Hebrew Words Defined
Why do we use Hebrew Words?
by Brad Scott
I want to lay down some more ground work, and deal with a few more fundamental principles. For the last 8 or 9 lessons I have tried to focus on a few well known English words that we see all the time in the Scriptures. I took just a few to make a point. The point was that how you define words makes a tremendous difference in how a verse or group of verses is understood. This, I pray, was reasonably clear. Now, I would like to spend a few more lessons dealing with some of the most common questions that are asked about teaching from this perspective. These next few weeks we will talk about why we use Hebrew words, terms, and phrases. Many ask why we use these "foreign" words when all of us speak English. "What does this language have to do with me?" I am often asked.
So, let's begin with a word we probably use the most. Yeshua‘! Why don't we just say Jesus? This forum is designed to discuss more fundamental issues and teaching. So I do my best not to clutter up things by using terms that may not yet be familiar. On our teaching CDs, DVDs, books and seminars we generally use Yeshua‘. There are many reasons for this, and I have chosen a few to stop and discuss. The number one reason is because that is His name. Yeshua‘ is the name that Messiah, after taking on flesh, was given. In Mattityahu (Matthew) 1:25 it says, "And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son; and he called his name JESUS." The word Jesus is a transliteration of the Greek word, Iesous which is a transliteration of his given name in Hebrew, Yeshua‘. In every day language that means that Jesus is the best English way to say Yeshua‘. But, at the time He was named, Yeshua‘ is what His name was. In much the same way, the English word "James" is from the Greek word Iakobos which is from his Hebrew name Ya‘aqov. So, one might ask, what difference does it make what we call Him? Well, if you are well acquainted with what His real name means (Salvation), then it probably makes a big difference. Let me explain why.
When you read and study the Tanakh you will soon notice a verse that contains the name of someone. It also gives you the reason they called the person by that name in the same verse. Sometimes it is the verse before or the verse after, but it is usually there. YHVH has a reason for recording this. Many times it helps you to understand the immediate text, such as Adam's name meaning man, red, or ruddy. In Bere’shiyt (Genesis) 2:7 ’Elohiym forms man (adam (אדם)) out of the dust of the ground (adamah (אדמה)). This naming gives us much insight into the relationship that man has with the earth and the ground. You see in this verse a wonderful play on this word. Adam was taken from the adamah. Then in Chapter 3, verse 19 we are told that because of Adam's sin he will return to the adamah. There is a very real relationship that man has with the ground. The adamah also has many of the same commandments as the man. We are commanded to tithe of the fruit of the ground. We are also told to rest the land on the seventh year. In the New Testament we are told in Romans 8:20-22 that the creation itself is groaning to be delivered. We are told in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that we are a new (actually the word is renewed) creation. In the book of Hitgalut (Revelation) we are told that there is also a new heaven and a new earth to come. I could go on and on, for YHVH paints many pictures in what He chooses to name things. These pictures cannot be understood in English or Greek. They must be taken back to their Hebrew original. I hope we have shown that this is true concerning what all of the New Testament says.
Let me give you a mind blowing (idiom!) example of how important it is to know the meaning behind a particular word in Hebrew. Many who read or study the Scriptures tend to skip over the dozens of genealogies, but YHVH has chosen them to reveal the names of Adam and his children, from Adam to Noach for good reason. As you read Bere’shiyt chapter 5 in the English you would never be able to pick up the purpose of these names, but YHVH has a definite purpose, and the various transliterations from the original lose this purpose. In the 5th Chapter beginning at verse 4 it reads in the English transliteration that Adam begot Seth who begot Enosh who begot Kenan who begot Mahal'alel who begot Jared who begot Enoch who begot Methu'selah who begot Lamech who begot Noah. Now, what do these Hebrew names mean? Well, Adam means man, Seth means appointed, Enosh means mortal, Kenan means sorrow, Mahal'alel means the blessed God, Jared means to come down or shall come down, Enoch means teaching, Methu'selah means his death shall bring, Lamech means the despairing, and Noah means comfort or rest. Now, God also chose to reveal these names in this particular order as well. Let's put it all together. MAN APPOINTED MORTAL SORROW (but the) BLESSED GOD SHALL COME DOWN TEACHING (that) HIS DEATH SHALL BRING THE DESPAIRING COMFORT! WOW!! The gospel really was preached to Avraham and way before Avraham. Is this just coincidence? I don't think so.
Well, that's all for this week. Next week we will continue with this theme "What's in a name".
Shalom Alecheim! ◊