There are many questions about death, Sheol (aka Hades, Hell, the Underworld or the grave, the place of the dead) and what happens when we die. I thought I would write a Bible study on some interesting things I found according to Hebrew writings. Take a look at the below passages of Biblical scripture and look them up (I used the NLT mostly for this study but feel free to use a translation you’re comfortable with if you choose):
Clearly we can see a pattern from these passages, these Hebrews passed away and joined their ancestors in death. I found this very comforting that as we pass away, we are reunited with our ancestors in Sheol. This is very similar to some scenes from the Avengers movie: Black Panther. In the movie, there are scenes in which T’Challa and Kilmonger are buried in the Earth and go to the “Ancestral plane” where they are reunited with their ancestors. Considering much of the movie was highly influenced by various African cultures where Judaism was prevalent, this is an interesting association. Especially since there are still large pockets of Jews living on the African continent ever since the final banishment of Judah in 1st century AD (I go into this in detail in another article the House of Judah). Now let’s take a look at 1 Samuel 28:
11 Finally, the woman said, "Well, whose spirit do you want me to call up?"
"Call up Samuel," Saul replied.
12 When the woman saw Samuel, she screamed, "You've deceived me! You are Saul!"
13 "Don't be afraid!" the king told her. "What do you see?"
"I see a god coming up out of the earth," she said.
14 "What does he look like?" Saul asked.
"He is an old man wrapped in a robe," she replied. Saul realized it was Samuel, and he fell to the ground before him.
15 "Why have you disturbed me by calling me back?" Samuel asked Saul.
"Because I am in deep trouble," Saul replied. "The Philistines are at war with me, and God has left me and won't reply by prophets or dreams. So I have called for you to tell me what to do."
16 But Samuel replied, "Why ask me, since the Lord has left you and has become your enemy? 17 The Lord has done just as he said he would. He has torn the kingdom from you and given it to your rival, David. 18 The Lord has done this to you today because you refused to carry out his fierce anger against the Amalekites. 19 What's more, the Lord will hand you and the army of Israel over to the Philistines tomorrow, and you and your sons will be here with me. The Lord will bring down the entire army of Israel in defeat."
-1 Samuel 28:11–19
In this short passage, we end up getting a lot of information. First off, we see that the Bible speaks of mediums and that these mediums could bring up the souls of the dead. We also find out that wherever Samuel came from, apparently he was happy there since he chastises Saul for “disturbing” him, also it is notable that Samuel’s soul came up from the Earth. Isaiah also confirms that the righteous rest peacefully. In fact, Isaiah even tells us that our days here on Earth now will scarcely even be remembered because of the joys to come. Unfortunately, Samuel prophesies of Saul and his children’s death and the defeat of the whole army of Israel. But at least they will all be with Samuel after they die. So this gives us more consistency that when Hebrews pass away, they go to be with their ancestors. It is also worth noting that even though Saul sinned and disobeyed YAH by not annihilating the Amalekites (I go into nephilim genes threatening the human gene pool in my article Genetics and the Bible), he is shown mercy by being able to still join his ancestors in death. So we know that the Hebrew ancestors are reunited in death after they pass away but where exactly are they? How long do they wait there? Do all Hebrews go with their ancestors or only the ones that had faith in their Elohim (God of the Israelites)? We get more insight into some of these questions at the end of one of Daniel’s visions:
13 "As for you, go your way until the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days, you will rise again to receive the inheritance set aside for you."
So wherever we go, we go there for a set time, until the end of days. In Daniel’s case, the Archangel Gabriel flat out tells him that he will receive his inheritance after this time of rest has ended. We get even more insight in the book of Enoch (Enoch lived pre-flood era) where he literally describes Sheol under the Earth:
1From there I proceeded to another spot, where I saw on the west a great and lofty mountain, a strong rock, and four delightful places.
2Internally it was deep, capacious, and very smooth; as smooth as if it had been rolled over: it was both deep and dark to behold.
