WORD STUDY – TROUBLED – דוד(Aramaic)
John 14:1-2: “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if [it were] not [so], I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”
Oh, beware, my lord, of jealousy!
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on. That cuckold lives in bliss
Who, certain of his fate, loves not his wronger,
But, oh, what damnèd minutes tells he o’er
Who dotes, yet doubts— suspects, yet soundly loves!
Othello, Act 3, Scene 3 Shakespeare
I was reading John 14:1 today in the Peshitta or the Aramaic Bible, in the language that Jesus and His disciples spoke. I ran across something that I found quite amazing. I wrote a study some time ago about the word mansions and that in the Greek the word did not mean mansions at all, at least as we consider mansions in our English understanding. This rendering has always bothered me mainly because I have no desire for a mansion. However, some people really get off on the idea of having their own mansion in heaven, mortgage and tax free. After all, is that not the American dream? To own your own home? Owning my own home never appealed to me. I do not like doing yard work, house work, and I am an absolute dufuse when to comes to repair work. I am lucky to be able to screw in a light bulb, let alone replace a light socket without getting that tingle running up my leg.
The fact is the promise of a mansion has no appeal to me whatsoever, so bias alert! I take an entirely different approach to this passage. The word in the Greek for mansion is monai which simply means room, dwelling places and an abode. It is only used twice in the Bible both times in John 14. The second time is in verse 26 where Jesus says we will monai with Him, or dwell with Him. Jesus says in my father’s house or oikia in the Greek. Oikia is the word for a house or dwelling in the Greek. Stop and think: “In my Father’s house are many mansions?” A mansion inside a house? I am willing to consider an alternative here. The word in the Aramaic for mansion is aona, and means simply a room or place of habitation. However, in extra Biblical literature I have seen this word used in the abstract, that is, I dwell within your mind or heart. This is fascinating when you look at the context. Jesus is talking about leaving the disciples who love Him. He is comparing His leaving to that of a man who leaves his betroth at the end of the day to go to his father’s house where he is building an addition to that house so that at the end of the betrothal period when he comes to consummate his relationship with his betroth he will be able to take her from her home to her new home at her bridegroom’s father’s house where he built a room or addition on that house to claim her as his bride. This room is no mansion, in fact it is simply a bedroom where he can be intimate with his bride.
Yet, Jesus is saying that in His Father’s house are many aona(s) or rooms where He can share an intimacy. With the abstract nature of aona, I believe Jesus is speaking of His father’s heart which is big enough for all to enter into an intimacy. The idea of a mansion or house in heaven has no appeal to me. I want only one thing in heaven and that is to spend eternity in the presence of God and to join with the saints of all ages in worship and praise and to express my love for Him.
But let’s jump back to verse one: “Let not your heart be troubled.” That word trouble in Greek is tarassmesth from the root word tarasso which means a shaking, a moving from side to side and emotional agitation. Ok, that describes a troubled heart. But I was reading this in the Aramaic and there the word used for trouble is dod. Take this word to its very Semitic origins and you have the idea of a boiling over or an overflow of passion. If this was translated by the scribes from the word spoken by Jesus in the Aramaic and translated into the Greek, they would have used tarasso only in the sense of a shaking that causes an overflow. I don’t believe Jesus is just talking about a troubled heart, but a heart that is overflowing with passion that it becomes something negative and destructive. Jesus does not call it love but dod, an overflowing passion.
Shakespeare does an examination of this dod or overflowing passion in his play Othello. In the play Iago who is the servant to the military leader Othello seeks to destroy his master. He considers the ways he might do this and realizes that Othello has a passionate love for his wife Desdemona. So he plots to make Othello’s love for Desdemona move from the passion of love to aona or the passion of jealousy. He hides Desdemona’s handkerchief in Cassio’s, one of Othello’s officer’s house to hint that she is having an affair. For he says: “Trifles light as air are to the jealous confirmations strong as proofs of holy writ,” Othello finds the handkerchief and of course his passionate love moves to the passion of jealousy where he ends up strangling Desdemona. We call it today a crime of passion. Just as Jesus does not say to not let your heart be filled with love but do not let it overflow with passion. Loving too much is not a crime, it is a good thing. Passion is not a crime either unless you allow that passion to move to an overflow or dod can become a crime if it results in hurting someone. It can also be wrong if it is allowed to cause you heartache, fear and create a troubled heart.
Let’s look at the context, Jesus is telling his disciples He is about to leave them. His disciples love Him with all their hearts. That is good but Jesus is warning, “don’t let that love become dod.” Many times when men go off to war and leave a wife or girlfriend, that separation causes pain and sorrow, but it takes great effort to keep it from becoming dod. “Does he still love me? Is he with other women when he is not in battle? Has he forgotten me?” That is dod which is also a troubled heart. Jesus is telling His disciples, “Don’t let your love for me become dod, where you question if I really do love you, if I am ever coming back for you or I have forgotten you. I am merely your betroth who is preparing a place for you, One day I will come back for you and take you to my Father’s house to consummate our love. You believe in God, then believe in me.” In other words He is saying: “Trust me.” Just as a man and woman must trust their love for each other when they are apart.
Does you love for Jesus turn to dod? “Do you shake your fist at God and say: “If you loved me you would…” “If you loved me you would make yourself known to me.” Of you might do what some wives do when their husbands goes off to war. “He ain’t coming back, he doesn’t’ care about me, I will find another to meet my needs.”
I was at the airport one time waiting to board my flight. I saw a soldier, still in uniform departing from a plane at another gate. There was no question who was waiting for him. I also saw a young woman, dresse, well, like a wife trying to impress her husband. She was anxiously watching as each passenger disembarked. When the young man stepped off the ramp she ran to him and threw her arms around as everyone sort of discreetly made a space from them. They were still embraced when I boarded my flight. I did not know how long they had been apart, but I knew they did not let their love move to dod. I could not help but think of the homecoming I shall have one day with Jesus and I do not intend to allow my love for Him to move to dod.