For Tophet is ordained of old
The place long ago appointed for the ruin of the Assyrian army, which pitched here: this was a valley near Jerusalem, the valley of the son of Hinnom; so called, from the drums and tabrets beat upon here, to prevent parents hearing the cries of their infants offered to Molech: into it was brought the filth and dung of the city; here malefactors were buried, it is said; and such as were condemned to burning were burned here; and such as had no burial were cast here; so that it was an image and picture of hell itself: and the word "Gehenna", used for hell, comes from "Gehinnom", or the valley of Hinnom, the name of this place; and some think that is here meant, which from all eternity was appointed as the place of torment for wicked men, So the Targum,
``for hell is ordained from the worlds (or before the worlds), because of their sins.''It is in the original, "from yesterday": hence Jarchi interprets it of the second day of the creation, which had a yesterday; on which day the Jews suppose hell was made: and so it is interpreted in the Talmud F16, where it is said to be one of the seven things created before the world was, and is proved from this text; and said to be called Tophet, because whoever (htptmh) is deceived by his imagination (or evil concupiscence) falls into it; (See Gill on Matthew 25:41) with this compare ( Jude 1:4 ) : yea, for the king it is prepared;
for Sennacherib king of Assyria; that is, for his army, which perished here, though he did not; or for kings, the singular for the plural; for his princes, which, as he boastingly said, were "altogether kings", ( Isaiah 10:8 ) and particularly for Rabshakeh, the general of his army, who might be so called, and was eminently one of these kings. Understood of hell, it may not only be interpreted of Satan, the king and prince of devils, for whom and his angels the everlasting fire of hell is prepared, ( Matthew 25:41 ) but also of antichrist, the king of the bottomless pit, and of all antichristian kings; see ( Revelation 11:9 ) ( 19:20 ) . Some render it, "by the king it is prepared"; so the Vulgate Latin version; by whom may be meant either Hezekiah, who cleared it from idols and idolatrous worship, and so eventually prepared it to make room for the Assyrian army; or else the King of kings. So the Targum,
``the King of worlds (of all worlds) prepared it;''and he seems manifestly designed in the next clause: he hath made [it] deep [and] large;
to hold the whole army alive, and to bury them when dead; and so hell is large and deep enough to hold Satan and all his angels, antichrist and all his followers; yea, all the wicked that have been from the beginning of the world, and will be to the end of it: the pile thereof [is] fire and much wood;
alluding to the burning of bodies in this place, and particularly of infants sacrificed to Molech; and refers to the burning of the Assyrian army, either by lightning from heaven, or by the Jews when they found them dead the next morning. In hell, the "fire" is the wrath of God; the "wood" or fuel ungodly men: the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it;
the pile of fire and wood. The Targum is,
``the word of the Lord, like an overflowing torrent of brimstone, shall kindle it;''it shall be done by his order, at his word of command. In hell, the wrath of God will be like a continual stream of brimstone, keeping up the fire of it, so that it shall ever burn, and never be quenched; hence it is called a lake burning with fire and brimstone; into which Satan, the beast, and false prophet, and the worshippers of antichrist, will be cast, ( Revelation 14:10 ) ( 19:20 ) ( 20:10 ) ( 21:8 ) . The allusion is to the fire and brimstone rained by Jehovah, from Jehovah, upon Sodom and Gomorrah, ( Genesis 19:24 ) .
F16 T. Bab. Pesachim, fol. 54. 1. Nedarim, fol. 39. 2. & Erubim, fol. 19. 1.