Down to Gehenna

by John Quiggin on June 24, 2004

I can remember discovering, with something of a shock, that Armageddon was a real place (modern Megiddo). So, I shouldn’t have been too surprised to find out today that Gehenna is the name of a valley near Jerusalem, bearing no obvious marks of being on the road to eternal damnation. I also got to see Golgotha and Mount Zion – I don’t think my reading of Biblical allusions will be quite the same after this.

{ 11 comments }

1

Antoni Jaume 06.24.04 at 4:02 pm

IIRC, Gehenna was a place where people threw their waste (spoiled food, detritus, and anything unclean). There were fires to cremate some of the waste, to reduce nauseating smells, and worms feeding on organic detritus.

DSW

2

David 06.24.04 at 4:08 pm

Here’s a page describing the history of Gehenna and its significance:

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=115&letter=G

An excerpt:

“The place where children were sacrificed to the god Moloch was originally in the “valley of the son of Hinnom,” to the south of Jerusalem (Josh. xv. 8, passim; II Kings xxiii. 10; Jer. ii. 23; vii. 31-32; xix. 6, 13-14). For this reason the valley was deemed to be accursed, and “Gehenna” therefore soon became a figurative equivalent for “hell.” “

3

fdl 06.24.04 at 6:29 pm

To misquote Heinlein (i think):

I don’t know about you, but if this goes on Armageddon outta here.

cheers

Francis

4

chris borthwick 06.25.04 at 5:42 am

Two points of Australian significance:
1) Adam Lindsay Gordon,
“Down to Gehenna or up to the Throne,
He travels the fastest who travels alone…”
Are you accompanied?
2) have you ever been to Mount Buggery? In the same range as Buller, up beyond Mansfield. So if anyone tells you to go to buggery, you can say you’ve already been.

5

Aelfric 06.25.04 at 7:19 am

Gehenna was a place where people threw their waste (spoiled food, detritus, and anything unclean). There were fires to cremate some of the waste, to reduce nauseating smells, and worms feeding on organic detritus.

Still sounds better than Passaic, New Jersey.

6

John Quiggin 06.25.04 at 8:56 am

Chris, I think the phrase is from Kipling, I remember reading the couplet in one of Orwell’s essays.

To answer your questions, I am alone, and I have indeed been to buggery (or close to it), spent time in Purgatory, flogged the dead horse and generally enjoyed many of the wonderful places of the Australian bush.

7

James Russell 06.25.04 at 9:26 am

Don’t forget the little town of Hell in Norway…

8

chris 06.25.04 at 10:17 am

9

Duncan 06.25.04 at 12:24 pm

New Zealand has Mt Sodom and Mt Gomorrah; a Wee Free legacy, no doubt… They have plenty of other entertaining mountain names too; my favourite had to be Philosophers’ Knob.

10

David 06.25.04 at 4:35 pm

Did you know you can e-mail Gehenna?

See:

http://gehenna666.cjb.net/

11

Randolph Fritz 06.27.04 at 9:08 pm

“Gei ben Hinom”–literally, “the valley of the son of Hinom”. I wonder who Hinom was. Gehenna had, I think, smelly garbage fires, like any garbage dump. The idea of the garbage tip of the universe considerably amused me.

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