The word "Sheol" is a fairly modern word used in modern translations of the Old Testament to represent hell, Hades or The Grave or 'The Place of the Dead'. It's the Hebrew's conception of the underworld. For an example look up Deuteronomy 32.22 where "Sheol" is used in modern translations starting with Young's Literal Translation in 1862, and Darby's Translation in 1890. Since then ASV, RSV, NRSV, ESV, NASB and the Catholic NJB and many others have continued it's use. In 1844 Brenton made his famous personal translation of Greek Septuagint, and he uses the word "Hell" (not Sheol) but perhaps that was because the transliteration of the word Sheol had not yet been popularly coined. Before that, the King James Version and the Catholic's Douay-Rheims Version had used "hell", as had the Geneva Bible. The Latin Vulgate uses the word "inferni" (inferno).

My question is simple: Was "Sheol" coined by the Greek Septuagint? Is the word "Sheol" in the "Hebrew's Messoretic Texts and "Hades" in the Greek Septuagint? Right now I'm guessing that "Sheol" was in the Greek Septuagint and the word the Greek Jews used for The Graveland below, as opposed to the non-Jews use of "Hades".

  • wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1200004011. Try this source for an explanation – Kris Nov 1 '20 at 22:48
  • Did you do any research to try to find the answer to this yourself? Even Wikipedia tells you what the Hebrew word is. – curiousdannii Nov 1 '20 at 22:50
  • I understand that Sheol is the Hebrew Title for Hell. Then again, "Hebrew" is a Greek word. (the Hebrew themselves never used the word Hebrew). Likewise, Greek is a Latin word for the Greeks. The Greeks themselves called themselves Hellenes. Wikipedia doesn't answer my question about the term Sheol. It could be a term that the Greek Speaking Jews used, and not the older Hebrew speaking Jews. Therefore, it would have had it's origins in the Septuagint and GREEK language. – user12711 Nov 2 '20 at 1:48
  • @User12711 Actually Greek comes from a Greek word, the Γραικός people renamed themselves the Ἕλληνες. Likewise Hebrew comes from the Hebrew word Ivri. Words change over time, but in these case none of them are exonyms. Wikipedia does answer your question by listing many passages from the Hebrew Bible that contain "sheol". – curiousdannii Nov 2 '20 at 22:25

The word "Sheol" was not coined by the scribes of the Greek Septuagint. It is Hebrew. One reference is Strong's Concordance and Lexicon, in which its rendering in Deuteronomy 32:22 has Hebrew word ID number 7585, shin aleph vav lamed (right to left):


Phonology of the Hebrew "aleph" is variable, and "vav" changes too, but the first and last letters' pronunciation are ancient and Biblical Hebrew as discussed in Wikipedia's Hebrew consonant list.

  • 1
    According to bibleodyssey.org the term Sheol is listed 65 times in the Hebrew Bible with the Septuagint translating the term as Hades. Interestingly, the Greeks believed that Hades' underworld contained the River Styx, similar to Hebrew beliefs of Sheol. Sheol and Hades are important topics as they both give rise to the later term "hell" – user12711 Nov 2 '20 at 17:26

Does the Old Testament word ”Sheol” have Greek or Hebrew origins?

The word ”Sheol” is of Hebrew origins. However it may be somewhat a Assyro-Babylonian loan-word for "Shu'alu.”


The word ”Sheol” was for some time regarded as an Assyro-Babylonian loan-word, "Shu'alu," having the assumed meaning "the place whither the dead are cited or bidden," or "the place where the dead are ingathered." Delitzsch, who in his earlier works advanced this view, has now abandoned it; at least in his dictionary the word is not given. The non-existence of "Shu'alu" has been all along maintained by Jensen ("Kosmologie," p. 223), and recently again by Zimmern (in Schrader," K. A. T." 3d ed., p. 636, note 4) even against Jastrow's explanation (in "Am. Jour. Semit. Lang." xiv. 165-170) that "sha'al" = "to consult an oracle," or "to cite the dead" for this purpose, whence the name of the place where the dead are. The connection between the Hebrew "Sheol" and the Assyro - Babylonian "shillan" (west), which Jensen proposed instead (in "Zeitschrift für Assyriologie," v. 131, xv. 243), does not appear to be acceptable. Zimmern (l.c.) suggests "shilu" (= "a sort of chamber") as the proper Assyrian source of the Hebrew word. On the other hand, it is certain that most of the ideas covered by the Hebrew "Sheol" are expressed also in the Assyro-Babylonian descriptions of the state of the dead, found in the myths concerning Ishtar's descent into Hades, concerning Nergal and Ereshkigal (see Jensen in Schrader, "K. B." vi., part 1, pp. 74-79) and in the Gilgamesh epic (tablets ii. and xii.; comp. also Craig, "Religious Texts," i. 79; King, Magic," No. 53).

This realm of the dead is in the earth ("erẓitu" = ; comp. Job, x. 21, 22), the gateway being in the west. It is the "land without return." It is a dark place filled with dust (see Sheol, Biblical Data); but it contains a palace for the divine ruler of this shadow-realm (comp. Job xviii. 13, 14). Seven gates guard successively the approach to this land, at the first of which is a watchman. A stream of water flows through Sheol (comp. Enoch, xvii. 6, xxii. 9; Luke xvi. 24; Ps. xviii. 5; II Sam. xxii. 5).

Thus it is obvious that "Sheol" was not coined by the Greek Septuagint, as it is of Hebrew origin.

  • The Greek's underworld of Hades (who was it's ruler) and also had the River Styx flowing through it. How does the Septuagint identify Sheol in the reference verse. (I can't read Greek) – user12711 Nov 2 '20 at 1:57
  • Also, why would the older English versions use Hell or (Inferno from the Vulgate). In the New Testament, they use the word Hades rather than Sheol. (of course that is Greek) – user12711 Nov 2 '20 at 1:59
  • See Greek alphabet and Septuagint & New Testament. – Lucian Nov 2 '20 at 9:07

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