Languages tend to reflect the cultural baggage of the people that use them. Biblical Hebrew is no exception, in fact, it is in itself a culture of sorts, the root of the beautiful tree of the belief in The Lord and the attempt to understand all his intentions.
Isn’t that exactly what you as a believer want to do?
When I translate The Scriptures to my students, I try to be as precise as possible, without losing the overall meaning of the text. This is at times a very difficult task that I sometimes compare to the impossible task of translating the great TV programs from the sixties, for today's audiences.
There is an easy way to solve the problem of translation- Learn the Holy language with us!
Here's why you should learn the Holy Language with us:
A. The sacred language is for all the people in the world to use and enjoy, as we read in the book of Zephaniah 3:9-
כִּי-אָז אֶהְפֹּךְ אֶל-עַמִּים, שָׂפָה בְרוּרָה"
"לִקְרֹא כֻלָּם בְּשֵׁם יְהוָה, לְעָבְדוֹ שְׁכֶם אֶחָד
“For then will I turn to the peoples a pure language that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve Him with one consent”.
B. You can see the teachers online, even though you are thousands of miles away, as we read in the book of Isaiah 30:20-
“וְהָיוּ עֵינֶיךָ רֹאוֹת אֶת-מוֹרֶיךָ”
“Thine eyes shall see thy Teacher”.
C. You can understand the connection between a character's function and the meaning of his/her name. For example, Noah was the man, who was saved from the flood, after building the famous ark. He was the first man who had a covenant with The Lord, and he was definitely the father of agriculture.
The name Noah in Hebrew is written with two letters (nun and het), which lead us to five different meanings of his name. Unlike the way in which most words in Hebrew have three root letters (Radicals), in the word Noah, we are not sure if there are three letters or not. Even if there are three root letters in the word, we are not certain what the third letter of the root is!
The first interpretation is connected to his second appearance, when Noah found favor in the eyes of The Lord, as written in Genesis 6:8-
"וְנֹחַ, מָצָא חֵן בְּעֵינֵי יְהוָה"
“And Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD”.
If we reverse the order of the letters, we can say that the meaning of Noah’s name is grace.
The second interpretation is connected to Noah’s birth, as we read in Genesis 5:29-
וַיִּקְרָא אֶת-שְׁמוֹ נֹחַ, לֵאמֹר: זֶה יְנַחֲמֵנוּ מִמַּעֲשֵׂנוּ "
" וּמֵעִצְּבוֹן יָדֵינוּ, מִן-הָאֲדָמָה, אֲשֶׁר אֵרְרָהּ יְהוָה
“And he called his name Noah, saying, This name shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD hath cursed”.
That means the Noah’s name means a comfort.
The third interpretation relates to the feeling of The Lord, as written in Genesis 6:6-
" וַיִּנָּחֶם יְהוָה, כִּי-עָשָׂה אֶת-הָאָדָם בָּאָרֶץ; וַיִּתְעַצֵּב, אֶל-לִבּוֹ"
"And it saddened the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and he grieved in his heart”.
That means that Noah’s name means regret or remorse.
The forth interpretation relates to the ark, after the flood, as written in Genesis 8:4-
“וַתָּנַח הַתֵּבָה בַּחֹדֶשׁ הַשְּׁבִיעִי בְּשִׁבְעָה-עָשָׂר יוֹם לַחֹדֶשׁ עַל הָרֵי אֲרָרָט”
"And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat”.
That means that Noah’s name means rest.
The last interpretation is related to Noah’s actions after the flood, when he built an altar for The Lord and The Lord smelled the altar, as written in Genesis 8:21-
“וַיָּרַח יְהוָה, אֶת-רֵיחַ הַנִּיחֹחַ"
“And the LORD smelled a sweet savour”.
According to the last interpretation, the meaning of the name is fragrance.
Five interpretations and one big piece of advice – Learn Biblical Hebrew, my friends!!!!
D. When King Saul felt really bad, he had a bad spirit inside him, and some would say he was insane. At the same time, the good spirit of The Lord was with David. He was now the king to be, the king who needed to hide the fact that he was the chosen one.
In his palace King Saul was feeling really bad, as written in 1Samuel 16:14-
"וְרוּחַ יְהוָה סָרָה, מֵעִם שָׁאוּל ; וּבִעֲתַתּוּ רוּחַ-רָעָה, מֵאֵת יְהוָה."
“Now the spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD terrified him.”
At this point, David comes to the palace of Saul, in order to play the harp for the king. The harp is the medicine for the depression that encompassed the king. The beauty of Hebrew is shown at the end of this chapter, with a nice wordplay:
וְהָיָה, בִּהְיוֹת רוּחַ-אֱלֹהִים אֶל-שָׁאוּל, וְלָקַח דָּוִד אֶת-הַכִּנּוֹר,"
"וְנִגֵּן בְּיָדוֹ; וְרָוַח לְשָׁאוּל וְטוֹב לוֹ, וְסָרָה מֵעָלָיו רוּחַ הָרָעָה
“And it came to pass, when the spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took the harp, and played with his hand; so Saul found relief, and it was well with him, and the evil spirit departed from him.”
This is the beauty of Hebrew, my friends. The same letters (resh- waw- het) with different vowels- this is The Biblical Hebrew- good for the spirit, like music to our ears!
Don't you want to feel relief like King Saul?
For me, as a teacher, the opportunity to share and teach the holy language with all the people of this planet is an interesting and satisfying experience.
For us, this is the advantage of modern technology – the words of The Lord, in the language that he chose for us- Biblical Hebrew, can be free of borders and boundaries!