Abaddon was a Hebrew term that meant destruction or doom. The Greek term appeared in the Bible as both a place of destruction and an angel of the abyss. In Revelation, an angel called Abaddon is described as the king of an army of locusts. In English, it is often translated as the destroyer. This Hebrew word “Abaddon” was used in Job, the Psalms, and Proverbs, usually associated with Sheol and destruction. Some of the Dead Sea Scrolls talk about a Sheol of Abaddon. Revelation had Abaddon as an individual entity instead of a place. There was even a description of this Destroyer. He was the king of a plague of locusts resembling horses with crowned human faces, women’s hair, lions’ teeth, wings, iron breast-plates, and a tail with a scorpion’s stinger that torments for five months anyone who does not have the seal of God on their foreheads. Is this the anti-Christ, the devil, or Satan? On the other hand, he may an angel of God trying to destruct things under God’s guidance. Is it Jesus himself after his resurrection?
Death and the fool (Prov 27:20-27:22)
“Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied.
Human eyes are never satisfied.
The crucible is for silver.
The furnace is for gold.
A person is tested by being praised.
Crush a fool in a mortar with a pestle.
Crush him along with crushed grain.
But his folly will not be driven out.”
First we have the insatiable appetite of death, Sheol and Abaddon, the shadowy underworld where people go after they die. This is compared to human eyes that are never satisfied, always looking for new things. Both silver and gold have to go through a crucible furnace. But instead as in chapter 17, here it is praise and not Yahweh that tests the humans. You can try to get the folly out of a fool by putting him in mortar or crushed grain. A pestle is some kind of grinding machine. However, it will be to no avail. You cannot drive the foolishness out of a fool.
The wicked (Prov 15:8-15:12)
“The sacrifice of the wicked is
An abomination to Yahweh.
But the prayer of the upright is
The way of the wicked is
An abomination to Yahweh.
But he loves whoever
There is severe discipline
For one who forsakes the way.
But one who hates rebuke will die.
Sheol and Abaddon lie open before Yahweh.
How much more the human hearts!
Scoffers do not like to be rebuked.
They will not go to the wise.”
The wicked are so bad that their sacrifice to Yahweh is an abomination. However, the prayer of the upright is delightful to Yahweh. The way of the wicked is an abomination to Yahweh because Yahweh loves righteousness. He rebukes those who forsake his way. However, the wicked do not like to be rebuked. These wicked ones will die and go to Sheol, the shadowy underground world, or Abaddon, the bottomless pit. Those cynic scoffers do not like to be rebuked either. They refuse to go with their human heart in following the wise ones.
The futility of death (Ps 88:11-88:12)
“Is your steadfast love declared in the grave?
Is your faithfulness in Abaddon?
Are your wonders known in the darkness?
Is your saving help in the land of forgetfulness?”
Now the psalmist asks a series of questions that indicate that if he died he could no longer show his love to God or tell people about God’s wonderful things. He would be in the grave. Abaddon is another name for Sheol, since there would be no contact with the living. If he died he would be in the land of darkness and forgetfulness.
Job maintains that he has not committed adultery (Job 31:9-31:12)
“If my heart has been enticed by a woman,
If I have lain in wait at my neighbor’s door,
Then let my wife grind for another!
Let other men kneel over her.
That would be a heinous crime.
That would be a criminal offense.
That would be a fire consuming down to Abaddon.
It would burn to the root all my harvest.”
If Job had been enticed by another woman, he would have to give up his wife. If he laid in wait until his neighbor came home, that would be a terrible crime. His wife should then grind for another person. Grind referred to the idea that she should have sex with another man. Other men would then kneel over her. This would be a criminal act leading to the consuming fire of Abaddon, Sheol, or hell. His harvest should be burned at its roots. Job seemed to take adultery very seriously. He should lose his wife and crops if he committed such a thing.
Where does this wisdom come from? (Job 28:20-28:22)
“Whence then does wisdom come from?
Where is the place of understanding?
It is hid from the eyes of all living.
It is concealed from the birds of the air.
Abaddon and Death say.
‘We have heard a rumor of it with our ears.’”
The biblical author keeps posing the same question. Where does this wisdom come from? Where is there any understanding? No living eyes, even birds, have ever seen wisdom. However, we do get a glimpse of where we might find this wisdom. Abaddon, which is another name for Sheol or perdition, with death itself have heard rumors about this wisdom. Perhaps death and the afterlife will be the source of wisdom.
The hymn to the all powerful God (Job 26:5-26:14)
“The shades below tremble.
The waters and their inhabitants tremble.
Sheol is naked before God.
Abaddon has no covering.
He stretches out Zaphon over the void.
He hangs the earth upon nothing.
He binds up the waters in his thick clouds.
The cloud is not torn open by them.
He covers the face of the full moon.
He spreads over it his cloud.
He has described a circle on the face of the waters.
He has described a circle at the boundary between light and darkness.
The pillars of heaven tremble.
They are astounded at his rebuke.
By his power he stilled the sea.
By his understanding he struck down Rahab.
By his wind the heavens were made fair.
His hand pierced the fleeing serpent.
These are indeed but the outskirts of his ways.
How small a whisper do we hear of him!
But the thunder of his power,
Who can understand?”
Then Job broke into a hymn about the all powerful God. Could this be from Bildad? In very explicit colorful language, he describes the power of God over all things. This is the vision of earth, Sheol, and heaven. Sheol and Abaddon are similar, like a bottomless pit. Abaddon will become a person in the Christian book of Revelation. Here it is like another name for Sheol, so that even those below must recognize the power of God since they have no place to hide or cover up. Zaphon is the northern mountain area of the Canaanite gods, something like the Greek Mount Olympus. The earth was suspended over an abyss. The water in the clouds was still accepted today as the cause of rain. Only God could make it rain and break the clouds. He also had control of the moon creating eclipses. God was of course responsible for the boundary between water and earth as well as light and darkness. There were even pillars in heaven that were afraid of him. Perhaps these pillars are the mountains that seem to reach up into the heavens. Obviously he controlled the sea and the mythical sea monster Rahab. Rahab was also the name of the prostitute, who helped the troops of Joshua, chapter 2. God then pierced the fleeing serpent, perhaps a reference to Genesis, chapter 3. We mortals only catch a glimpse of his power like a whisper when he thunders. The idea that God spoke through thunder was prevalent. However, we cannot understand all this.