The Personification of Hell: Spiritual Entities vs. Spiritual Realms

Posted: December 8, 2013 in Christianity, Researching the Bible, Shadows
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Sometimes, Hell is a person. I am sure at first glance, that might seem like a strange claim to make. How can a place be a person? Is it just representative? Is it a metaphor? These are the types of questions that can come up when considering certain Bible verses, such as Job 28:22, which states…

22 Destruction and death say, We have heard the fame thereof with our ears.

The word for “death”, as used here, comes from the word “maveth” and means “death, dying, Death (personified), realm of the dead”. 1 We can see that when “maveth” is used, it can be talking about an idea, location, or personification. All we need to do is take it in proper context.

The first thing we need to address is, when trying to learn something from the book of Job, we have to be careful as to who is speaking in the narrative. Job has some friends, who all throughout the book, speak of their false ideas that misrepresent God. At the end of the book, God rebukes them for this behavior. We need to keep this in mind so we don’t inadvertently adopt the same skewed beliefs that Job’s friends had. Now, this is not to say there is false teaching in the Bible. We can look at it this way; it is true they said it, but what they said is not true. In the verse mentioned above, however, Job is speaking so there is no cause for concern.

Being that there are personified actions attributed to Death in Job 28:22, I tend to take the more personified approach in interpretation. Personally, I go even a step farther than that. Personifying an idea seems to denote a more metaphorical way of looking at it. By giving something personified attributes that is does not actually have, we can gain better understanding of the idea. An example of this would be the term table legs. A table does not have literal biological legs, but we use the term to describe the function, making it easier to understand. I do not believe this is the type of thing we are looking at in Job 28:22.

Many times, when faced with a verse or passage such as this, we are told it is metaphorical language. I do not believe this to always be the case. I believe taking this approach with a broad stroke across the Bible will cause more confusion than it will answer questions. We have to take everything in context. In Job 28:22, we have very literal and direct language being used. Destruction and Death are actually speaking. They are making reference to the action of hearing. They even go as far as to claim they have ears. I believe we are dealing with two spiritual entities here. To show this further, we can look at the original language used to describe Destruction.

The word used for “destruction” in this verse comes from the word “abaddown” meaning “place of destruction, destruction, ruin, Abaddon”. 2 For most of us, that will immediately read as familiar. Speaking of the locusts that are released from the bottomless pit, Revelation 9:11 states…

11 And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.

We are told specifically that Abaddon in an angel; the angel of the bottomless pit. In the original language of Job 28:22, we find the same word used. This further shows that, at least in this passage, Death and Destruction are referring to spiritual beings.

Another example we can look at is Job 26:6, which states…

6 Hell is naked before him, and destruction hath no covering.

The personification here is a bit more difficult to pick out, but it is there if we know how and where to look for it. First, we can identify who/what is being addressed. The word for “Hell” is “sheowl” meaning “sheol, underworld, grave, hell, pit”. 3 The word for “destruction” is the same as we looked at earlier.

At first glance, it would seem this verse is speaking of a place and an idea. We normally would think of Sheol as the abode of the dead and destruction as a state of being. Most times, these are the correct interpretations. Here, however, I do not believe this to be the case. I believe we have the same entity called Abaddon and an entity called Sheol. I believe there are times that Sheol actually refers to a spiritual entity just the same as Destruction can refer to the angel of the bottomless pit.

We can show this by looking at the claims made about these two beings. First, the text says that Hell is naked. The word for “naked”, as used here, comes from the word “arowm” meaning “naked, bare”. Either we are talking about a more physical idea of nakedness or we are talking about a bareness, or emptiness. When we think of the place of Hell (or more accurately, Sheol), do we picture it as being empty? How can Sheol be the abode of the dead if there are no dead in it?

We can think of Abaddon (destruction) in the same way. If this was not talking about the spiritual entity named Abaddon, but of a state of being, how does the idea of destruction not having a covering make any sense? Some have put forth the idea that this is speaking of the bottomless pit itself; that the entity Abaddon shares a name with the place he inhabits. If Abaddon was just another name for the bottomless pit, then is it true that the bottomless pit has no covering? Consider Revelation 9:1-2, which states…

1 And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.

2 And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.

For the bottomless pit to be opened, it must originally be closed. Clearly, the bottomless pit does have a covering of some kind. Job 26:6 is not talking about the bottomless pit.

