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Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [1]

1: Φρέαρ (Strong'S #5421 — Noun Neuter — phrear — freh'-ar )

"a well, dug for water" (distinct from pege, "a fountain"), denotes "a pit" in  Revelation 9:1,2 , RV, "the pit (of the abyss)," "the pit," i.e., the shaft leading down to the abyss, AV, "(bottomless) pit;" in  Luke 14:6 , RV, "well" (AV, "pit"); in  John 4:11,12 , "well." See Well.

2: Βόθυνος (Strong'S #999 — Noun Masculine — bothunos — both'-oo-nos )

is rendered "pit" in  Matthew 12:11 : see Ditch.

3: Ἄβυσσος (Strong'S #12 — Noun Feminine — abussos — ab'-us-sos )

see Bottomless , B.

4: Ὑπολήνιον (Strong'S #5276 — Noun Neuter — hupolenion — hoop-ol-ah'-nee-on )

denotes "a vessel or trough beneath a winepress," to receive the juice,  Mark 12:1 , RV, "a pit for the winepress" (AV, "a place for ... the wine-fat").

 2—Peter 2:4

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]

PIT . Of the dozen Heb. words, besides two Gr. words in NT, rendered ‘pit’ in EV [Note: English Version.] , the following are the most important.

1 . The term bôr is responsible for nearly half of all the OT occurrences. It is the usual word for the cistern with which almost every house in the towns was supplied (see Cistern). Disused cisterns in town and country are the ‘pits’ mentioned in   Genesis 37:20 ff. (that into which Joseph was cast [cf. art. Prison]),   1 Samuel 13:6 (RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ‘cisterns’ etc.). In some passages, indeed, the context shows that ‘cistern,’ not ‘pit,’ is the proper rendering, as in   Leviticus 11:36 ,   Exodus 21:33 f. with reference to an uncovered and unprotected cistern; cf.   Luke 14:5 , RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘well’ for AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ‘pit.’ The systematic exploration of Palestine has brought to light many series of underground caves which were used at various periods as dwelling-places (cf.   1 Samuel 13:6 ); hence by a natural figure, ‘pit’ became a synonym of Sheol , the under world (  Isaiah 14:15 ,   Psalms 28:1 ,   Proverbs 1:12 , and oft.; cf.   Revelation 9:1 ff. and Sheol).

2. A second word rendered ‘pit’ ( shachath ) seems to have denoted originally a pit in which, after concealing the mouth by a covering of twigs and earth, hunters trapped their game (  Ezekiel 19:4;   Ezekiel 19:8 ). Like the preceding, it is frequently used in a figurative sense of the under world; so five times in   Job 33:1-33 (RV [Note: Revised Version.] ).

3 . A hunter’s pit, denoted by pachath , also supplied the figure of   Isaiah 24:17 f. and its parallels   Jeremiah 48:43 f. and   Lamentations 3:47 RV [Note: Revised Version.] note the association with ‘snare.’ Such a pit served as a place of concealment (  2 Samuel 17:9 ) and of burial (  2 Samuel 18:17 ).

4. In   Mark 12:1 RV [Note: Revised Version.] rightly recognizes ‘a pit for the winepress,’ where the reference is to what the Mishna calls ‘a cement-vat,’ i.e. a pit dug in the soil for a wine-vat (cf.   Matthew 25:18 , where the same expression ‘digged’ is used), as contrasted with the usual rock-hewn vats (see Wine and Strong Drink, § 2 ).

A. R. S. Kennedy.

Webster's Dictionary [3]

(1): ( n.) A vat sunk in the ground; as, a tan pit.

(2): ( n.) A depression or hollow in the surface of the human body

(3): ( n.) The hollow place under the shoulder or arm; the axilla, or armpit.

(4): ( n.) A large hole in the ground from which material is dug or quarried; as, a stone pit; a gravel pit; or in which material is made by burning; as, a lime pit; a charcoal pit.

(5): ( n.) A large cavity or hole in the ground, either natural or artificial; a cavity in the surface of a body; an indentation

(6): ( n.) The shaft of a coal mine; a coal pit.

(7): ( n.) An inclosed area into which gamecocks, dogs, and other animals are brought to fight, or where dogs are trained to kill rats.

(8): ( n.) Any abyss; especially, the grave, or hades.

(9): ( n.) A covered deep hole for entrapping wild beasts; a pitfall; hence, a trap; a snare. Also used figuratively.

(10): ( n.) See Pit of the stomach (below).

(11): ( n.) The indentation or mark left by a pustule, as in smallpox.

