by John Thomas Lowe
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The Hebrew term Abaddon (Hebrew: Ăḇadōn, meaning "destruction," "doom") and its Greek equivalent Apollyon (Koinē Greek: Apollúōn, meaning "Destroyer") appears in the Bible as both a place of Destruction and an angel of the Abyss. In the Hebrew Bible, Abaddon is used concerning a bottomless pit, often appearing alongside the place Sheol, meaning the resting place of dead peoples.
In the Book of Revelation of the New Testament, an angel called Abaddon is described as the King of an army of locusts; his name is first transcribed in Koine Greek (Revelation 9:11—"whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon,"), and then translated Apollyon.
10 They had tails with stingers like scorpions, which had the power to injure people for five months. 11 They were ruled by a king, the angel of the Abyss. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in
Greek, it is Apollyon.
The term Abaddon appears six times in the *Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible; Abaddon means Destruction or "place of destruction," or the realm of the dead, and is accompanied by Sheol.
*Masoretic text - The Hebrew text of the Old Testament is called the Masoretic Text because, in its present form, it is based upon the Masora—the Hebrew, textual tradition of the Jewish scholars known as the Masoretes (or Masorites). The Masoretes were rabbis who made it their special work to correct the faults that had crept into the text of the Old Testament during the Babylonian captivity and to prevent for the future, its being corrupted by any alteration.
The text of the Thanksgiving Hymns—which was found in the Dead Sea Scrolls—tells of "the Sheol of Abaddon" and of the "torrents of Belial that burst into Abaddon." The Biblical Antiquities (misattributed to Philo) mention Abaddon as a place (Destruction) rather than an individual. Abaddon is also one of the compartments of Gehenna. By extension, it can mean an underworld of lost souls or Gehenna.
In some legends, Abaddon is identified as a realm where the damned lie in fire and snow, one of the places in Gehenna that Moses visited.
The New Testament contains the first known depiction of Abaddon as an individual entity instead of a place.
A king, the angel of the bottomless pit; whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek Apollyon; in Latin Exterminans.
— Revelation 9:11
In Revelation 9:11, Abaddon is described as "Destroyer," the angel of the Abyss, and as the King of a plague of locusts resembling horses with crowned human faces, women's hair, lions' teeth, wings, iron breastplates, and a tail with a scorpion's stinger that torments for five months anyone who does not have the seal of God on their foreheads.
The symbolism of Revelation 9:11 leaves the identity of Abaddon open to interpretation. Protestant commentator Matthew Henry (1708) believed Abaddon to be the Antichrist, whereas the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary (1871) and Henry Hampton Halley (1922) identified the angel as Satan.
In contrast, the Methodist publication The Interpreter's Bible states, "Abaddon, however, is an angel not of Satan but God, performing his work of destruction at God's bidding," citing the context in Revelation chapter 20, verses 1 through 3. Jehovah's Witnesses also cite Revelation 20:1-3, where the angel having "the key of the abyss" is shown to represent God, concluding that "Abaddon" is another name for Jesus after his resurrection.
Mandaean scriptures such as the Ginza Rabba mention the Abaddons (Classical Mandaic: ʿbdunia) as part of the World of Darkness. The Right Ginza mentions the existence of the "upper Abaddons" (ʿbdunia ʿlaiia) as well as the "lower Abaddons" (ʿbdunia titania). The final poem of the Left Ginza mentions the "House of the Abaddons" (bit ʿbdunia).
In the gnostic 3rd century Acts of Thomas, Abaddon is the name of a demon, or the Devil himself.
Abaddon is given significant roles in two sources, a homily entitled "The Enthronement of Abaddon" by pseudo-Timothy of Alexandria, and the Book of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, by Bartholomew the Apostle. In the homily by Timothy, Abaddon was first named Muriel and had been given the task by God of collecting the earth that would be used in the creation of Adam. Upon completion of this task, the angel was appointed as a guardian. Everyone feared him, including the angels, demons, and corporeal entities (having, consisting of, or relating to a physical material body). Abaddon was promised that any who venerated him in life could be saved. Abaddon is also said to have a prominent role in the Last Judgment as the one who will take the souls to the Valley of Josaphat. He is described in the Book of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ as being present in the Tomb of Jesus at the moment of the resurrection of Jesus.
In the Book of Revelation ( 9:1-11 ), when John sees his vision of the fifth trumpet blowing, a vast horde of demonic horse riders emerges from the newly opened Abyss. They are sent forth to torment the unfortunate inhabitants of the earth but not to kill them. They have a ruler over them, called a king (basileia basileiva), the angel of the Abyss, whose name is given in both Hebrew and Greek. In Hebrew, it is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon, both words meaning Destroyer or Destruction.
The word only occurs once in the New Testament ( Rev 9:11 ) and five times in the Old Testament ( Job 26:6; 28:22; 31:12; Psalm 88:11; Prov 15:11 ). In Psalm 88:11, Destruction is parallel to the grave; in Job 26:6 and Proverbs 26:6 it is parallel to Sheol; in Job 28:22 it is parallel to Death. Job 31:12 says sin is a fire that burns to Destruction. So in the Old Testament, Abaddon means the place of utter ruin, Death, desolation, or Destruction.
The angel of the Abyss is called Destruction or Destroyer because his task is to oversee the devastation of the earth's inhabitants. His identity is a matter of dispute. Some make him Satan himself, while others take him to be only one of Satan's many evil subordinates. However, it is curious that his minions are allowed only to torture and not to kill.
destruction, the Hebrew name (equivalent to the Greek Apollyon, i.e., destroyer) of "the angel of the bottomless pit" ( Revelation 9:11 ). It is rendered "destruction" in Job 28:22; 31:12; 26:6; Proverbs 15:11; 27:20 . In the last three of these passages the Revised Version retains the word "Abaddon." We may regard this word as a personification of the idea of Destruction or as sheol, the realm of the dead.
Of all the ominous characters described in the book of Revelation, Abaddon—also known as Apollyon—is one of the most menacing. This demonic being lives up to his name, which means Destruction. He arrives on the scene in the Final Days and is introduced as one of Satan's high-ranking officials, a fallen angel who rules over the Abyss. Abaddon's subjects, a horde of demonic creatures equipped to torment humans, usher in the fifth wave of trumpet judgments described in the apostle John's apocalyptic vision.
"This is the beginning of the End in which Satan and his demonic forces will be unleashed. He will be permitted to take those who reject Christ as King during the cleansing of the whole earth to make way for a "new heaven and a new earth" (Revelation 21:1)."
What Is the Meaning of Abaddon in the Old Testament?
In the Old Testament, we catch a glimpse of the word Abaddon in five places—three times in the book of Job (Job 26:6; 28: 22; 12), once in the Psalms (Psalms 88:11), and once in Proverbs (Proverbs 15:11). Each of these brief occurrences describes Abaddon as a unique place of Destruction associated with the realm of the dead.
Some biblical researchers believe there are indirect New Testament passages that refer to the locale of Abaddon without specifically naming that place. Unlike Sheol, which Scripture characterizes as an intermediate site for unregenerate humanity after Death, these researchers believe that Abaddon is a separate realm where fallen angels are incarcerated until God's appointed time of Judgment.
"And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on a great Day" (Jude 1:6).
"For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment;" (2 Peter 2:4).
Whether or not these researchers have correctly interpreted the fallen angel's prison as Abaddon, one thing is sure according to the Old Testament; Abaddon is a supernatural realm set apart for Destruction and those who cause Destruction.
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