The Spirit World: Chapter Three (Abaddon)

This entry is part 5 of 23 in the series The Spirit World

Abaddon

(This is a continuation of The Spirit World book series. This post assumes the prerequisite reading of earlier posts in the series.)

Abaddon is also a Hebrew term, thus is constrained to the Old Testament, except for one occasion when the Hebrew term is referenced in its original language in the New Testament.  Abaddon appears seven times in the Bible.  Since it is used so sparingly, this chapter will examine each use of the term.

Abaddon is translated “destruction” throughout the NIV and KJV, except for the Revelation passage, where Abaddon is rendered in its native Hebrew, as a proper name.

Each use of the term is listed below.

The texts:

Job 26:6 (NIV)
6 Death (Heb Sheol) is naked before God;
     Destruction (Heb Abaddon) lies uncovered.

Job 28:22 (NIV)
22 Destruction (Abaddon) and Death (Sheol) say,
     ‘Only a rumor of it has reached our ears.’

Job 31:12 (NIV)
12 It is a fire that burns to Destruction (Abaddon);
     it would have uprooted my harvest.

Psalms 88:11 (NIV)
11 Is your love declared in the grave (qibrah – a non-proper name), your faithfulness in Destruction (Abaddon)?

Proverbs 15:11 (NIV)
11 Death (Sheol) and Destruction (Abaddon) lie open before the LORD– how much more the hearts of men!

Proverbs 27:20 (NIV)
20 Death (Sheol) and Destruction (Abbadon) are never satisfied, and neither are the eyes of man.

Rev 9:11 (NIV)
11 They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon. 

From these seven usages, several observations can be made about Abaddon which will easily define its exact nature.

Abaddon is closely related to Sheol

Abaddon is used in parallel with Sheol in Hebrew poetic texts.  Unlike English poetry, Hebrew poetic verse is based on parallelism rather than rhythm and/or rhyme.  Parallelism is a poetic device whereby comparison or contrasts are made between two ideas.  As such, one half of the poetic verse will be either greatly related to or greatly opposed to the other half of the verse.  This quality makes parallelism a substantial tool to use in determining the nature of biblical terms and phrases, as they can readily be compared to other, better understood terms or phrases.

There are three primary types of parallelism in Hebrew poetry.  One type is synonymous parallelism.  In this type of parallelism, the first half of the poetic line is mirrored in the second half.

Proverbs 1:20 (NIV)
20 Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares;

In Proverbs 1:20, each half of the poetic verse mirrors the other.  “Wisdom” mirrors “she,” “calls aloud” mirrors “raises her voice,” and “street” mirrors “the public squares.”  Thus, the second half of the verse restates the first half, requiring the meanings to be the same.

Other forms of parallelism are antithetical parallelism, in which case the second half of the line contrasts the first half, and climactic parallelism, in which case the second half of the line balances the first half, while giving additional insight into its meaning.

There are five poetic books in the Old Testament:  Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon.  Abaddon is referenced in three of the five, and in only one non-poetic book where it is rendered as a proper name of a demon.

Essentially, to be paralleled in Hebrew poetry, an item is noted to be related and closely knit in nature to that which it is paralleled, or else it is a complete opposite in the case of antithetical parallelism.  In biblical poetic references, Abaddon is used in synonymous and climactic parallel with Sheol, indicating that the two are closely related in nature or use.

Proverbs 15:11 (NIV)
11
 Death (Sheol) and Destruction (Abaddon) lie open before the LORD– how much more the hearts of men!

In Proverbs 15:11, Abaddon is in climactic parallel with Sheol.  The two ideas build upon one another in the text.  Thus, they are clearly related.

Likewise, Proverbs 27:20 notes,

Proverbs 27:20 (NIV)
20 Death (Sheol) and Destruction (Abaddon) are never satisfied, and neither are the eyes of man.

Again a climactic parallel is observed.  Sheol and Abaddon are two related ideas, each giving a fuller understanding to the nature of the realms they describe by merit of being used together.  Likewise, parallels are observable in Job.

Job 26:6 (NIV)
6 Death (Sheol) is naked before God;
     Destruction (Abaddon) lies uncovered.