(12): ( n.) Formerly, that part of a theater, on the floor of the house, below the level of the stage and behind the orchestra; now, in England, commonly the part behind the stalls; in the United States, the parquet; also, the occupants of such a part of a theater.

(13): ( n.) The endocarp of a drupe, and its contained seed or seeds; a stone; as, a peach pit; a cherry pit, etc.

(14): ( n.) A depression or thin spot in the wall of a duct.

(15): ( v. t.) To place or put into a pit or hole.

(16): ( v. t.) To mark with little hollows, as by various pustules; as, a face pitted by smallpox.

(17): ( v. t.) To introduce as an antagonist; to set forward for or in a contest; as, to pit one dog against another.

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [4]

The Old Testament . "Pit" denotes a large hole in the ground. Pits were used to catch wild animals ( Ezekiel 19:1-8 ) or to collect water for drinking ("cisterns, "  Deuteronomy 6:11 ). Sometimes they were used as dungeons or prisons ( Genesis 37:24;  Exodus 12:29;  Jeremiah 38:6 ).

Very often, however, "pit" is used figuratively. For example, enemies seek to harm the psalmist by "digging a pit" for his life ( Psalm 35:7 ). Commonly it is a metaphor for Sheol ("the grave, "  Psalm 16:10 ) or death ( Psalm 30:9 ). Since God did not reveal the hope of resurrection and the glories of heaven until late in Old Testament times, many expressions are quite negative. Everyone dies, so no one can avoid the pit ( Psalm 49:9 ). It is a place of destruction ( Isaiah 38:17 ), a dark and deep place where the dead are without strength, forsaken by the living, and forgotten by God ( Psalm 88:3-6 ). There is no thanksgiving, praise, or hope there ( Psalm 38:1-8 ).

The New Testament . In the New Testament "pit" is used literally of a place into which an animal ( Matthew 12:11;  Luke 14:5 ) or the blind ( Matthew 15:14;  Luke 6:39 ) might fall (the latter is also a figure for the spiritually blind Pharisees). In addition, it is used metaphorically for an underworld dungeon: a gloomy prison for the fallen angels ( 2 Peter 2:4 ) or a bottomless abyss for Satan during the millennium ( Revelation 20:1-3 ).

William B. Nelson, Jr.

See also Mortality Death; Hell

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [5]

(1) She'Ol , "Hades"; the covered, unseen world. (See Hell .)

(2) Shachath , "sunk and lightly covered [pit]" to entrap animals ( Psalms 9:16;  Psalms 35:7); typifying "hopeless doom" ( Job 33:18;  Job 33:24;  Job 33:28;  Job 33:30).

(3) Βor , "a pit or cistern once full of water, now empty", with miry clay beneath ( Psalms 40:2;  Zechariah 9:11); used as dungeon wherein the captive has no water or food; so Jeremiah ( Jeremiah 38:6;  Jeremiah 38:9),  Isaiah 51:14; hence symbolizing "the dishonored grave of the once haughty transgressor", with the idea of condign [Deserved; Appropriate] punishment in the unseen world, shadowed forth by the ignominious state of the body ( Ezekiel 31:14;  Ezekiel 31:16;  Ezekiel 32:18;  Ezekiel 32:24). (See Abyss on the "bottomless pit":  Revelation 9:1-2;  Revelation 20:1-2.)

Holman Bible Dictionary [6]

 Genesis 37:20-29 Exodus 21:33-34 Psalm 7:15 Psalm 55:23 Proverbs 26:27 Proverbs 28:10Cistern

Sometimes “pit” refers to a ditch or a marsh ( Jeremiah 14:3;  Isaiah 30:14 ). Many times the word was used as a synonym for a place of destruction ( Psalm 55:23 ), corruption ( Psalm 16:10;  Psalm 49:9;  Isaiah 38:17 ), or death ( Isaiah 14:15;  Jonah 2:6 ). Three times KJV translated the word Sheol as “pit” (  Numbers 16:30 ,Numbers 16:30, 16:33;  Job 17:16 ). One Greek word is translated “bottomless pit” in  Revelation 9:1-2 (cf.   Psalm 88:6 ). See Hell; Everlasting Punishment; Sheol .

Ralph L. Smith

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words [7]

Be'êr ( בְּאֵר , Strong'S #875), “pit; well.” Cognates of this noun appear in Ugaritic, Akkadian, Arabic, Phoenician, Aramaic, and Ethiopic. This word appears 37 times in the Bible with no occurrences in the Old Testament prophetic books.