If Job 26:6 is not talking about a location or idea and is referring to spiritual entities, what is the verse trying to say? I believe this goes all the way back to the time of the angelic rebellion and the Garden of Eden. In the book of Genesis, when Adam and Eve sinned, they realized they were naked. I believe, prior to sin entering the world, Adam and Eve had a type of covering over them. I believe this covering was the light of God Himself. When Adam and Even sinned, the covering was gone. This is why God has to make them new coverings from animal skins.

This whole idea could easily go into an entirely different study all its own, so for now I will just say, if you are interested in learning more about this topic, I would highly recommend the book Corrupting the Image by Douglas Hamp. It was through Doug’s teaching and ideas that I came to the realization of this original covering, and in doing my own research, I was able to corroborate his findings and believe them to be absolutely correct.

I believe this applies directly to Job 26:6. If Adam and Eve lost their covering when they sinned against God, it would stand to reason that the angels lost a type of covering when they fell from Heaven. I believe what we have is an example of as above, so below. The fall of Adam and Eve can be looked at as a shadow of the rebellion in Heaven, and the same consequence applied. This really gives a whole new meaning to the idea of Sheol being naked and Abaddon having no covering. I believe this concept of the fallen angels having lost their original covering is referenced in Jude 1:6, which states…

6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.

The word for “habitation” comes from the word “oiketerion” meaning “a dwelling place, habitation 1. of the body as a dwelling place for the spirit”. 4 Whatever this original covering was that the angels had before they fell, it was a dwelling place for their spirit. They lost their covering, which is why Sheol and Abaddon would have to be referring to spiritual beings (more specifically, fallen angels) in Job 26:6. When taken in context, this is the conclusion that makes the most sense.

The idea that a spiritual being can share a name with a location or attribute should not be cause for confusion. In Mark 5:9, the demon horde are called “legion” because they were many. They were named (whether originally by themselves or by someone else, I do not know) after an attribute they had.

We even see shadows of this within humanity. When we look at the meanings of the names of the first people born in Genesis, we find that they were named after an attribute they had or would fulfill in the future. We can also find many examples of locations named after the person or people group that first settled there. For an interesting study of this, you can compare the name of Magog in Ezekiel 38 with the children of Japheth in chapter 10 of Genesis. You can also look into the children of Abraham with his third wife, Keturah, in chapter 25 of Genesis as compared to Ezekiel 38; specifically Sheba and Dedan.

I believe this is what we are looking at in Revelation 6:8, which states…

8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth

It is difficult to tell because, this being originally Greek, the words are different, but I believe these are the same two spiritual entities we looked at earlier. Death and Hell are not referring to locations in this verse. If it were, the verse would lose all meaning and make absolutely no sense. I believe we even learn the eternal fate of these spiritual beings in Revelation 20:14, which states…

14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

Normally, we are told that the idea of death and the place of Hell are thrown into the lake of fire. How can an idea be thrown into a literal place? How can one literal place be thrown into another literal place? This interpretation loses credibility when thinking about it logically. If we are to believe in a literal lake of fire, does it make sense to believe the references to death and Hell are metaphoric?

In my humble opinion, it is the spiritual entities named Death and Hell that are cast into the lake of fire. They have these names because they have something to do with the idea of death and location of Hell. What those exact connections are, I really have no idea. If I were to try and answer, it would be pure speculation at this point. Perhaps, down the road and with further study, an answer will present itself.

This concept is sprinkled all throughout the Bible. There are many times when we are usually told a place or idea is being referenced, when in fact, a spiritual entity is a much better fit. If we do not let the fact that certain people/entities are named after attributes and locations throw us, we will have a much easier time interpreting the meanings of many seemingly cryptic passages. Sometimes it will be talking about an actual location. Sometimes it will be talking about an idea or attribute. Sometimes it will be talking about a literal entity. All we have to do is take everything we read in context and allow the Bible to interpret itself.

Take care and God bless,

Josh Peck


  1. “Hebrew Lexicon :: H4194 (KJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 7 Dec, 2013.
  2. “Hebrew Lexicon :: H11 (KJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 7 Dec, 2013.
  3. “Hebrew Lexicon :: H7585 (KJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 7 Dec, 2013.
  4. “Greek Lexicon :: G3613 (KJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 7 Dec, 2013.

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