Those Spicy, Savory Hebrew Words

Have you noticed the latest food trend? Growing numbers of people are into artisanal foods.

Kiwi dark bkdThey 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.


Bedouin Bread


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.



(This is the beginning of my new ebook, 5 Hebrew Words Every Christian Should Know. You can continue reading a longer sample of the book at this link.)


2 Responses to “Those Spicy, Savory Hebrew Words”

  1. 1
    hector navarro de pedro|June 24, 2014

    The richness of hebraic learning draws us more in appreciating GOD’s wisdom that even a child could relate since it is so graphical, vibrant and so simple that duality is more of an exception than a rule compared to western abstract ideas.

  2. 2
    Richard Anderton|June 26, 2014

    Lois, I am in the middle of reading your books on Rabbi Jesus and they have opened up a world beyond what over 60 years of Sunday school, church and bible study ever did for God and me.

    I would like to suggest a future topic that would be graced by your knowledge and insight to the language…an article or book devoted the the insight of the Lord’s Prayer…there seems to me to be a lot to cover there with the language used, the meanings real and inferred and the subtitles to the original life and comparisons to today. I appreciate your efforts and love the change it has made to my life.

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