The worm dieth not

And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched

–Mark 9:43

Another sign that I’m a bad (or at least ignorant) Christian:  some bible verses just don’t make sense to me at all.   Can somebody help me out and explain this “worm” thing?

4 Responses

  1. As an atheist, I use the HCSB Study Bible. The explanation there is:

    “The body parts and admonitions are figures of speech that warn disciples to guard their sight and actions against participation in evil, for recklessness here can lead to spiritual downfall (cp. Job 31:1,5,7). This is the only place where Mark used the word for hell (Gk gehenna). The imagery for hell developed from the Hinnom Valley southwest of Jerusalem. This valley was used for pagan human sacrifice (2Ki 16:3; 21:6; Jer 7:31) and as a garbage dump, hence the association with unquenchable fire and perpetual rot (their worm does not die).”

  2. Is it the worm that feeds on the flesh of the dead? Perpetual rot, as the above comment says. Or on the harvest? Or, similarly, that appears to the damned to live in the bread of eternal life? Job is “clothed with worms and clods of dust.”

  3. I believe that “worm” here is a metaphor for unregenerate human life. I once read this in a respectable source. It’s at least part of the basis for the Christian doctrine that all human souls will live forever, although not under the same circumstances.

  4. My first two stops for traditional Catholic Scripture commentary:

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