds with Haʹdes.
b Concerning other cases of such destruction, see 2 Thessalonians 2:3; 1 Timothy 6:9; Hebrews 10:39; 2 Peter 2:1-3; 3:7, 10; Revelation 17:8, 11.
[Picture on page 80]
Israelite rebels go down into Sheol