Word Study: Eat “Alakam”

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Word Study – Eat

Eat – Hebrew: alakam – eat, consume, kidney, inward parts, (as a metonymy  inward secret parts of the soul)

Jeremiah 15:16: “Your words were found and I ate them and your words became for me a joy, and the delight of my heart, for I have been called by your name, O Lord God Almighty.”

John 6:54: “Whosoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood will have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

In John 6:54, the Greek word used for “eat” is “trogon” which has the idea of chewing and cutting up into little pieces.  The Septuagint uses this same word in Jeremiah 15:16 where Jeremiah says that he found the words of God and “ate” them.  The Hebrew word for ate is “okelam” which is generally believed to come from the root word “alakam” which means to eat or consume.  However, some rabbis believe it could also represent the root “kallah” which could be a metonymy or what we generally call a figure of speech.  It is sometimes rendered as kidney but as a metonymy represents the inward secret parts of the soul.  In this case Jeremiah received the words and “ate” them, that is, he consumed them or studied them, discussed them and meditated on them until they became a part of his very soul or being.

Obviously Jesus is expressing a metonymy or a figure of speech when He speaks of eating his flesh and drinking his blood.  At least the Jewish disciples would interpret this as a figure of speech because it was a very common metonymy in the Hebrew language and had the idea that when one speaks from his heart (the flesh), you would eat it; that is, you would study it, discuss it, and meditate on it until it became a very part of your soul.

The key word in both these verses is the word “eat.”   By eating something you are making it become a part of you, it is something that will strengthen you and give you energy  to move forward.   But Jeremiah found to be more than just nourishment, it was also a source of joy.

This is the idea behind “okelam.”   When it comes to eating the Word of God, it is not a boring meal of rye crisp and carrot sticks.  It is meant to be a feast.   Sometimes as I approach my study time in the Word I find that sense of anticipation and joy in that experience.   I enjoy spending the hours before my study time looking over the menu  and trying to decide what to order.  This morning my order was Jeremiah 15:16.