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Job 17:13-16 – Sheol, Its Gates and Rest

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Job 17:13-16 – If I look for Sheol [the grave, KJV] as my house, If I have spread my couch in the darkness, If I have said to corruption, ‘You are my father;’ To the worm, ‘My mother,’ and ‘my sister;’ Where then is my hope? As for my hope, who shall see it? Shall it go down with me to the gates of Sheol [“bars of the pit”, KJV], Or descend together into the dust? — World English

We find this verse variously rendered in many different translations, many of which would leave the reader with different thoughts. The final expression contains the Hebrew word Nachath (Strong’s #5183), which contains the thought of resting; thus the King James Version is probably more correct in stating: “Truly in the dust alone there is rest for all.” Young’s Literal renders verse 16: “[To] the parts of Sheol ye go down, If together on the dust we may rest.” Sheol and the rest in the dust are being paralleled in this verse. Oblivion — sheol — is the house or is the bed, and it is full of darkness — Job’s soul, his being, sleeps, is inanimate, waiting for the morning of the resurrection, while the former body of the soul (Genesis 2:7) turns to decay. The servant of God expresses his own hope or confidence, but questions how many can have such a confidence. He has already expressed the hope that his death will be merely a sleep, from which he shall awake in the morning. But although each separately goes down to sheol, to oblivion, whether they had this hope or not, all — both good and bad — find rest in the dust. It should be apparent that Job’s description here does not fit the thought that the bad will experience torture in sheol, nor that the good will be in paradise in sheol.

Job does tell us that those in sheol are behind figurative bars or gates. (See Matthew 16:18) They are like locked up in the oblivious death condition, and cannot bring themselves back to life. Yet Job knew that God would unlock the gates of sheol and the dead will live again. This agrees with Revelation 1:18, where we read that Jesus has the keys of death and hades. Jesus uses these keys to unlock the bars or gates of hades, thus allowing all — both good and bad — to be released from hades. — John 5:28,29; Acts 24:15; Revelation 20:4,13.


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