Be'êr means a “well” in which there may be water. (By itself the word does not always infer the presence of water.) The word refers to the “pit” itself whether dug or natural: “And Abraham reproved Abimelech because of a well of water, which Abimelech’s servants had violently taken away” (Gen. 21:25). Such a “well” may have a narrow enough mouth that it can be blocked with a stone which a single strong man could move (Gen. 29:2, 10). In the desert country of the ancient Near East a “well” was an important place and its water the source of deep satisfaction for the thirsty. This concept pictures the role of a wife for a faithful husband (Prov. 5:15).

A “pit” may contain something other than water. In its first biblical appearance be'êr is used of tar pits: “And the vale of Siddim was full of slimepits …” (Gen. 14:10). A “pit” may contain nothing as does the “pit” which becomes one’s grave (Ps. 55:23, “pit of the grave”). In some passages the word was to represent more than a depository for the body but a place where one exists after death (Ps. 69:15). Since Babylonian mythology knows of such a place with gates that shut over the deceased, it is not at all unreasonable to see such a place alluded to (minus the erroneous ideas of the pagans) in the Bible.

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [8]

PIT ( βόθυνος, φρέαρ).—In the Gospels βόθυνος is used only of a place into which animals or men might stumble by accident ( Matthew 12:11), or in consequence of blindness ( Matthew 15:14,  Luke 6:39, Authorized Version ‘ditch,’ but Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 ‘pit’). This might mean any opening or hollow dug in the ground. In  Luke 14:5 ||  Matthew 12:11, however, φρέαρ is used, so that here we should, perhaps, understand ‘pit’ as an empty cistern, or artificial well. These are seldom covered in the East or guarded in any way. In the neighbourhood of towns and villages, especially those that have fallen on decay, they are often the cause of serious accidents to unwary pedestrians. In the Apocalypse φρέαρ appears as the bottomless abode of ‘the beast’ and his unholy hosts ( Revelation 9:1;  Revelation 17:8 etc.).

W. Ewing.

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [9]

 Numbers 16:33 (a) The original word is sheol, which in the original Hebrew means hell, or the place of departed spirits. These men and their families and their possessions all went down into hell without dying. They are in hell today in their bodies. GOD did a new thing. He never did it before, and has never done it since.

 Psalm 9:15 (b) The word refers to any trap or device whereby GOD's child is overtaken by the enemy and made captive. (See also  Psalm 35:7;  Psalm 119:85;  Proverbs 28:10).

 Psalm 40:2 (b) Any deep trouble may be called a pit. It is so easy to fall in, and so hard to get out. It is always a very unpleasant experience.

 Psalm 88:6 (b) Since this was written by the sons of Korah, whose father went down to hell alive, therefore, it may be that these sons are indicating that they too should have been punished by GOD, but instead were saved by His grace. (See  Numbers 26:11).

 Ezekiel 19:4 (b) Probably this refers to the battle plan of the enemy.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [10]

There are several Hebrew words translated 'pit.' The principal are:

1. sheol , 'the grave, hades, hell.'  Numbers 16:30,33;  Job 17:16 .

2. shachath, 'a pit, a pitfall to entrap animals,' place of doom and corruption.  Job 33:18,24,28,30;  Psalm 9:15;  Psalm 30:9;  Psalm 35:7;  Ezekiel 28:8; etc.

3. bor, beer, 'pit or well dug for water,' but which could be used for a dungeon.  Genesis 37:20-29;  Psalm 28:1;  Psalm 40:2;  Psalm 88:4,6;  Ezekiel 26:20;  Zechariah 9:11; etc. See Bottomless Pit

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [11]

A reservoir, either natural or artificial, for water. Pits were sometimes used as dungeons,  Genesis 37:20;  Jeremiah 38:6; or being slightly covered, and baited, they served as traps to catch wild beasts, a device which illustrates the plots of designing men and women,  Psalm 119:85;  Proverbs 22:14;  26:27;  Ezekiel 19:4 . The word pit is also used to denote the grave,  Psalm 28:1;  30:3,9; and hell,  Revelation 20:1 .

People's Dictionary of the Bible [12]

Pit. This term is used to render several Hebrew words. It denotes a cistern or reservoir. It was into such a dry cistern that Joseph was cast. In old decayed cisterns the water leaks out or becomes slimy, and such a pit becomes the image of dreariness and misery.  Jeremiah 2:13;  Psalms 40:2;  Zechariah 9:11.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [13]

 Exodus 21:33,34 Genesis 37:24 Jeremiah 14:3 Psalm 30:3 Psalm 9:15 Revelation 20:1,3 Genesis 14:10

King James Dictionary [14]

PIT, To indent to press into hollows.

