a deep, narrow ravine separating Mount Zion from the so-called
"Hill of Evil Counsel." It took its name from "some ancient
hero, the son of Hinnom." It is first mentioned in Josh. 15:8.
It had been the place where the idolatrous Jews burned their
children alive to Moloch and Baal. A particular part of the
valley was called Tophet, or the "fire-stove," where the
children were burned. After the Exile, in order to show their
abhorrence of the locality, the Jews made this valley the
receptacle of the offal of the city, for the destruction of
which a fire was, as is supposed, kept constantly burning there.
The Jews associated with this valley these two ideas, (1) that
of the sufferings of the victims that had there been sacrificed;
and (2) that of filth and corruption. It became thus to the
popular mind a symbol of the abode of the wicked hereafter. It
came to signify hell as the place of the wicked. "It might be
shown by infinite examples that the Jews expressed hell, or the
place of the damned, by this word. The word Gehenna [the Greek
contraction of Hinnom] was never used in the time of Christ in
any other sense than to denote the place of future punishment."
About this fact there can be no question. In this sense the word
is used eleven times in our Lord's discourses (Matt. 23:33; Luke
12:5; Matt. 5:22, etc.).