From BiblePortal Wikipedia

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [1]

That is, the valley of Hinnom, or of the son of Hinnom, a narrow valley just south of Jerusalem, running up westward from the valley of the Cedron, and passing into the valley of the Cedron, and passing into the valley of Gihon, which follows the base of mount Zion north, up to the Joppa gate. It was well watered, and in ancient times most verdant and delightfully shaded with trees. The boundary line Judah and Benjamin passed through it,  Joshua 15:8   18:6   Nehemiah 11:30 . In its lowest part, towards the southeast, and near the king's gardens and Siloam, the idolatrous Israelties made their children pass through the fire to Moloch,  1 Kings 11:7   2 Kings 16:3   Jeremiah 32:35 . See Moloch

The place of these abominable sacrifices is also called Tophet,  Isaiah 30:33   Jeremiah 7:31 . According to some, this name is derived from the Hebrew toph, drum, because drums are supposed to have been used to drown the cries of the victims. But this opinion rests only on conjecture. King Josiah defiled the place,  2 Kings 23:10 , probably by making it a depository of filth. It has been a common opinion that the later Jews, in imitation of Josiah, threw into this place all manner of filth, as well as the carcasses of animals and the dead bodies of malefactors; and that with reference to either the baleful idolatrous fires in the worship of Moloch, or to the fires afterwards maintained there to consume the mass of impurities that might otherwise have occasioned a pestilence, came the figurative use of the fires of Gehenna, that is, valley of Hinnom, to denote the eternal fire in which wicked men and fallen spirits shall be punished. This supposition, however, rests upon uncertain grounds.

It seems clear that the later Jews borrowed their usage of the fire of the valley of Hinnom (Gehenna) to represent the punishment of the wicked in the future world directly from two passages of Isaiah: "For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared; he hath made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it,"  Isaiah 66:24 . These they correctly interpreted figuratively, as representing the vengeance, which God would take on his enemies and the oppressors of his people. That the prophet, in this terrible imagery, alluded to any fire kept perpetually burning in the valley of Hinnom, has not been clearly proved. But however this may be, it is certain that the Jews transferred the name Gehenna, that is the valley of Hinnom, to the place in which devils and wicked men are to be punished in eternal fire, and which in the New Testament is always translated hell,  Matthew 5:22,29,30   10:28   Mark 9:43,45,47   Luke 12:5   James 3:6 . See Hell .

The rocks on the south side of Hinnom are full of gaping apertures, the mouths of tombs once filled with the dead, but now vacant.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [2]

Hin'nom. (Lamentation). Valley Of Hinnom . Otherwise called, "the valley of the son" or "children of Hinnom," a deep and narrow ravine, with steep, rocky sides, to the south and west of Jerusalem, separating Mount Zion to the north from the "hill of evil counsel," and the sloping rocky plateau of the "plain of Rephaim" to the south. The earliest mention of the valley of Hinnom is in  Joshua 15:8;  Joshua 18:16, where the boundary line between the tribes of Judah and Benjamin is described as passing along the bed of the ravine.

On the southern brow, overlooking the valley at its eastern extremity, Solomon erected high places for Molech,  1 Kings 11:7, whose horrid rites were revived, from time to time, in the same vicinity. The later idolatrous kings, Ahaz and Manasseh, made their children "pass through the fire," in this valley,  2 Kings 16:3;  2 Chronicles 28:3;  2 Chronicles 33:6, and the fiendish custom of infant sacrifice to the fire-gods seems to have been kept up in Tophet , which was another name for this place.

