HADES: The abode of departed spirits.
The Hebrew name for the abode of the dead is Sheol, and from the Hebrew the word passed into the Aramaic and Syriac versions of the Old Testament. The Septuagint has almost always translated it by Hades, registering thereby the close resemblance of the Hebrew and Greek ideas in regard to the dwelling-place of the dead.
The Israelitic conception of Sheol rests upon the belief that the decomposition of the dead body, by means of which dust returns to dust (Gen. iii. 19; Ps. cxlvi. 4; Eccles. xii. 7), does not involve complete annihilation, only that in death the "shade" of the living man separates from the body and takes up its abode in Sheol. Neither soul (nephesh) nor spirit (ruaḥ) dwells in Hades, only the rephaim, "the shades" (Job xxvi. 6; Ps. lxxxviii. 11; Isa. xiv. 9), who lack everything which according to Hebrew thought could be called life. The care taken to preserve the bodies of the dead from insult or injury does not seem to have been prompted by the thought that the shades could suffer thereby. Sheol is a land of forgetfulness (Ps. lxxxviii. 12), where nothing is known of what happens in the upper world (Job xiv. 21). The only instance of an evocation (I Sam. xxviii.) implies that a man gifted with supernatural knowledge, as was Samuel, did not lose his power even in death. That Sheol was located beneath the earth's surface is clear from the expression "down into Sheol" (Gen. xxxvii. 35; Isa. xiv. 11, 15; Ezek. xxxi. 15). It lies deeper than thought can reach, and to it no light of sun penetrates. Yet it is compared to a house, has chambers, and gates with bars. In poetry it is likened to an insatiable beast. Yet it is subject to God's power, though man can not praise God there (Isa. xxxviii. 18) and God's reproof does not reach it (Ecclus. x1i. 4). About the third century before Christ the idea of Sheol was modified by the Pharisaic doctrine of a return of all or a part of the pious dead to this life at the end of the world-period (Isa. xxvi. 19: Dan. xii. 2; Enoch; xc. 33); and also, by the Essenic doctrine that the pious were, like Enoch (Gen. v. 24), taken up to God (Ps. lxxiii. 24; Wisd. of Sol. iii. 1; Enoch xxxix. 5; see RESURRECTION; and GEHENNA). When the doctrine of a punishment immediately after death began to prevail, the idea that there was a place of punishment and a place of bliss superseded the old conception of Sheol. Since, however, the expressions used by the Old Testament in regard to Sheol could be applied only to the place of punishment, Sheol and Gehenna came to mean the same thing.
In the New Testament the word Hades is rarely used (Matt. xi. 23). That the gates of Hades would not prevail against Christ's community (Matt. xvi. 18) means simply that death can not harm it. In Luke xvi. 23, the rich man while in torment in Hades beholds thence Lazarus in Abraham's bosom, so that Hades and the place of punishment are the same. For Paul, "the deep" (Rom. x. 7) is the dwelling-place of the dead; according to Eph. iv. 9, Christ descended "into the lower parts of the earth"; the dead are inhabitants of the underworld (Phil. ii. 10). To Hades all men must go to await the decision of their lot. Christians, after their death, dwell in Hades until the resurrection (I Thess. iv. 16; I Cor. xv. 23), but cf. Phil. i. 23, where believers are with Christ in death. According to Revelation believers who have departed this life are in heaven (vi. 9, vii. 9, xv. 2), and at the resurrection their souls will be clothed with a body (xx. 4, 5). The other dead dwell in Hades (xx. 13). The bottomless pit (ix. 1, 2, 11, xi. 7) is distinguished from Hades as the place whence came the evil spirits under their leader Abaddon (ix. 11); there Satan will be chained a thousand years. At the end the evil, both men and angels, will be cast into a "lake of fire" (xix. 20, xx. 10). The Gospel of John lays stress upon the conception that believers are from the beginning partakers of eternal life [but cf. v. 28-29]. Death and resurrection are only phases of that life. I Pet. iii. 19 makes mention of the "prison" in which the dead were found at Christ's death.
Christianity did not so much modify the Jewish ideas of death and the abode of the dead as give to them a new foundation. The real victory of life over death was won when Jesus rose from the dead.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: B. Stade, Ueber die alttestamentlichen Vorstellungen vom Zustande nach dem Tode, Leipsic, 1877; idem, Biblische Theologie des A. T., pp. 183 sqq., Tübingen, 1905; T. Burnet, Concerning the State of Departed Souls, 2 vols., London, 1738; J. R. Oertel, Hades, Leipsic, 1863; F. W. Farrar, Eternal Hope, London, 1878; idem, Mercy and Judgment, ib. 1882; E. White, Life in Christ, ib. 1878; H. Oort, in ThT, xv. (1881), 350 sqq.; J. A. Beet, The Last Things, London, 1905; F. Schwally, Das Leben nach dem Tode, Giessen, 1892; J. Frey, Tod, Seelenglaube und Seelenkult im alten Israel, Leipsic 1898; R. H. Charles, Critical Hist. of the Doctrine of a Future Life, London, 1899; A. Bertholet, Die israelitischen Vorstellungen vom Zustande nach dam Tode, Freiburg, 1899; DB, ii. 274-276, 343-346; EB, ii. 1338-41, iv. 4453-54; JE, xi. 282-283; DCG, i. 527-528, 536-538; the lexicons under the words Hades, Sheol; the treatises on Biblical theology; and the literature under DESCENT OF CHRIST INTO HELL; ESCHATOLOGY; and GEHENNA.