When you work as a Biblical Hebrew teacher, you have the opportunity to get acquainted with different people from different places of our planet. When I read with my students through the Hebrew Bible we search and discover a lot of new information all the time. One of the questions that are being asked all the time is what do you see or how do you see when the slides of the lesson start to move?
Today this question is going to be asked too, when we meet two sights that two prophets saw, Jeremiah and Amos. The first sight that Jeremiah saw appears in the first chapter, as written:
" וַיְהִי דְבַר-יְהוָה אֵלַי לֵאמֹר, מָה-אַתָּה רֹאֶה יִרְמְיָהוּ; וָאֹמַר, מַקֵּל שָׁקֵד אֲנִי רֹאֶה. וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֵלַי, הֵיטַבְתָּ לִרְאוֹת: כִּי-שֹׁקֵד אֲנִי עַל-דְּבָרִי, לַעֲשֹׂתוֹ"
" Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree. Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it." (Jeremiah 1:11-12)
The beautiful sight is not just the almond tree and its meaning. When we learn Biblical Hebrew, we also have the opportunity to understand how the translation is something that sometimes can harm the Hebrew. If you look at the words above you can see that there is a connection between the sight (Shaqed-almond) and the action of G-d (Shoqed-to hasten, to strive). In the translation this connection disappears.
The second sight describes the action that G-d promised in the first one, as written in Jeremiah 1:13-16-
" וַיְהִי דְבַר-יְהוָה אֵלַי שֵׁנִית לֵאמֹר, מָה אַתָּה רֹאֶה; וָאֹמַר, סִיר נָפוּחַ אֲנִי רֹאֶה, וּפָנָיו, מִפְּנֵי צָפוֹנָה. וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה, אֵלָי: מִצָּפוֹן תִּפָּתַח הָרָעָה, עַל כָּל-יֹשְׁבֵי הָאָרֶץ. כִּי הִנְנִי קֹרֵא, לְכָל-מִשְׁפְּחוֹת מַמְלְכוֹת צָפוֹנָה--נְאֻם-יְהוָה; וּבָאוּ וְנָתְנוּ אִישׁ כִּסְאוֹ פֶּתַח שַׁעֲרֵי יְרוּשָׁלִַם, וְעַל כָּל-חוֹמֹתֶיהָ סָבִיב, וְעַל, כָּל-עָרֵי יְהוּדָה. וְדִבַּרְתִּי מִשְׁפָּטַי אוֹתָם, עַל כָּל-רָעָתָם--אֲשֶׁר עֲזָבוּנִי, וַיְקַטְּרוּ לֵאלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים, וַיִּשְׁתַּחֲווּ, לְמַעֲשֵׂי יְדֵיהֶם."
" And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying, What seest thou? And I said, I see a seething pot; And the face thereof is toward the north. Then the LORD said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land. For, lo, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith the LORD; And they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the cities of Judah. And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands."
The pot or the thorn, according to other commentators, that Jeremiah saw from the north can tell us where the enemy will come from.The Hebrew has a special letter, one of the letters from the name of G-d, this is the letter "heh". Once you see the letter at the beginning of a word, this is a sign for the definite article or for the question. Once this letter comes at the end of of a word – this is a sign for direction, this time is to the north.
Amos like Jeremiah didn't want to be a prophet. When he met King Amaziah he said these words:
" וַיֹּאמֶר אֲמַצְיָה, אֶל-עָמוֹס, חֹזֶה, לֵךְ בְּרַח-לְךָ אֶל-אֶרֶץ יְהוּדָה; וֶאֱכָל-שָׁם לֶחֶם, וְשָׁם תִּנָּבֵא. וּבֵית-אֵל, לֹא-תוֹסִיף עוֹד לְהִנָּבֵא: כִּי מִקְדַּשׁ-מֶלֶךְ הוּא, וּבֵית מַמְלָכָה הוּא. וַיַּעַן עָמוֹס, וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל-אֲמַצְיָה, לֹא-נָבִיא אָנֹכִי, וְלֹא בֶן-נָבִיא אָנֹכִי: כִּי-בוֹקֵר אָנֹכִי, וּבוֹלֵס שִׁקְמִים"
" Also Amaziah said unto Amos, O thou seer, go, flee thee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there:But prophesy not again any more at Bethel: for it is the king's chapel, and it is the king's court.Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit: "(Amos 7:12-14)
Amos also saw two sights , the first in Amos 7:7-9, the second in Amos 8:1-3, as written:
"כֹּה הִרְאַנִי, אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה; וְהִנֵּה, כְּלוּב קָיִץ. וַיֹּאמֶר, מָה-אַתָּה רֹאֶה עָמוֹס, וָאֹמַר, כְּלוּב קָיִץ; וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֵלַי, בָּא הַקֵּץ אֶל-עַמִּי יִשְׂרָאֵל--לֹא-אוֹסִיף עוֹד, עֲבוֹר לוֹ. וְהֵילִילוּ שִׁירוֹת הֵיכָל, בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא-- נְאֻם, אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה: רַב הַפֶּגֶר, בְּכָל-מָקוֹם הִשְׁלִיךְ הָס"
" Thus hath the Lord GOD shewed unto me: and behold a basket of summer fruit. And he said, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A basket of summer fruit. Then said the LORD unto me, The end is come upon my people of Israel; I will not again pass by them any more. And the songs of the temple shall be howlings in that day, saith the Lord GOD: there shall be many dead bodies in every place; they shall cast them forth with silence. "
In this sight we can see that connection between the summer fruits or the figs (qayits in Hebrew) and the end of the northern Kingdom (qetz in Hebrew).
Those sights that you saw above can bring you insights about the amazing language that G-d gave to all this world-Hebrew!