Hebrew Words Defined
What is the Light and Way of ’Elohiym?
by Brad Scott
We have now established that Yeshua‘ is the Word of 'Elohiym. He is not just concepts and thoughts, but the actual words of ’Elohiym in the flesh. Orthodox Jewish scholars, such as Abraham Heschel or Jacob Neusner, would fully agree that the Word is ’Elohiym. In Hebrew thought, when the word of YHVH came to Yiremeyahu (Jeremiah) or Mosheh, YHVH Himself came to them. I believe it is clear that the New Testament teaches that the words of ’Elohiym, already firmly established in the Tanakh, took upon flesh and dwelt among us. This is also clearly taught in the Hebrew idioms of fulfilling and destroying used in Mattityahu (Matthew) 5:17. We will save identification of Hebrew idiom for a much later study. Let's go on to other common New Testament terms.
There are dozens and dozens of narratives used in the New Testament in which the term light (אר) is used. The following are just a few examples:
Mattityahu 5:14Ye are the light of the world ...
Yochanan (John) 12:46I am come a light into the world ...
1 Thessalonians 5:5Ye are all the children of light, and children of the day ...
Yochanan 11:10But if a man walk in the night, he stumbles, because there is no light in him.
Acts 13:47... I have set thee to be a light of the gentiles.
Acts 26:18... To turn them from darkness to light ...
1 Yochanan 1:7But if we walk in the light as he is in the light ...
Our first thought should focus on the definition of light. Why does He use this term so often? Does it have previous significance? Was this a term already familiar to His listeners? Yes! But what does this word mean to us today? I'll tell you what it means. It is symbolic to us. It is that quality imputed to believers as a result of their confession of Mashiach (Christ). He was the light of the world and now WE are the light of the world. Right? It is true that every man and woman that commits their life to Yeshua‘ is the light of the world. So, what do we do with that piece of information? Did Yeshua‘ have something in mind when He told us that? Did this term mean something significant to Him? Let's find out.
The English word light is taken from the Greek word phos (φώς). There are a number of English words that use this fundamental term. This word, as it is with most New Testament words, finds it's origin in the Tanakh. The word for light is the Hebrew word 'or, pronounced as ore. It's first appearance is in Bere’shiyt (Genesis) 1:3. There has always been controversy over the meaning of the light in this verse, but I believe that the testimony of the rest of the Tanakh will define what ’Elohiym means by this light. Remember, words used by the New Testament writers were not created in a vacuum. They have their meanings established in the Tanakh. The writers of the New Testament do not spend time defining words or phrases to the reader. The meaning of the terms are assumed. Assumed from where? The Scriptures. So let's see how the New Testament dictionary defines light.
Mizmor (Psalm) 119:105Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.
Mizmor 119:130The entrance of thy words give light; it gives understanding to the simple.
Mishlei (Proverbs) 6:23For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:
Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 8:20To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
Yesha’yahu 51:4Hearken unto me, my people; and give ear unto me, O my nation: for a law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people.
Yesha’yahu 5:20-21Woe unto them who call evil, good, and good, evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter. Woe unto them who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!
Hoshea (Hosea) 6:5I have slain them by the words of my mouth; and thy judgments are as the light that goeth forth.
Mishlei 4:18-22But the path of the just is like the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is like darkness; they know not at what they stumble. My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.
This would be the dictionary of the New Testament writers. Their understanding of the words they used came from the scriptures they already had. When the Bereans were commended in Acts 17:11, it was because they went back to the Tanakh to verify everything that was being taught by these early disciples. Why? Reason number one is because that is all they had. The New Testament had not yet been penned. Reason number two is because the Hebrew people had been taught for centuries that if someone does not speak according to the law and the testimony there is no light in them. So, when the New Testament writers, especially Yeshua‘, used the term light they used it in a way that was already understood. Let's go over a few New Testament verses again. This time we will see them in their proper context.
Yochanan 8:12I am the light of the world ..." (i.e. I am the words of ’Elohiym.)
Mattityahu 5:14-16Ye are the light of the world ..." (i.e. Now you are the words of ’Elohiym.)
Mattityahu 5:16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (i.e. Proclaim and DO the words of ’Elohiym, so that the world can see who you are and glorify Him.)
Yochanan 11:10But if a man walk in the night, he stumbles, because there is no light in him." (i.e. If he has not the words of ’Elohiym in him then he cannot know what is right or good for him.)
Yochanan 3:19And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." (i.e. Man has always rebelled against the laws and commandments of YHVH, because it is His judgements and laws that expose sin.)
