Hebrew Word of the Week: Hebrew

Hebrew Word of the Week: Hebrew

Hebrew Word of the Week:

עִברִית

Did you ever wonder what the original language was? Many scholars believe it was Hebrew. I agree that it may have been so, and in this post, I’m going to tell you why.

But first, let’s look at the word Hebrew in Hebrew.

Hebrew is a language based on roots, shoresh in Hebrew. Most roots have three consonants (and no vowels) but a few have two or four. The root for Hebrew is “ayin-vet-resh” and it looks like this:

While roots themselves are not pronounceable as words, the consonants are pronounced. So the root is pronounced ayin-vet-resh. The word derived from that root is pronounced ee-vreet.

I woke up this morning wondering when Hebrew was first spoken, and though of course, we don’t have a written record of who first spoke Hebrew and when it was first spoken, there is good reason that the answer is Adam and in the garden. Here’s why.

We know that at the tower of Babel, all the languages were “confounded.”

Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth (Genesis 11:9).”

Interestingly, the very next verse introduces the lineage of Shem. As you’ll no doubt remember, Shem was one of the descendants of Noah. It is from Shem’s name that we get the word Semitic. In Genesis 10, he is called “the father of all the people of Eber.” The word Eber is the root ayin-vet-resh with vowels added (the second letter, vet, is also pronounced bet, so it can make the sound “v” or “b”).

The Hebrew verb avar is the same word as eber, and it means pass, cross, traverse, undergo. It implies being nomadic, which the Hebrew people were from the time Abram left Ur until they settled in the Promised Land.

After the tower of Babel, Noah’s three sons went in different directions and established their own civilizations with their own languages. (Apparently, God didn’t even leave Noah’s family speaking the same language!)

But what language was spoken before the flood? What was the original language of humanity? What language did God speak to Adam?

Here’s why it might have been Hebrew.

Despite what you may have been taught in “history” books, language did not evolve from grunts and groans that early cavemen spoke. God spoke to Adam in the Garden of Eden. The language of God was the language that Adam and Eve spoke with their Creator. Since one language was spoken by all the world until after the flood, it’s helpful to see what clues we can find in the Bible that would tell us what that language was.

One clue that might help us is looking at names. In Hebrew, every name has a meaning. If we consider the fact that all the names from Adam to Noah were Hebrew names, it follows that Hebrew was being spoken. Look at the following chart to see one of the names of Adam’s children and the meaning behind the name.

(Prophecy was fulfilled. Remember that Methuselah was named 969 years before the flood!)

It wasn’t until Noah’s grandchildren came along that the names were no longer Hebrew. For instance, Nimrod (spoken of in Genesis 11:18) is not a Hebrew name. That makes sense because he lived in ancient Sumer where Japheth’s descendants lived.

According to the roster of ancient names, Adam and his progeny spoke Hebrew!

Hebrew Word of the Week: Pray

Hebrew Word of the Week: Pray

Word of the Week

Mefalel

Hebrew

This week, I want to take a look the verb meaning “pray” in Hebrew. It looks like this:

מְפַלֵּל

“Yih’yeh zeh mam’niy sheaniy tzariykh’ l’haf’siyk l’hit’palel bish’viyl’kha.”

“As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you.” 1 Samuel 12:23

I chose the verb to pray instead of the noun prayer because it is something we should be doing all the time.

It is interesting to note that God did not make prayer a mitzvah (commandment or good deed). Yet we somehow know deep in our hearts that we always ought to be praying to God. Praying is a part of who we are as we are made in God’s image. He communicates to us and by extension, we should be praying to God. God is a god of communication, and since we are in His image, we, too, are creatures of communication.

Although we see people praying at set times (like Daniel and David), yet God has not set a specific time or number of times during the day, to pray.

Were a person to know the time when, if they pray, they will be answered, they would leave off other times and pray only then. Accordingly, the Holy One said: For this reason I do not let you know when you will be answered, so that you will be willing to pray at all times, as is said, ‘Put your trust in God at all times’ (Psalms 62:9)” (Aggadah Bereshit 77).

Praying should be as automatic as breathing. It is a way of life, not mere moments in time. Pray without ceasing, says 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

“Then the king said to the man of God, “Intercede with the Lord your God and pray for me that my hand may be restored.” So the man of God interceded with the Lord, and the king’s hand was restored and became as it was before.” 1 Kings 13:6

Why did the people of other nations come to the Hebrews for prayer? Because they knew that the God of the Hebrews heard His children when they prayed. Their own gods were incapable of hearing, but they knew that the Hebrew God not only heard prayer, He answered it as well.

Making prayer as automatic as breathing requires devotion. It is an acknowledgment of the world as it truly is.

