Day 87: The Valley of Slaughter

Jeremiah 19:1-6

Thus said Yahweh, “Go, and buy a potter’s earthen container, and take some of the elders of the people, and of the elders of the priests; and go out to the valley of the son of Hinnom, which is by the entry of the gate Harsith, and proclaim there the words that I will tell you. Say, ‘Hear Yahweh’s word, kings of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem: Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel says, “Behold, I will bring evil on this place, which whoever hears, his ears will tingle. Because they have forsaken me, and have defiled this place, and have burned incense in it to other gods that they didn’t know, they, their fathers, and the kings of Judah, and have filled this place with the blood of innocents, and have built the high places of Baal, to burn their children in the fire for burnt offerings to Baal, which I didn’t command, nor speak, which didn’t even enter into my mind. Therefore, behold, the days come,” says Yahweh, “that this place will no more be called ‘Topheth’, nor ‘The Valley of the son of Hinnom’, but ‘The valley of Slaughter’.

I did some searching on the web for: “The Valley of the Son of Hinnom” and found out that it looks like a small valley with some buildings paths and what appears to be a nice little park. It’s interesting because Jesus referred to it as Hell. The word Gehenna is said to be a transliteration of “The Valley of Hinnom.” Scholars argue over whether or not it ever really was a garbage dump for Israel, but one thing everyone appears to agree with is that it was the place where the kings of Judah burned their children to the gods. That’s because the Bible says it right here. To Jesus, this valley was a type of Hell even though it isn’t Hell itself. It certainly doesn’t look like Hell today, but what happened there is truly horrible.

God told Jeremiah to tell the leaders that the place would become a place named after slaughter. It was clearly a symbolic thing and it’s no surprise that Jesus would continue the same symbolism in His words to the people. Sin has consequences. As I was studying this place, I noticed some scholars who cast doubt on whether or not Jesus was referring to eternal damnation when referring to it. I looked up all 12 references and it’s pretty obvious that the New Testament writers used this place as a reference to a spiritual place. It wasn’t just a place for the body to be thrown, but a place for the soul. See Matthew 10:28. It’s not like Jesus didn’t talk about this in other ways. He also mentioned it without saying Gehenna in His teaching about the judgment of nations in Matthew 25 where He says that the place was intended for Satan and the fallen angels.

It’s pretty obvious that what God said about this place has happened. We call it “Hell” even today even though the physical place looks rather nice now. Jesus has made it clear to the world that this represents a real spiritual place, and just as the people of Jeremiah’s day mocked Jeremiah’s message of destruction, so people today mock the reality of an eternal place of torment.