{Word Study} To See “Nihzon”


Matthew 5:8: “Blessed are those who are pure in heart for they shall see God.”
To See: Aramaic – nihzon: experience, to see beyond normal perception. To see colors of emotions.
God has no body and is invisible, so how can we “see Him.”   “Seeing God” is a Hebrew idiom for possessing or acquiring something that is of God.  The Greek word used is opsoniti which comes from the root word horado and actually means a physical or mental image, an experience.  You can stretch it to say it means to see with spiritual eyes, but I believe when we look at the Aramaic word used here we can understand why Matthew chose the Greek word “horado” to express this idea.  Jesus spoke in Aramaic and the word he would have used, is the word Aramaic word found in the Aramaic Bible – nihzon.
Nihzon has an interesting history.  It is an artistic word, and word used to describe seeing something in the abstract.  Cezanne painted pictures of mountains and rocks.  He saw colors in rocks that no one else could see, not because of some mental disorder or vision anomaly, but because he looked it, he looked for the colors.  If you spend enough time looking at a rock you too will begin to discern its colors.  Vincent Van Gogh saw colors in the sky that no one else could see because he took the time to look for them and then paint them.    The difference between you and me and Cezanne and Van Gogh is that these artists had a heart unlike ours.  They had a heart for beauty unlike ours. My study partner sees and experiences things in flowers that I do not see or experience because she has a heart for flowers that I do not have.
This is the meaning behind nihzon, to see what no one else could see because you are looking for it with a heart like no one has.   Jesus said that those with a pure heart will see or nihzon God.  The word pure in Greek is kathros which means to be clean, pure, guiltless.  Yet the Aramaic word which Jesus spoke was dakay.  The Septuagint uses the kathros for the Hebrew word darar which means to separate yourself from all impurities to be pure.  This is different from the common word used for pure in the Hebrew which is tohar and means a shining purity.  Thus, I would reject the commentators’ view that Jesus is saying a pure in heart means a reflection of God.  Here a pure in heart is one that is removed from all that keeps you from focusing your full attention on God. It is having a clear heart and mind to perceive God.
What you perceive is nihzon.  It is to not actually see God Himself as we see a rock or the sky but to see the beauty of that rock and sky as Cezanne and Van Gogh.  The word nihzon has the idea of seeing the color, the richness and the glory of God.
I have not had the experience, but I have heard Christians whom I believe had a pure heart, a heart only to experience God with no personal agenda, who have said they have seen and experienced colors other have not during worship.  Elijah told Elisha he would inherit the office of the prophet only if he saw him taken to heaven.  Only those with a pure heart could see it.  Elisha saw it, he saw the glory of God and it proved he had a pure heart; his desire to be a prophet was for God alone and not for personal gain or recognition.  Only the pure in heart will see God.