According to Jewish tradition, Gehenna is the place in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to the south of Jerusalem where children were sacrificed to the god Moloch in ancient times.
For this reason the valley was deemed to be accursed, and Gehenna therefore soon became a figurative equivalent for ‘hell’ in Judaism. Twenty centuries ago, Gehenna also became a literal equivalent of hell (as a place of eternal damnation) in accordance with the Christian faith to account for this newly thought of concept at the time.
Later versions of the Bible have included more faulty translations of this nature to interject the Christian concept of hell. In the King James Version of the Bible, for instance, the terms Sheol, Hades, and Gehenna are translated as ‘hell’ to accommodate this Christian dogmatic idea.
In Islam, the name given to hell, Jahannam, directly derives from the term Gehenna.
‘To have to leave my little cottage and take a stuffy, smelly, over-heated hole of an apartment in this Heaven-forsaken, festering Gehenna.’
– P. G. Wodehouse, My Man Jeeves
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