Word Study: Willing



Willing – Hebrew: ‘avah – willing, incline, desirous, wishing.

Isaiah 1:19: “If you be willing and obedient, you will eat the good of the land.

“One act of obedience is better than one hundred sermons.”  Dietrich Bonhoffer

The word for “willing” is “’avah” which is spelled “Alep, Beth, Hei.”  Jewish literature teaches that the aleph represents the yoke of the oxen.  The ancient Phoenician form of the letter “aleph” is shaped like an ox’s head.  Proverbs 14:4 tells us that a rich harvest comes through the strength of an ox.  Ancient sages saw the ox as a representation of the spiritual power of God inside of us.  The yoke symbolizes the disciplines to harness this power.   Willingness or “’avah” is harnessing the power of God or yoking ourselves to the power of God (Aleph) so that our hearts (Beth) are filled with His presence (Hei).   When we do this then we will hear.  Eating the good of the land  is the produce that comes from yoking ourselves to the “ox” or the “Aleph” and that is “good” or “tov” in harmony with God and proper to be eaten or consumed.   The produce is the “shama” what we hear from God.   The point is that  unless we are harnessed to the power of God and have a heart filled with His presence, we will not  “shama” or hear the voice of God.

When a farmer yoke’s oxen together, he first choses a very aggressive ox and then yokes it to an ox that is not aggressive.  Thus the non aggressive ox will just follow the lead of the aggressive ox.  If he yokes two aggressive oxen together they would likely try to go in different directions and he would get nothing plowed.   When we yoke ourselves to God he is the aggressive one and we are the ones that just yield to that aggression.  The result is that we end up going wherever God wants to go.  The hearing comes naturally and the result is a field that produces what is good (in harmony with God).