Abaddon, a-bad'-on ('abhaddon, "ruin," "perdition," "destruction"): Though "destruction" is commonly used in translating 'abhaddon', the stem idea is intransitive rather than passive--the idea of perishing, going to ruin, being in a ruined state, rather than that of being ruined, being destroyed.
OLD TESTAMENT USAGE
The word occurs six times in the Old Testament, always as a place name in the sense in which Sheol is a place name. It denotes, in certain aspects, the world of the dead as constructed in the Hebrew imagination. It is a common mistake to understand such expressions in a too mechanical way. Like ourselves, the men of the earlier ages had to use picture language when they spoke of the conditions that existed after death, however their picturing of the matter may have differed from ours. In three instances Abaddon is parallel with Sheol (Job 26:6; Pr 15:11; 27:20). In one instance it is parallel with death, in one with the grave and in the remaining instance the parallel phrase is "root out all mine increase" (Job 28:22; Ps 88:11; Job 31:12). In this last passage the place idea comes nearer to vanishing in an abstract conception than in the other passages. Abaddon belongs to the realm of the mysterious. Only God understands it (Job 26:6; Pr 15:11). It is the world of the dead in its utterly dismal, destructive, dreadful aspect, not in those more cheerful aspects in which activities are conceived of as in progress there. In Abaddon there are no declarations of God's lovingkindness (Ps 88:11). In a slight degree the Old Testament presentations personalize Abaddon. It is a synonym for insatiableness (Pr 27:20). It has possibilities of information mediate between those of "all living" and those of God (Job 28:22).
NEW TESTAMENT USAGE
In the New Testament the word occurs once (Re 9:11), the personalization becoming sharp. Abaddon is here not the world of the dead, but the angel who reigns over it. The Greek equivalent of his name is given as Apollyon. Under this name Bunyan presents him in the Pilgrim's Progress, and Christendom has doubtless been more interested in this presentation of the matter than in any other. In some treatments Abaddon is connected with the evil spirit Asmodeus of Tobit (e.g. 3:8), and with the destroyer mentioned in The Wisdom of Solomon (18:25; compare 22), and through these with a large body of rabbinical folklore; but these efforts are simply groundless.
See Apollyon . Willis J. Beecher
- International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1939, by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (now in public domain)