1. To mark with little hollows, as by variolous pustules as the face pitted by the small pocks. 2. To set in competition, as in combat.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [15]

Pit. See Hell .

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [16]

In the A. V. this word appears with a figurative as well as a literal meaning. It passes from the facts that belong to the outward aspect of Palestine and its cities to states or regions of the spiritual world. With this power it is used to represent several Hebrew and Greek words, and the starting-point which the literal meaning presents for the spiritual is, in each case, a subject of some interest.

1. Of these Bor, בּוֹר (root בָּאִר , cognate בְּאֵר , Beer, a well), occurs most frequently, and means a deep hole or pit, dug in the first instance for a well, or A Cistern hewn or cut in stone, a reservoir, which the Orientals are in the habit of preparing in those regions where there are few or no springs, for the purpose of preserving rain-water for travellers and cattle. These cisterns and trenches are often without water, no supply being obtainable for them except from the rain. In old decayed cisterns the water leaks out, or becomes slimy (Jeremiah 2, 13). Such cisterns or pits, when without water, were often used in the East apparently for three purposes:

(1) As a place of Sepulture ( Psalms 28:1;  Psalms 30:4;  Isaiah 38:18), hence יוֹרְדֵי בוֹר , "they that go down to the pit"-a phrase of frequent occurrence, employed sometimes to denote dying without hope, but commonly a simple going down to the place of the dead (see Gesen. Lex. s.v . ); also, "the graves set in the sides of the pit" ( Exodus 32:23), the recesses cut out for purposes of burial; or they might be the natural fissures in the rocks, abounding in all limestone formations, of which the rocks of Syria and Palestine chiefly consist.

(2) A Prison: "they shall be gathered as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up" ( Isaiah 24:22; also  Jeremiah 37:16;  Exodus 12:29). The pit or dungeon was a common place of punishment in the East, and very dreadful it was, as the case of often to be left to a slow death by starvation; and to be saved from such a doom was regarded as the greatest of all deliverances. Hence it was used

(3) as a place of Destruction ( Zechariah 9:11). In the case of Joseph, Reuben suggested the pit as a device for saving his brother; the others hostile to Joseph adopted it as the most secret, and, they might think, the least guilty method of making away with him ( Genesis 37:22-29).

As remarked above, in this word, as in the cognate בְּאֵר , Bee (which is likewise rendered pit in  Genesis 14:10;  Psalms 55:23;  Psalms 69:15;  Proverbs 23:27), the special thought is that of a pit or well dug for water (Gesen. Thesaur. s.v.). The process of desynonymizing which goes on in all languages seems to have confined the former to the state of the well or cistern, dug into the rock, but no longer filled with water. Thus, where the sense in both cases is figurative, and the same English word is used, we have pit (Bedr) connected with the "deep water," "the water- flood," "the deep" ( Psalms 69:16), while in pit (= בּוֹר ) there is nothing but the "miry clay" ( Psalms 40:2). Its dreariest feature is that there is "no water" in it ( Zechariah 9:11). So far the idea involved has been rather that of misery and despair than of death. But in the phrase "they that go down to The Pit" ( בּוֹר ) it becomes even more constantly than the synonyms noticed below (Sheol, Shachath) the representative of the world of the dead ( Ezekiel 31:14;  Ezekiel 31:16;  Ezekiel 32:18;  Ezekiel 32:24;  Psalms 28:1;  Psalms 143:7). There may have been two reasons for this transfer:

1. The wide, deep excavation became the place of burial. The "graves were set in the sides of the pit" (Bor) ( Ezekiel 32:24). To one looking into it, it was visibly the home of the dead, while the vaguer, more mysterious Sheol carried the thoughts further to an invisible home.

2. The Pit, however, in this sense, was never simply equivalent to burial-place. There is always implied in it a thought of scorn and condemnation. This, too, had its origin apparently in the use made of the excavations, which had either never been wells, or had lost the supply of water. The prisoner in the land of his enemies was left to perish in the pit (Bor) ( Zechariah 9:11). The greatest of all deliverances is that the captive exile is released from the slow death of starvation in it (shachath,  Isaiah 51:14). The history of Jeremiah, cast into the dungeon or pit (Bor) ( Jeremiah 38:6;  Jeremiah 38:9), let down into its depths with cords, sinking into the filth at the bottom (here also there is no water), with death by hunger staring him in the face, shows how terrible an instrument of punishment was such a pit. The condition of the Athenian prisoners in the stone quarries of Syracuse (Thuc. 7:87), the Persian punishment of the Σπόδος (Ctesias, Pers. 48), the oubliettes of mediaeval prisons, present instances of cruelty more or less analogous. It is not strange that with these associations of material horror clustering round, it should have involved more of the idea of a place of punishment for the haughty or unjust than did the Sheol or the grave. (See Well).

