K.I.S.S.

legos logo

While learning how to develop a course, we always had to remember the K.I.S.S. principle–Keep It Simple Sweetheart.  Actually they use Stupid for the last S. in the acronym.  And I was.  Stupid.  I had so much fun designing the Legos course for Biblical Hebrew–delighting in how it could help future students of Biblical Hebrew understand how Hebrew words that I got carried away.  Most teachers get carried away.  Most good teachers who are passionate about their subject get carried away.  That’s why we need students who feel that they can talk to us.

Some of my beta-testers had no problem in telling me that the course went from being very simple to very complicated.  Just because I was enjoying how I could play with the Legos doesn’t mean a new student would enjoy it.  The new student would feel overwhelmed.

So I had to do what I was taught to do in writing classes at University–murder your children.  That sounds awful.  It is awful.  It means that you have to delete a lot of work that you love, that you created, but is not relevant for the project.  Like Sherman in the South during the Civil War in America, I had to slash and burn.

I was annoyed with myself for losing the perspective of my students.  I had castigated other Biblical Hebrew teachers for doing the same thing–using material that was overwhelming for the normal student.  I was seduced by my own creativity and utter brilliance and innovation.  Yes, another leader in the field of Biblical Hebrew told me that the course was “revolutionary” and that he wanted to link it to his website when I had finished it.  But I needed to put the course on the alter, have a sacrifice, and see what was left over.

Well, I think I have the essence now.  I’m happy with the course.  I could probably continue to enhance it for years.  But instead, I’ll start doing the narration for the videos and upload it on Udemy with my other courses.  I’ll take a break for the summer.  Then perhaps I’ll find all the dead work that I murdered and ressurect it for another course.  Or maybe I’ll get a new idea.  Who knows.

Anyway, if you want to see it, it’s on my website as pdf files which I need to convert again from the powerpoint presentation–this time as jpg files, and then pdf files.  TMI?  Sorry, sorry, I’m suffering from P.I.D.S. Post Instructional Design Syndrome.

Here’s the website. http://evreet.wixsite.com/evreet

What does the Hebrew word for angel really mean

First of all, we want to thank Manohar Inbaraj, one of our graduate students from E-Vreet for making this meme.  He posted it in our Facebook group.

What is special about this verse is the first word (remember to read from the right)

אנכי A-NO-KEY.

Anokey is an emphatic “I”. Hebrew doesn’t usually have a separate word for the word “I.” It is embedded in the verb. So you say “I-go” “I-come” and normally “I-send.”

But here, the Lord wants you to know that it is He Himself that his sending an angel/messenger to go in front of you to keep you or guard you in the way. If you aren’t reading the bible in Hebrew, you won’t know this. Some commentators say that the messenger is Moses. The word for angel/messenger is ME-LAK. It is not good to take verses out of the bible–out of context. So let’s see the verse in context in order that we can get the full meaning.

Conquest of Canaan Promised

20Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. 21Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression, for my name is in him.22“But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.23“When my angel goes before you and brings you to the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, and I blot them out, 24you shall not bow down to their gods nor serve them, nor do as they do, but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their pillars in pieces. 25You shall serve the Lord your God, and hea will bless your bread and your water, and I will take sickness away from among you. 26None shall miscarry or be barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days. 27I will send my terror before you and will throw into confusion all the people against whom you shall come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. 28And I will send hornetsb before you, which shall drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites from before you. 29I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the wild beasts multiply against you. 30Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased and possess the land. 31And I will set your border from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the Euphrates,c for I will give the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you shall drive them out before you. 32You shall make no covenant with them and their gods. 33They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.”

In Numbers 20:14, Moses uses the Hebrew word “ME-LA-KIM” (plural of MELAK) and it is translated as messengers: And Moses sent messengers from Kadesh unto the king of Edom, Thus saith thy brother Israel, Thou knowest all the travail that hath befallen us”:numbers-20v14

This longer passage that I posted above is like a conditional promise

–if you obey Me or the one I send, you will be blessed and protected.

It seems to be relevant to what Israel is going through today.

What do you think?

Pride or a Blessing

Shabbat Shalom. We are living in a time where it is a lot easier to be divided and have arguments and fights than it is to be the grown-up and be the peace-maker. Not everyone is going to agree with you. Just because someone doesn’t agree with you doesn’t mean they are a bad person or your enemy.

