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Insights from the Hebrew Language

“I Threw It”—Zarakti


Did you ever see one of those news clips where the police were using a water canon to disperse or subdue a violent crowd? If so, keep that picture in mind for a few moments while we explore the Hebrew word zarakti (זרקתי). The simple definition of the word is “I threw it.” Let’s take a look at how it is used in Ezekiel 36:25: “Then I will sprinkle [zarakti] clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.”

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An Appointed Time—Moed


A moed is an appointed time when God asks His people to meet with Him. Moed is found 223 times in Scripture. It can be translated “set time, a specific appointment with God, appointed time, or solemn times, or congregation.” If you ask your Jewish friends what a moed is, most likely they will tell you that it is the feasts, referring to the biblical feasts listed in Leviticus 23. Type the word in Google, and you will quickly find links informing readers that moed is the name of the second Order of the Mishnah, the first written recording of the oral Torah (laws given to Moses not included in Scripture and not written down until AD 220). The twelve tractates (essays) of moed in the Mishnah relate to the Sabbath and the feasts, among other related topics.

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{image_1}Rachamim is a highly emotion-packed word, most often used to describe God. It is defined as “bowels, tender love, and pity” and is always in plural form, possibly to convey the intensity of the emotion behind it, though it’s not always translated as plural. In Hebrew, it is closely associated with rechem (Strong’s H7358), or “womb,” so when used in reference to God, rachamim (H7356) focuses on His parental love. Just as a womb protects the helpless unborn child, so He longs to create “a fence around the chaos,” as one online Bible teacher put it.

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Both Christians and Jews eagerly long for the coming of the Messiah. Yet, the topic of Messiah is one that has caused great division between Christianity and Judaism. The greatest dispute is the identity of the Messiah. As Christians, we know that Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ) is the Messiah. Jews equally “know” that He is not the Messiah. The Jewish rejection of Yeshua as the Messiah has been a catalyst for Christian persecution of Jews throughout the centuries.  Perhaps we can shed some light on these differences by looking at the meaning of the Hebrew word and its Greek equivalent.

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Proclaiming the Goodness of God—Sapar

{image_1} There are two Hebrew words with very similar meanings that are translated “proclaim” or “declare.” One is sapar,which means to number, count, proclaim, and declare. The other is qara, which means to state boldly and publicly. Both have the connotation of detail and unquestionable accuracy. Sapar is used in Genesis 15:5 where God tells Abram to number the stars and in 2 Samuel 24:10, where David takes a census. The verb can also mean “to measure,” as when Joseph gathers “grain, as the sand of the sea” (Gen. 41:49). But in 90 of its 110 uses, the word means to proclaim or declare, to orally list in detail a series of incontrovertible facts.

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IN the polytheistic world of the ancient Middle East, it was important to know the exact name of the god that you served. This gave you a glimpse into his character as well as a degree of power over him. Since these deities were seen as capricious and exacting, appeasing them was a part of everyday life. Mandated worship took up tremendous amounts of time and demanded huge gifts that primarily benefited the local priesthood.  There was no guarantee that one’s prayers were heard or would be answered if they were. Therefore, any information that would help manipulate such gods was very helpful. This may explain the question Moses put to God upon meeting Him in the burning bush: “…when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” (Exod. 3:13).

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{image_1}FIRE IS ONE OF THE BASIC ELEMENTS THAT JUDAISM has defined as preceding the world’s creation, along with water and spirit. It can have both beneficial and detrimental effects, depending on how we control it. But fire is also an important element that represents God, as described in the Bible and other Jewish writings.

According to Jewish tradition, the light was created out of God’s primordial fire: “The fire became pregnant, and gave birth to light” (Ex. R. 15:22, rabbinic text). Moreover, they say that everything that is considered as having come directly from God came through fire. In this way, the Torah (Gen.–Deut.) was given by God in a frame of white fire, and the letters were engraved in black fire. “It was itself of fire and mixed with fire, hewn out of fire, and given in the midst of fire” (Yer. Sotah viii. 22d).

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{image_1}“Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle” (Exod. 40:34).

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Preparing to Meet with the Lord


Once a year the staff of Bridges for Peace in Israel goes away for a three-day prayer retreat. It is a special time of meeting with God—a moed (appointment, set-apart time) when we seek the Lord for His direction for the future. In the month before the retreat, we concentrate on preparing ourselves spiritually for this special time and encourage each person to search their heart. In our devotional times, we concentrate on repentance and seeking God. The Friday before we leave for the retreat, the entire management team spends several hours praying for the Lord’s direction and blessing for the staff. This time of preparation is a vital part of the retreat, enabling our team to come before the Lord with a clean heart.

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{image_1}Tikvah means hope, expectation, something yearned for, or anticipated. It is found in Scripture 33 times, though the word “hope” in English is used as much as 143 times in certain translations, so there are other Hebrew words that can be translated “hope.” Interestingly enough, tikvah is found most—12 times— in the book of Job when he is struggling over his seemingly “hopeless” situation. It comes from the verb kavah, which can mean “to stretch like a rope.” It is used this way on first mention in Joshua 2:18–21, when Rahab lowers the two Jewish spies down the walls of Jericho by a scarlet cord. The “line” or “cord” is the word tikvah. Rahab’s cord was not only the spies’ hope for rescue, but hers too.

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