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Hi Jon,

No, I’m not claiming an exegetical knockout for Rob Bell. I said that he “wins on points”. He’s half right.

I agree that Isaiah is describing a “literal” place of fire. In fact, Rob Bell would agree that it’s a literal place of fire.

Isaiah refers to Topheth or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom as the place where the dead bodies of those who were killed in war would be burnt.

For Jeremiah it was the “valley of slaughter” because the corpses of Jews would be thrown there during the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem (Jer. 7:32).

For Isaiah it is the place where the Assyrian armies would be defeated and the bodies of the dead consumed in the (literal) fires that burned there (Is. 30:31-33).

This sort of destruction was a terrible thing, so the Jews and the Assyrians might well have been advised to “fear God”.

But whatever the Rabbis may have made of it, it has nothing to do with a post mortem “hell”.

Thank you for highlighting the passage.

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