A Survey of the Abyss in the Old and New Testaments

A Survey of the Abyss in the Old and New Testaments

The first time I remember seeing the Abyss mentioned in the Bible was in Luke 8:31 where the demons in a man begged Jesus to not send them to the Abyss.

“And they begged him repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss.”

This really piqued my curiosity, and so I have done some study on this place since then. Just from Luke a few things can be known about the Abyss. One is that demons are afraid that they might be sent there, and so also that it is a place spirits could theoretically be sent to. The demons seemed to consider being sent there in real-time a literal possibility, so the Abyss seems to be a real literal place, which existed 2000 years ago, and for at least some time prior, and so generally could be assumed to still exist now.

In the New Testament this word in the Greek is “abyssos” (Strong’s 12) and is used 8 other times in the New Testament. Most of these times are in the book of Revelation:

Rev 9:1 “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 Abyss (12) pit (5421).”

Rev 9:2 “And he opened the Abyss (12) pit (5421); and there arose a smoke out of the pit (5421), as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit (5421).”

Rev 9:11 “And they had a king among them, the angel of the Abyss (12), whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon (3), but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.”

Rev 11:7 “And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the Abyss (12) shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.”

Rev 17:8 “The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the Abyss (12), and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.”

Rev 20:1-3 “And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the Abyss (12) and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the Abyss (12), and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.”

Rom 10:7 “Or, Who shall descend into the Abyss? (12) (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)” 

From these passages there is much more that we can learn about the Abyss. The word “phrear” for “pit” (Strong’s 5421) is used descriptively as a synonym with the Abyss in several places. The word “phrear” is used 7 times in the New Testament, and is translated as a “pit” or a “well” all of those times. As in, a “donkey fell in a pit” or “the well is very deep”. From this we can gather that the Abyss is like a well or a pit, located downwards in the earth.

From these verses in Revelation we can also learn:

1. The Abyss can be used as a prison for fallen angels, as it will someday be used as a prison for the fallen angel Satan, who will be bound in chains there for 1000 years. 
2. The Abyss has a key that is used twice in Revelation to open or shut the Abyss, again referencing to the Abyss as being like a prison which can be locked shut. 
3. There is an angel of the Abyss whose name is Abaddon. 
4. The Abyss is located down on earth, and again, the Abyss seems to be located downwards, beneath the surface of the earth, inside the earth, as “the beast” is said to “ascend” out of the Abyss.

And so the Abyss is a place where a fallen angel can be imprisoned in chains, down inside the earth. There are a few other verses in the New Testament which seem to reference to a place matching this functional description.

“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. Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” Jude 1:6-7

“For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast [them] down to Tartaros, and delivered [them] into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth [person], a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly, And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned [them] with an overthrow, making [them] an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly.” 2 Pet 2:4-6

Both Jude and Peter make reference to a place where fallen angels are imprisoned. Peter uses the verb here “tartaroo” (Strong’s 5020) which means “to cast down to Tartaros”. Peter uses a verb for “casting down to Tartaros”, saying God cast the fallen angels down there, while not actually stating that these fallen angels are in “Tartaros” as conforms to Greek mythology. But Wikipedia says of Tartaros in Greek mythology, “It is a deep, gloomy place, a pit, or an abyss used as a dungeon… In Greek mythology, Tartarus is both a deity and a place in the underworld… Many, but not all of the Titans, were cast into Tartarus. Cronus was imprisoned in Tartarus. Other gods could be sentenced to Tartarus, as well… Cronus, the ruler of the Titans, was thrown down into the pits of Tartarus by his children.” [1]

Tartaros matches the description of the Abyss, of being a pit, and a prison or dungeon, where “gods” can be imprisoned (as the Bible sometimes calls angels lower-case-g “gods”). [2] As such the action described by “angels that sinned, but cast them down to Tartaros” of 2 Peter is synonymous with “cast him [Satan] into the Abyss” of Rev 20, and the terms Abyss and Tartaros are synonymous.

