Hebrew Research Center
November, 2004 Issue #009
Word of the Month – Life
Name of the
Month – Judah
of the Month – Hand of God?
Biblical Word of the Month - Life
By: Jeff A. Benner
The Hebrew word חי (chy) is pronounced like
the English greeting "Hi" but the "H" is pronounced hard
like the "ch" in the name "Bach" (hence I use the transliteration
of "hh" for this letter while most use "ch"). The word
"hhy" is usually translated as "life" in the English
The idea of "life" is an abstract thought meaning that the concept of
"life" cannot be seen, heard, smelled, tasted or felt. As the Hebrew
language does express abstract thought it is always through concrete ideas. In
order to demonstrate this process of concrete and abstract thought let us
examine the concept of "heart". The Hebrew word for "heart"
is לב (lev). The heart is the concrete and physical
"heart", the organ in the chest. But, this same word also represents
the abstract idea of "emotion" as the ancient Hebrews understood the
"heart" as the seat of emotion (much like we see thinking being associated
with the brain).
Now when we come to the word חי (chy) we understand the
abstract concept behind the word as awareness, existence, etc. but what was the
concrete background to the word. The following passage (quoted from the KJV)
can help us unravel this mystery.
"Wilt thou hunt the prey for the lion? or fill the appetite of the
young lions" (Job 38:39)
The word "appetite" in this verse is the translator’s translation of
the word "hhy". An "appetite" is again an abstract word and
was probably chosen for the translation as it best fits with the idea of
"life". But, if we instead replace appetite with "stomach",
a more concrete Hebraic concept, we find that the verse makes much more sense.
"Wilt thou hunt the prey for the lion? or fill the stomach of
the young lions"
Just as the heart is the seat of emotion, the stomach is, according to Hebrew
thought, the seat of life. If we think about this we can easily understand why.
We must first remember that the Hebrews were nomads who traveled from pasture to
pasture with their flocks in search of food and water. This was their primary
goal in "life". If food and water were in plenty, life was good, if
it was not, life was very bad.
of the Month - Judah
By: Jeff A. Benner
This name is pronounced "ye-huw-dah" in Hebrew.
Most Hebrew dictionaries will define this word as "praise" but as
this English word is an abstract word it falls short of its true Hebraic
meaning. The parent root of this word is "יד" (YD - yad) meaning "hand".
Several child roots are derived from this parent root having the meaning of
"throw" including the child root "ידה" (YDH - yadah), the root of
"yehudah". The word "Yehudah" has the meaning of "to
throw your hands out". If you were standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon for the first time you might throw your
hands out and say "Wow, will you look at that". This is the Hebraic
understanding of "praise".
was born to Leah (Genesis 29:35) she said "I will "yadah" Yahweh.
She was pointing to Yahweh and giving him the credit for the birth of her son.
We frequently use the word "praise" in the context of worship to God.
Our praise is not meant to be simply singing or praying to God, but acting upon
on our belief. Our function is to point to God so that others can see him. This
pointing does not have to be a literal pointing but that our actions in all
aspects of our life point to God and others will see him as well.
By: Jeff A. Benner
Q: What does the phrase
"Hand of God" mean?
A: The Hebrew phrase is
"yamin elohiym". The word elohiym means "God" while the
word "yamin" is "right hand". The focus of this word is on
the idea of "the right hand" in contrast to just "the hand"
(yad in Hebrew). The right hand is the stronger hand over the left hand. The
"right hand of God" is an idiom for "the strength of God".
Copyright © 2004
Jeff A. Benner
Ancient Hebrew Research
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