Hebrew Words Defined
What is Life?
by Brad Scott
The last several lessons we have defined some New Testament words by seeking their meaning in its dictionary, the Tanakh. We have discussed the difference between the words of ’Elohiym and the logos of God. We have searched for the meaning behind Yeshua‘’s use of the terms light and way. A clear pattern is beginning to take place, and you will begin to notice that all these common scriptural terms point to one thing. THE WORD OF YHVH! I pray that so far you can see that when a person accepts Yeshua‘ the Mashiach (Messiah) as Master and Savior, he or she has accepted and committed to all the words of YHVH. Yeshua‘ is not just some buddy up there in the sky somewhere. He is not just a coat tail to cling to. He is the living, breathing, words of YHVH.
So now, let's take on another common term. What is the meaning behind Yeshua‘’s constant use of the word life? Well, again this term did not pop out of thin air. This word has much meaning in the culture in which it came from. Let's take the word life, and go back to the dictionary. This word comes from the Hebrew word, chai (חי). In the Aleph-Bet series, we discuss how most Hebrew nouns and adjectives have verbal roots. This is primarily because Hebrew is an action oriented language, and therefore, so is Hebrew philosophy and their view of the world. Hebrew sentence structure places the verb before the noun to express this. In our language, we place the noun before the verb. This is a fine example of why you will begin to see that most Middle Eastern thinking (scriptural) is antithetical to Western thinking (gentiles, Greek, nations, pagans). The verbal root of chay is chayah. Chayah is generally translated as living or quickened. As we have done with other terms, let's see how the Ruach haQodesh uses this term. The first occurrence, as it relates to humans, is in Bere’shiyt (Genesis):
Bere’shiyt 2:7And YHVH ’Elohiym formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life [chai]; and man became a living soul.
Man's life came from the breath of ’Elohiym. What is the breath of ’Elohiym? It is the word of ’Elohiym (Mizemor (Psalm) 33:6, Yochanan (John) 6:63). Right from the beginning we see that our life comes from the Spirit of YHVH, the breath of YHVH, the Words of YHVH. Let's get some more detail.
Devariym (Deuteronomy) 32:46 - 47And he said unto them, Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law. For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life: and through this thing ye shall prolong your days in the land, wither ye go over Jordan to possess it.
Mizemor 119:50This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy words hath given me life.
Devariym 30:16In that I command thee this day to love YHVH thy ’Elohiym, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply:
Mizemor 119:93I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast given me life.
Mishlei (Proverbs) 13:14The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.
Mishlei 3:1-2My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: for length of days and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.
Mizemor 119:17Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy words.
Mizemor 119:144The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting; give me understanding, and I shall live.
Mizemor 119:24-32Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counselors. My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word. I have declared my ways, and thou heardest me; teach me thy statutes. Make me to understand the way of thy precepts; so shall I talk of thy wondrous works. My soul melteth for heaviness; strengthen thou me according to thy word... Remove from me the way of lying, and grant me thy law graciously. I have chosen the way of truth; thine ordinances have I laid before me. I have clung to thy testimonies; O YHVH, put me not to shame. I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart.
Here we have seen that life is the laws, precepts, ordinances, statutes, words, and teaching of YHVH. It is YHVH Himself. It is not some lofty, ambiguous term left open to be spiritualized away into some meaningless chasm. When Yeshua‘, who is ’Elohiym, uses these words, He is using them in the same way He has always used them. This is precisely what was to be looked for in discerning the coming Mashiach. If He did not speak according to the law and the testimony, then there was no light (Torah) in Him (Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 8:20). So now let's look at some ways in which Yeshua‘ used this term. Remember, the term life is the Word of ’Elohiym.
Yochanan (John) 6:63It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak to you, they are spirit and they are life.
Yochanan 1:4n him was life and the life was the light of men.
Ma’asey hashsheliyechiym (Acts) 2:28Thou hast made know to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.
1Yochanan 1:1That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the word OF life.
Yochanan 14:6Yeshua‘ said unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Colossians 3:4When Mashiach [Messiah], who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
Yochanan 5:24Verily, verily, I say to you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death to life.
The pattern of Yah's will becomes obvious. He is constantly drawing us back to His ways, His light, His life. ’Elohiym's words, when obeyed, produces life and freedom. The concept of life in Hebraic thought is not some symbolic utopia. When Yeshua‘ said that He came to give us life and to give it more abundantly, He was referring to the power of His words when put into action. If, as Christians, we really do believe that Yeshua‘ is ’Elohiym, then we have to come to terms with the fact that Yeshua‘’s words are ’Elohiym's words, and Yeshua‘ the Mashiach spoke according to the law and the testimony.
Next time we will continue with the term truth. What is truth? How would Yeshua‘ have defined this word? I bet you can already guess what truth is. It has never changed.
Shalom Alecheim! ◊