3Then Raphael, one of the holy angels who were with me, answered and said, These are the delightful places where the spirits, the souls of the dead, will be collected; for them were they formed; and here will be collected all the souls of the sons of men.
4These places, in which they dwell, shall they occupy until the day of judgment, and until their appointed period.
5Their appointed period will be long, even until the great judgment. And I saw the spirits of the sons of men who were dead; and their voices reached to heaven, while they were accusing.
6Then I inquired of Raphael, an angel who was with me, and said, Whose spirit is that, the voice of which reaches to heaven, and accuses?
7He answered, saying, This is the spirit of Abel who was slain by Cain his brother; and who will accuse that brother, until his seed be destroyed from the face of the earth;
8Until his seed perish from the seed of the human race.
9At that time therefore I inquired respecting him, and respecting the general judgment, saying, Why is one separated from another? He answered, Three separations have been made between the spirits of the dead, and thus have the spirits of the righteous been separated.
10Namely, by a chasm, by water, and by light above it.
11And in the same way likewise are sinners separated when they die, and are buried in the earth; judgment not overtaking them in their lifetime.
12Here their souls are separated. Moreover, abundant is their suffering until the time of the great judgment, the castigation, and the torment of those who eternally execrate, whose souls are punished and bound there for ever.
13And thus has it been from the beginning of the world. Thus has there existed a separation between the souls of those who utter complaints, and of those who watch for their destruction, to slaughter them in the day of sinners.
14A receptacle of this sort has been formed for the souls of unrighteous men, and of sinners; of those who have completed crime, and associated with the impious, whom they resemble. Their souls shall not be annihilated in the day of judgment, neither shall they arise from this place. Then I blessed God,
15And said, Blessed by my Lord, the Lord of glory and of righteousness, who reigns over all for ever and for ever.
So… Enoch gives us so much here! Let’s start with the interesting point that in this passage, he was brought here into Sheol by an angel(s) and we find that the place of the dead is sectioned off not just by the righteous and the sinner but there are separations among each side. Between the mountain that holds the righteous souls, there are three separations which he mentions: a chasm, water and by light. This sounded familiar to me initially, then I thought about the parable Yeshua (Jesus) gave about the rich man and the beggar that both passed away. The beggar was carried by angels to Abraham’s bosom (likely the mountain of the righteous that Enoch saw) to be comforted and the rich man was in torment. In that parable, they could still speak with one another and apparently see one another:
25 "But Abraham said to him, 'Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there.'
-Luke 16:25, 26
In this parable that Yeshua gives, it reveals consistency with what Enoch saw in Sheol. That the place of the dead holds all souls of men accordingly. It is also worth mentioning that Yeshua told a criminal that was crucified beside Him that they would both be in paradise together that same day. Then in Matthew 12, Yeshua states:
For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.
But how could Yeshua be in paradise and in Sheol unless they are the same place? So this is also more proof that paradise (Abraham’s bosom) must be within Sheol as Yeshua states that He would be in the heart of the Earth for 3 days and nights and that He would also be in paradise the same day of His death along with the criminal that believed in Him. This is why Yeshua was also able to preach to the souls imprisoned in Sheol that died in the great flood (1 Peter 3:19) and why He was able to retrieve the keys to the grave (Revelation 1:18) even though He was deep inside the Earth the whole time from His death until His resurrection/ascension. He was able to do all these things during those 3 days and nights because they all resided within the same place: Sheol. This also explains why the medium mentioned earlier saw Samuel’s soul rising from the ground.
Pretty incredible that all these places exist under the Earth, Enoch also noted that he saw the great abyss where the Watchers (fallen angels that had sex with human women creating the nephilim) have been imprisoned (Enoch chapters 18:14–16, 19) which Peter also mentions in 2 Peter 2:4. Isaiah also implies that Heaven is high above and that Sheol is “deep” below in Isaiah 7:11. Enoch also mentions seeing a place of torment (Enoch 21:4–6) and he got to see the Garden of Eden within the Earth! He states in chapter 24:
3Among these there was a tree of an unceasing smell; nor of those which were in Eden was there one of all the fragrant trees which smelt like this. Its leaf, its flower, and its bark never withered, and its fruit was beautiful.
