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quently they must have received his meaning according to my exposition. He meant that the torment of inimical and revengeful feelings must be as severe as the punishments which could be inflicted in three several methods. And when he used the word gehenna he extended the sufferings beyond the grave, as this word was then employed to denote the future misery of the wicked, which I shall soon prove. Thus you see your definition of gehenna makes our Savior utter nonsense and falsehood. Matthew 5. 22.
Take a second class of passages. “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee; for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into gehenna. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off and cast it from thee; for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into gehenna.” How can you reconcile this sentence with your view of gehenna? What connexion would the cutting off an offending member have with being burnt in the valley of Hinnom? What court had authority to inflict this kind of punishment on account of a person's being led into sin by his right eye? Can you possibly understand this in a literal sense? Surely not. The Jews had no laws relating to such offences. There was no manner of danger from a literal burning. And this must have been known both to the preacher and hearers. Now my definition of the word makes our Savior consistent, wise and benevolent. Matthew 5. 29, 30; 18. 9; Mark 9. 43, 45.
Take a third class of passages. "s And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in gehenna.” What can you make of this verse on your system? What more than the body could
be destroyed by burning in the valley of Hinnom? Call
- Woe unto you,
the pharisees the ruling party; consequently they had in their own power all the punishment. If the burning of criminals was then practised they would be the last to incur such a judgment. This rendering then will not bear in this particular instance surely; so that you must give another meaning to gehenna in order to make any sense or truth of our Savior's words. Matthew 23. 15.
Take a fifth example. “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of gehenna."
definition bear in this sentence? Not at all. It was utterly impossible for the scribes and pharisees to incur any punishment which the jewish nation would inflict, let them be ever so guilty. Consequently they were in no more danger of being burned in the valley of Hinnom than of being drowned in the then unknown valley of the Mississippi. But this verse is manifestly addressed to men in real danger of gehenna, whatever it might be. The scribes and pharisees were then at the summit of whatever temporal power the Jews at that time possessed. Is it to be supposed that in all these instances our Savior either meant nothing at all, or mentioned a fire of which they were not in the least possible danger? Matthew 23. 33.
Look also at the passage from James. “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity; so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature, and it is set on fire of gehenna.” Does the writer mean to declare, that the human tongue is literally set on fire of the valley of Hinnom? Surely not.
A passage from one of the jewish writers will illustrate the meaning of this verse. "A crafty tongue with coals of juniper, which were lighted in the infernal gehenna." Another author has this sentence. “I above, thou beneath. I from above will scatter arrows upon evil tongues, thou from beneath shall cast up coals upon them.” James 3. 6.
I have thus briefly noticed the passages in which the word gehenna is contained. Do you not clearly perceive that your definition makes our Savior utter nonsense and falsehood in almost every instance? Is it not perfectly plain that your exposition does not bear in a single instance? I ask you to look for yourself. I could have made my remarks much more prolix, but the several cases seemed so perfectly clear that I could not feel willing to occupy your time with more objections. Believing as I do that Jesus spoke nothing but the most important truth, I must reject an interpretation which renders many of his solemn sayings so ridiculous and absurd.
Perhaps you may now say, that our Savior alluded to the destruction of Jerusalem; that those who were not converted to christianity would then be burnt alive in the valley of Hinnom. If he uttered such an idea he declared what never took place. I am not willing therefore to accuse him of falsehood. Many of those he addressed were dead long before the calamity befel the city. And those who perished at the time were not taken and burned outside its walls. So that there is not the least shadow of evidence for such a definition. Give your meaning in the passages in which gehenna occurs, and it destroys all the sense and connexion, makes our Savior a fool or a liar; and surely this is a sufficient reason for rejecting your exposition.
2. My second reason for rejecting your definition of gehenna is this. The word evidently denotes some kind of punishment in all the instances in which our Savior used it. Now we have no evidence that the valley of Hinnom was a place of punishment in the time of our Savior and his apostles. We have satisfactory proof to the contrary. No instance of punishment in that place and at that period is recorded in the New Testament or any other book. You never find any persons but Christ and his apostle using the word. Our Savior mentions various kinds of trial to which his apostles would be liable; but he mentions gehenna in this connexion but once; and he then uses the word in such a manner that you plainly perceive he could not mean corporal punishment, since he had just spoken of killing the body as a matter of no consequence. The apostles never speak of themselves as in any danger of being burned in the valley of Hinnom; and the Jews never threaten either them or their master with such punishment. Consequently I cannot possibly believe that our Savior meant a literal, temporal punishment in the valley of Hinnom when he used the word gehenna.
3. My third reason for rejecting your definition of gehenna is this. You have no evidence that a perpetual fire was kept up in the valley of Hinnom at the time our Savior was on earth. I know that a statement of this kind has been often repeated. I have often done it myself. I supposed the authors in which I found the account were to be trusted. I find this is not the case in this instance, An assertion to this effect was made by Rabbi Kimchi who flourished about the fourteenth century. If there is any other evidence for the truth of the story I have not discovered it; and surely this is not sufficient to satisfy any reasoning mind. Until further proof is produced I shall therefore strenuously deny that any perpetual fire existed in the valley of Hinnom in the time of our Savior. And if this be the fact, then he could not possibly have used the word gehenna in the sense you suppose.
4. My fourth reason for rejecting your definition of gehenna is this. All the truly qualified biblical critics