According to Jude, the fallen angels who were cast down to the Abyss are the ones who sinned by not keeping their first estate, which is also translated as “not keeping their own domain”. 2 Pet 2:5-6 sheds light on the timing of when this happened, as there seems to be a chronological order being used. First were sinning angels that did not keep their own domain, second the Flood, and third the destruction ofSodom. Jude makes a comparison between the angels who sinned by not keeping their own domain and the sexual sin ofSodomandGomorrah. And so the angels who sinned by “not keeping their own domain, abandoned their proper abode”is compared to the people of Sodom “giving themselves over to fornication and going after strange flesh”. Altogether this points to when these angels sinned likely being right before the Flood, and the sin being sexual in nature, of going after strange flesh. And this is exactly what we find if we look at Gen 6:1-4, understanding that the “sons of God” were angels.

“And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they [were] fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also [is] flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were giants in the earth in those days and also afterwards, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare [children] to them, the same [became] mighty men which [were] of old, men of renown.” Gen 6:1-4

And so it is these fallen angels mentioned in Genesis 6 which sinned before the Flood, by leaving the abode of heaven, coming down to earth, and taking human wives and having children with them, who were imprisoned by God for this sin in the Abyss (or Tartaros).

Going back to the Abyss, and the word “abyssos” as it is used in Romans 10:

“But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above) Or, Who shall descend into the Abyss? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)” – Rom 10:6-7

Knowing that the fallen angels of Genesis 6 are imprisoned in the Abyss, this passage makes much more sense, when cross referenced with 1 Peter 3.

“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.” 1 Pet 3:18-20

Peter tells us that at some point Jesus went to preach to these imprisoned fallen angels in the Abyss, these “spirits in prison”, and Romans 10 references to this, contrasting Jesus’ presence in heaven above with Jesus’ visit to the Abyss below. Romans also shows that the angels imprisoned in the Abyss are considered to be “dead” while imprisoned, even though as fallen angels they are immortal, as the word here translated as “dead”, the adjective “nekros” can mean “spiritually dead”, or also mean one is “destitute of force or power, inactive, inoperative”. This is in keeping with Satan being inactive while imprisoned in the Abyss for 1000 years as Revelation 20 describes. It should also be noted that the Greek word “phylake” (Strong’s 5438) is used in both 1 Pet 3 and Rev 20 as “prison”, in reference to the Abyss.

As to the timing of when Jesus visited the Abyss and spoke to the fallen angels imprisoned there, it seems to have been after Jesus’ resurrection and before His ascension to heaven. The same event seems to be referenced in Ephesians 4:8-10, which also indicates the location of the Abyss to be inside the earth. 
“Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)”

Just looking at the New Testament references to the Abyss it is possible to gather much information about the Abyss. But the Old Testament also references to the Abyss in the Hebrew. To see where the Old Testament references to the Abyss in Hebrew it is necessary to know which word or words in Hebrew refer to it.

In Revelation 20 it is prophesied that Satan would be cast down to the Abyss. 
“And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the Abyss”. 

This prophecy is paralleled of Satan in Isaiah 14: 
“Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit… But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, [and as] the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcase trodden under feet.” Isa 14:15,19 [3] 

The word here for “pit” is “bowr” (Strong’s 953) and it means a “pit, well, cistern”.  Because of the context of the prophecy of Isa 14, of Satan’s imprisonment in the Abyss, we can know that sometimes this word “bowr” in Hebrew is used to refer to the Abyss. Although many times this word is also used to refer to a well, pit, or dungeon in a general sense, it also seems to refer to the Abyss in several other verses. The most notable example is in Ezekiel 31. In the following verses the word “Abyss” is being substituted for the word “bowr”.