Job 28:22 (NIV)
 22 Destruction (Abaddon) and Death (Sheol) say,
     ‘Only a rumor of it has reached our ears.’

Of the six poetic texts referencing Abaddon, four of them parallel it with Sheol, giving the clear understanding that the two are related.  Some characteristic of Sheol, then, gives additional weight to the understanding of Abaddon.

Another use of Abaddon in poetic text is found in Psalm 88.

Psalm 88:11 (NIV)
11 Is your love declared in the grave, your faithfulness in Destruction (Abaddon)?

In this text the parallel with Abaddon is slightly different, yet still very similar.  The term translated “the grave” is not Sheol in this text, but qeber, which references not the spiritual grave of Sheol, but the literal and physical burying place.  It is “the grave” in its physical form.  In this case, the parallel with Abaddon is that of a literal grave.  Still, the comparison to Sheol is very strong, for where there is a physical gravesite, there is a spirit represented which has entered Sheol.

Essentially, Abaddon is determined by its use in poetic parallelism to be something greatly akin to death and the grave. More stringently, it is assigned an identification with Sheol, the place of the spiritual dead.

Abaddon denotes negativity

An additional observation concerning the usages of Abaddon in scripture is that it is always referenced in a negative light.  It is never referenced as a good place for one to exist.

In Job 31, Job speaks of the nature of marital unfaithfulness, a clearly sinful condition.  Of that condition it is stated that,

Job 31:12 (NIV)
12 It is a fire that burns to Destruction (Abaddon);
     it would have uprooted my harvest.

Being a sinful action, Job speaks of adultery as “a fire that burns to Abaddon,” clearly indicating a judgmental nature of Abaddon toward that particular sinful action.

Proverbs 27 notes that,

Proverbs 27:20 (NIV)
20 Death (Sheol) and Destruction (Abbadon) are never satisfied, and neither are the eyes of man.

Once again, a negative connotation surrounds the environment of Abaddon, being a place which is “never satisfied,” indicating its unquenchable nature.

Lastly, the New Testament reference to Abaddon reveals a particularly evil and dark characteristic.

Revelation 9:11 (NIV)
11 They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon. 

While the Abyss will be dealt with later in this work, suffice it to note at this point that the Abyss is a realm of demonic angels.  The “angel” noted in Revelation 9 is not a righteous angel, but a demon who is the king over a group of demons who are to be released from the Abyss.  Abaddon is the name given to that demon king.  While Abaddon is used as a proper name of a demon in this text and not the name of a spiritual realm, it should be noted that names in scripture are of great importance.  In essence, the nature of Abaddon is somehow aligned with the nature of this demon king, once again clearly indicating a very negative connotation for Abaddon.

At this point, another observation can be made about Abaddon, which is that it is synonymous with the Greek term, Apollyon.  Clearly from this text, the name Abaddon is a Hebrew rendering of the same name in Greek, which is Apollyon.  As the term Apollyon appears only in this text, no more will be noted about it in this work other than this observation.  Apollyon and Abaddon are one and the same.

Abaddon is the name of the unrighteous side of Sheol

In simple conclusion, Abaddon is the proper name of the unrighteous side of Sheol.  Abaddon is paralleled with Sheol throughout the Old Testament, indicating a close tie between the two.  Abaddon is used as a proper name of a demonic being.  It is always noted specifically in a negative light, when any positive or negative connotations are given.  As Sheol is a place of two compartments, one for the righteous and one for the unrighteous, Abaddon can clearly be observed to reference the unrighteous side of Sheol.  It is the location within Sheol where the unrighteous dead reside, separated from the righteous, in flames, in agony and with no redemption ever offered.

At this point, it may seem plausible to assume that Abaddon is the same as the lake of fire.  Yet, it will be observed later in this work that such a designation is improper.  Abaddon and Hell are not synonymous, though they are closely related.

image The Spirit World series will continue weekly until the entire book is published online. If, however, you enjoy this series and do not wish to wait, you can purchase the paperback version of The Spirit World here.


Series Navigation<< The Spirit World: Chapter Two (Hades)The Spirit World: Chapter Four (The Pit) >>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Locations of visitors to this page



ReturningKing.com Books