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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Torment

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The noun ‘torment’ is the translation , in all passages except one, of βασανισμός, a Gr. word found in the NT only in Rev. In 1 John 4:18 κόλασις is so translation in Authorized Version (Revised Version ‘punishment’). The cognate verb βασανίζω is rendered ‘torment’ in four out of six passages, the exceptions being Revelation 12:2 (Authorized Version ‘pained,’ Revised Version ‘in pain’) and 2 Peter 2:8 (Authorized Version and Revised Version ‘vexed’). In Authorized Version κακουχέομαι is in one of the two cases of its occurrence rendered ‘torment’ (Hebrews 11:37 : Revised Version ‘evil entreat’). In 4 Ezr. ‘torment’ is the rendering of cruciamentum in 9:9, 13:38 (Authorized Version and Revised Version ), of cruciatus in 7:67 (Revised Version ), of tormentum in 7:36, 38 (Revised Version ), of supplicium in 7:66, 80, 84, 86 (Revised Version ), of cruciamentum in 9:12 (Revised Version ; Authorized Version ‘pain’). Cruciare is translation ‘torment’ in 13:38 (Authorized Version and Revised Version ) and torquere in 5:34 (Revised Version ).

Torment is physical, or mental, or both. Of mental torment we have instances in 2 Peter 2:8, where Lot is said to have ‘vexed’ (Revised Version margin ‘tormented’) his soul with the lawless deeds of his neighbours; in Revelation 11:10 : ‘These two prophets tormented them that dwell on the earth’; in 4 Ezr 5:34 : ‘My reins torment (torquent) me every hour while I labour to comprehend the way of the Most High’; and in 7:64: ‘By reason of this we are tormented (cruciamur), because we perish and know it.’

Of physical torment in this life we have a few instances. In one passage the pangs of childbirth are likened to ‘torment.’ The woman arrayed as the sun was ‘travailing in birth, and in pain to be delivered’ (βασανιζομένη τεκεῖν, Revelation 12:2). Such men as have not the seal of God on their forehead are tormented by the scorpions five months; ‘and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when it striketh a man’ (Revelation 9:5). Of scorpions G. E. Post says (Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) , s.v.), ‘Their sting is very painful, frequently causing a night of agony, which nothing but a large dose of morphine will assuage.’ The torments of Babylon the Great consist of plagues, death, mourning, famine, and burning with fire (Revelation 18:7 f.), especially the last (Revelation 18:10; Revelation 18:15) The heroes of Israel were ‘tormented’ (Hebrews 11:37, Revised Version ‘evil entreated’).

To torments after death we have fairly numerous references in Revelation , 4 Ezra. Those who worship the Beast and his image shall be tormented with fire and brimstone; and the smoke of their torment shall ascend for ever and ever, there being no rest for them day or night (Revelation 14:9-11). A similar punishment awaits the devil, the Beast, and the False Prophet, who, after being cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever (Revelation 20:10). Those who have cast away despitefully the ways of God ‘shall dwell in torments’ (4 Ezr 9:9). Those who have scorned God’s law must know it (or Him) after death by torment (9:12). The Messiah shall show the evil multitude ‘the torments wherewith they shall be tormented, which are likened unto a flame’ (13:38). It is better with beasts than with men, for they know not of torments promised them after death (7:66). Fire and torments await the wicked (7:38). The apostates shall be tormented (7:72). The torments begin in the Intermediate Abode (7:75, 80, 86, 99), and are increased after the Final Judgment (7:36, 38, 84). The pit of torment is synonymous with the furnace of hell (7:36). Other instances of future torment are found in 2 Bar 36:10 f., 51:6, 52:3, 54:14f., 55:2, 7, 56:13, 59:2, 11, 78:6, 83:8, 85:9.

Literature.-R. H. Charles, The Apocalypse of Baruch, London, 1896; P. Volz, Jüdische Eschatologie, Tübingen, 1903, § 39; Libri Apocryphi Veteris Testamenti, ed. O. F. Fritzsche, Leipzig, 1871; Dict. of Christ and the Gospels , s.v. ‘Torment.’

William Watson.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Torment'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdn/t/torment.html. 1906-1918.

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