Forgiveness – nasa’, yanach, salach
by Brad Scott
There are sixteen different Hebrew words behind our word forgive or forgiveness and the Greek word aphiemi. I will address the three most often used behind the following two occurrences in particular.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 6:12-15 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Mattityahu 18:21-22Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Yeshua‘ saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
To forgive in Greek is aphiemi. It means to send something away. The first three letters are the same as in apostle, to send forth. Here are some examples in a more concrete form in Greek.
Yochanan (John) 14:29Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
Mark 1:18And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.
The first occurrence in Hebrew as forgive is nasa’.
Bere’shiyt (Genesis) 50:17So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him.
Nasa’ means to lift a load off an animal and something or someone else carries it. To remove a burden off something. Nun (action), aleph (power) and shin (destroy or remove)
Bere’shiyt 7:17And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bore up the ark, and it was lifted up above the earth.
Another Hebrew word is yanach. The father root of the nun and chet also form the word Noah, as in let something rest or leave alone.
Bere’shiyt 42:33And the man, the lord of the country, said unto us, Hereby shall I know that ye are true men; leave one of your brethren here with me, and take food for the famine of your households, and be gone:
And also salach, which also means to lift up. Its root also in salal or a ladder and selah, the lifting up of the cantor’s voice in the Psalms.
Shemot (Exodus) 34:9And he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us; for it is a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance.
Forgiveness is seen when something heavy is lifted off of something. In its Old English form it meant to for+give or let go of a debt. The one who forgave is strong enough to bear the load. The one who does not forgive is the weaker one.
Shalom Alecheim! ◊