Eze 31:3-16 “Behold, the Assyrian [was] a cedar in Lebanon with fair branches, and with a shadowing shroud, and of an high stature; and his top was among the thick boughs. The waters made him great, the deep set him up on high with her rivers running round about his plants, and sent out her little rivers unto all the trees of the field. Therefore his height was exalted above all the trees of the field, and his boughs were multiplied, and his branches became long because of the multitude of waters, when he shot forth. All the fowls of heaven made their nests in his boughs, and under his branches did all the beasts of the field bring forth their young, and under his shadow dwelt all great nations. Thus was he fair in his greatness, in the length of his branches: for his root was by great waters. The cedars in the garden of God could not hide him: the fir trees were not like his boughs, and the chesnut trees were not like his branches; nor any tree in the garden of God was like unto him in his beauty. I have made him fair by the multitude of his branches: so that all the trees of Eden, that [were] in the garden of God, envied him. Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thou hast lifted up thyself in height, and he hath shot up his top among the thick boughs, and his heart is lifted up in his height; I have therefore delivered him into the hand of the mighty one of the heathen; he shall surely deal with him: I have driven him out for his wickedness. And strangers, the terrible of the nations, have cut him off, and have left him: upon the mountains and in all the valleys his branches are fallen, and his boughs are broken by all the rivers of the land; and all the people of the earth are gone down from his shadow, and have left him. Upon his ruin shall all the fowls of the heaven remain, and all the beasts of the field shall be upon his branches: To the end that none of all the trees by the waters exalt themselves for their height, neither shoot up their top among the thick boughs, neither their trees stand up in their height, all that drink water: for they are all delivered unto death, to the nether parts of the earth, in the midst of the children of men, with them that go down to the Abyss. Thus saith the Lord GOD; In the day when he went down to the grave I caused a mourning: I covered the deep for him, and I restrained the floods thereof, and the great waters were stayed: and I caused Lebanon to mourn for him, and all the trees of the field fainted for him. I made the nations to shake at the sound of his fall, when I cast him down to hell with them that descend into the Abyss: and all the trees of Eden, the choice and best of Lebanon, all that drink water, shall be comforted in the nether parts of the earth.”

This passage in Ezekiel, with symbolic imagery, speaks of “the Assyrian” who was a great gigantic cedar tree that had many branches and leaves, and of other trees of great height. This Assyrian tree is said to have been envied by other trees, who were in Eden, the Garden of God, and this places the story to have occurred before the Flood, before Eden was destroyed. Also specifically mentioned are great waters and floods of the deep being restrained (“fountains of the deep were stopped” Gen 8:2). The general picture here is that this tree was destroyed in flood waters, and not only that, but that he was forced to go down to the Abyss, into the nether parts of the Earth, at the time of this flood, and then the deep was covered over, and the Abyss below the deep. (The deep refers to deep oceans or waters). The mention of Eden and a great flood, and everyone being “delivered unto death… in the midst of the children of men” seems to point to the great Flood of Noah’s time. In ancient times many cultures worshipped trees as gods, or a tree was thought to contain a god. [4] The Bible sometimes refers to angels as “gods”, and as such here in Ezekiel it could be that the Assyrian tree and other trees mentioned symbolically represent angels. It seems that the Assyrian tree and all his offshoots could refer to a son of God of Genesis 6 and his family, his “fair” branches being his “fair” wives of the daughters of men, and thick boughs or foliage, his many children. This tree’s great height, “top amongst the thick boughs”, loosely relates to the fallen angels having sired tall giants as Genesis 6 records. This passage of Ezekiel 31 may be the main place in the Bible that records of the imprisonment of the fallen angels of Genesis 6 into the Abyss, inside the nether parts of the earth, at the time of the Flood of Noah. 

The Flood of Noah’s time is recorded in the Bible to have been a worldwide event, in which the “fountains of the deep burst open”(Gen 7:11), which were subterranean waters below the land. The mountains were covered, and the earth went through cataclysmic changes. It is thought that such things as underground oil and coal were formed from huge amounts of dead vegetation and animal life that died then. It has been noted that there are many strange things in geology, like aquatic fossils on top of high mountains, which are explained well by a destructive violent worldwide flood mixing and turning the land and sea chaotically. Much vegetation that was on the surface went underground and became oil, and things that were in the ocean are now on mountaintops. It is not hard to imagine that God could have imprisoned fallen angels inside of a deep chasm inside of the earth during the Flood, if one accounts for just how violent and world-changing the Flood really was. [5]

Another verse that uses the word “bowr” seems to hint at the structure of the prison of the Abyss. 