4Its fruit resembled the cluster of the palm. I exclaimed, Behold! This tree is goodly in aspect, pleasing in its leaf, and the sight of its fruit is delightful to the eye….
9And that tree of an agreeable smell, not one of carnal odor, there shall be no power to touch, until the period of the great judgment. When all shall be punished and consumed for ever, this shall be bestowed on the righteous and humble. The fruit of the tree shall be given to the elect. For towards the north life shall be planted in the holy place, towards the habitation of the everlasting King.
-Enoch 24:3, 4, 9
Here we have a description of the tree of life, who, what and when it will be used for and even what the tree and fruit looked like! Enoch notes that he also saw the notorious tree of knowledge as well:
3Their fragrance was agreeable and powerful, and their appearance both varied and elegant. The tree of knowledge also was there, of which if any one eats, he becomes endowed with great wisdom.
4It was like a species of the tamarind tree, bearing fruit which resembled grapes extremely fine; and its fragrance extended to a considerable distance. I exclaimed, How beautiful is this tree, and how delightful is its appearance!
5Then holy Raphael, an angel who was with me, answered and said, This is the tree of knowledge, of which your ancient father and your aged mother ate, who were before you; and who, obtaining knowledge, their eyes being opened, and knowing themselves to be naked, were expelled from the garden.
This was exceptionally mind blowing to me, I had never even considered that the Garden of Eden was inside the Earth! This passage in Ezekiel upholds this passage:
15 "This is what the Sovereign Lord says: When Assyria went down to the grave, I made the deep springs mourn. I stopped its rivers and dried up its abundant water. I clothed Lebanon in black and caused the trees of the field to wilt. 16 I made the nations shake with fear at the sound of its fall, for I sent it down to the grave with all the others who descend to the pit. And all the other proud trees of Eden, the most beautiful and the best of Lebanon, the ones whose roots went deep into the water, took comfort to find it there with them in the depths of the earth.
-Ezekiel 31:15, 16
So the Bible (through the Israelite Ezekiel’s writing) is also showing the Garden of Eden in “the depths of the Earth” as well. How did it get there, was it always there or was it moved down there? Ezekiel uses the term “descend” which implies maybe at some point, Eden was on Earth and eventually was brought down into Sheol. Maybe it sunk down during the flood? In any case, this brought me to the question; what exactly do we know about what’s under the Earth that we’ve lived on now for thousands of years?
Recently in the 2010s, it was found out that there is a large body of water some 400 miles below us deep within the Earth (there are quite a few articles on this, simply google: water under the earth). This mass of water is estimated to be larger than all of the Earth’s oceans combined! How is it that this huge amount of water has gone undetected all this time? Moses even wrote in Genesis that when the flood started, water came from under the Earth. So I started wondering just how far have we dug down into our Earth. The farthest man has dug down into the Earth (at this point that I’m writing) is via the Kola Superdeep Borehole which was an underwhelming 7.5 miles! They had to abandon the digging because of excessive, unexpected heat temperatures that the drills couldn’t withstand. All this information completely obliterates what I was taught as a child in school about what the depths of the Earth look like. Clearly there is a lot we don’t know about the inner workings of our world and it is very possible there could be all sorts of other things within the depths of the Earth (as well as our cosmology) we’re unaware of and/or have been lied to about.
Note: There is an exceptional amount of insight into what happens to humans immediately after dying in 2 Esdras 7 (70–140). That whole chapter is essentially Ezra interviewing God on what happens after death. I highly recommend reading that whole chapter. It is also worth mentioning that after Yeshua ascended back into Heaven, it is likely that Abraham’s bosom is no longer used to hold the righteous within Sheol but instead the righteous now rest in Heaven since then. This is also an article that goes over similar information that I thought was very insightful.