Depths


Even though there are three Heb. words tr. as “depths” or “deep,” tehom is by far the most common word. It is almost always in a context, either literally or figuratively, of primordial waters. Leviathan, the mythological sea monster often referred to symbolically, is said to dwell in the depths (Isa 27:1). It is evident that the concept of the after-life or the nether world is not quite as developed in the OT as it is in the NT. The spiritual world beyond the grave is somewhat obscure, even though the God of the ages has a place for believers quite separate from the dwelling place of the wicked.

Abussos is the Gr. word which is parallel to the Heb. tehom. It is the bottomless pit of the Book of Revelation and a place of punishment. Bathos is not quite as “negative” as abussos and is used often in a fig. way as illustrated in Paul’s letter to the Romans: “...nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God...” (Rom 8:39).

Bibliography

J. Gray, The Legacy of Canaan (1957); C. F. Pfeiffer, “Lotan and Leviathan,” EQ 32 (1960), 208f; G. L. Archer, A Survey of the Old Testament Introduction (1964); C. H. Gordon, Ugaritic Textbook (1965), 497; T. H. Gaster, Myth, Legend and Custom in the OT (1969).