If there is a concordance available, all occurrences of light can be searched out. Now might be a good time to go to these occurrences and see them through the light (pun intended) of their scriptural definitions. One last comment on light and then we will trace the term way. In 1 Thessalonians 5:4-5, concerning the "day of the Lord," Sha’ul (Paul) presents a contrast between the sons of darkness and the sons of light. In Hebraic thought, based upon the definition of light, the Benei Ohr (sons of light) or the Benei Yom (sons of the day) are the children of Torah. They are the children of Yah's teaching. They know and live YHVH's Torah (His laws, commandments, precepts, ordinances, ways, etc.) The Benei Lailah (sons of the night), or the Benei Choshech (sons of darkness), are those without Torah. They are those who do not know or were deliberately never taught the words of ’Elohiym. Their leader is referred to as "the man of iniquity", the lawless one, read 'the Torahless one', the one without light.
So now we have defined light. Lets move on to another frequently used term. In Yochanan 14:6 Yeshua‘ says of Himself, "I am the way , the truth and the life." What does He mean that He is the Way? Does He simply mean that He came to point the way to the Father? Does He mean that He IS the way to the Father? I believe that the answer to that is a resounding YES! But why does He choose that particular word? Why doesn't He come right out with it? Why does He keep saying that He is the bread from heaven, the light of the world, the door of the sheep, the first and the last, the Son of man, the Passover? Why doesn't He just say, "I am YHVH, period!" Well, He really does, to those who have an ear to hear (idiom). Yeshua‘ uses terms that are already well defined. His title of the way is one of those terms. So, let's go back to the dictionary to define what the New Testament writers meant when they used this word.
Bere’shiyt (Genesis) 6:12And God looked upon the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.
Yesha’yahu 2:3And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his way, and we will walk in his paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of YHVH from Jerusalem.
Mizmor 119:1Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the LAW of YHVH.
Miykah (Micah) 4:2And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of YHVH, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the LAW shall go forth of Zion, and the WORD of YHVH from Jerusalem.
Mizmor 119:9Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy WORD.
Mizmor 119:30I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me.
Mizmor 1:1-6Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law does he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he does shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgement, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For YHVH knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.
Mizmor 119:30-32I have chosen the way of truth; thine judgements have I laid before me." I have clung unto thy testimonies; O YHVH, put me not to shame. I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart.
There seems to be a clear theme connected to this word. The way of YHVH is the Word of ’Elohiym. In the Hebrew, the word for way is derek (דרכ). It means way, path, road, or manner. It is used to show a means by which something is accomplished or sought. Scripturally, there is always the contrast of Yah's way or our way. As you can see from several of it's occurrences, that when used 'of YHVH', it is most often in conjunction with His words or commandments. So let's go back to the New Testament and put this definition back into it's proper context.
Mattityahu 22:16And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying Master, we know that thou are true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: . . ."(i.e. We know you teach the words of God in truth.)
Mark 10:52And immediately he received his sight, and followed Yeshua‘ in the way." (i.e. He obeyed the words of YHVH)
Hitgalut (Revelation) 15:3And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying Great and marvelous are thy works, YHVH El Shaddai; just and true are thy way, thou King of saints. " (i.e. Just and true are His words for He is an eternal King)
2 Kefa (2 Peter) 2:15Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness:" (i.e. They forsook the words of YHVH and followed the advice of Balaam, which was to mix with the Moabites (the gentile ways))
Acts 9:2And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women ..." (i.e. Early Jewish believers following the ways of YHVH in Yeshua‘ the Messiah.)
Romans 3:11-12There is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that does good, no not one." (i.e. Israel has chosen to go their own way and have abandoned the words of YHVH.)
Obviously I could go on and on. The point is that over and over again these terms that Yeshua‘ and the writers of the New Testament use are all idioms for the living Word of YHVH. His instructions and teachings, His Torah! This is where life is. Yah's words spoken in the Tanakh became flesh and dwelt among us. According to Sha’ul and Yeshua‘ Himself, all who commit to Him are immersed into Him. Yeshua‘, the Word, the Light, the Way of YHVH. These are much more than just symbolic titles. When the Hebrew writers of the New Testament used these terms, it was in light of the meanings in the Tanakh. Next time we will cover Life and Truth.
By the way, these weekly lessons are excerpts from the 4 CD series entitled: How Then Shall We Live?. This series also covers the terms Law and Grace as seen through the eyes of the writers of the New Testament and many more. It can be found by clicking on the marketplace section.
Shalom Alecheim! ◊