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Abyss

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ABYSS, any deep place (Gr. a-, privative, (3vao•65, bottom), a bottomless depth. From the late popular abyssimus (superlative of Low Latin abyssus) through the French abisme (i.e., abime) is derived the poetic form abysm, pronounced as late as 1616 to rhyme with time. The adjective "abyssal" or "abysmal" has been used by zoologists to describe deep regions of the sea. In heraldry the abyss is the middle of an escutcheon. In the Greek version of the Old Testament the word represents (1 ) the original chaos (Gen. i. 2), (2) the Hebrew tehom, which is used also in apocalyptic literature and in the New Testament for hell. In the Septuagint cosmography the word is applied (a) to the waters under the earth, and (b) to the waters of the firmament which were regarded as closely connected with those below. De rivatively it acquired the meaning of the place of the dead. In Revelation it is the prison of evil spirits whence they may oc casionally be let loose, and where Satan is doomed to spend i,000 years. In rabbinical cosmography the abyss is a region of Gehenna situated below the ocean bed and divided into three or seven parts imposed one above the other. In the Kabbalah the abyss as the opening into the lower world is the abode of evil spirits, and corresponds to the opening of the abyss to the world above. In general, the abyss is regarded vaguely as a place of indefinite extent, the abode of mystery and sorrow.

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