Is Hell in the heart of the earth?

Does there seem sufficient scriptural warrant for the teaching that “Hades is in the heart of the earth”? (Matthew 12:40 being cited). In the Old Testament the passage of souls to it is frequently spoken of as a descent.

The word Hades (from two words, “a,” not and, “idein,” to see) means the Unseen world. It never represents “the grave” in the sense of a tomb, but “grave-land,” the place of departed spirits. This was the Greek classical use and there is no proof but that exactly the same sense was carried on into New Testament Greek. Certainly a burial place is not unseen. It is the equivalent of the Hebrew, Sheol. There are rare places, e.g., Psalm 49:14-15 where this may seem to be equal to a mere tomb, but with the large majority of cases before us, we may say that even in such, the tomb is viewed as the gate for the particular soul into the underworld. David’s words in Psalm 16 bear out the ordinary meaning:
“Thou wilt not leave my soul in Sheol, neither wilt thou suffer thy Holy One to see corruption.” Sheol then was the place where the Spiritual part went; the grave, where alone corruption is seen, where the body was interred. The Annihilationists try to confuse the two; and deny any existence between death and resurrection; but this is Plainly contrary to many Scriptures. “The wicked shall be turned into Sheol” (Psalm 9:17), surely means more than mere burial. “Shall burn unto the lowest sheol” (Deuteronomy 32:22)—graves don’t burn. “Speak to him out of the midst of Sheol” (Ezekiel 32:22)— so it is not then a place of silence as a grave certainly is. Jacob in Genesis 35, knew his son Joseph was devoured by some beast and so had not been buried at all, and yet speaks of going down (yaradh) to his son to sheol. This word, yaradh (always to go down or descend), certainly favours the thought that we are intended to conceive of Hades as in the heart of the earth. It is the word used of Korah, Dathan and Abiram “going down alive into the pit (sheol),” (Numbers 16:33).

The Spirit of Samuel was also seen to ascend, when the witch of Endor, for the first time in her miserable career, was permitted, to her own horror, actually to call up one of the departed, instead of the lying familiar spirit, who usually impersonated them—”An old man cometh up” (1 Samuel 28:14). Also in Psalm 55:15, we read, “Let them go down quick into Sheol.” But the passage which may well settle the matter for us is Ephessians 4:9 “Now that Christ ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?” There does not seem to be any real difficulty to those who believe in God’s Word. Naturally those who deny there is such a place as Hades, are unwilling to allow anyone to assign It a location. What they want is that someone should prove it does not exist at all.

W.H.