Tag: Syntax


{Word Study} Take, Seize “Lakach”

I Samuel 4:3: “And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the Lord smitten us today before the Philistines?  Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of Shiloh unto us, that when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.”

Take, Seize – Hebrew: lakach – Take, fetch, to seize control or take possession of something that is not yours.
In the Hebrew the nation of Israel is asking: “Why did God defeat us? ” Israel was shocked that God had let them down.   I am surprised too, the only sin that is mentioned is with the house of Eli and his corrupt sons running the worship services.  Is God punishing the whole nation because of the sins of the religious leadership? Their sin was not in their acts but their hearts. Perhaps the next move by Israel is a clue as to the heart of the nation which shows they were no better than their leadership.

The elders said: “Let us take the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of Shiloh unto us.”  The word for “take” or “fetch” is “lakach” which is taking possession or control of something that is not rightfully yours.   They then added the word: “elinu” which is rendered “unto us.”  Using this form suggest a play on words for “our god.”    In other words they were saying they would seize control of the ark of the covenant to be a god for them.  Then they said “that it might save us.”  Some translations will say that “he might save us.”  Indeed there is no neuter pronoun in Hebrew, but the syntax does suggest that the elders are saying “it” the ark of the covenant and not “He” or God will save us.

Think about it. The most sacred object in the land, the object where the very presence of God rested became an idol, a god.  They knew enough to know that the ark could only be carried by a priest and they either bribed or forced the sons of Eli to carry the ark into battle.  However, they did not know enough to know that it really didn’t matter for apparently the presence of God was not going to manifest itself at this time on the ark. The midrash suggests that the nation of Israel was to consult the ark.  Apparently, they did not need to carry the ark into battle, only consult with God as to what to do in battle.  In other words, the elders had the right idea, but the wrong approach.

In my own life when I enter into battle and get defeated and crawl back licking my wounds, I begin to ask: “God, why did you let me down?”   Then just like Israel I go and seize the Ark.   I start to carry my Bible around, I make sure I read it every day, I play only religious music and spiritual songs.  I begin praising and worshipping because I have heard that brings the power and presence of God.  I listen to testimonies of others who were victorious and try to follow their steps to victory.  I am then ready to go back into battled.  I now have the Ark with me and I  am certain that “it” will save me, yet I end up suffering even a worst defeat.  So what went wrong?  All my good religious practices were “elinu” for me, or a god to me.   They were used to bribe God but not to consult God.

Sometimes the enemy can use even the most sacred thing in our lives to deflect us away from the heart of God. That little cross we carry in our pocket or around our necks become objects or good luck charms to ward off evil things rather than serving as a simple reminder of the one we love.

Devotional Nehemiah 7:5

Good Morning Yamon Ki Yesepar and Nevim Arith Hayomim:

Nehemiah 7:5: “Then my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles, the officials and the people to be enrolled by genealogies.”

I was reading the various commentaries on this passage and it seems all of them pretty much said the same thing and that was that Nehemiah recognized that if he had a good idea it had to be from God.  Somehow I just can’t picture Nehemiah with his hands in his pocket, looking down at the ground, running his toe around the dust saying: “Aw chucks, I ain’t so smart, it was God’s idea.”

In Nehemiah 4:17 we learn that while building the wall: “those who carried burdens took their load with one hand doing the work and the other holding a weapon.”  Now that made good sense just like enrolling the people in genealogies. However, we don’t see God getting credit for that brainstorm.

There is the story that during World War II about a battalion of soldiers coming under fire.  Everyone jumped into a fox hold except the chaplain who stood standing watching the activity.  A soldier called up to the chaplain: “You’d better get into a fox hole Padre or you could  get hurt.”  The chaplain replied: “Oh, the Lord will protect me.”   The soldier replied, “The Lord will protect me too, but I sure would like to make his job easier.”

