All sorts of connections fall into place when you start to grasp the Bible’s communal cultural setting.
A family’s public reputation, their “name,” was of critical importance in their communal society. Knowing this helps us decode a much misunderstood word in our Bibles, the Hebrew word shem, which overlaps with the English word “name” but is actually much broader.
When God called Moses up to Mt. Sinai, what he said, literally, was “Come up to me on the mountain and be here…” Why? Because it’s possible for a person to expend a great deal of energy getting to a destination, yet arrive there with head and thoughts somewhere else entirely.
Five days after the Day of Atonement comes the most joyous feast of the year—the Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot. Sukkot is the plural of the Hebrew word sukkah, meaning “booth” or “hut.” During Jesus’ day, huge celebrations were held in the temple, lasting for seven days. The Feast of Sukkot is also called the […]
The idea that emotions are irrational and unnatural arose from Greco-Roman philosophy and has influenced Western theology for thousands of years, giving rise to the idea that God is “impassible,” emotionless. Many of our problems with God come from this unbiblical idea.
We can gain much insight from hearing rabbinic wisdom about what it means to “hallow the name” (Kiddush Hashem) and to “profane the name” (Hillul Hashem). These two phrases are rich with significance in Jewish tradition, having been used from the first century until today.
I love Hebrew words. I can’t count the number of times that learning a definition has deepened my understanding of not just one Bible passage, but many. Recently I’ve posted a couple examples to show you what I mean. In the article “Does God Forget Sins?” I explain how the words for “remember” and “forget” […]
Biblical Hebrew includes only about 8,000 words, far fewer than the 100,000 or more we have in English. Because Hebrew has so few words, each is like an over-stuffed suitcase, bulging with extra meanings that it must carry in order for the language to fully describe reality. Unpacking each word is a delightful exercise in […]
I used to think that Jesus’ command to make disciples simply meant teaching people certain beliefs about God, helping them to accept Christ as Lord, and then educating them in doctrinal truth later on. Though all these are important, this way of defining discipleship showed that I, like many westerners, approached the gospel primarily as […]
Hebrew has a word for life-long love that is richer and deeper than English has ever conceived of—hesed (HEH-sed). Based in a covenantal relationship, hesed is a steadfast, rock-solid faithfulness that endures to eternity: “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love (hesed) for you will not be shaken” […]
As Passover and Holy Week approach, we are reminded once again to celebrate God’s amazing acts of redemption on our behalf. First he redeemed Israel from slavery in Egypt, and Christ redeemed us from death through his atoning sacrifice for our sins. What are the implication of these holy days for the rest of the […]
The words of Genesis 1 express a profound paradox: Though we’re as insignificant as dust, we reflect the glory of God himself.