SHE'OL or HA'DES is "a land of gloom, a land of deep darkness" to which Godless evildoers are consigned, "never to return, a land of gathering shadows, of deepening darkness, lit by no ray of light, dark upon dark." (Job 10:21,22 NEB). In this unsettled abode they roam "in torment grief and sorrow" waiting for the final Judgement of them by Almighty God. (2 Esdras 7:79,80 NEB). "Impotent in death", they exist only as shadowy and non-personal entities, whatever their previous status was on earth. (Isaiah 14:9-11). Reflecting only a faint semblance of their former selves, they are bereft of all personality and strength, and exist in a monotonous underworld without the powers associated with human life. Having "lost their last chance of making a good repentance and so gaining (heavenly) life", they are reserved for the Judgement Day of God.  (2 Esdras 7:80,82.  See 2 Peter 2:1-19 NEB).

GE.HEN'NA is a place of blackest darkness. Symbolically described as a "lake of fire" it is a place of everlasting spirit torment* where Godless evildoers are hurled after the final Judgement and abandonment of them by Almighty God Jehovah: "And I saw a great white throne and the One seated on it. From before him the earth and the heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. But another scroll was opened; it is the scroll of life. And the dead were judged out of those things written in the scrolls according to their deeds. And the sea gave up those dead in it, and death and Ha'des gave up those dead in them, and they were judged individually according to their deeds. And death and Ha'des were hurled into the lake of fire. This means the second death, the lake of fire. Furthermore, whoever was not found written in the book of life was hurled into the lake of fire."  (Rev 20:11-15.  See Jude V.3-19).

"But now to speak of death: When the Most High has given final sentence for a man to die, the spirit leaves the body to return to the One who gave it, and first of all to adore the glory of the Most High. But as for those who have rejected the ways of the Most High and despised His Law, and who hate all that fear God, their spirits enter no settled abode, but roam thenceforward in torment, grief, and sorrow. And this for seven reasons. First, they have despised the Law of the Most High. Secondly, they have lost their last chance of making a good repentance and so gaining life. Thirdly, they can see the reward in store for those who have trusted the covenants of the Most High. Fourthly, they begin to think of the torment that awaits them at the end. Fifthly, they see that angels are guarding the abode of the other souls in deep silence. Sixthly, they see that they are soon to enter into torment.* The seventh cause for grief, the strongest cause of all, is this: At the sight of the Most High in His glory, they break down in shame, waste away in remorse, and shrivel with fear remembering how they sinned against Him in their lifetime, and how they are soon to be brought before Him for Judgement on the last day."
 (2 Esdras 7:78-87 NEB.  * See 9:7-12 NEB).

"As for those who have kept to the way laid down by the Most High, this is what is appointed for them when their time comes to leave their mortal bodies. During their stay on earth they served the Most High in spite of constant hardship and danger, and kept to the last letter of the Law given them by the Lawgiver. Their reward is this: first they shall exult to see the glory of God who will receive them as His own, and then they shall enter into rest in seven appointed stages of joy. Their first joy is their victory in the long fight against their inborn impulses to evil, which have failed to lead them astray from life into death. Their second joy is to see the souls of the wicked wandering ceaselessly, and the punishment in store for them. Their third joy is the good report given of them by their Maker, that throughout their life they kept the Law with which they were entrusted. Their fourth joy is to understand the rest which they are now to share in the storehouses, guarded by angels in deep silence, and the glory waiting for them in the next age. Their fifth joy is the contrast between the corruptible world they have escaped and the future life that is to be their possession, between the cramped laborious life from which they have been set free and the spacious life which will soon be theirs to enjoy for ever and ever. Their sixth joy will be the revelation that they are to shine like stars, never to fade or die, with faces radiant as the sun. Their seventh joy, the greatest joy of all, will be the confident and exultant assurance which will be theirs, free from all fear and shame, as they press forward to see face to face the One whom they served in their lifetime, and from whom they are now to receive their reward in glory."  (2 Esdras 7:88-98 NEB).

C. B. Thomas.