The letter Vav (ו) is the 6th letter in the Aleph Beit and as a prefix to a noun, Vav means “and” . It is a letter of connection and can represent the continuity and unification of both time and space. In this role, vav inverts time, connecting and transmitting past and future. When Vav is used as a prefix to a verb it serves a special function; it changes the tense of a verb from past to future and vice-versa.
Psalm 119:44 So I will keep Your law continually, Forever and ever.
וְאֶשְׁמְרָ֖ה תֹורָתְךָ֥ תָמִ֗יד לְעֹולָ֥ם וָעֶֽד
The word keep in Hebrew is “Shamar” (שׁמר ) which means to keep, to protect and carefully tend as in the garden (Gen. 2:15). It is most often used in adherence to God’s word’s…covenant, statutes, precepts and law . This word is also used to describe actions of a watchman and of tending a flock of sheep. Lastly, it can be used poetically to means: eyelids, as in keeping eyes open and watching.
The Hebrew word for Law is “Torah” (ירה) and its root word “yarah” (see : Hitting the Bullseye) means God’s instructions for living rightly before Him. It has the idea of pulling a bow back to shoot an arrow in order to hit its mark. The Torah lovingly aims and guides us with life in Jesus as the mark. It can be seen as instructions from a loving Father in order protect and guide His children.
Torah, in the strictest sense, refers to the 5 books of Moses including but not limited to the 10 commandments. In its broadest sense, Torah can mean any and all of God’s revelation to us, refering to the whole of scripture. A common teaching even at the time of Jesus, is that there are a total of 613 commandments of which all could be found in some form within the 10 commandments. When Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment in the law is, he answers with: Matthew 22:37 And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” Jesus was not giving two answers but using rabbic style of teaching where you take one verse of the Bible to explain another. Jesus took these two verses and “connected” (ו) them together, essentially becoming one. The essence of Torah can be summed up in one word…Love. Matthew 25:40 “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
A metaphor for the giving of Torah at Mt Sinai is that of a betrothal ceremony with the giving of the ten commandments as a marriage contract. Marriage vow’s are not something forced but rather passionate words from the heart promising fidelity and love, Hosea 2:19-20 “I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, In lovingkindness and in compassion, And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the LORD. In a marriage contract, both parties pledge themselves to one another promising loyalty and commitment during both the good and the difficult times.
Adam and Eve were given the garden to tend ( keep “shamar”) and were instructed: Gen.2:16-17 The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”. Disobeying God’s command brought separation between God and man. We will see later that the word ever “Adah”, has the idea of eating, only here in Psalm119:44 the eating being done is that of God’s Torah, teachings and instruction’s, which are life to those who eat of it and which connects (ו) us to God in a vibrant and intimate relationship.
Next we have three words, continually, forever, and ever which all have “eternity” as one of its meanings, only each with a different shade of expression.
First, continually “Tamid” (מדד) meaning perpetual as in Ex. 27:20-21 “You shall charge the sons of Israel, that they bring you clear oil of beaten olives for the light, to make a lamp burn continually”, which recalls the perpetual sacrifice made on our behalf by Jesus (Hebrew’s 10:1o). “Interestingly, Tamid also means to measure and garments and gives the idea of clothing being tailor-made. Having an intimate walk with God and studying His Word is a perfect fit for me and He tailors His words to each one of our lives perfectly. When I was 26 I finally found what my passion is…Jesus. When I learned to study scripture in its original language, Hebrew, I found my creative outlet. Biblical Hebrew is such a multifaceted language that each word is like a painter’s pallet of colors. With the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, I pick and blend these colorful Words until I come to my finished piece, which is God’s articulated thoughts and self disclosure tailored to me for that day. We will eternally discover the ever unfolding manifold beauty of God, which is one with His Word.
The next word Forever in Hebrew is the word “olam” (עלם) which sometimes has a temporal meanings and other times means eternal, or infinity: no begining and no end, having the idea of transcending time and space such as it is also used in Gen. 21:33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree at Beersheba, and there he called on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting (Olam) God, and in Is. 40:8 The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever (Olam). Its root word means hidden or concealed as in something in the distant past or in the distant future that we cannot see it. Like as in the horizon, the closer we walk towards it the farther it seems. We cannot see beyond the horizon and what lies beyond it is “Olam”. Also, I believe “Olam” is a play on words with “Shamar” keep, as it also means eyelid, but in this case the eyelids are shut.
Lastly, we have the word Ever “adah” (עדה) which means “perpetual” and “eternal” but also means “prey” and “spoil” (a catch). While at a coffee shop the other night I mentioned this word to Chaim and asked what exactly does eternity and spoiled prey have to do with each other? Well the answer came in an unconventional way, let me explain. Recently Chaim has taught me about the word “Yiredu” translated as “dominion” but interestingly can mean: to come down, descend, or to lower oneself. When we come down to the level of the animals rather than ruling over them, we can worship God together and they will often reveal something of the nature of God to us… now back to my story. As we were contemplating “adah” and seeking God for understanding our attention was drawn to one little bird in particular. Now we were sitting outside and there were plenty of birds around but it was this one that I mention that we both felt a connection (ו) with. The presence of God was very strong as we watched and all of a sudden we noticed a live moth in its mouth. Though this may be common, neither Chaim nor I ever saw this before. Our first thought was “he had more than he could chew”. The bird was little and the moth was rather large and though he struggled to eat his prey, he did so a little at a time. We have so much of the Word (Torah) of God to eat and digest, that we will feast on it for an eternity “adah” (עדה).
Using a personal analogy, if someone was said to love me and they saw my nephews hungry, cold or hurting I would expect them to reach out and help them and to give them a hug. Even if they were not suffering I would hope if they were to pass by my nephews that they would be kind to them, even offering a smile or word of encouragement. This is the best way someone could love me. John:21:16-17 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep (same idea as “Shamar”).
When you show love to your neighbor, you are loving God and fulfilling the law “Torah”.
In the end, I am reminded that LOVE is the key for all of eternity.