Falling into a pit!

(Photo: Unplash)

By Elizabeth Prata

The Bible talks of falling into a pit quite often, when you really pay attention. I got interested in pits, lol.

What is a pit? “A hole in the ground, a cistern for water, a vault, a grave. It is used as a figure for mischief, and is the name given to the unseen place of woe. The slime-pits in the vale of Siddim were wells which yielded asphalt.” source from The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Volumes 1–5.

Some verses are:

And He also spoke a parable to them: “Can a blind man guide a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? (Luke 6:39)

now the valley of Siddim was full of tar pits—and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and they fell into them; but those who remained behind fled to the hill country. (Genesis 14:10).

Oof, that’s rough. Falling into a tar pit sounds deadly.

The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary describes pits:

Sometimes “pit” refers to a ditch or a marsh (Jer. 14:3; Isa. 30:14). Many times the word was used as a synonym for a place of destruction (Ps. 55:23), corruption (Pss. 16:10; 49:9; Isa. 38:17), or death (Isa. 14:15; Jon. 2:6). Three times KJV translated the word Sheol as “pit” (Num. 16:30, 33; Job 17:16). One Greek word is translated “bottomless pit” in Rev. 9:1, 2 (cp. Ps. 88:6). Source from Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary

Joseph was thrown into a pit- by his brothers! (Genesis 37:28).

source: Images of the Old Testament, by Hans Holbein (1549)

The Hebrew word bowr can mean pit, hole, cistern, well, dungeon, the grave, or the abyss.

There were rules about pits. If you fall into an uncovered one, you could die. The animal would die. In Exodus 21:33-34, it states,

Now if someone opens a pit, or digs a pit and does not cover it, and an ox or a donkey falls into it, the owner of the pit shall make restitution; he shall give money to its owner, and the dead animal shall become his.

When Absalom was killed they threw him into a pit and covered him with a very great amount of stones. (2 Samuel 18:17).

Zephaniah 2:9 refers to pits in the context of a place of utter desolation: “Therefore, as I live,” declares the Lord of hosts, The God of Israel, “Surely Moab will be like Sodom And the sons of Ammon like Gomorrah— A place possessed by nettles and salt pits, And a perpetual desolation.

Most sobering of all, the pit is a synonym for abyss, and that is where satan will be thrown for a thousand years before his final destination of the Lake of Fire.

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were finished. After these things he must be released for a short time. (Revelation 20:1-3).

EPrata collage

Matthew Henry’s Commentary says of Revelation 20:1-3, He cast him into the bottomless pit, cast him down with force, and with a just vengeance, to his own place and prison, from which he had been permitted to break out, and disturb the churches, and deceive the nations; now he is brought back to that prison, and there laid in chains.

(3.) He is shut up, and a seal set upon him. Christ shuts, and none can open; he shuts by his power, seals by his authority; and his lock and seal even the devils themselves cannot break open.

Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 2483). Hendrickson.

Just think on the Day when there shall be no more pits to fall into, no more metaphors describing an abyss that a sinner may descend into, no more empty cisterns, no more grave! Hallelujah, what a day that will be!

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