Lam 3:53-55 “They have cut off my life in the dungeon (“bowr” Abyss), and cast a stone upon me. Waters flowed over mine head; then I said, I am cut off. I called upon thy name, O LORD, out of the low dungeon (“bowr” Abyss).”

The picture here is of throwing someone in a deep pit, well or cistern, and covering them with a stone as so to seal it. Then rainwater would not enter into the cistern, but flow on top of the stone. The general idea is a deep hole, covered by rock, and water on top of that. The reason the words for “pit, well, cistern” so often also mean a “prison or dungeon” is because cisterns were often used to imprison people in those times, for instance Jeremiah was imprisoned in such a dungeon as is in Jer 37. [6] Comparatively, the Abyss seems to be a deep pit inside the earth, covered by earth or rock, and on top of this, deep waters (or oceans).

Ezekiel mentions the Abyss several other times using the Hebrew word “bowr”.

Eze 26:19-20 “For thus saith the Lord GOD; When I shall make thee a desolate city, like the cities that are not inhabited; when I shall bring up the deep upon thee, and great waters shall cover thee; When I shall bring thee down with them that descend into the Abyss, with the people of old time, and shall set thee in the low parts of the earth, in places desolate of old, with them that go down to the Abyss, that thou be not inhabited; and I shall set glory in the land of the living.”

Here both the Abyss and “people of old time” are mentioned, and the Abyss is again described to be in the low parts of the earth. There is some hint here that “places desolate of old” might now be located inside the earth in ruin. Again, it is quite possible that during the worldwide Flood that the remains of destroyed pre-flood cities became buried deep down in the earth.

Eze 32:18, 23-25, 29-30 “Son of man, wail for the multitude of Egypt, and cast them down, [even] her, and the daughters of the famous nations, unto the nether parts of the earth, with them that go down into the Abyss… Whose graves are set in the sides of the Abyss, and her company is round about her grave: all of them slain, fallen by the sword, which caused terror in the land of the living. There [is] Elam and all her multitude round about her grave, all of them slain, fallen by the sword, which are gone down uncircumcised into the nether parts of the earth, which caused their terror in the land of the living; yet have they borne their shame with them that go down to the Abyss. They have set her a bed in the midst of the slain with all her multitude: her graves [are] round about him: all of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword: though their terror was caused in the land of the living, yet have they borne their shame with them that go down to the Abyss: he is put in the midst of [them that be] slain… There [is] Edom, her kings, and all her princes, which with their might are laid by [them that were] slain by the sword: they shall lie with the uncircumcised, and with them that go down to the Abyss. There [be] the princes of the north, all of them, and all the Zidonians, which are gone down with the slain; with their terror they are ashamed of their might; and they lie uncircumcised with [them that be] slain by the sword, and bear their shame with them that go down to the Abyss.”

In this passage it is made clear that the Abyss can have graves in its sides, similar to how a graveyard might have graves. There may be graves in the Abyss, but this passage indicates that the Abyss is not “the grave”, even if the Abyss can have graves around it. Also, this passage indicates that there is shame associated with those who are in the Abyss, and that they bear their shame, and again confirms that the Abyss is located in the lower parts of the Earth.

Another passage is found in Isaiah,
“And it shall come to pass in that day, [that] the LORD shall punish the host of the high ones [that are] on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth. And they shall be gathered together, [as] prisoners are gathered in the Abyss, (and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited.) Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the LORD of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously.” -Isa 24:21-23

Isaiah prophesied in this endtimes prophecy, almost as a tangent, that those in the Abyss, in prison, would be visited after many days. This seems to refer to when Jesus descended to the Abyss to speak to the fallen angels imprisoned there, as we have already covered.

