Wednesday, August 27, 2008


So, this is the second spiritual lesson I've learned from preparation for school. This one is new, and hasn't really sunk in too much, but because it has such an easy (and I think neat) visual representation, I chose to tell you about it first. The second lesson is rather complicated and I don't think I've sorted it all out just yet. More on that one later.

I'm studying the Hebrew language right now. Class starts in one week, but I've been very excited to get into it, so I have been working on the first two chapters pretty much non-stop since I got my books in the mail. (Ok, not non-stop. I actually didn't look at it last week.) But now, I'm trying to memorize my first vocab cards, and something struck me and I wanted to blog about it. Don't worry you don't need to know Hebrew to get what I'm talking about here. (It's not terribly important for this post, but in case you did not know, Hebrew is read from right-to-left, not left-to-right like English.) Here, take a look:

עָוַד: (Pronounced ah-VAHD): This word is a verb and means, to serve. It also means to till or work, which interests me. Biblical Hebrew used the same word for tilling the earth, and for serving. More interesting than that even, is that this is also the word for worship. So, in Biblical Hebrew: work, tilling the earth, serving, and worship were all the exact same word. Might this imply that service is a form of worship? More intersting to me is the possible implication that work, every-day mundane work, can also be regarded as a form of worship. Interesting, but it gets better.

עֶוֶד: (Pronounced: EH-ved): This is a noun, and it means servant or slave. (On a side note: I'm currently reading Romans, and this sheds some light on what Paul meant when he said we were slaves to God's righteousness.) I have to think more about what this means, but I found it interesting. I'll write the words one after the other, just so you can see how similar they are.

עָוַד - to serve/work/till/worship

עֶוֶד - servant/slave

But it gets even better:
You may have noticed that the only difference between the two words are the little dots under the letters. Those little dots and dashes are called Diacritics (or Nikud), and are not part of the Hebrew alphabet. They represent the vowel sound you should make after saying the consonant. The Hebrew alphabet does not have any vowels, so Rabbis decided to make up this system of dots and dashes to help people who were not fluent in Hebrew to read and understand the Bible. Which means that if you leave out the diacritics, (and the earliest Bibles most certainly did) then the words for service, work, tilling the earth, worship, servant and slave were all the exact same:


Does this mean that to be God's servant means to be his slave, and that as his servants we are to work, and serve others as our acts of worship? How many lessons are wrapped up one three letter word. I can't wait to get deeper into this rich language.


Nathan said...

Hey Josh! Joel is starting Hebrew right now as well, and I'm in a Septuagint class that is forcing me to read more Hebrew than I usually do, so we're all in deep Hebrew doo-doo.



Joshua said...

Ahhh Nater. Glad to hear we're all in this together. It's really an interesting language and I'm excited to get started. My first class is next Monday, we have a test first thing so I've been studying as much as I can before class starts.

It's nice to stay in touch.

Sean said...

that is really cool stuff

Joshua said...

Thanks Sean, I can't wait to get into it more.