Hebrew Culture Part 1/2

Concrete Versus Abstract

Its a ‘concrete’ language as opposed to our [or should i say Greek/Western] ‘abstract’ thinking.

If i ask you ‘what is disobedience?’, you may have to say something like ‘its when….’ . Thats because the definition is something you have learnt and had to memorise, its not something you can see, hear, smell, taste, feel with your senses. Concrete on the other hand can be sensed. So in Hebrew, our definition of ‘disobedience’ doesnt exist. What we call disobedience [or in the bible whats translated as disobedience], Hebrew would say ‘trample underfoot’. So e.g. when talking about Gods commandments and disobeying them, its not:

the failure to obey; not obeying or complying with commands ofthose in authority; willfully avoids doing what it is asked of it.

Rather it is an action equated to ‘throwing’ the commandments on the floor and trampling upon them. So you can see what they thought about it.

Furthermore, if i ask you ‘what is anger?’, gain you’d say ‘its when…’, a learned answer [sure we feel anger, but to describe it is different]; You might say ‘its when you’re mad’, but what is it to be mad? The dictionary says

a strong emotion; a feeling that is oriented toward some real or supposed grievance

But what is an emotion? – ‘any strong feeling’. A feeling is ‘the experiencing of affective and emotional states’ or ‘the general atmosphere of a place or situation and the effect that it has on people’ – although we see it as answering our original question, an Ancient Hebrew would be so confused.  So in Hebrew, [remember they ‘sense’ their words], anger is the ‘flaring of the nose’, i.e. when you get angry, your nostrils ‘widen’.


Remember when reading the bible that the Hebrew people back then they were  Nomads, thus they lived in tents. The father was the strong protector [Ab – [Aleph, Beit]] of the family, the one ‘in charge’, whilst the woman [Am – [Aleph, Mem] – the glue which binds the family together] was the ‘backbone’. Remember when you read the word mother, father, these are abstract words, but you should think how they did, as it shows how they felt about the person. The same goes for Hebrew names.

The male was always the one who chose a woman/bride [NB. Israel was YHWHs bride, and He chose ‘her’]. Furthermore, like i said males were protectors etc, so when God chose Israel, it was to protect ‘her’ and in return, the woman would [obey isnt the right word], i guess would help him, perhaps fulfil something that was missing in him, and he does the same, so its mutual. So even though the male was seen to be more ‘powerful’, the women were not seen as helpless people with no rights, in fact, the tent they lived in was their property, and also the servants of the family were also [sorry to use the word property for servants, but you know what i mean – i think].

The point of this is so you to try and get rid of the ‘western mentality’ when reading the bible, otherwise it’ll make little sense. Things that were normal to them will be seen as terrible in our standards, and vice versa. So if you find yourself thinking ‘why would they do that?’, or ‘that makes no sense’ try and look a bit deeper at the culture to find your answer.

Hebrew Root System

Hebrew words are based on a ‘root’ system, usually three, but there are also two [four is generally modern hebrew]

So for example, from the website: www.ancienthebrew.org, i found that the root QN is present in several words:

QN represents the time before a bird lays her eggs, when she goes around acquiring and gathering materials to build the nest for herself and her offspring.

Qana means to protect/guard [or as is written in the bible,’ jealous’].

Qen means the gathering of materials for the building of a nest for the seeds (eggs)

Qaneh means to build a nest, the bird is the creator [qaneh] of the nest just like God isthe creator [Qaneh] of the sky and Earth. [Not an idea of creating something from nothing, but creating after having acquired/gathered materials]

So in Hebrew, we can tie them back to the QN root meaning, as well as take the other letters into consideration.

Qaneh conveys a meaning of a bird watching over her eggs/young with a view to protect them, and the bird is there to defend them from the enemy and prevent any other bird from entering the nest.

Exodus 34:

14: “Do not worship any other god, for YHWH, whose name is jealous (qana), is a jealous (qana) God”.

Just as a bird watches over and protects her eggs/young from predators, Yahuvah also watches over his children in his ‘nest’ protecting them from predators – other gods. Our meaning of jealousy is:

an emotion which typically refers to the negative thoughts and feelings of insecurity, fear, and anxiety over an anticipated loss of something that the person values, such as a relationship, friendship, or love.

Envious; Bitterly or enviously competitive; Suspecting rivalry; Fearful of being replaced, in position or in affection; Protective, guarding

Jealousy – a feeling of jealous envy (especially of a rival)

I believe Yahuvah, being almighty and what not, knows whats best for us, and so becomes extremely ‘guardful’ if thats a word, when His children worship so called ‘Gods’ that cannot protect them, that will lead them astray etc [remember they dont exist, there is only one God]. I feel its more of a caring/’aching’ jealousy, than an envious, one because if you think about it, if Yahuvah wanted to, He could just say, ‘oh well’, they’re sinners, who cares if they worship the wind, but he doesnt. He gets ‘angry – [his ‘nostrils’ flare] ‘ in a loving fatherly manner, as he wants and is the only one who knows whats best for his children [he not only created them, he gave them his spirit, h made it capable for them to be, so who are they to think they know what they want].

I guess we should be happy Yahuvah gets ‘jealous’, if He didnt then how could He possibly truly love us with a passion.

When i’m translating, i’ll be looking at the roots and related words  to try to get a deeper meaning of words used in the bible.

Please continue reading here…

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