Other passages seem to hint of the story of the fallen angels imprisoned in the Abyss in passing, or more poetically, to illustrate a point.

Psalm 143:3-7 “For the enemy hath persecuted my soul; he hath smitten my life down to the ground; he hath made me to dwell in darkness, as those that have been long dead. Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is desolate. I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands. I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul [thirsteth] after thee, as a thirsty land. Selah. Hear me speedily, O LORD: my spirit faileth: hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the Abyss.”

This indicates that God hid his face from those who went down to the Abyss. It is loosely implied that those in the Abyss have long been “dead” and are in darkness, and the “days of old” are specifically mentioned. This passage is more of a hint of the story of the imprisoned fallen angels than anything definitive.

Prov 1:11-12 “If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause: Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the Abyss”

This implies that those who went down to the Abyss went down whole. The word here for “whole” means complete or entire, and this may reference to the Abyss holding the entire group of the fallen angels that sinned before the Flood.

Isa 38:18 “For the grave cannot praise thee, death can [not] celebrate thee: they that go down into the Abyss cannot hope for thy truth.”

This verse indicates with these 3 separate terms that the grave (sheol), death, and the Abyss are not referring to the same things, even though they are sometimes associated together.

Psalm 88:4-8, 9-12 “I am counted with them that go down into the Abyss: I am as a man [that hath] no strength: Free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou rememberest no more: and they are cut off from thy hand. Thou hast laid me in the lowest Abyss, in darkness, in the deeps. Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted [me] with all thy waves. Selah. Thou hast put away mine acquaintance far from me; thou hast made me an abomination unto them: [I am] shut up, and I cannot come forth…Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction: LORD, I have called daily upon thee, I have stretched out my hands unto thee. Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise [and] praise thee? Selah. Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? [or] thy faithfulness in destruction? Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?”

This passage shows the Abyss to be understood as dark place in the “deeps” which refers to deep oceans depths. Referenced are being afflicted with waves, and being shut up and unable to come out. This is the last major passage which seems to refer to the Abyss with the Hebrew word “bowr”. But what is also interesting here in Psalm 88 is the parallel of the “grave” with a place called “destruction”, “Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? [or] thy faithfulness in destruction?” This parallel is much like how both the “grave” and “Abyss” were mentioned in Isa 38:18. This is noteworthy because the word here for the place “destruction” is “abaddown”, or Abaddon. This is the Hebrew word that most closely matches the name of the “angel of the Abyss”, Abaddon, who is mentioned in the book of Revelation.

Rev 9:11 “And they had a king over them, [which is] the angel of the Abyss, whose name in the Hebrew tongue [is] Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath [his] name Apollyon.” 

The word Abaddon in Greek is “Abaddon” (Strong’s 3) and it means, “ruin, destruction, the place of destruction”. It is only used here in the New Testament, but it comes from the Hebrew “abaddown” (Strong’s 11) which means, “place of destruction, destruction, ruin, Abaddon”.

Besides in Psalms 88, this word “abaddown” is used 5 other times in the Old Testament. Because of the parallels seen in Isa 38 and Psalm 88 between “the grave” and “the Abyss”, and “the grave” and the place “Destruction”, and because of the way Abyss/”bowr” and Destruction/“Abaddon” could be synonyms, based on how these words are used in Psalm 88, and because of the relating of the word “abbadown/Abaddon” to the Abyss as seen in Rev 9, it stands to reason that “abaddown” could be another synonymous word in Hebrew that references to the Abyss. So let’s look at the other 5 instances “abaddown” is used.

“The dead tremble, those under the waters, and those inhabiting them. Sheol [is] naked before Him, And Destruction (abaddown) has no covering.” Job 26:5-6

In this first instance the grave (Sheol) and destruction (Abaddon) seem to be paralleled as two different places, both of which God can see into without obstacle, though men cannot. Also mentioned are the “dead” who “tremble, those under the waters” which could refer to those in the Abyss, which is said to be covered by deep waters. Based on contextual clues, it does seem possible that the place “Destruction” or “Abaddown” is another synonym for the Abyss.

