Olam - H5769
BDB Definition:
1) long duration, antiquity, futurity, for ever, ever, everlasting, evermore, perpetual, old, ancient, world
1a) ancient time, long time (of past)
1b) (of future)
1b1) for ever, always
1b2) continuous existence, perpetual
1b3) everlasting, indefinite or unending future, eternity


Olam is rooted in the word

Alam - H5956
BDB Definition:
1) to conceal, hide, be hidden, be concealed, be secret
1a) (Qal) secret (participle)
1b) (Niphal)
1b1) to be concealed
1b2) concealed, dissembler (participle)
1c) (Hiphil) to conceal, hide
1d) (Hithpael) to hide oneself

The meaning of the root Alam, is important to fully understand Olam.
Alam clearly has the meaning of an obscure hidden something.

Exod 21:6 Then his master shall bring him to the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or to the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for ever (olam).

This olam lasts until the slave died. It’s was of an obscure duration (olam) because it was unknown how long the slave would live.


Jonah 1:17 Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Jonah 2:6 I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever (olam): yet have you brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God.

Jonah was only 3 days in the fish but because he didn’t  know when he would get out it was of obscure duration (olam)

When olam is used as a noun it has the meaning of a period of time with an obscure unknown duration, as in the above verses.
When used as an adjective olam refers to an obscure source. A type, not a duration. An adjective describes something or someone.

Gen 21:33 And Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the everlasting (olam) God.

That verse isn’t about the age of God. It’s about His nature. Nobody really fully knows Him because He’s hidden and too complex to understand.

The color red. ? Red is an noun.
A red car. ? Car is a noun and red is an adjective.

The olam. ? Olam is a noun.
The olam God ? Olam is an adjective and God is a noun.

Matt 25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting (olam) punishment (kolasis): but the righteous into eternal (olam) life.

Punishment and life are both nouns. Everlasting and eternal are both adjectives.

I’m fully aware the Greek NT reads aionios and not olam, but the Aramaic NT reads olam.  And in the LXX olam is translated as aionios. Click

So the correct translation is:

Matt 25:46 And these shall go away into God’s correction: but the righteous into God’s life.

A more literal translation would have something like ‘obscure source’ but because we know the source is God, I’ve used God. So Matt 25:46 doesn’t mention any duration.

For the reason why the correct translation has correction instead of punishment see near the end of Section B1