Ancient Hebrew Research Center
Biblical Hebrew E-Magazine
October, 2006 Issue #032
Biblical Word of the Month – The Way
By: Jeff A. Benner
a study I have been working on over the last few months and I thought that I
would share this study with you. I hope you find it of interest and it brings
the Bible to life for you.
~The Way of Yahweh~
A common theme throughout the Old Testament is "the way of Yahweh" - ... I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to guard the way of Yahweh by doing righteousness and justice (Genesis 18:19).
From the root ירה (y.r.h) comes the verb ירה (yarah, Strong's #3384) meaning to cast or
throw as seen in Shemot 15:4 - Pharaoh's chariots and his host he cast into
the sea, and also in 1 Samuel 20:20 - And I will shoot three
arrows to the side of it. This same verb can also be translated as
"teach" in the sense of throwing the finger, or pointing, in a
particular direction the one who is being taught is to walk - Teach me
your way (Psalm 86:11). This last verse could be translated literally as Point
me in the direction of your path.
The Hebrew language is composed of a
series of roots. The most basic roots, parent roots, are formed by combining
two letters together. In some cases, parent roots sharing a common letter are
related in meaning such as in the roots צא, צו and צי which are all related to the nomadic migration. When a third letter is
added to the parent root a child root is formed and the definition of this
child root is going to be closely related to the parent.
The parent root צא (ts.a) represents the migration of the nomad from one location to another. The child root יצא (y.ts.a) also has the definition of the migration. The verb יצא (yatsa, Strong's #3318), derived from this child root can be found in Exodus 20:2 - I am Yahweh your God, who migrated you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. This is the beginning of Israel's migration from Egypt to the land he has promised them.
The parent root צו (ts.w) represents the directions the nomad takes on his migration. This same meaning is applied to the child root צוה (ts.w.h) and its verbal form, צוה (tsawah, Strong's #6680), can be seen in Deuteronomy 1:19 - And we set out from Horeb... as Yahweh our God directed us. God provides Israel with their directions during their migration toward the land he has promised them.
The directions can be directions for a physical journey through a land or a journey through life. The noun מצוה (mitswah, Strong's #4687), derived from the child root צוה (ts.w.h) by adding the letter מ (m), is used for this journey through life as seen in Deuteronomy 6:25 - And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this direction before the LORD our God.
The verb צוה (tsawah) is commonly translated as a command but this definition does not reflect the Hebraic background to the word. When we read about the "commands" of God in the Bible we have this image of a General giving his commands to his troops. But the Hebraic concept behind these "commands" are the directions from God's for our journey through life so that we will not get lost from the correct path.
The parent rootצי (ts.y) represents the place of the nomads journey, the wilderness. From this parent root is derived the noun,ציי (tsiyiy, Strong's #6728), meaning a wilderness as in Psalm 72:9 - They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; And his enemies shall lick the dust.
Staying on course
On the path and lost from the path
When traveling the wilderness it is important to stay on course in order to find the next landmark as well as the pastures and water sources. If one was to lose their way they will become lost and may die if they do not return to the proper route. The idea of being on course and lost from the course is found in two Hebrew words,צדיק (tsadiyq, Strong's #6662) and רשע (rasha, Strong's #7563). The word tsadiyq literally means to stay on course, to remain on the path while rasha means to be lost from the path. Tsadiyq is usually translated as righteous and rasha as wicked but, these English words do not convey the original meaning behind the Hebrew very well.
One who is tsadiyq remains on the
road, following God's directions but on the other hand, one who is rasha is
lost and is in jeopardy of death. Consider Proverbs 10:11 which states, The
mouth of the tsadiyq is a source of life but the violence covers the mouth of
The guiding light
In ancient times the stars would guide one on their journey. The Hebrew verb הלל (halal, Strong's #7725) is the shining light of these stars - For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not give their light הלל (Isaiah 13:10). This same word is also translated as "praise" but Hebraicly means to "look toward another as a shining light." When the Psalms say, Praise Yah (halelu-Yah) (Psalm 135:3) it is literally saying, "Look to Yah as the light that will guide you on your journey."
Our life is supposed to be a migratory journey on God's road. The Bible is the 'map' that shows us the directions, paths and landmarks which he has pointed out to us. The Bible is also the guide to show us how to stay on the path and how to find it again if we become lost on our way. If we are not reading (a.k.a. studying) this book how can we expect to find our way to the road of Yahweh?
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path
Jeff A. Benner
Ancient Hebrew Research Center
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