“For prayer is not the shutting of one’s eyes to reality. It is the glimmer, the intimation, the daring which leads to the transcending of reality” (Jakob Petuchowski)

It is a recognition that not are we small and limited in the universe, but that we also have the capacity for goodness and greatness. We seem insignificant but have the attention of Almighty God. We are not alone, nor are we helpless. God is just a breath away.

“The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness (Jeremiah 31:3).”

“If prayer is pure and untainted, surely that holy breath that rises from your lips will join with the breath of heaven that is always flow­ing into you from above.”

(From the Hasidic work Keter Shem Tov, as adapted in Your Word Is Fire, by Arthur Green and Barry Holtz)

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Hebrew Word of the Week: Torah

Hebrew Word of the Week: Torah

Word of the Week

Torah

 

Hebrew

If I’m following Messianic Judaism (or Hebrew Christianity), am I putting myself under the law?

תורָה

“Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace (Galatians 5:4).”

What does it mean to “keep Torah”?

In the book of Galatians, the fifth chapter, Paul seems to be saying that “keeping Torah (the law)” puts you back under the law and that means you have fallen from grace. So does it follow that Messianic Jews and Christians who choose to keep the law have fallen from grace? Not at all.

The Bible records for us that all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16), but many Christians today have forgotten some very important parts of Scripture—namely, the “instructions” of God, or in Hebrew, Torah. — Shema.com

But when people have the idea that “keeping Torah” means an obligation to follow the Mosiac law as a way of justification before God, they have indeed fallen from grace.

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil (Matthew 5:17).”

Jesus Himself said that He did not come to abolish the law. The word “abolish” is the Greek word for “destroy or do away with”. The Greek word translated “fulfill” means to make complete (Matthew 5:17). So does that mean that “the law and the prophets” are done away with?

It’s interesting to me how today’s Christians are willing to toss God’s law out the window but follow prophecies to understand the times in which we live. Jesus coupled the law with the prophets. To say that He meant only the prophets that prophesied about Him is a weak argument at best, as those prophets combined messianic prophecies with other events as well. So did He only fulfill part of the prophets but all of the law?

What law did Jesus come to fulfill? Certainly not the Ten Commandments, which were the foundation of the Torah. Yet some will say they are good people because they keep the Ten Commandments. But do they? How many “remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy”?

In fact, Jesus came to bring a more stringent law when He came.

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart (Matthew 5:27-28)
Of course, He absolutely did and for all time fulfill the demands of the law which required repayment for transgression. I owed a debt impossible for me to pay because to transgress the law in any point is to transgress the whole law. I am a sinner saved by grace. I owe my salvation to Yeshua’s completed work on the cross, where He unequivocally said, “It is finished.”
In light of that, how am I now to live?
I look back in the Old Testament at those first five books—the Torah—and I see instruction on how to live a long, healthy and happy life. No sacrifices are necessary to pay for transgressions, because Yeshua was the ultimate sacrifice. Yet His feasts and His Sabbaths were enjoined forever. They are God’s moedim (not the feasts of the Jews), His appointed times, which He established forever.

The law of justification by works was never supposed to achieve salvation. No one was ever able to keep the law perfectly—until the coming of the Messiah, Yeshua. Therefore, I must rely on and trust in His finished work alone for my salvation. And I do.

Romans 7:12 tells us that the law is holy. Why in the world would we do away with something holy? The law was designed to show us the holiness of God. Its purpose was to expose man’s sinfulness and the sinfulness of sin.

“because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20).’

Sanctification comes by the grace of God. It means to be set apart and made holy. When I look into the mirror of the law, I see that my face is dirty. It shows me how unholy I am. Yet looking into the mirror does nothing to cleanse my face. Only God’s grace, provided through the death, burial, and resurrection of Yeshua, can do that.

Yet in my heart of hearts, the thing I want most to do is walk in a manner pleasing to God. This requires that I know what delights Him. Do I think that weaving patterns of the world into His holy things is pleasing to Him? Now that the Bible is completely written as our textbook for life, do I then act as I please, adopting the cares and concerns of the world but leaving out His will?

And what is His will? That we should live in the righteousness provided to us by His Son, our Savior.

The Torah was often compared to fire, water, wine, oil, milk, honey, drugs, manna, the tree of life, and many other things; it was considered the source of freedom, goodness, and life; it was identified both with wisdom and with love. – The Jewish Virtual Library

“For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: Colossians 10:9-13).”

I love the Torah. It is God’s letter to His beloved children, written with the object of making them one with Him. I find fulfillment in keeping the Jewish feasts, the Sabbath, and in learning the language it was written in.

But not for one iota of a moment do I ever think that if I don’t keep the law I will suffer eternal damnation.