Lately, I have seen the worst arguments and infightings inside communities of faith. Pride is the worst drug and humility is the antidote. You can make the difference today. Be still and know that He is God–and not you or I.

We have all failed in this because we are living in dark and may I say evil times, but we can start now with wisdom, kindness and compassion and help each other. We are one people, so let’s act like it.

When God addressed Israel and asked them to hear Him, He did not use the plural form of the verb as He did in Numbers:

num-20v10-hear-pluralNotice that the Hebrew letter called a Vav in orange makes the verb a plural, as you would use in addressing more than one person.

Now notice how God addresses the people of Israel in the Shemah:

deut-6v4

You will notice that there is no Hebrew letter Vav to make the verb plural.  The verb is in the singular form.  Notice that the verse is about being one–God being one, but perhaps it is also about us being one, since God is addressing Israel as one person.  Many of us say the Shema prayer daily, but do we consider this as we say it?

Tonight many of us will celebrate the Shabbat and perhaps sing the famous Hinne Ma Tov from Tehillim (Psalm) 133.  Let’s look at the first verse:

ps 133v1.png

Notice that the Hebrew word for together has the same root as the the Hebrew word for one.  So you could say, “Oh how good and and how pleasant it is for brothers and sisters to live together as one.”

Let’s look at the whole psalm to get the impact:

ps-133-entire

Notice that the LORD will command the blessing when we are one.  So perhaps when we are divided, we forfeit a blessing that we may really need today.

Does God speak to us with His eyes?

JPS Tanakh 1917
I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go; I will give counsel,

I will give counsel,

Mine eye being upon thee.’

In the Hebrew, the verb for “instruct” is שבל and is not the normal verb for instruction like a teacher in school.  This is talking about a more adult relationship where God teaches us skills in wisdom–how to consider matters.  The verb for teach is the same root word for Torah.  It can also be used for rain, shooting an arrow.  So it’s about pointing the way.

With this close relationship in mind, I’m wondering if the LORD doesn’t so much keep an eye on us, as he guides us with His eyes.  When you have a close relationship with someone, they can communicate with you if you simply watch their eyes.  Others in a crowded party may not notice, but you will know what your friend is thinking.

Imagine if both of you just met a talkative man who is boasting,  Your friend may give you a raised eyebrow as if to say, “Don’t believe a word that he’s saying.” Your friend may then point their eyes to the door as if to say, “It’s time to get out of here,” and without speaking a word, you both leave together.  Perhaps God guides with His eyes in a similar way.  If we are watching Him, we’ll catch His subtle glances that He reserves for His friends who want to learn.

When your soul is in prison, play…

As you start playing with the Hebrew words in a verse that you have known all your life, you may start feeling like you know less instead of more.  The more you study Hebrew, sometimes, the less you feel you know.  But you just have to go with it.  Leave your Western linear standards behind.  A lot of times, you will not be able to get a word for word direct translation.  Instead, you just have to feel the words and let them speak to you.  When you study Biblical Hebrew, you are entering an Eastern mindset.  It’s uncharted territory, but yet, it’s intimate and real.

This is what I have found as I have played with the words of this verse.  I have taken each word and stretched it, turned it on all sides in the light, and I’m still not satisfied.  But then, if I were, it wouldn’t be so much fun.  There’s always more when you handle eternity.

tehillim 142v7.pngI think that this verse can speak to many who are in their own prison.  It will speak to them in the way that they need.

The Five Most Difficult Words in the English Language to Pronounce

When I facilitated International Business Communication classes with software developers, I would use the activity of a role-play scenario of two people: one who has hurt the other and needed to apologize. I observed senior managers stutter and hesitate, finding the five words “I’m sorry. I was wrong.” almost impossible to pronounce. To many in the Asian context, admitting that you were wrong is a sign of weakness. I also found this as a mantra in the Clinton campaign.

What has Yom Kippor, a Jewish Holiday, have to do with good business for Jews and non-Jews alike? Before Yom Kippor, Jews ask and receive forgiveness from each other. Good business is all about relationships. Employees and managers need to be trained to be first-responders in repairing not only client relationships but colleague and vendor relationships. It doesn’t come naturally to most of us. Either we choke on our self-righteousness, “I was NOT wrong” or we slink away in shame knowing that we were.

Now learn the three Hebrew words for forgiveness from this video. They are difficult in the same was as the English words.  http://www.aish.com/h/hh/video/Yom-Kippur-The-Three-Levels-of-Forgiveness.html?s=feat

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.

