Glimpses of Israel - Valley of Hinnom

by Joseph Hunting

Just who Hinnom was (or his son: "of the valley of the son of Hinnom"), is not recorded in Scripture. However, in all probability he was a Canaanite who lived in the valley on the south west side of Jerusalem in the time of the conquest of Canaan by Joshua. Hinnom joins the Kidron Valley in the vicinity of the Pool of Siloam.

The Hebrew name given to this valley was Gei Hinnom from whence we read of the name Gehenna. This Greek word is translated "hell" in the New Testament because of the perpetual fires there that burnt the refuse of Jerusalem, even from earliest times.

Jeremiah refers to Hinnom as Tophet, the site of hideous pagan practices of burning children alive as sacrifices to the god Molech.

Even Solomon sank to the depths of depravity by sacrificing to Molech in Hinnom. "Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill which is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the idol of the children of Ammon. And he did likewise for all his strange wives, which burned incense and sacrificed to their strange gods" (1 Kings 11:7-8).

Scripture also records that the kings, Ahaz and Manasseh, sacrificed their children to Molech in Hinnom.

Because of these awful practices and the refuse fires that burned in Hinnom, the name Gehenna became synonymous with the fires of eternal torment of Sheol or Hades.

Between 1948 and 1967 Hinnom was part of No-Man's-land that separated Israel from Jordan. Today one can stroll along this peaceful valley which shows no signs of its gruesome past, whilst Israel's plans to beautify Jerusalem include making Hinnom an area of green tranquillity.