To put an end to these abominations, the place was polluted by Josiah, who renders it ceremonially unclean, by spreading over it human bones and other corruptions,  2 Kings 23:10;  2 Kings 23:13-14;  2 Chronicles 34:4-5, from which time, it appears to have become the common cesspool of the city, into which sewage was conducted, to be carried off by the waters of the Kidron. From its ceremonial defilement, and from the detested and abominable fire of Molech, if not from the supposed ever-burning funeral piles, the later Jews applied the name of this valley - Ge Hinnom , Gehenna. (Land Of Hinnom) - to denote the place of eternal torment. In this sense, the word is used by our Lord.  Matthew 5:29;  Matthew 10:28;  Matthew 23:15;  Mark 9:43;  Luke 12:5.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [3]

Hinnom ( Hîn'Nom ), perhaps Lamentation. The valley of the son or sons of Hinnom, or, more concisely, the valley of Hinnom, the boundary between Judah and Benjamin.  Joshua 15:8;  Joshua 18:16. It was the place where children were made "to pass through the fire to Molech," and was defiled by Josiah, in order to extinguish forever such detestable rites.  2 Kings 23:10;  2 Chronicles 28:3;  2 Chronicles 33:6;  Jeremiah 7:31-32;  Jeremiah 19:2;  Jeremiah 19:6;  Jeremiah 32:35. It is mentioned after the captivity again as the frontier of Judah and Benjamin.  Nehemiah 11:30. From the fires of Moloch and from the defilement of the valley, comp.  Isaiah 30:33;  Isaiah 66:24, if not from the supposed everburning funeral fires, the later Jews applied the name of the valley (in the Septuagint Geënna), to the place of eternal suffering for lost angels and men; and in this sense it is used in the New Testament.  Matthew 5:22;  Matthew 5:29-30;  Matthew 10:28;  Mark 9:43;  Mark 9:45;  Mark 9:47;  Luke 12:5;  James 3:6.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [4]

 Joshua 15:8

The Jews associated with this valley these two ideas, (1) that of the sufferings of the victims that had there been sacrificed; and (2) that of filth and corruption. It became thus to the popular mind a symbol of the abode of the wicked hereafter. It came to signify hell as the place of the wicked. "It might be shown by infinite examples that the Jews expressed hell, or the place of the damned, by this word. The word Gehenna [the Greek contraction of Hinnom] was never used in the time of Christ in any other sense than to denote the place of future punishment." About this fact there can be no question. In this sense the word is used eleven times in our Lord's discourses ( Matthew 23:33;  Luke 12:5;  Matthew 5:22 , etc.).

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [5]

Valley Of called also Tophet, and by the Greeks Gehenna, a small valley on the south-east of Jerusalem, at the foot of Mount Zion, where the Canaanites, and afterward the Israelites, sacrificed their children to the idol Moloch, by making them "pass through the fire," or burning them. To drown the shrieks of the victims thus inhumanly sacrificed, musical instruments, called in the Hebrew tuph, tympana or timbrels, were played; whence the spot derived the name of Tophet. Ge Hinnom, or "The Valley of Hinnom," from which the Greeks framed their Gehenna, is sometimes used in Scripture to denote hell or hell fire. See Hell .

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [6]