How Job left his mark: The letter Tav

tav ת

The last letter of the Hebrew alphabet is called a Tav.
And it looks like this ת.
The letter Tav also means “mark” in Biblical Hebrew and the  word looks like this תו

Let’s see the word Tav תו used in Job 31:35. What word do you think means Tav תו or mark?

Oh that I had one to hear me!
Behold my signature:
let the Almighty answer me!
And let mine opponent write an accusation!

Job feels like he’s is in a legal battle. He uses Tav תו as we would an ID card, passport or credit card. So תו is translated as signature here. It could also mean his testimony or written account.  “Here’s my mark, my pledge.”  This is an official statement. Job wanted concrete evidence for his defense because he wanted to take his accusers to court. He wanted written statements from his accusers in order that he could defend himself.  He was being accused of many things, but didn’t have the accusations written and defined in order that he could deal with them.  Why did he want to go to court? He wasn’t sure the Lord was hearing his plea and dealing with his accusers, so he went to Plan B.

The KJV version translates תו”desire”–sort of misleading, don’t you think? Look at the verse for yourself:

Oh that one would hear me! behold, my desire is, that the Almighty would answer me, and that mine adversary had written a book.

Even one of the smallest words in Biblical Hebrew, the name for the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, can shed light on a verse for us, and in this case perhaps make Job come alive and his book easier to understand.

Perhaps you don’t read Hebrew.  And תו just looks like a mark to you.  That’s ok.  See if you can pick out תו in Job 31:35 below.

מי יתן־לי שמע לי

הן־תוי שדי יענני

וספר כתב איש ריבי׃

Oh, that I had one to hear me!
(Here is my signature! Let the Almighty answer me!)
Oh, that I had the indictment written by my adversary!

מי יתן־לי שמע לי

הן־תוי שדי יענני

וספר כתב איש ריבי׃

Well, you just started reading Biblical Hebrew. If you’d like to get to know the Hebrew letters, consider our E-Vreet course called Meet the Hebrew Alphabet at UDEMY  https://www.udemy.com/hebrew-alphabet-evreet/learn/#/

If you’d like to learn more two-letter words in Biblical Hebrew, thus learning how to read, consider our E-Vreet course called Learn Hebrew from the Bible, where scriptures come alive.  Visit https://www.udemy.com/aleph-bait-soup-read-biblical-hebrew-a-letter-at-a-time/learn/

 

 

Defining words in Biblical Hebrew

 

 

I monitor a Facebook group called Hebrew Learn E-Vreet.  It’s always good when members participate.  We had one member talk about the meaning of El-Shaddai.  Well, there have been many discussions on this name of God by many scholars and rabbis for hundreds of years.

But you want to know the best way to define a Hebrew word in Biblical Hebrew?  See how the Hebrew word is used in the Bible.  First, see how it is used in Genesis.  Then, in the Torah, and finally, in the Tanakh.

But the most important thing is to let the whole verse, the whole chapter speak to you.  The reason we learn Biblical Hebrew is to understand what God is trying to tell us in the Bible.  So let’s look at El-Shaddai אל שדי in the first-mention, Genesis 17:1 in the JPS translation:

And when Abram was ninety years old and nine,

the LORD appeared to Abram,

and said unto him:

‘I am God Almighty; walk before Me, and be thou wholehearted.

El אל is the short for for Elohim אלהים .  We cover this in our course, Learn Hebrew from the Bible.

The root verb of El-Shaddai is SDD שדד

The verb is not used in Genesis.  It’s not used in the Torah.  We don’t see it until Judges.  It is used in its negative sense–to destroy.  Hebrew verbs can be used negatively or positively.  You can use strength for good or bad.  Obviously, God uses it for good.

There are no easy answers for the meaning of Shaddai.  So let’s focus on what God is trying to tell us in the verse.  He’s talking to Abram, before the name change to Abraham.  He’s directing Abram to follow Him, follow in His ways, His manner.  He asked Abram to be wholehearted.  What does that mean?  The word in Hebrew is תמים T’MIM and it means integrity, not to be of two minds–be fully engaged.

This is just a quick blog to stir your heart.  Read the whole chapter; read the chapters surrounding Genesis 17, giving you context.  And that will give you the meaning of אל שדי

By the way feel free to join our Facebook group. https://www.facebook.com/groups/evreet/