2. Sh Á Chath, שִׁחִת , of which, as well as in the cognate שׁוּחָה , shuch  h (rendered "pit" in  Proverbs 20:14;  Jeremiah 2:6;  Jeremiah 18:20;  Jeremiah 18:22), שְׁחוּת . Shechuth ("pit,"  Proverbs 28:10), שְׁחַית , Shechith ("pit,"  Lamentations 4:20; "destruction,"  Psalms 107:20), and שַׁיחָה , Shichah ("pit,"  Psalms 57:6;  Psalms 119:85;  Jeremiah 18:22), as the root שׁוּחִ shows, the sinking of the pit is the primary thought (Gesen. Thesaur. sv.). It is dug into the earth ( Psalms 9:16;  Psalms 119:85). A pit thus made and then covered lightly over, served as a trap by which animals or men might be ensnared ( Psalms 35:7). It thus became a type of sorrow and confusion, from which a man could not extricate himself, of the great doom which comes to all men, of the dreariness of death ( Job 33:18;  Job 33:24;  Job 33:28;  Job 33:30). To "go down to the pit" is to die without hope. It is the penalty of evildoers, that from which the righteous are delivered by the hand of God. (See Trap).

3. Sheol , שְׁאֹל , in  Numbers 16:30;  Numbers 16:33;  Job 17:16. Here the word is one which is used only of the hollow, shadowy world, the dwelling of the dead, and as such it has been treated of tinder HELL.

4. Other Hebrew words rendered pit in the A. V. are the following: גֵּב , geb, something cut out, hence a cistern in the rock ( Jeremiah 14:3); and the cognate גֶּבֶא , Gebe ( Isaiah 30:14;  Jeremiah 14:3); גּוּמִוֹ , gumdts, something Dug (only  Ecclesiastes 10:8); and פִּחִת , pachath, an Excavation ( 2 Samuel 17:9;  2 Samuel 18:17;  Isaiah 24:17-18;  Jeremiah 48:43-44; "hole,"  Jeremiah 48:28; "snare," 1 Samuel 3:47). The term mahamoroth, מִהֲמֹרוֹת , rendered "deep pits" ( Psalms 140:10), properly signifies Streams, Whirlpools, Abysses Of Water. The rabbins, Symmachus, and Jerome understood Pits Of Water.

5. The Greek terms are the following: in  Revelation 9:1-2, and elsewhere, the "bottomless pit" is the translation of Τὸ Φρέαρ Τῆς Ἀβύσσου . The A. V. has rightly taken Φρέαρ here as the equivalent of Bor rather than Beer. The pit of the abyss is as a dungeon. It is opened with a key ( Revelation 9:1;  Revelation 20:1). Satan is cast into it, as a prisoner ( Revelation 20:2). In  Matthew 12:11, "pit" is the rendering of Βόθυνος , a deep Hole or "ditch" (as rendered in  Matthew 15:14;  Luke 6:39). (See Cistern).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [17]

The word translates different Hebrew words of which the most important are: (1) בּור , bōr , "pit" or "cistern," made by digging, (  Genesis 37:20 ); hence, "dungeon" ( Jeremiah 38:6 , margin "pit"); (2) כּאר , be'ēr , "pit" or "well" made by digging ( Genesis 21:25 ); (3) שׁאל , she'ōl , generally rendered "hell" in the King James Version (see Hell ); (4) שׁחת , shaḥath , a pit in the ground to catch wild animals. (1), (2) and (4) above are used metaphorically of the pit of the "grave" or of "sheol" (  Psalm 28:1;  Psalm 30:3;  Job 33:24 ). the King James Version sometimes incorrectly renders (4) by "corruption." (5) פּחת , paḥath , "pit," literally ( 2 Samuel 17:9 ), and figuratively (  Jeremiah 48:43 ). In the New Testament "pit" renders βόθυνος , bóthunos ( Matthew 15:14 ), which means any kind of hole in the ground. In the corresponding passage Lk ( Luke 14:5 the King James Version) has φρέαρ , phréar , "well," the same as (2) above. For "bottomless pit" ( Revelation 9:1 , the King James Version, etc.). See Abyss .