Job 31:9-12 “If my heart has been enticed by a woman, Or if I have lurked at my neighbor’s door, then let my wife grind for another, And let others bow down over her. For that would be wickedness; Yes, it would be iniquity deserving of judgment, for that would be a fire that consumes to Abaddon/Destruction, and would root out all my increase.”

In this passage Job mentions sexual immorality as a crime deserving of judgment, judgment that consumes to a place called Destruction/Abaddon and makes one lose all they had. This very generally keeps with the theme of the fallen angels of Genesis 6, sexual immorality deserving judgment, judgment bringing the destruction of the Flood, and them losing everything they had, being imprisoned in the Abyss. There is a parallel here that may indicate Job is referring to the Abyss with the term Abaddon/Destruction. 

(As for the fire mentioned, it may be that the fire which consumes to Destruction/Abaddon means a fire that consumes down into the Abyss. Deut 32:21-22 prophetically mentions God doing this, as the earth will someday be destroyed by fire. “They have moved me to jealousy with [that which is] not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with [those which are] not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation. For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.”)

Job 28:20-24 “From where, then, does wisdom come? And where is the place of understanding? It is hidden from the eyes of all living and concealed from the birds of the air. Abaddon and Death say, ‘We have heard a rumor of it with our ears.'” God understands the way to it, and He knows its place. For He looks to the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens.”

This passage again emphasizes the point that God can see every place under the heavens, while the “place of understanding” has been hidden from the view of men and birds. Here Abaddon and Death are personified to speak, and have ears, and say they have heard a rumor of the place where wisdom and understanding come from. As Job already established that Abaddon (Destruction) was a hidden covered place, the point here may be that even those there, fallen angels, have only heard a rumor of the place of understanding where wisdom comes from. Overall this is poetic, with a running theme of concealment or non-concealment, and seems to mention the place called Abaddon/Destruction, but this place is personified. The meaning here may be that Death (sometimes associated with Satan, Heb 2:14) and Destruction (other fallen angels personified?) do not have understanding or wisdom, having only heard a rumor of it.

The same theme of God being able to see even into Sheol and the place Abaddon/Destruction is also found in Prov 15:11, 
“The grave/Sheol and destruction/Abaddon are before the LORD: how much more then the hearts of the children of men?”

Abaddown is used a final time in Prov 27:20, “Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied, and never satisfied are the eyes of man.” Both Sheol and Abaddon are personified in this passage, as never being satiated or satisfied. The grave, Sheol, is never satisfied because people are always dying. If Destruction/Abaddon is the same place as the Abyss, a prison for fallen angels rarely opened or shut in the Bible, then it may be that the personification here refers to the fallen angels of Genesis 6 imprisoned in the Abyss, who were not satisfied with what they had and wanted more, or to the “angel of the Abyss” named Abaddon. Between this and the personification of Destruction/Abaddon in Job, it seems that Bible in the Old Testament does somewhat point to Abaddon both being a place and also an individual (as Abaddon is mentioned as an individual in Rev 9).

Let’s look at Psalm 88 again, “I am counted with them that go down into the Abyss… Thou hast laid me in the lowest Abyss, in darkness, in the deeps. Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted [me] with all thy waves. Selah. Thou hast put away mine acquaintance far from me; thou hast made me an abomination unto them: [I am] shut up, and I cannot come forth…Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise [and] praise thee? Selah. Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? [or] thy faithfulness in destruction? (Abaddown?) Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?”

Here the Abyss and Destruction/Abaddon as places are compared most closely as synonyms. If this is the case, then it is implied that the place Abaddon is dark, same as is said of the Abyss, and it is a land of forgetfulness or a land of what is forgotten, which matches in Eze 26 the “places desolate of old” said of the Abyss; both descriptions matching those of the Abyss.

