Here’s some Day of the Dead-worthy trivia for y’all:
During the First Temple era, the goat for Azazel was thrown down from the Temple on Yom Kippur into the Valley of Ben Hinnom (Gei Ben Hinnom, by the Cinematheque), which is also where temple cults to Moloch were built.
During the Second Temple era, the lepers were all over Gei Hinnom–that’s where Jesus went to hang with the lepers–and they changed the Azazel deposit site to the valley between the Mount of Olives and Maleh Adumim. But Gei Hinnom was still considered a (spiritually) dark and dangerous place, a karmic junkyard of sorts. By the time of the Mishnah, the this-worldly badness of Gei Hinom had become transformed into a site of otherworldy badness, that is to say: Gehennom.
Cool. I’d always wondered about the origins of Gehenna, especially since I’d otherwise been taught that heaven and hell are Christian concepts (and yet, here’s Gehenna, oddly like hell. Well, wait, maybe it’s more like purgatory?)
The idea originally was that wicked people would go there for a year and burn off their sins so that they could be part of the eventual resurrection of the dead later on (so Kaddish for a parent is less than a year because of COURSE your parent wouldn’t need the full year in Gehenna, they’re not THAT wicked). Later it became, “so that they could enter Olam HaBa.” So yeah, either way, purgatory.
As a side note, the Zohar and the Divine Comedy emerged at around the same time.