When you think of the word meditation, the stereo-type image that comes to mind is perhaps transcendental meditation, or a guru in India in a lotus position clearing out his mind, or monks in a seminary praying in silence. In my exploration of Biblical Hebrew, it seems to me that the psalmist in Psalm 1 might have been a bit noisy. As opposed to the Hindu who is told to empty his mind, the psalmist is instructed to interact with the Torah until it is his, his Torah. He reads it out loud. Today’s psalmist might sound like this, “Wow!” or “Mmmmm…..” or even “”What?” showing incomprehension or even mourning while reading the Torah. What is he doing? He is having a dialogue with the scriptures. He is talking back to them. He is so into his studies that he is no longer self-conscious about making noises.
The Hebrew root word for meditation is הגה
In Modern Hebrew, it means sound, steering wheel, rudder.
In Job, the Lord is the Actor of this verb. In this verse, it’s talking about thunder going out of his mouth. (BTW, I love the double Shema, Shema for “Hear attentively.” It reminds me of the British Parliment, declaring, “Hear, hear!”)
Job 37:2 Hear attentively the noise of his voice, and the sound that goes out of his mouth.
Job 37:2 שמעו שמוע ברגז קלו והגה מפיו יצא׃
The best way to learn the meaning of a Hebrew word it to see it in context in the scriptures. Let’s have a look at some English verses using הגה . When you see the different English words used for this Hebrew word, you may be doing some hegehing yourself: muttering, talking to yourself…
Ps 35:28 Then I will tell others about your justice, and praise you all day long.
Ps 35:28 ולשוני תהגה צדקך כל היום תהלתך׃
Ps 63:6 whenever I remember you on my bed, and think about you during the nighttime hours.
Ps 63:6 אם זכרתיך על יצועי באשמרות אהגה בך׃
Ps 90:9 For, all our days, decline in thy wrath,––We end our years like a sigh.
Ps 90:9 ט כי כל-ימינו פנו בעברתך כלינו שנינו כמו-הגה
Prov 15:28 The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things.
Prov 15:28 כח לב צדיק יהגה לענות ופי רשעים יביע רעות
Prov 24:2 For, violence, their heart muttereth, and, mischief, their lips do speak.
Prov 24:2 ב כי-שד יהגה לבם ועמל שפתיהם תדברנה
Isa 31:4 For, Thus, hath Yahweh said unto me––Like as a lion or a young lion growleth, over his prey. Who––though there be called out against him a multitude of shepherds––Will not, at their voice, be dismayed, Nor, at their noise, be daunted, So, will the Lord of hosts come down, to make war over Mount Zion, and over the hill thereof.
Isa 31:4 ד כי כה אמר יהוה אלי כאשר יהגה האריה והכפיר על טרפו אשר יקרא עליו מלא רעים מקולם לא יחת ומהמונם לא יענה כן ירד יהוה צבאות לצבא על הר ציון ועל גבעתה
Isa 38:14 Like a crane or a swallow, so did I chatter: I did mourn as a dove: mine eyes fail with looking upward: O LORD, I am oppressed; undertake for me.
Isa 38:14 יד כסוס עגור כן אצפצף אהגה כיונה דלו עיני למרום אדני עשקה לי ערבני
Jer 48:31 Therefore will I howl for Moab, and I will cry out for all Moab; mine heart shall mourn for the men of Kirheres.
Jer 48:31 לא על כן על מואב איליל ולמואב כלה אזעק אל אנשי קיר חרש יהגה