(Heb. Hinnom', הַנֹּם , for חַנֹּם , Gracious, or for הַינֹם , Abundant), or, rather, Ben-Hinnom ( בֶּןאּהַנֹּם , Son Of Hinnom; Sept. Υἱὸς Ε᾿Ννόμ ; also in the plur. "sons of Hinnom"), an unknown person (prob. one of the original Jebusites), whose name (perh. as resident) was given to the valley ("Valley of Hinnom," otherwise called "the valley of the son" or "children of Hinnom," הַנֹּם גֵּיאּ , or גֵּיִבֶןאּה , or גֵּיאּבְנֵיאּה , variously rendered by the Sept. Φάραγξ Ε᾿Ννόμ , or Υἱοῦ Ε᾿Ννόμ , or Γαιέννα ,  Joshua 18:16; Ἐν Γῇ Βενέννομ ,  2 Chronicles 28:3;  2 Chronicles 33:6; Τὸ Πολυάνδριον Υἱῶν Υἱῶν Τῶν Τέκνων Αὐτῶν .,  Jeremiah 19:2;  Jeremiah 19:6), a deep and narrow ravine, with steep, rocky sides, on the southerly side of Jerusalem, separating Mount Zion on the south from the "Hill of Evil Counsel," and the sloping, rocky plateau of the "plain of Rephaim" on the north, taking its name, according to Stanley, from "some ancient hero, the son of Hinnom," having encamped in it (S. and Pal. p. 172). The earliest mention of the valley of Hinnom in the sacred writings is in  Joshua 15:8, where the boundary line between the tribes of Judah and Benjamin is described with minute topographical accuracy, as passing along the-bed of the ravine from En- Rogel to the top of the mountain "that lieth before the valley westward," at the north end of the plain of Rephaim. It is described in  Joshua 18:16 as on the south side of Jebusi, that is, Mount Zion, on which the ancient stronghold of the Jebusites stood. The valley obtained wide notoriety as the scene of the barbarous rites of Molech and Chemosh, first introduced by Solomon, who built" a high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem (Olivet); and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon" ( 1 Kings 11:7). The inhuman rites were continued by the idolatrous kings of Judah. A monster idol of brass was erected in the opening of the valley, facing the steep side of Olivet, and there the infatuated inhabitants of Jerusalem burnt their sons and their daughters in the fire-casting them, it is said, into the red-hot arms of the idol ( Jeremiah 7:31;  2 Chronicles 28:3;  2 Chronicles 33:6). No spot could have been selected near the Holy City so well fitted for the perpetration of these horrid cruelties: the deep, retired glen, shut in by rugged cliffs, and the bleak mountain sides rising over all. The worship of Molech was abolished by Josiah, and the place dedicated to him was defiled by being strewn with human bones: "He defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter pass through the fire to Molech and he brake in pieces the images, and cut down their groves, and filled their places with the bones of men" ( 2 Kings 23:10;  2 Kings 23:14). The place thus became ceremonially unclean; no Jew could enter it ( 2 Chronicles 34:4-5). From this time it appears to have become the common cesspool of the city, into which its sewage was conducted, to be carried off by the waters of the Kidron, as well as a laystall, where all its solid filth was collected. It was afterwards a public cemetery, (See Aceldamta), and the traveller who now stands in the bottom of this valley and looks up at the multitude of tombs in the cliffs above and around him, thickly dotting the side of Olivet, will be able to see with what wondrous accuracy the curse of Jeremiah has been fulfilled: "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall no more be called Tophet, nor The Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but The Valley of Slaughter; for they shall bury in Tophet till there be no more place" ( Jeremiah 7:32). We learn from Josephus that the last terrible struggle between the Jews and Romans took place here (War, 6, 8, 5); and here, too, it appears the dead bodies were thrown out of the city after the siege (5:12; 5:7). The inhuman rites anciently practiced in the valley of Hinnom caused the latter Jews to regard it with feelings of horror and detestation. The Rabbins suppose it to be the gate of hell (Lightfoot, Opera, 2, 286); and the Jews applied the name given to the valley in some passages of the Sept. Γέεννα , to the place of eternal torment. Hence we find in  Matthew 5:22, "Whosoever shall say, thou fool, shall be in danger of Τὴν Γέενναν Τοῦ Πυρός The Gehenna of fire." The word is formed from the Hebrew גיא הנם , "Valley of Hinnom." (See Hell). The valley was also called Topheth (2 Kings 23:10;  Isaiah 30:33;  Jeremiah 7:31), either from חפת , "spittle," and it would hence mean "a place to spit upon," or from תפתה , "place of burning." (See Tophet).

Most commentators follow Buxtorf, Lightfoot, and others, in asserting that perpetual fires were kept up for the consumption of bodies of criminals, carcases of animals, and whatever else was combustible; but the rabbinical authorities usually brought forward in support of this idea appear insufficient, and Robinson declares (1, 274) that "there is no evidence of any other fires than those of Molech having been kept up in this valley," referring to Rosenmuller, Biblisch. Geogr. II, 1, 156, 164. For the more ordinary view, see Hengstenberg, Christol. 2, 454; 4,41; Keil on Kings 2, 147, Clark's edit.; and: comp.  Isaiah 30:33;  Isaiah 66:24. (See Moloch). It is called,  Jeremiah 2:23, "the valley," Κατ Ἐξοχήν , and perhaps "the valley of dead bodies," 21:40, and "the valley of vision,"  Isaiah 22:1;  Isaiah 22:5 (Stanley, S. and P. p. 172, 482). The name by which it is now known is (in ignorance of the meaning of the initial syllable) Wady Jehennam, or Wady er-Rubeb (Williams, Holy City, 1, 56, Supplem.), though in Mohammedan traditions the name Gehenna is applied to the Valley of Kedron (Ibn Batutah, 12, 4; Stanley, ut sup.). (See Gehenna).

