Let us reason together

quote-come-now-let-us-reason-together-lyndon-b-johnson-67-54-60During the Vietnam war crisis, LBJ used part of Isaiah 1:8 with the protestors who were against the USA’s involvement.  With the division among the people of faith, I thought I could use the same verse now.  But that’s the problem when using just a half a verse–you don’t have the right context. It’s not talking about about listening to each others’ viewpoint, as a kindly arbitrator, trying to be objective and compromising.  It’s talking about sin and how the LORD can settle the legal matter of our sins through cleansing.  As you read past the verse and even past the chapter, you’ll see the theme.

And then when I went into the Hebrew verb for “reason”, I found that God wasn’t trying to reason with anyone. The verb is yakakh.  It is used in the niphal form which means to correct or rebuke. In everyday parlance, that means God is telling people that they are plain wrong.  It’s not up for discussion.


To see what the verb means, let’s see how Isaiah uses this verb.


And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

Isaiah 2:4


And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.

Isaiah 11:3,4


Perhaps the LORD your God will hear the words of the field commander, whom his master, the king of Assyria, sent to mock the living God, and perhaps he will rebuke the words that the LORD your God has heard. So lift up a prayer for the remnant that still survives in this city.”

Isaiah 37:4


Who cause a person to be indicted by a word, And ensnare him who adjudicates at the gate, And defraud the one in the right with meaningless arguments.

Isaiah 29:21

I think that the psalmist in Psalm 141:5 gives us the best way to use this verb, but it may be lost in the KJV:

Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities.

Let’s look at another translation to get the sense of it in modern thought:

Let the godly strike me! It will be a kindness! If they correct me, it is soothing medicine. Don’t let me refuse it. But I pray constantly against the wicked and their deeds.


YOU crown the year

I came across Tehillim (Psalm) 65:12 (11) and I thought it was perfect for Rosh HaShana, although I could find anyone else on the internet who thought so.  Rosh HaShana literally means “Head of the Year.”  In Beresheet 1:1, we the word for “In the beginning” as B’resheet.  The word resheet comes from the root word of rosh meaning head or beginning.


So David is saying here that the LORD crowns the year with goodness or harvest.  If you could look at Israel from an airplane right now, you could see the golden wheat ready to be harvested. It encircles Israel like a crown.  The Hebrew word for crown is like the word that we use for a woman’s crown–a tiara.  It is עטר or ATAR.  David uses this word again in Psalm 5:12, ” Surely, LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround (ATAR) them with your favor as with a shield.


He uses it again as a verb in Psalm 103:4, “the one who rescues your life from the pit, the one who crowns you with mercy and compassion”. 

To celebrate Rosh HaShana, I like the imagery of the LORD crowning this year, 5777, with His bounty and prosperity.  Shana Tova to you all.

All the sections of Psalm (Tehillim) 119 on Video

Yes, some day I will get over this flu.  Thought I was over it and it came back.  So I’ve been working on an additional feature for the Learn Hebrew through the Bible course:  I’m almost finished uploaded 22 videos of Psalm 119–one video for each letter.  So now you can listen and look at the Hebrew words.  For instance, you can listen to Psalm 119’s section of the Gimel, where each verse begins with a Gimel.  Your mission in this exercise is simple, just identify the Gimel sound at the beginning of each verse.  That’s the G sound.  Sounds simple, but it’s exercises your brain and your ear.

What’s really cool about Psalm 119 is that each verse is a couplet.  It’s almost as if the writer was designing this psalm for learners of Hebrew.  Each verse has two thoughts.  Each thought is usually about three or four words, so it makes it easier for you to follow along with the Hebrew.

The video uses the “yad” which is the long stick with a hand that traditionally Rabbis use in teaching and reading.  By following the yad, you know what verse the speaker is reading.  You might be able to pick out a few words here and there, depending on your level of Hebrew.  Even if you don’t know any Hebrew, this exercise is really important: it helps you develop an ear for the language of Hebrew.  Just relax and get into the rhythm of Hebrew.  This exercise will speed up your learning down the road.

Here is an example with the letter Samekh.

Are you tired of those Facebook verses with the pretty pictures?

In the KJV, Psalm 55:17-Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.

I saw this verse as you do on Facebook on a nice picture of a sunrise and a figure in the background. If you just read the verse, you think, that’s nice–we pray to God three times a day and He will hear us. But when I looked at the Hebrew verbs for pray and cry aloud, I got a different story.

