Category: Devotionals

Daily Devotionals from Chaim Bentorah


Word Study: Cherish חב



John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

English has an all purpose word of affection called love. We love Big Macs and we love our parents. We use the same word and it is only the context that will reveal the level or intensity of this word love. Hebrew and Aramaic have a number of different words which translators tend to just lump into this English word love. The word is Aramaic used in John 3:16 is chav which broadly means love but to the ears of the first century Semitic person, they heard the word which to us in English would be cherish. To understand this like a first century Semitic person you should read this as: “For God so cherished the world.”

Quick Word Study: Refuge שׁבג

Psalms 9:9 “The Lord will also be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.”
Refuge in Hebrew is the word shagav. It means a high place, to be raised up, set in security, to make powerful, to strengthen, strong place. It has a built in commentary. Shagav is spelled Shin – God’s loving passion for us, Gimmel – God’s lovingkindness and Beth – our hearts. When the passion of God’s love and His lovingkindness fills our hearts, we will be lifted up away from our oppressors and trouble.
Shagav is sometimes used to picture a mother holding her baby in her arms When we become overwhelmed with oppression and trouble we climb up into God’s lap, rest in his powerful arms as he separates us from our torments and begins singing to us His song of comfort.

Word Study; Fellowship שׁותפ


Acts 2:42: “And they devoted themselves in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship.”

The disciples spoke Aramaic and the Aramaic word they used for fellowship is shauteph which is closely related to the Hebrew word asephah. It is an agricultural word used for the swarming of insects that would devour a crop. Insects swarm for protection. When the Nile River in the Middle East would overflow, it would kill off a single fire ant. However, in time of flood thousands of fire ants link themselves together to form a raft. By doing this they do would drown. That is why Luke used the word shauteph for fellowship as we swarm and link ourselves together with other believers so when the storms and floods of life come we are not swept away.

Quick Word Study: Pray פלל


II Chronicles 7:14: “If my people who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked way, then will I hear from the heavens and will forgive their sin, and heal their land.”

The word prayer is palal. It is spell Pei which represents the mouth or speaking and two Lameds. Rabbis teach that the two Lameds are uplifted hands. We speak to God with uplifted hands. Your Lexicons will say it means supplication. We generally consider it as just talking to God. It is all that but the word palal in its Semitic origins means something more, it means a notch in a tent peg. A tent peg holds the tent down to the earth, but without that notch the tent will just slip away from the peg. When that tent attaches to the little notch in the peg it will stand against the storms. Prayer is that notch that attaches us to God so when the storms of life come we will not be blown away. When the people are called to pray they are called to wrap themselves around God.

Word Study: In The Beginning


Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the earth.”
John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word.”
The three English words, in the beginning, are just one word for Hebrew and Aramaic, bere’shith in Hebrew and brasheeth in Aramaic. In the Hebrew and Aramaic text of Genesis God is totally free of the time/space dimension. This is why John starts his book off like the book of Genesis to show that Jesus is also free of the time/space dimension. In the Aramaic brasheeth as well as the Hebrew bere’shith does not mean beginning in the sense we understand it, as a starting point but to express the idea “before time was even considered.” John 1:1 could read from the Aramaic into English: “The Word always was.”

Quick Word Study: Perfection גמרא


Matthew 5:48: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”

Jesus is speaking in Aramaic and not Greek. In Aramaic the word for perfect is gmeera. Among the Semitic people there is a fairly common phrase used for a learned person, gmeera biolpana which means that this person is acquainted with every branch of learning. A lawyer or one who is well versed in the law is called a gmeera bnamosa. Gmeera among Semitic people means one who has an understanding. In fact when a young man reaches maturity he is said to be a gmeera or one who has reached the level of understanding to be considered an adult. In the context Jesus is instructing His disciples to have an understanding of the Kingdom of God like God understands His kingdom, that it is inclusive, not exclusive. Not just the Jews but all are welcome into His kingdom.

Word Study: Open My Eyes


Numbers 22:28 “And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?”

Numbers 22:31 “Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face.

It seems to me that the Lord had to do a lot of opening to get a message across to the prophet. So just what is this opening up stuff all about anyways and does it have any meaning for us today?

Many have mocked this story saying it is impossible for a donkey to speak. Peter said in II Peter 2:16 that God caused an animal without speech to speak. Some translations say that He caused an animal without the organs to speak to speak. We have to admit that it is physically impossible for a donkey to imitate human speech and be as articulate as this dumb animal apparently was. For this animal to convey human speech God would have had to create the organs and the intellect in this animal for this moment and then take it away and turn it back into a dumb animal.

