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Chart of The Afterlife Term “Sheol” in the Old Testament

Afterlife Studies

Christ Assembly

The chart below presents my understanding of the Afterlife term “Sheol” in various Old Testament contexts. I have made many personal choices about whether the verses describing Sheol or the context includes death, grace, body, or soul. Please keep in mind the distinction that Jesus drew in Matthew 10:28 between body and soul. At times, the destruction of human flesh may be in view, such as the decay of the body of David. While David’s body decayed in the ground, we have no indication that David’s soul ever went to Sheol. In fact, only the souls of unbelievers go to Sheol, the place of destruction in the Afterlife.  I urge you to open your Bible and review the evidence in the verses below to understand the use of the term “Sheol” in the Old Testament. Many false views of Sheol have been presented by so many ignorant people throughout church history. Instead of following the ignorant, open your Bible and see for yourself what the verses say. God breathed them out because they equip us for His service every day. In a broad sense, Sheol may refer a place of bodily destruction, where everyone’s body decays. Sheol also personifies the power of evil spiritual influence gripping people before physical death with fear and terrors. To read more about the Afterlife, see my book on the Afterlife.

Important Facts About Sheol–Open your Bible and review the verses below in context.

  1.  Remember the distinction that Jesus described in Matthew 10:28 about body and soul.
  2. The souls of saints never go to Sheol after death.
  3. Your body may go to Sheol, but that does not prove your soul went there after death.
  4. Unsaved souls go to Sheol after death and suffer.
  5. Physical bodies descend into Sheol, where they undergo decay.
  6. Sheol reaches out to living people, causing fear, terror and sadness.
  7. Sheol is not the same as the Pit.
  8. Sheol is not the same as Death.
  9. Symbolically, some people go to Sheol while still alive, which speaks of their fears, terrors, dread and suffering.
  10. Sheol has chambers, but the soul of Abraham was never in Sheol. 
  11. Sheol and Hades are not synonymous.
  12. Neither the souls nor the bodies of believers go to Hades.
  13. No souls of saints go to Sheol.

