Thursday, June 2, 2011

Ancient Hebraic Perspective --- Life

Another author I've enjoyed is Jeff Benner who wrote Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible. His studies on the most ancient pictographic forms of Hebrew words are fascinating.

"On a frequent basis we attach a meaning of a word from the Bible based on our own language and culture to a word that is not the meaning of the Hebrew word behind the translation. This is often a result of using our modern western thinking process for interpreting the Biblical text.

For proper interpretation of the Bible it is essential that we take our definitions for words from an Ancient Hebraic perspective. Our modern western minds often work with words that are purely abstract or mental while the Hebrew's vocabulary was filled with words that painted pictures of concrete concepts. By reading the Biblical text with a proper Hebrew vocabulary the text comes to life revealing the authors intended meaning. "

Here is one example from Brenner's book (AHLB# 1171-A) :

The Hebrew word hhai (or chai) 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.


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