So far we have seen that the Greek word Abyss “abyssos” is referenced to as Tartaros with the verb “tartaroo”, the word “phrear” for “pit” is used as a synonym, and also the general descriptive term “phylake” or “prison” was used to refer to the Abyss in the Greek. Comparing Rev 20 and Isa 14, we can see the Hebrew word “bowr” is sometimes used to reference to the Abyss, which means a “pit, well, or cistern”. Likely also “abaddown”, a place of destruction, references to the Abyss, sometimes with personification.

Are there any other Old Testament words that refer to the Abyss? We have seen that words that are used to refer to a “pit, well, cistern, prison” in general can also at times be used to refer to the Abyss, and as such there may be more words that refer to the Abyss. It seems that a noun which refers to a “place of destruction” sometimes seems to be personified to point to “the angel of the Abyss” named Abaddon, and so as such there may be more passages referencing “destruction” that are referring to Abaddon. Sometimes synonymous words used are general descriptive words, and not proper nouns that always mean the same thing.

Another such synonymous word may be in Isa 24:17-23, in which the Hebrew word “pachath” or “pit” (Strong’s 6354) is used, which means, “a pit, often used as a figure of destruction”. As we already have covered, the Hebrew word “bowr” for “pit” is used in this passage, seeming to reference to the Abyss, and this may indicate “pachath” for “pit” could be another word that is a synonym for the Abyss. 

“Fear, and the pit (“pachath” Abyss?), and the snare, [are] upon thee, O inhabitant of the earth. And it shall come to pass, [that] he who fleeth from the noise of the fear shall fall into the pit; and he that cometh up out of the midst of the pit (“pachath” Abyss?) shall be taken in the snare: for the windows from on high are open, and the foundations of the earth do shake. The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again. And it shall come to pass in that day, [that] the LORD shall punish the host of the high ones [that are] on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth. And they shall be gathered together, [as] prisoners are gathered in the Abyss (bowr), (and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited.) Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the LORD of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously.” – Isa 24:17-23

Two different words for “pit” are used here. “Bowr” seems to clearly reference to the Abyss due to a prophetic fulfillment of Jesus visiting the fallen angels imprisoned there. As such it seems reasonable that the other word for pit in this passage “pachath” may also refer to the Abyss and could have some prophetic meaning. This end times passage could refer to those in the Abyss or pit coming out of it, and “he that cometh out of the midst of the pit (Abyss)” being caught in a snare. And so, a reason why “pachath” may be a synonym for the Abyss in this passage is that it seems Paul may be quoting from Isa 24:18 in 2 Thessalonians 2:7.

“And it shall come to pass, [that] he who fleeth from the noise of the fear shall fall into the pit; and he that cometh up out of the midst of the pit shall be taken in the snare: for the windows from on high are open, and the foundations of the earth do shake.” -Isa 24:18

In Hebrew the words here are “alah tavek pachath” (Strong’s 5927, 8432, 6354). These words meanings are: alah “go ascend, climb”; tavek “midst, middle, among, from among”; pachath “a pit, often used as a figure of destruction”. And from this arrives the phrase “he that cometh up out of the midst of the pit”. This may be a very close match to 2 Thes 2:6-7:

“And you now know the thing that is holding back, that he may be revealed at the proper time.  For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only the thing which now restrains will continue to do so until out of the midst he comes.”  -literal translation by Bryan Huie [7]

“And in the present you know he’s restrained, into being revealed in his appointed time. For the mystery now is working lawlessness alone, a restraining at this very moment, until out of the midst he arises.” –literal translation by Paradox Brown [8]

The Greek here for “out of the midst he comes” is “ek mesos ginomai” (Strong’s 1537, 3319, 1096). These words meanings are: ek “from out of, out from, forth from”; mesos “middle, the midst, in the midst of, amongst”; ginomai “to come into existence, to arise, appear in history, come upon the stage”. And from this arrives the phrase, “out of the midst he comes” which is a very close match to “he that cometh out of the midst”.