VerseWordContentSubjectDeathGraveBody Soul
Genesis 37:35שְׁאֹ֑לָהSurely I will go down to Sheol in mourning for my son.JacobYesYesYesNo
Genesis 42:38שְׁאֹֽולָהI will go down to Sheol in mourning for my sonJacobYesNoNoNo
Genesis 44:29שְׁאֹֽלָהYou will bring my gray hair down to SheolJacobYesYesYesNo
Genesis 44:31שְׁאֹֽלָהYour servants will bring the gray hair of your servant our father down to Sheol in sorrow.JacobYes YesYes
Numbers 16:30שְׁאֹ֑לָהGround opens and they descend alive into SheolKorah RebelsYesYesYes
Numbers 16:33שְׁאֹ֑לָהThey went down alive into Sheol and the earth closed over them and they perished from the midst of the assemblyKorah RebelsYesNoYesNo
Deuteronomy 32:22שְׁאֹ֣ולAnger of God burns to the lowest part of Sheol, and consumes the earth, and sets on fire the foundations of the mountainsThe Perverse Generation of IsraelYesNoYesMaybe
1 Samuel 2:6שְׁאֹ֖ול The LORD kills and makes alive; He brings down to Sheol and raises upAll PeopleYesNoYesNo
2 Samuel 22:6שָׁא֔וּלThe cords of Sheol surround me; the snares of death confronted me.DavidYesNoNoNo
1 Kings 2:6שְׁאֹֽלDo not let his gray hair go down to Sheol in peaceJoabYesNoYesNo
1 Kings 2:9שְׁאֹֽולYou will bring his gray hair down to Sheol with bloodShimeiYesNoYesNo
Job 7:9שְׁ֝אֹ֗ולHe who goes down to Sheol does not come up.PeopleYesNoYesNo
Job 11:8מִ֝שְּׁאֹ֗ולDeeper than SheolZophar speaks; unreliableYesNoYes No
Job 14:13בִּשְׁאֹ֬ולGod would hide Job in Sheol until God’s wrath passesJobNoNoNo No
Job 17:13שְׁאֹ֣ולIf I look for Sheol as my home, I make my bed in the darknessJobYesNoNoNo
Job 17:16שְׁאֹ֣לJob asks if his hope will go down to Sheol with him; shall we go down into the dustJobYesYesYesNo
Job 21:13שְׁאֹ֣ולWicked go suddenly down to SheolThe WickedYesNoYesNo
Job 24:19שְׁאֹ֣ולSheol consumes those who have sinnedThe WickedYesNoYesNo
Job 26:6שְׁאֹ֣ולSheol naked before God; Abaddon has no coveringSheol and AbaddonNoNoNo No
Job 33:18בַּשָּֽׁלַחGod keeps his soul from the pit, and his life from passing into SheolElihu, unreliableNoNo NoYes
Psalm 6:5בִּ֝שְׁאֹ֗ולNo mention of Yahweh in death; in Sheol who will give you thanks?David’s DeathYesNoYesYes
Psalm 9:17לִשְׁאֹ֑ולָהAll the nations who forget God will return to SheolEvil NationsNoNoYesMaybe
Psalm 141:7שְׁאֹֽולPlows and breaks open the earth, so our bones have been scattered at the mouth of SheolDavidYesYesYesNo
Psalm 16:10לִשְׁאֹ֑ולGod will not abandon David’s soul to Sheol nor will you allow Your Holy One to undergo decayDavid/MessiahNoYesYes Yes
Psalm 18:5שְׁאֹ֣ולThe cords of Sheol surround me; the snares of death confronted meDavidYesNoYesNo
Psalm 30:3מִן־שְׁאֹ֣ולYou have brought up my soul from Sheol; you have kept me alive, that I would not go down to the pitDavidNoNoYesYes
Psalm 31:17לִשְׁאֹֽולWicked put to shame in Sheol and silenced there; WickedYes, MaybeNoYes, maybeNo
Psalm 49:14לִֽשְׁאֹ֣ולAs sheep they are appointed for Sheol; Death shall be their shepherd; their form shall be for Sheol to consume; no habitation; upright will rule over them in the morningWicked RichYesNoNoNo
Psalm 49:15מִֽיַּד־שְׁאֹ֑ול But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol, for He will receive meSons of KorahNoNoNoYes
Psalm 55:15שְׁאֹ֣ולLet death come deceitfully upon them; let them go down alive into Sheol, for evil is their dwelling, in their midst: David calls upon the LORD and He saves DavidTreacherous FriendYesYesYesNo
Psalm 86:13מִשְּׁאֹ֥ול God’s lovingkindness has delivered my soul from the depths of SheolDavidNoNoNoYes
Psalm 88:3לִשְׁאֹ֥ולMy soul has had enough troubles; my life has drawn near to SheolSons of KorahNo No No Yes
Psalm 89:48מִיַּד־שְׁאֹ֣ולWhat man can live and not see death? Can he deliver his soul from the hand of Sheol? Selah.Ethan the Ezrahite; all of Israel; all peopleYesNoYesYes
Psalm 116:3שְׁאֹ֣ולThe cords of death encompassed me and the terrors of Sheol came upon me; I found distress and sorrowMan who loves YahwehYesNoYes, SicknessYes, Maybe
Distress and Sorrow
Psalm 139:8שְּׁאֹ֣ול Ascend to heaven, God is there; bed in Sheol, God is thereDavidNoNo No Yes, Maybe
Proverbs 1:12כִּשְׁאֹ֣ולLet us swallow them alive like Sheol, even whole, as those who down to the pitSolomonYesYes, MaybeYesNo
Proverbs 5:5 שְׁ֝אֹ֗ולHer feet go down to death, her steps take hold of SheolSolomon, Adulterous WomanYesNoNo No
Proverbs 7:27שְׁאֹ֣ולHer house is the way to Sheol, descending to the chambers of deathSolomon, Adulterous WomanYesNoNo No