There was no “pray” there. The verb means to muse, complain, talk. Job used the verb for complaining. But he also used it when communing with God. I felt like there was a lot more to this verb. See for yourself: http://biblehub.com/hebrew/strongs_7878.htm

Then what about crying aloud. Sometimes we say, “for crying outloud!” Now I know where it comes from. The verb means to murmur, growl, roar. Mmmm…this is not quite what the picture in Facebook was showing. No quiet scene here. Check it out here: http://biblehub.com/hebrew/1993.htm

Ok, so I could study these verbs for hours and check what all the Hebrew scholars say. Get the rabbis, etc. Or I could do it the easy way. I could read the Psalm!

That’s where I got my answer. The psalmist here is not happy. He’s pretty distressed and anxious due to the enemy. Sounds like he could have written it for today. He is also upset because one of his close friends went against him. Now that puts verse 17 in context. See for yourself in the NET version:

1Listen, O God, to my prayer!

Do not ignore my appeal for mercy!

2Pay attention to me and answer me!

I am so upset and distressed, I am beside myself,

3because of what the enemy says,

and because of how the wicked pressure me,

for they hurl trouble down upon me

and angrily attack me.

4My heart beats violently within me;

the horrors of death overcome me.

5Fear and panic overpower me;

terror overwhelms me.

6I say, “I wish I had wings like a dove!

I would fly away and settle in a safe place!

7Look, I will escape to a distant place;

I will stay in the wilderness. (Selah)

8I will hurry off to a place that is safe

from the strong wind and the gale.”

9Confuse them, O Lord!

Frustrate their plans!

For I see violence and conflict in the city.

10Day and night they walk around on its walls,

while wickedness and destruction are within it.

11Disaster is within it;

violence and deceit do not depart from its public square.

12Indeed, it is not an enemy who insults me,

or else I could bear it;

it is not one who hates me who arrogantly taunts me,

or else I could hide from him.

13But it is you, a man like me,

my close friend in whom I confided.

14We would share personal thoughts with each other;

in God’s temple we would walk together among the crowd.

15May death destroy them!

May they go down alive into Sheol!

For evil is in their dwelling place and in their midst.

16As for me, I will call out to God,

and the Lord will deliver me.

17During the evening, morning, and noontime

I will lament and moan,

and he will hear me.

18He will rescue me and protect me from those who attack me,

even though they greatly outnumber me.

19God, the one who has reigned as king from long ago,

will hear and humiliate them. (Selah)

They refuse to change,

and do not fear God.

20He attacks his friends;

he breaks his solemn promises to them.

21His words are as smooth as butter,

but he harbors animosity in his heart.

His words seem softer than oil,

but they are really like sharp swords.

22Throw your burden upon the Lord,

and he will sustain you.

He will never allow the godly to be upended.

23But you, O God, will bring them down to the deep Pit.

Violent and deceitful people will not live even half a normal lifespan.

But as for me, I trust in you.

What does the name Jared and the name for the Jordan river have in common?

Do you know that you know how to say “He descended” in Hebrew? Well, if you know the name Jared, then you do. Ya-RED (Jared in Hebrew–there are no J’s in Hebrew–so what does that tell you about the name of Jesus?)

So anyway, Ya-RED means “He descended”.

So if you wanted to say that “Avraham descended” in Hebrew, you say, “Avraham yared.”  You never know when you might want to say that in Hebrew.

It’s also the verb used in Psalm 133 when talking about the oil dripping down Aaron’s beard.  So you won’t be surprised to know that yaRED is used for rain coming down.

It is also how the Jordan river got its name. The river goes down from the sea of Galilee which is in the north of Israel and travels south to the Dead Sea, which is really called the Salt Sea.


Hebrew Meditation is Noisy

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

She’s got Moxie! Tehillim/Psalm 91:1

You have probably heard the expression, “She’s got moxie!” Someone who has moxie is bold, energetic, and doesn’t take no for an answer. But what can really give us moxie is the moxie in Psalm 91. In Hebrew, moxie means my refuge.  מ ח ס י 

In Hebrew-English, that is refuge-my or mox-ie. The ie at the end means my. The X in Hebrew is that hard h sound in Bach. You sort of clear your throat to make this sound.

Now you have heard of Omar Sharif who was in Doctor Zhivago? Well Omar is going to help you with the next word which means I will say. Omar means I will say.   א מ ר

אמר ליהוה מחסי


I will say to the Lord that He is my refuge.

That’s how you can get moxie-you can be confident, bold, and even sassy when you have declared that the Lord is your refuge, your shelter, your protection, your haven.

