The Hebrew phrase is based upon the combining of two words: צֵל (tsel), which means "shade or shadow," and מָוֶת (maveth), which means "death." They form the single word: צַלְמָוֶת (tsalmaveth), which means "death-shadow." The Greek also has a two-word basis: σκιά (skia), which means "shadow," and θάνατος (thanatos), which means "death."
We know that a shadow is created by someone or something blocking light. It is not physically real in itself, but reveals the size and shape of that which is located between the light source and the object upon which the shadow appears. But the Bible refers to "shadows" in another way; they reveal details about what is real. For instance:
* Colossians 2:16-17 - "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ."
* Hebrews 8:5 - "Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith He, that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount."
* Hebrews 10:1 - "For the Law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect."
Physical death is but a shadow of what the Bible calls the "second death" (Rev. 2:11; 20:5-6, 14; 21:8). ALL who die physically will be resurrected; John 2:28-29 says, "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in which ALL who are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; those who have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and those who have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation."
["done evil" = "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God" (Rom. 10:3)].
["done good" = "For He hath made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor. 5:21)].
Even the "second death" is shadow of its true meaning; it is a metaphor for eternal separation from God which accompanies being tormented in the eternal lake of fire (Rev. 19:20; 20:10, 14, 15)!
AT LEAST, THIS IS HOW I UNDERSTAND THESE THINGS