Ancient Hebrew Word Meanings
Life ~ hhai
By Jeff A. Benner

The Hebrew word hhai is usually translated as life. In the Hebrew language all words are related to something concrete or physical, something that can be observed by one of the five senses. Some examples of concrete words would be tree, water, hot, sweet or loud. The western Greek mind frequently uses abstracts or mental words to convey ideas. An abstract word is something that cannot be sensed by the five senses. Some examples would be bless, believe, and the word life. Whenever working with an abstract word in the Biblical text it will help to uncover the concrete background to the word for proper interpretation. How did the ancient Hebrew perceive "life". A clue can be found in Job 38:39, "Will you hunt prey for the lion and will you fill the stomach of the young lion?". In this verse the word "stomach" is the Hebrew word hhai. What does the stomach have to do with life? In our culture it is very uncommon for anyone to experience true hunger but this was an all too often experience for the Ancient Hebrews. To the Ancient Hebrews life is seen as a full stomach while an empty stomach is seen as death.

AHLB# 1171-A (N)