 

Yeshua took care of that for me.

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Hebrew Word of the Week: Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge

Hebrew Word of the Week: Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge

Word of the Week

Chokhma, binah, and da'at

 

Hebrew

Today’s Hebrew study is ַa collection of nouns that complete each other. They are useful together, but separately only render a part of the picture. They are chakh’mah, biynahand da’atTranslated, they mean wisdom, understanding, and knowledge. They look like this:

חָכְמָה, בִּינָה, דַעַת

“For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding (Proverbs 1:7).”

Wisdom, understanding, and knowledge are like a car.

Chokhma is like a car. It provides the vocabulary of concept. As children, we learn what a car is by seeing a car, then seeing many cars, and eventually internalizing the concept so that a green Volvo and a red Toyota are both cars.

Binah is a driver. He is the one that determines where the car will go.

Only when they are brought together with da’at will the car actually go somewhere.

“The biblical concept of knowledge means joined together.” — Rabbi Immanuel Schochet 

In Jewish thought, the three aspects cannot be separated, lest one loses the application of them.

“Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Cherish her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. She will give you a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown (Proverbs 4:5-9).”

This pathway that we walk starts with getting wisdom. We need a vocabulary to build upon so that we can move from concept to knowledge. This happens in three steps.

First, I learn the vocabulary. God’s word became flesh. I hear the words, Messiah, Christ, Anointed One, and I begin to wonder what they mean. If that’s the end, I have gained wisdom alone—there is a Messiah.

Second, I read about Who this Messiah is. I read the Old Testament and learn what the prophets say and then discover that a Man named Jesus (Yeshua) in the New Testament fulfilled the prophecies in the Old Testament.

Third, I join this wisdom and knowledge with my soul, and I receive the Messiah into my heart.

If I stop at any point before this final step, I am not saved. I have the wisdom of the concept, I understand the concept and that this Man is the promised Messiah. But it takes an act of my will to make Him the Savior of my soul, where my knowledge becomes internalized and effective.

So why do so few Jews embrace their Messiah? Romans 11:25 answers that for us. It is so that Gentiles might also inherit the promises and salvation of God. We have become grafted into the root, and not the other way around.

“And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free (John 8:32).”

Jesus knows (is joined to) me, this I love.

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Hebrew Word of the Week: Hallal

Hebrew Word of the Week: Hallal

Word of the Week

Hallal

Hebrew

Sing praise! Today’s Hebrew word is where we get the English word hallelujah, and it means “praise.”

הָלַל

“Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises (Psalm 47:6).”

We think of the angels singing praises in the night sky when Yeshua was born. Hallal means praise—but it also means light!

הלל is a root word that has several meanings. It expresses what lamps and celestial bodies do: shine, radiate light. Although it is a rarely used verb in the Bible, it denotes intensive action. It’s the word used to define the light that “flashes forth” from the sneezes of Leviathan in Job. Isaiah speaks of the “shining one” as he describes Satan’s fall in Isaiah 14:12. There it is a noun derived from the verb and is pronounced helel.

When the meaning is praise, it has three forms.

The masculine noun הליל (hillul), meaning praise or a rejoicing. It occurs only in plural: הלולים (hillulim), literally meaning congratulations or rejoicings (Judges 9:27, Leviticus 19:24).

The masculine noun מהלל (mahalel), again meaning praise but literally a “container” for praise. It occurs only in Proverbs 27:21 where silver and gold are tested in a crucible and a furnace, and a man in his “container for” praise.

The feminine noun תהלה (tehilla), meaning praise, song of praise or thanksgiving or adoration, or it denotes praiseworthy deeds. This noun occurs all over the Bible. HAW condenses the meaning of this beautiful noun as, “the results of halal as well as the divine acts which merit that activity”.

Hallelujah is a combination of two words, hallel meaning praise, and the shortened two-letter version of the name of God. For this reason, some Jews won’t pronounce the word except when reciting a prayer or a biblical verse, but will say hallelukah instead, rather than utter one of God’s names in a profane (common) context.

“This world is full of conflicts and full of things that cannot be reconciled. But there are moments when we can… reconcile and embrace the whole mess, and that’s what I mean by ‘Hallelujah.'” — Leonard Cohen

“Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, you his servants; praise the name of the Lord. Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and forevermore. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised (Psalm 113:1-3).”

In 1741, the great musician George Frideric Handel composed the oratorio “Messiah,” that includes the compelling “Hallelujah Chorus.” It remains today one of the most famous religious musical works ever written. The text was written by Charles Jennens from the King James Bible and its focus was on the

Messiahship of Yeshua. It is, perhaps, the most moving use of the term hallelujah in modern history.

Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready (Revelation 19:6-7).”

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