Have you noticed the latest food trend? Growing numbers of people are into artisanal foods.
They love organic cheeses and heirloom vegetables, farmer’s markets and food co-ops. They want to eat slow food, not fast food. It takes more time and effort, but it’s worth it, they say.
You know what? I’m into artisanal Bible study.
As Christians, we all know that it’s important to sustain ourselves daily with the Scriptures. But time is short, so many of us do Bible study microwave-style nowadays. We gulp down a pre-packaged devotion with a few slurps of coffee before heading off to work. Is it at all surprising when it’s as bland and unmemorable as a vending-machine sandwich?
There’s actually a way to spice up your study by getting to know some of the Bible’s wise Hebrew words. They’re aromatic and savory, carrying a distinct scent of the rich, earthy depths of their ancient origins.
Have you ever tasted fresh pita bread made by the Bedouins? It’s out of this world—chewy and hot, crispy in spots, and a little smoky from the open fire. When a veiled, wizened old woman flops a piping-hot piece into your hands, you need to rip off a chunk and pass the rest on before your fingers burn. Smeared with olive oil and dried hyssop, it’s like nothing you’ve ever tasted before.
It’s the same with Hebrew words. Out of necessity for us to read them, we’ve had to “package” them into English sentences, like the bagged pitas you find at the grocery store. But some of their more subtle flavors simply don’t travel well across languages and time, even if their “nutritional value” hasn’t changed. In order to taste the breadth of expression of the Bible’s ancient words, you have to travel back mentally into their original Middle Eastern setting.
Why Hebrew? Well, Hebrew is God’s heart language—the mother tongue of the Scriptures Jesus read. Hebrew is also an extremely rich, poetic language that looks at the world in very different ways than English. Grasping the depth of even a few words greatly clarifies and enriches reading, and casts new light on things that you thought you understood. You’ll see humor, irony and timeless wisdom where you passed it by before.
Often, knowing the original, fuller sense of a biblical idea will challenge and change you, as its ancient wisdom puts your life into the perspective of God’s eternal Word.