The valley commences in a broad sloping basin to the west of the city, south of the Jaffa road (extending nearly to the brow of the great wady on the west), in the center of which, 700 yards from the Jaffa gate, is the large reservoir, supposed to be the "upper pool," or "Gihon", (See Gihon) ( Isaiah 7:3;  Isaiah 36:2;  2 Chronicles 32:30), now known as Birket El- Mamilla. After running about; three quarters of a mile east by south, the valley takes a sudden bend to the south opposite the Jaffa gate, but in less than another three quarters of a mile it encounters; a rocky hill-side which forces it again in an easterly direction, sweeping round the precipitous south-west corner of Mount Zion almost at a right angle. In this part of its course the valley is from 50 to 100 yards broad, the bottom everywhere covered with small stones, and cultivated. At 290 yards from the Jaffa gate it is crossed by an aqueduct on nine very low arches, conveying water from the "pools of Solomon" to the Temple Mount, a short distance below which is the "lower pool" ( Isaiah 22:9), Birket es-Sultan. From this point the ravine narrows and deepens, and descends with great rapidity between broken cliffs, rising in successive terraces, honeycombed with innumerable sepulchral recesses, forming the northern face of the "Hill of Evil Counsel," to the south, and the steep shelving, but not precipitous southern slopes of Mount Zion, which rise to about the height of 150 feet to the north. The bed of the valley is planted with olives and other fruit- trees, and, when practicable, is cultivated. About 400 yards from the south- west angle of Mount Zion the valley contracts still more, becomes quite narrow and stony, and descends with much greater rapidity towards the "valley of Jehoshaphat," or "of the brook Kidron," before joining which it opens out again, forming an oblong plot, the site of Tophet, devoted to gardens irrigated by the waters of Siloam. Towards the eastern extremity of the valley is the traditional site of "Aceldama," authenticated by a bed of white clay still worked by potters (Williams, Holy City, 2, 495), opposite to which, where the cliff is thirty or forty feet high, the tree on which Judas hanged himself was located during the Frankish kingdom. (Barclay, City of Great King, p. 208). Not far from Aceldama is. a conspicuously situated tomb with a Doric pediment, sometimes known as the "whited sepulcher," near which a large sepulchral recess, with a Doric portal hewn in. the native rock, is known as the "Latibulum anostolo-rum," where the Twelve are said to have concealed themselves during the time between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. The tombs continue quite down to the corner of the mountain, where it bends off to the south along the valley of Jehoshaphat. None of the sepulchral recesses in the vicinity of Jerusalem are so well preserved; most of these are very old-small gloomy caves, with narrow, rock-hewn doorways. (See Jerusalem).

Robinson places "the valley gate,"  Nehemiah 2:13;  Nehemiah 2:15;  2 Chronicles 26:9, at the north-west corner of Mount Zion, in the upper part of this valley (Researches, 1, 220, 239, 274, 320, 353; Williams, Holy City, 1, Suppl. 56; 2, 495; Barclay, City of Great Kiny, p. 205, 208); but this part was rather called the Valley of Gihon. (See Gihon).

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [7]

Hin´nom or rather Ben-Hinnom, an unknown person, whose name was given to the valley which bounds Jerusalem on the north, below Mount Zion, and which in Scripture is often mentioned in connection with the horrid rites of Moloch, which under idolatrous kings were there celebrated (;;;; ). When Josiah overthrew this idolatry, he defiled the valley by casting into it the bones of the dead, the greatest of all pollutions among the Hebrews: and from that time it became the common jakes of Jerusalem, into which all refuse of the city was cast, and where the combustible portions of that refuse were consumed by fire. Hence it came to be regarded as a sort of type of hell, the Gehenna of the New Testament being no other than the name of this valley of Hinnom (Ge-Hinnom); see , sq.;;; .