Hebrew Word of the Week: Tikvah

Hebrew Word of the Week: Tikvah

Word of the Week




We’ve studied love and faith, so this week we’re looking at another very important word in the character of a Christ-follower: hope.

“We wait [expectantly] for the Lord;
He is our help and our shield.
For in Him our heart rejoices,
Because we trust [lean on, rely on, and are confident] in His holy name.
Let Your [steadfast] lovingkindness, O Lord, be upon us,
In proportion as we have hoped in You (Psalm 33:20-22 AMP).”

The Hebrew word for the verb to hope is pronounced “lik-VOT” (leek-VOTE). That is the hope you do, such as I hope Jesus comes soon.

It looks like this:

 לְקַווֹת (verb)

Then there is the noun, hope, such as in “My hope is in You.”

This is the hope that you possess. The Hebrew word is pronounced “tik-VAH” (teek-VAH) and looks like this:

תִקוָה (noun)

It is interesting to note that the word “hope” (either noun or verb) doesn’t appear in the Bible until the book of Ruth, and then only for Naomi to express her lack of hope. Before that, the word doesn’t show up at all.

In Ezra, Shechaniah (one of the sons of Elam) tells Ezra that though they have transgressed by marrying “strange wives,” he knows there is hope in Israel. This is a word related to the Hebrew noun shown above, something the Israelites recognized as the possibility of God’s favor despite their own sin.

All through the book of Job, the theme of lost hope is woven in like a dark thread in a bright tapestry. Job talks about lost hope, over and again, but in order to lose something you first must have possessed it. So until the catastrophes overtook him, apparently Job hoped in God, as demonstrated in that he made sacrifices on behalf of his children. After the tragedies, Job refuses to blame God as he knows his only hope lies in his Savior.

Psalms is full of hope, as a book of prayers and hymns should be, but Jeremiah goes right back to proclaiming the lack of hope, until Jeremiah 17:7, where he proclaims “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.” The word translated “hope” in this verse is closely related to trust.

But just because the word hope doesn’t appear all that often in the Old Testament doesn’t mean that the Jews lacked a concept of hope. Not at all!

One concept (תִקוָה) is that natural capacity to envision a brighter future. It is the hope that Alexander Pope said springs eternal. It is the kind of hope that correlates with the concept of fear—if you believe that it is nothing more than genetic material designed for the survival of the human species.

Hope springs eternal in the human breast; man never is, but always to be blest.

Alexander Pope

Another concept of hope is found in the Hebrew word תוֹחֶלֶת, pronounced to-KHE-let. This kind of hope in Judaism expresses  a certain expectation, something that we know will happen, even if we have to wait for it beyond the scope of this current life. That is the hope of the Messianic Age, when the Messiah will reign on earth.

So where does this certainty come from? It springs forth from the history of God delivering His people. As He delivered them from bondage in Egypt, He showed Himself to be a Savior. And since His character does not change, once a Savior, always a Savior. We can know for certainty that He will return and deliver His people. That is ensured in His character.

When God created night and day, He did it in the order that causes hope to appear. Darkness represents everything evil and oppressive. Yet the morning follows the darkness. Light shows forth everything good in direct opposition to darkness. As sure as day follows night, God’s deliverance is made manifest in the Messiah, Yeshua.

When Jews arise in the morning, they commonly recite the following prayer: “Blessed are You, O Lord, who gives the heart understanding to discern between night and day.”  He has made us such that we can pull forth hope every single day.

That’s a good prayer to memorize. In Hebrew, it looks like this:

“ברוך אתה, הו אלוהים, אשר נותן את ההבנה הלב להבחין בין לילה ליום.”

To pronounce it, say it this way:

“Ba-RUKH a-TAH, hu el-o-HIM, a-SHER no-TEN et ha-ha-ven-AKH ha-LEV le-hab-KHIN bayn LAI-lah le-YOM.

Jews, Messianic Jews, and Christians alike believe in the imminent arrival of Messiah. As believers in and followers of Christ, we watch constantly for the sign of His return and the fulfillment of the age of the gentiles.

As you study this wonderful word “tikvah,” I pray that you will lean into the Lord’s truth despite what your senses are telling you. Yes, the world is getting worse, but a greater YES is that Yehua HaMashiach is on His way!

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a תקוה.” Jeremiah 29:11

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