Hebrew: Less is More Tehillim/Psalm 92:1

I am getting ready for the Shabbat which doesn’t come in the UK until about 9pm.  So let’s look at a Shabbat psalm 92.  When designing E-vreet course, I thought one way to learn the alef-bait was to pair up a word that we already knew with the letter.  I had trouble with the ט.  I couldn’t think of a word. Then I hit on Mazel-tov!  Almost everyone knows that term.  They just need to know what it means.  Although we use it to congratulate people, it actually means “good luck.”  In Hebrew, it’s luck-good.  That means tov טוב means good.

And if you know tov טוב, then you know a very important word in conversational Hebrew and Biblical Hebrew.  It means more than just good, but you’ll get the feeling of a word the more you see it in context in the verses.

Let’s just look at one full thought:  Tov l’hodot l’Adonai.  טוב להדוב ליהוה.  in Tehillim/Psalm 92:1

“It is good to give thanks to the Lord.”

Hebrew English:  It-is-good    to-give-thanks    to-the-Lord.

The Hebrew English shows you why there are only three Hebrew words in this sentence. Hebrew English helps you understand how Hebrew expresses itself.

Hebrew is concrete.  You can usually draw a picture from the words.  In this sentence, Hebrew isn’t giving anything–there is no verb to give.  So what’s going on here?  Hebrew thanking is actually throwing or shooting thanks to God, like shooting a basket ball.   You know you scored with the Lord. Or throwing confetti at a wedding.  You’re happy; you’re excited. This is not a boring verb.  The verb by the way is ידה. YADAH  To learn what it means, take a look how it is used in all the verses in the bible.  It will stretch your mind in new ways.  It’s like spiritual palates.  But the Shabbat is coming, so go rest until next week.

Shabbat Shalom שבת שלום

Hallelujah is a sentence.

My goal in designing this Hebrew course is to teach Hebrew with words that we already know in English.  Hallelujah is such a word.  In fact, in Hebrew, it is not a word; it is a sentence.  It is a command like Come! Go! Sit! Praise!  It means “Praise God.”  The Southerners best translate it: “Y’all praise God!” For the command is directed not to one person but to a group, to the people of Israel.

Here’s the grammatical breakdown:-

Hallelu  הללו=  You (plural) praise (Command form)

Jah יה= short form for the Lord

H-L-L הלל is the root


What I love about this is that this shows you that you knew a whole sentence in Hebrew and didn’t know that you knew.  You knew a sentence in Hebrew where the verb was in the plural command or vocative form!  So later when you come across other sentences where the Lord is giving commands, you will know to look for the “u” at the end.

In Psalm 113:1, the psalmist commands the servants of the Lord to praise Him. You can see the command form to praise three times in that one verse —


Hallelu avodi Adonai,

Hallelu et shem Adonai

So if you are ever wondering what to do, then just praise the Lord.


Do you know anyone called Obed?  Then you know the word for servant.  Just remember when a “B” comes in the middle of a word, it is pronounced like a “V.”

Since עבד is a masculine noun, it has a masculine plural ending–im or ים

But there is no ם ….  Why?  What happened to it?

When we want to say “servants of the Lord” in Hebrew, we don’t have of the

In English, we could also say Lord’s servants.  Think of it as being in the possessive form.

Hebrew expresses it like this: servants-Lord  (For you grammar geeks, it’s called a construct.)

So you would think that you would have עבדים יהוה

But you don’t.  Hebrew squeezes these words together so tightly, that the ם gets squished out.  So you are left with עבדי יהוה

So you can shout out “Hallelu avdi Adoni!” You have another sentence to your repertoire.

Now that ET in the next phrase is not about that extra-terrestrial being in Steven Spielberg’s movie.  אב has no meaning.  It is grammar helper to let you know that a noun is coming.  Not just any noun, but the direct object.  It is pointing to the noun “name” or shem. שם

So it’s sort of like “Who do we praise?”  We praise the name of the Lord.  In the Hebrew mentality, it is not just talking about your name but your character.  So when we praise the Lord here, we are to consider His character.  So that’s pretty easy to remember: Hallelu shem Adonai.  Then you know another sentence.

When you learn a sentence, you are learning a full thought.  This is the full unit in a language.  Many times, we have just learned sounds that have no meaning.  Or perhaps we have learned words but don’t know how they fit in a sentence.  When you know a sentence, you have the whole package.  It stays with you because it is a full thought.  It’s real language that you can use and grasp.