Hinnom Valley Overview
Places of Interest
Hinnom Valley Overview
1. The Hinnom Valley is located just to the southeast of Old City Jerusalem.
2. The Hinnom Valley joins the Kidron Valley just to the southeast of Old City Jerusalem.
3. Today it looks nothing like it did during the Old and New Testament periods.
4. It was an ugly place where ugly things happened.
1. In the Hinnom Valley, the city dumped its waste and burned their trash.
Because the Hinnom Valley is located on the southeast side of Jerusalem, the prevailing winds carry the winds away from the city. For this reason, it became the city dump.
Dead animals from the temple sacrifices were thrown there to rot and be eaten by worms and maggots.
Trash was burned here.
The city sewage was emptied here.
It was smelly, ugly, burning, crawling with worms, full of rot, and full of disease.
2. During the Old Testament period, many of the Israelites sacrificed their children to the false gods of Molech and Baal in the Hinnom Valley.
Leviticus 20:2: You shall also say to the sons of Israel: “Any man from the sons of Israel or from the aliens sojourning in Israel who gives any of his offspring to Molech, shall surely be put to death; the people of the land shall stone him with stones.”
3. What did worship to Molech entail?
It is believed that idols of Moloch were giant metal statues of a man with a bull’s head. Each image had a hole in the abdomen and outstretched forearms that made a kind of ramp to the hole. A fire was lit in or around the statue and babies were placed in the statue’s arms or in the hole. When a couple sacrificed their firstborn, they believed that Moloch would ensure financial prosperity for the family and future children.
It was a custom to beat drums and play music loudly. Some believe this was done to drown out the babies’ screams from reaching the ears of their parents.
4. What did worship to Baal entail?
Baal worship was rooted in sensuality and involved ritualistic prostitution in the temples. At times, appeasing Baal required human sacrifice, usually the firstborn of the one making the sacrifice.
5. With its pagan history and burning sewer stench, Jerusalem's Hinnom Valley serves as a vivid metaphor for both the Christian and Jewish concept of hell.
6. By Jesus' time in the New Testament, the Greek translation of Hinnom Valley, “Gehenna,” became a synonym for hell. For this reason, the English New Testament versions of the Bible translate Gehenna as hell.
Places of Interest
1. Hinnom Valley
2. Kidron Valley
3. Temple Mount
4. City of David
5. Field of Blood. Place Judas hanged himself after betraying Christ.
Valley of Hinnom in the Bible
1. The Prophet Jeremiah strongly condemned the worship of Molech.
Jeremiah 32:31–35: This city has aroused my anger and wrath, from the day it was built to this day, so that I will remove it from my sight 32 because of all the evil of the children of Israel and the children of Judah that they did to provoke me to anger—their kings and their officials, their priests and their prophets, the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 33 They have turned to me their back and not their face. And though I have taught them persistently, they have not listened to receive instruction. 34 They set up their abominations in the house that is called by my name, to defile it. 35 They built the high places of Baal in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to offer up their sons and daughters to Molech, though I did not command them, nor did it enter into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.
2. Several of the Kings of Israel worshipped Molech and Baal.
2 Chronicles 28:1–4: Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem; and he did not do right in the sight of the Lord as David his father had done. 2 But he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel; he also made molten images for the Baals. 3 Moreover, he burned incense in the valley of Ben-hinnom and burned his sons in fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord had driven out before the sons of Israel. 4 He sacrificed and burned incense on the high places, on the hills and under every green tree.
2 Chronicles 33:5–6: For he [King Manasseh] built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord. 6 He made his sons pass through the fire in the valley of Ben-hinnom; and he practiced witchcraft, used divination, practiced sorcery and dealt with mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking Him to anger.
3. God destroyed the nations that previously lived in Israel because of their evil worship of false gods.
Deuteronomy 20:16–18: But in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes, 17 but you shall devote them to complete destruction, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, as the Lord your God has commanded, 18 that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices that they have done for their gods, and so you sin against the Lord your God.
4. When Christ wanted to communicate the concept of coming judgment and hell, He used Gehenna (Hinnom) as an example.
Mark 9:42–49: Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea. 43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire, 44 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. 45 If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having your two feet, to be cast into hell, 46 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. 47 If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell, 48 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. 49 For everyone will be salted with fire.
Luke 12:5: But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!
5. Interestingly, the Field of Blood which was purchased from the 30 pieces of silver Judas received to betray Christ is in the Hinnom Valley. Today, there’s a monastery marking this spot called, Akeldama.
Faith Lesson from the Hinnom Valley
1. Worship of false gods is ugly and destructive. Today, in a metaphorical sense, we can also sacrifice our children on the altar of false idols if we neglect God and don't raise our children to fear Him.
2. Hell is a true reality even though it might seem unjust or uncomfortable.
3. Coming judgment is certain and will take place.
4. Are we genuinely saved and walking with God so we will escape the judgment to come?
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