Why is Hell (גהינום) named after גיא בן הינום , the Valley of the son of Hinom? And what is גיא בן הינום anyways? Why don’t we just call it Sheol like the Tora does?

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    It is explained here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gehenna: "Gehenna is a small valley in Jerusalem. In the Hebrew Bible, Gehenna was initially where some of the kings of Judah sacrificed their children by fire. Thereafter, it was deemed to be cursed (Jer. 7:31, 19:2–6). – Al Berko Aug 20 at 4:39
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    Who says that hell is named after the valley; maybe the valley was named after it. And who says Sheol and Gehinoim are one of the same? – Danny Schoemann Aug 20 at 14:01

The Torah (well, Nach, really) does call it She’ol, but it also calls it a number of other names. You can ask on Nach itself: why does it use multiple names and not stay consistent? It’s because, as described in Eruvin 19a, each name has some significance regarding Gehennom’s function.

  • I see no claim of etymology here. – Double AA Aug 21 at 1:22
  • @DoubleAA If it was named after the valley, why wouldn’t the Gemara say that it’s called גיהנם because the Yerushalayim entrance is in גיא בן הינם? – DonielF Aug 21 at 1:38
  • Because that was obvious? It's giving an extra layer of meaning. The Gemara is written for people who know Tanakh. – Double AA Aug 21 at 1:40
  • @DoubleAA I just looked again and I see the Maharsha presupposes that it was indeed given this name after the valley. Let me edit accordingly. (I still don’t understand why they’d need an exegetical explanation for the name in that case, but whatever.) – DonielF Aug 21 at 1:42
  • Midrash gives extra layers of meaning to things all the time. Remember Nachum from Gimzo? And how many different explanations are there for Mordechai and Esther's names? Are they just a huge way Machloket that no one could remember historically what their parents were thinking, or are they added meanings? – Double AA Aug 21 at 1:45

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