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Isaiah 30:33 (NIV)
Topheth has long been prepared;
it has been made ready for the king.
Its fire pit has been made deep and wide,
with an abundance of fire and wood;
the breath of the Lord,
like a stream of burning sulfur,
sets it ablaze.

From context, it sounds like a place--specifically like my modern understanding of hell. However, I've never heard of this name before.

So, what is Topheth, exactly? Is it just another name for hell? Is (was) it a physical town/country?

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May I ask: What do you mean by this: modern understanding of hell? – hannes Jun 27 '13 at 19:47
    
@hannes Oh, that's just amalgam of "my understanding of hell" and "the modern concept of hell". And that's just a reference to the varying concepts of Sheol throughout time. Ultimately, I'm just asking about Topheth, not so much asking about a modern understanding hell. – Richard Jun 27 '13 at 20:08
up vote 5 down vote accepted

There is, as Richard points out, a whole Wikipedia page dedicated to the subject which is far superior to my quick answer down here.


Topheth is probably synonymous with the valley of Hinnom (Jer 7:32), which is exactly that valley south of Jerusalem where children was sacrificed to Moloech. So you are right when associating this with Gehenna/Hell. The horrible way they sacrificed the children was by "frying" them in the hands of a bronze statue. See this Wikipedia article. That knowledge helps when trying to understand this text.

The king that should be punished is the Assyrian king.

Reference

From the notes of NET Bible:

The meaning of תָּפְתֶּה (tafÿteh), which occurs only here, is unknown. The translation above (as with most English versions) assumes an emendation to תֹּפֶת (tofet, "Topheth"; cf. NASB, NIV, NLT) and places the final hey (ה) on the beginning of the next word as an interrogative particle. Topheth was a place near Jerusalem used as a burial ground (see Jer 7:32; 19:11).

From Zondervan Study Bible:

Topeth. A region outside Jerusalem where children were sacrificed to Molech (see 2Ki23:10; Jer 7:31-32; 19:6, 11-14 and notes), the god of the Ammonites (see 1Ki 11:8). Thus it was a place of burning.

From Strongs Hebrew:

8611 topheth to'-feth from the base of 8608; a smiting, i.e. (figuratively) contempt:--tabret. see HEBREW for 08608

8612 Topheth to'-feth the same as 8611; Topheth, a place near Jerusalem:--Tophet, Topheth. see HEBREW for 08611

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Wow. I didn't know about the sacrifices. That's...atrocious. Thanks for the wiki link. I'm going to go read that now. – Richard Jun 26 '13 at 12:33
    
No problem. It reaaly is! I only browsed through the article myself (my limited English skills made it hard to understand some things). But it seemed to say what I've been thought previously, please correct me otherwise. – Niclas Nilsson Jun 26 '13 at 12:40
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Yeah, turns out Wikipedia has an entire article dedicated to Topheth. – Richard Jun 26 '13 at 16:12
    
Ok. Added that to my answer :) – Niclas Nilsson Jun 26 '13 at 17:43

Gehenna name of valley near Jerusalem in the Hebrew Bible as the Valley of the Son of Hinnom . Then Judas, which had betrayed him repented himself,and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, I have betrayed the innocent blood . And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. the chief priests took the silver pieces and bought with them the potter's field .Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day. Akeldema, which is the Aramaic word for “Field of Blood .Akeldama is field of blood Akeldama, in the valley of Hinnom, Gehenna known in the Hebrew Bible as the Valley of the Son of Hinnom .potter's field chief priests took the silver pieces bought potter's field .Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day.Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced, 10. and gave them for the potter’s field. him is jesus . So they weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver. 13. And the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter” [is field of blood ] Gehenna . Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver. but This prophecy is found not in the book of Jeremiah.but in Zechariah 11:12-13 this is no mistake.God is linking these together but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah your uncle is coming to say ‘Buy my field at Anathoth it is your right to redeem it and possess it, jesus ransomed for thirty pieces of silver “Throw it to the potter” [is field of blood ] Gehenna . better should perish one of the members of you and not all of the body of you be cast into Gehenna . Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.What did he mean by saying “I am a worm”?the Hebrew word Jesus used here for worm, is TOLA’ATH, which means “Crimson worm” or “Scarlet worm.When it is time for the female or mother Crimson she finds the a tree lays her eggs under her body and the protective shell. When the baby worms (or larvae) hatch, they stay under the shell. Not only does the mother’s body give protection for her babies, but it also provides them with food – the babies feed on the LIVING body of the mother!the redeemers right to buy the gospel is matching Jeremiah right to redeem it and possess it to Zechariah 11:12-13 And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced,value of Him is Jesus.judas could not keep the money nor could the priest they bought the potter field.Aramaic word for “Field of Blood .Akeldama is field of blood Akeldama, in the valley of Hinnom, "Gehenna" is not actually a Greek word, but it is a transliteration of a Hebrew word that literally means "Hinnom Valley.right to redeem "Gehenna

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The wiki explanation about Tophet is incorrect. Isaiah 30:33 says that God has been preparing it for the king with plenty of wood and fire and the breath of the Lord like a stream of sulpher sets it ablaze. This is not speaking about Hinnom & Molech. its a literal place called Hell. Look at the translation from Stone edition Tanach, it says "the breath of the LORD" who is God, not Molech.

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Rashi, in his commentary to this verse in Isaiah and in a parallel commentary to Bablyl. Talmud Eruvin 19a, says that this is Gehinnom -- the Jewish version of Hell -- where "whoever is enticed by their inclination to do evil will fall there." The Radak's commentary explains that verse means that Gehinnom is prepared for the wicked during their lifetime, and after death their souls die and go to Gehinnom forever. It should be noted that the Talmudic sages, at Rosh Hashanah 17a-b, regard Gehinnom as a place where the souls of marginal sinners go for cleansing before they go to Heaven. The School of Shammai said: "The intermediate group will go down to Gehinnom, and squeal and rise again, as it says, "And I will bring the third part through the fire, and refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried. They shall call My Name and I will answer them." (Zech. 13:9.) The Talmud at Rosh Hashanah 17b, however, also brings down a teaching from the School of Hillel who explains that because of God's Mercy, certain Jewish and non-Jewish sinners will be purified in Gehinnom for no more than 12 months, after which they will rise to Heaven; the wicked, however, will have their bodies burned in Gehinnom for a full 12 months afterwhich their bodies will be turned to a flooring for the feet of the righteous in Heaven (citing Malachai 3:21).

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