It is also interesting that the “pit” or “Abyss” is a prison, a place which restrains those in it, and Paul repeatedly references to him being restrained. The word for restrained Paul uses twice in these verses is “katecho” (Strong’s 2722) which means, “to hold back, detain, retain, restrain, hinder, hold fast, keep secure, possess”. This is contrasted with Paul saying he will be “revealed”, the word “apokalypto” (Strong’s 601) which means, “to uncover, lay open what has been veiled or covered up, to disclose, make bare”.

This word meaning “uncover” is interesting, as in the Old Testament the Abyss is mentioned as being covered: “I covered the deep for him… when I cast him down to hell with them that descend into the Abyss… in the nether parts of the earth” (Eze 31) and “great waters shall cover thee; When I shall bring thee down with them that descend into the Abyss” (Eze 26). The method of covering seems to be described in Lam 3, “cast a stone upon me, waters flowed over my head”, of rock and earth, and on top of this deep oceans, covering the Abyss. Also interesting is the Old Testament emphasizing that while we cannot see the Abyss/Destruction, that to God “Abaddon has no covering” (Job 26) and (that even), “Sheol and Abaddon are before the LORD: how much more then the hearts of the children of men?” (Prov 15).

If there is another reason to think that “pachath” or pit is used in Isa 24 as a synonym for the Abyss, it would be related to an event described in Revelation 9.

“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 Abyss. And he opened the Abyss; 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. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth… And they had a king among them, [which is] the angel of the Abyss, whose name in the Hebrew tongue [is] Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath [his] name Apollyon.” – Rev 9:1-3a,11

Here smoke “arose” from the Abyss “out of” it, and locusts “came out” of the smoke, and “among them” is a king, the angel of the Abyss who is named Abaddon. And so, in the midst of smoke and locusts, Abaddon arose and came out of the Abyss among the locusts. The word for “arose” here is “anabaino” (Strong’s 305) which means, “to ascend, go up, rise”. The word for “out of” here is “ek” (Strong’s 1537) which means “from out of, out from, forth from”. And the words here for “came out” are “exerchomai ek” (Strong’s 1831, 1537) and “exerchomai” means, “to go or come forth of”. The word here for “among” is “epi” (Strong’s 1909), and can mean “among, by, before, in the presence of, near” and in several places in the New Testament is translated as “among” (KJV – Mat 13:7, Acts 1:21, 4:17, 2 Thes 1:10, Rev 7:15).

This passage describes that the angel Abaddon comes up out of the Abyss, among the locusts, in the middle or midst of smoke and locusts, as the Abyss is opened and becomes uncovered, and those in it are no longer restrained but revealed. Altogether there does seem to be some parallel between “he who cometh up out of the midst of the pit” of Isa 24 and “out of the midst he comes” of 2 Thes 2 and “arose a smoke out of the Abyss… came out of the smoke locusts… a king among them, the angel of the Abyss… Abaddon”of Rev 9.

Also interesting in Revelation, and potentially related, is the repeated use of the phrase “the beast who ascends out of the Abyss” as the angel Abaddon and locusts ascend out of the Abyss, and the phrase “beast from the sea” as the Abyss is said to be covered by deep oceans. And also, in an explanation of a mystery, “the beast that thou sawest, was, and is not, and shall ascend out of the Abyss”, all of which may also reference back to Isa 24, 2 Thes 2, and Rev 9.

 

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tartarus
[2] http://www.thedivinecouncil.com/
[3] For a more complete study on Satan with a timeline, see here: http://www.paradoxbrown.com/Chapter_1.htm
[4] The Tree of Life: An Archeological Study by E.O. James, pgs. 4, 34, 42…
[5] To learn more on the Flood and how science supports the cataclysmic historic reality of this event, see http://www.Creation.comor also http://www.DrDino.com.
[6] http://www.bible-history.com/biblestudy/cisterns.html
[7] http://www.herealittletherealittle.net/index.cfm?page_name=Abaddon
[8] http://www.stopalienabduction.com/BookofRevelation.doc







A Modern Guide to Demons and Fallen Angels © 2007-2013
Paradox Brown
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