It is curious that the English translation uses the English word opened in verse 28 where God opened the mouth of the donkey and in verse 31 God opened the eyes of Balaam. In the Hebrew there are two different words used. In verse 28 God pathach the mouth of the donkey and in verse 31 God yakal the eyes of Balaam. True, pathach and yakal means to open, but open in a much different way.

Yakal is an opening into the senses, the disclosing or revealing of a secret. Here God simply allowed Balaam to peer into the supernatural realm as He did with the servant of Elisha when he saw the vast armies of angels.

Yet, Pathach is a different type of opening. Pathach literally means borders or edges. The sages teach that Pathach is an opening just beyond the physical realm or past the borders of the physical realm. It is for this reason that many suggest, including Jewish literature, that this was just a vision that Balaam had. I have a problem with that because Scripture is always very clear to call something a vision and to use the word ra’ah as seeing into the spiritual realm. That is not the case here. Checking extra Biblical literature I find that pathach is also an opening of the heart. When joined with pei (mouth,) as it is here, it has the idea of expressing one’s heart through the mouth. Most likely the donkey just brayed. Just as all a baby can do is cry. Yet a mother knows her baby’s cry. The Baby may cry because it is hungry. It may cry because it is lonely and wants to be held. It may cry because it has a rash or something sharp in the diaper is poking it. If I listen to the cry with my physical ears, all I hear is “Wa Wa Wa Wa.” But if a mother listens to the cry with her heart, she hears, “I am lonely” or “I am hungry.” That is pathach, that is the opening of the baby’s mouth to the mothers whose heart is in tune with the heart of her baby.

There are many cultures that practice what is called yiredu or dominion over animals. That is they come down to the level of the animals and listen to them. We have heard of horse whispers or dog whispers. This is really nothing more than yiredu. Our Native Americans practiced yiredu. When hunting they would call the animal to them and when the animal came they would ask. The animal would respond that this was his mission in life is to feed the hunters family and that he wants to fulfill this mission.

The sages teach in Jewish literature that in the spirit world our five senses, smell, touch, taste, hearing and sight becomes one sense, a sixth sense. In a July 1, 2000 article in Psychology Today Magazine, Dr. Dean Radin reveals that many trained psychologist are seriously pondering and actually believe that a sixth sense exist in humans. The sixth sense is an inner feeling where you actually physically feel something. It is believed that animals have a sixth sense, they can tell when someone is dying, when a storm is coming. When the Tsunami hit in Thailand back in 2004 the villagers along the coast saw the animals heading inland long before anyone was aware of the approaching tsunami. The villagers who believed that animals have a sixth sense knew something was in the wind and so they also took off into the jungle. The Westerns in their scientific ways just ignored the signs and they were lost when the tsunami hit. If they practiced yiredu, coming down to the level of the animals, the animals would have told them of approaching danger, not in words but in their actions.

The thing is, if you believe like those in many cultures throughout the world, including the Semitic culture, that animals have a sixth sense then you would have no problem with Numbers 22:28 as you would know that animals can speak. If you listen with your heart that bird that flies to your window chirping up a storm, could very well be a pathach, where he is opening his heart to your heart. When practiced long enough those chirping sounds can be transformed in your heart into words that flow from your lips so that your natural mind will understand what that little bird is saying.

Years ago Western Union would receive messages over a telegraph. The message would come in dots and dashes. To the average person all they would hear is “tap, tap, tap.” To the trained ear they do not hear “tap, tap, tap” but “I’ve got the medicine just hang in there.” When the donkey spoke, Balaam showed no surprise, in fact he answered the donkey. This guy was either totally off the reservation or his heart heard the animal actually speak. Perhaps the animal just said: “Hee Haw.” But like the tap tap in a telegraph, he heard the message from the heart of that animal.

God did not just give us His creation for prettiness, He gave it to us to speak to us. Every flower, every living creature cries out about the nature and love of God. We need to listen to God’s creation with our hearts. It will speak to us about God and his loving kindness. The next time a little bird flies to your window and starts chirping up a storm or doing a dance, listen with your heart, that little chirp chirp may be like the tap tap of a telegraph and to the spiritually trained ear it may be God using his little bit of creation as His supernatural telegraph to say, “I’ve got your back, just hang in there.”