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Will Calling a Person a Fool Send You to Hell? - Yeshua on Anger (Part 3)

This is the third part of Yeshua’s teaching on “Anger.” In Part 1, An Angry Person Should be Tried in Court like a Murderer we learned how Yeshua used the court system as an example to establish the seriousness of different levels of anger.

(1) The lowest court was a Bet Din of three judges.
(2) Cases involving capital punishment were decided by a Bet Din of twenty-three judges.[i]
(3) The highest court of the land was the Sanhedrin of 71 judges.

Since Yeshua compared anger to murder in the first example, the first court referred to in his lesson was the Bet Din of twenty-three judges. His point was uncontrolled anger may potentially lead to murder.

In Part 2, Do Not Say RAQA! Yeshua shows how anger may lead to an even more serious offense, if anger continues to go unchecked, by using the next highest court - the Sanhedrin of 71 judges. What increased the seriousness of the offense to the point that it would be a case tried by the highest court of the land? It was when the angry person accused the person he was angry with “RAQA,” which means useless, empty and of no value. Out of anger, this person denied that a fellow human being was created “in the image of the Creator!” Now Yeshua reveals that uncontrolled anger may lead to an even more serious offense.

And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of GEHINNOM.[ii]

According to Yeshua, calling a person a fool, because one is angry, is even a more serious offense than saying he is useless, empty and of no value. We know this because the court that tries this offense is higher than the Sanhedrin. However, English translations make it impossible for readers to understand because of how they translated the underlined words – but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

Let’s start with the second term first. Translations, like the King James Version above, make it seem that Yeshua was saying that if anyone called another person a fool, he or she would spend eternity in Hell (for Protestants) or for a limited time (for Catholics). The Greek word translated “hell” is geennan, which is transliterated into English as GEENNAN. This is the case of another Greek word that is also a transliteration of Hebrew words, GEY-HINNOM. They appear in Joshua 15:8b:

From there it climbed to the top of the hill west of the Valley of Hinnom at the northern end of the Valley of Rephaim. 

The Hebrew word transliterated GEY, means “valley of” and “Hinnom” is the name of a man. The translation of GEY-HINNOM is “Valley of Hinnom,” and that valley is located just outside Jerusalem. Click Here to see a map with the Valley of Hinnom in Yeshua’s time. Click Here to see the Valley of Hinnom in Israel today.

Citizens of Jerusalem used the Hinnom Valley as a garbage dump for the city. In his teaching, Jesus used this stinking, rotting, smoldering, maggot-infested trash heap as an image for eschatological judgment. . . The imagery is stark. Gehenna represents ugliness, filth, violence, and death. No Jew in the first century, familiar with the Valley of Hinnom, could misunderstand the metaphor. Who would want to be thrown into such a place to perish there?[iii]

When Yeshua said “in danger of the fire of the Valley of Hinnom,” his Jewish audience would have understood that he was also referring to a future event that would happen in Jerusalem when the highest of all courts would meet to judge mankind – the Court of YAHWEH on the Great Day of Judgment. GEY-HINNOM was also used metaphorically as an appellation for “the place of torment reserved for those who are judged to be wicked on the Great Day of Judgment.[iv] However, centuries later, as pagan beliefs of Gentile Christians about what they believed about the Greek Hades, replaced the Jewish beliefs about the Hebrew Hades (a shadowy place deep in the earth in which the dead lived forever) of the Jewish followers of Yeshua. In the Greek Hades, Tartarus was a place that is used as a dungeon of torment and suffering for the wicked after death.[v]

Yeshua did not teach that view of “Hell” and did not have it in mind when he made references to what would happen to the wicked on the Great Day of Judgment. Since it is very clear that one of Yeshua’s favorite scrolls was Isaiah, I suggest that what Isaiah had in mind was behind his words that day:

Behold, YAHWEH is coming with fire, and his chariots are like a whirlwind; he will bring down his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For with fire and with his sword YAHWEH will execute judgment on all people, and many will be those slain by YAHWEH. . . .

“As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares YAHWEH, “so will your name and descendants endure. From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says YAHWEH. And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.”[vi]

Where will all of those dead bodies be burning? They will be in the garbage dump in the Valley of Hinnom, where those going to and coming from YAHWEH’s Temple would see and smell them.

Put yourself in the shoes of Yeshua’s Jewish audience, who had probably walked by the burning heaps of garbage, which included all kinds of things and the dead bodies of animals, on their way to and from the Temple many times. They had seen and smelled it. The vision of huge piles of human bodies burning there after YAHWEH held court on the Great Day of Judgment was not an abstract thought to them, like Heaven and Hell are to us. The fact that Yeshua was telling them how they could make sure their bodies would not be on those piles would have had a powerful impact!

But why was the penalty so steep for just calling a person a “fool”? This brings us to the second word that the English translators failed to provide accurate information about its meaning in their translations. The English meaning for the word “fool,” is not what Yeshua had in mind.

And anyone who says (out of anger), ‘You NAVAL!’ will be in danger of being tried on the Great Day of Judgment by YAHWEH.[vii]

When the disciples heard the word NAVAL they knew Yeshua was referring to Psalm 14:

The NAVAL says in his heart, “There is no ELOHIYM.” They are corrupt; their deeds are abominable; there is no one who does TOV.

YAHWEH looks down from the skies on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek ELOHIYM. All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does TOV, not even one.[viii]

There is so much information is contained in this Psalm! I wish I had time to cover it all, but to do it we would have to cover the first ten chapters of Genesis in detail. I have no doubt that Yeshua was well acquainted with those chapters and covered them regularly with his followers. But for now, I will have to summarize the major points related to what Yeshua meant when he said “NAVAL.”

A NAVAL believed there is no Creator,
The deeds of a NAVAL are abominable.
A NAVAL denies that YAHWEH does acts of TOV.
A NAVAL does not do acts of TOV.

It is usually translated as “good,” but that is far from what Yeshua had in mind. It is essential to accurately understand the meaning of the Hebrew word TOV, as it was used in Genesis.

TOV is an act that is visible and concrete, good to the sight, beautiful and pleasant to the eyes, that makes the creation more functionally complete; that protects and preserves life; and, that enhances the quality of life.

Now, let’s take another look at what Yeshua identifies as the most serious offense of all, when it comes to uncontrolled anger.

And anyone who says (to the person he is angry with), ‘You deny that there is a Creator and that YAHWEH does acts of TOV – and you do not do acts of TOV yourself.’ The person who does this will be in danger of being tried on the Great Day of Judgment by YAHWEH.”[ix]

Yeshua isn’t finished with his lesson on anger yet and we will continue in Part 4.

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  1. A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool. See the link below for more info.



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