Proverbs 9:18שְׁאֹ֣ולHe does not know that the dead are there, her guests are in the depths of SheolSolomon, Adulterous WomanYesNoNo No
Proverbs 15:11שְׁאֹ֣ולSheol and Abaddon before the LORD; how much more the hearts of men?Solomon, Inhabitants of Sheol and AbaddonYesNoNoNo
Proverbs 15:24מִשְּׁאֹ֥ולThe path of life upward for the wise; that he may keep away from Sheol belowThe WiseNoNoNoYes, Maybe
Proverbs 23:14מִשְּׁאֹ֥ולYou shall strike him with the rod and rescue his soul from SheolUndisciplined ChildNoNoYesYes, Maybe Training of Young Soul
Proverbs 27:20שְׁאֹ֣ולSheol and Abaddon are never satisfied, nor are the eyes of manSheol and AbaddonNoNoNo No
Proverbs 30:16שְׁאֹול֮Sheol and the barren womb, Earth that is never satisfied with water, and fire that never says enoughSheolNo NoNo No
Ecclesiastes 9:10בִּשְׁאֹ֕ולDo will with all your might, for there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol where you are goingHumans on EarthNo No No No
Song of Solomon 8:6כִשְׁאֹ֖ולJealousy as severe as SheolJealous SpouseNo No NoNo
Isaiah 5:14שְּׁאֹול֙Sheol has enlarged its soul and opened its mouth without measure; Jerusalem’s splendor descends into itJerusalem and Its InhabitantsNo No No No
Isaiah 7:11שְׁאָ֔לָהAsk a sign for yourself from the LORD your God; make it deep as Sheol or high as heavenAhazNoNoNoNo
Isaiah 14:9שְׁאֹ֗ולSheol from beneath is excited over you to meet you when you come; it arouses for you the spirits of the dead, all the leaders of the earth; it raises all the kings of the nations from their thronesKing of BabylonYesNoYesYes, Rephaim
Isaiah 14:11שְׁאֹ֛ול Your pomp and the music of your hearts have been brought down to Sheol; maggots are spread out beneath you and worms are your coveringThe King of BabylonNoNoYesNo
Isaiah 14:15וְעִם־שְׁאֹ֖ולYou will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pitKing of BabylonYesNoNoNo
Isaiah 28:15וְעִם־שְׁאֹ֖ולWe have made a covenant with the death, and with Sheol we have made a covenantCorrupt Leaders YesNoNo No
Isaiah 28:18אֶת־שְׁאֹ֖ולYour covenant with death will be canceled; your covenant with Sheol will not standCorrupt LeadersYesNoNo No
Isaiah 38:10שְׁאֹ֑ולIn the middle of my life I am to enter the gates of Sheol; I am to be deprived of the rest of my yearsAhazYesNoYesNo
Isaiah 38:18שְׁאֹ֛ולSheol cannot thank you; Death cannot praise you; those who go down to the Pit cannot hope for Your faithfulnessHezekiahYesNoYesNo
Isaiah 57:9עַד־שְׁאֹֽולYou have made your envoys go a great distance, down to SheolFutile IsraelNo No No No
Ezekiel 31:15שְׁאֹ֨ולָה֙Assyria went down to Sheol in one dayEvil AssyriaNoNo NoNo
Ezekiel 31:16שְׁאֹ֖ולָהThe nations quake at the sound of Assyria’s fall when God made it go down to Sheol with those who do down to the Pit; all the well-watered trees of Eden, the choicest and best of Lebanon, were comforted in the earth beneathEvil AssyriaNoNoNo No
Ezekiel 31:17שְׁאֹ֖ולָהAssyria and her nations went down with Assyria to Sheol, to those who were slain by the sword, and those who were its strength lived under its shade among the nationsEvil Assyria and its Supporting NationsYesNoNoNo
Ezekiel 32:21שְׁאֹ֖ולThe strong and mighty ones shall speak of Egypt and its helpers: They have gone down, they lie still, the uncircumcised, slain by the swordThe might slainYesNoNoNo
Ezekiel 32:27יָרְדֽוּ־שְׁאֹ֣ולThe fallen heroes who went down to Sheol with their weapons of war and whose swords were laid under their heads; but the punishment for their iniquity rested on their bones, though terror of those heroes once in the land of the livingFallen Evil HeroesYesYesNoNo
Amos 9:2בִשְׁאֹ֔ולThough they dig into Sheol, My Hand will take them from there; and though they ascend to heaven, from there I will bring them down.Israel, Summer FruitYesNoNoNo
Hosea 13:14שְׁאֹול֙Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shell I redeem them from death? Oh Death, where are your thorns? O Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion will be hidden from My sight.Evil IsraelYesNoNoNo
Jonah 2:2שְׁאֹ֛ולSheol, like death, never is satisfied.The Haughty ManYesNoNoNo
Habakkuk 2:5כִּשְׁאֹ֜ולThe haughty man enlarges his appetite like Sheol, and he is like death, never satisfied. He also gathers to himself all nations and collects to himself all peoplesThe Haughty ManYesNoNoNo

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