So where does the common sense that God put into us leave off and where do the great ideas from God come in?   Is it true what the commentators say that every good idea we have comes from God and the bad ideas is our own fault?  Or did God instill us good common sense and expect us to use it to survive and only on really special occasions when we are really stumped does God “put it into our hearts.”

Taking a look at this phrase in the Hebrew on the surface makes it little sense. It is literally translated: “And he is giving Elohim of me unto a heart of me.”   Even using proper syntax it is still confusing: “And Elohim of me is giving unto a heart of me.”  Ok let’s put it through that syntax filter once more: “My God is giving unto my heart.”   With the ambiguous nature of the Hebrew Language it takes no stretch of the imagination to render this like a good charismatic – “God laid it upon my heart to do this.”

But soft, why use the word “Nathan”  rather than kalam, chachad or any number of other words which would more easily be rendered as “put.”  Why use this word “Nathan?”   Nathan means to give.  It is spelled the same way in Hebrew backward or forward  “Nun, Taw, Nun.”    It has the idea of giving out and what you give out will return to you

Anyways, now that….uh, excuse me a second.  “Nun” stop pulling on my pant leg, what do you want?“   Ok, gang, can you hold off a second, Nun wants me to step behind the Daleth and go through the “Looking Glass.“  He claims to have some insight into this matter.

(Narrative behind the Looking Glass)

As the Nun and I walk through the “Looking Glass” the Nun suddenly changes into the number  50 (Nun is the number 50) and starts riding on the back of a flopping fish (Nun means fish in Hebrew) like a rodeo cowboy on a bucking bronco.  “Hop on” shouts the Nun, which I do and suddenly we are off riding through a wheat field.  Nun  (50), grabs a measure of wheat and says: “Here hold this.”   Ever try to hold a pile of wheat while riding a bucking bronco fish?  Off we go again.  Then Nun shouts out to me: “What day is it tomorrow?”   “Tuesday” I say.  “No,” says Nun, “What day is it?”   “April 19th” I shout back.  “Stop talking like a Western Christian and look behind you” says Nun pointing.  I see the name of the town we just left.  “Passover” I shout.   “Bingo,” says Nun. I look forward and I see the town we are approaching, it is “Shavuot.” As we approach the gates of Shavuot the fish suddenly rears up like a stallion and the gates open.  As soon as the gates open I understand.

You see the Nun is the number 50.  Esoteric rabbis believe there are 50 gates of understanding.  The fiftieth gate is the fish gate. The fifty gates correspond to the fifty days of Omer (literally, a measure of wheat),  the period between Passover and Shavuot.  Passover commemorates the escape from enslavement in Egypt, and Shavuot celebrates the transmission of the Torah to Moses on Mt. Sinai.

I dismount from the galloping fish which suddenly turns back into a Nun.  I turn to my friend 50 who has turned back to a Nun.  Now I have two Nuns calling for their cousin Taw to join them standing between them.  Taw represents truth and understanding. When Taw arrives I see them standing in formation “Nun Taw Nun.“ or forming the word Nathan (to give).

My friends  ask: “Now that you have passed through the Nun gate, or fish gate (the gate of understanding) , do you know who we really are?”  Smiling I say: “You mark the process of breaking out of bondage and moving toward  home.”  “Bingo again” smiles Nun. “What else?” Taw asks.     Again the understanding came as to why Nathan is used in the phrase: “He gave it into my heart.”  Esoterically, Nehemiah is saying:  “God put in my heart an idea to break me out of the bondage of confusion and bring me home.”

When we face the tough choices where every choice seems like a good idea, and we are frustrated, confused and in bondage, then we need to look at our heart and see what our heart says, because it will reflect the Nun and God’s choice to lead us out of the bondage of confusion.

Word Study: Fulfill “Gala”


FULFILL – Hebrew: gala – to make complete, to fill up to completion

Psalms 20:5: “The Lord  fulfill all your petitions.”

The word “gala” (fulfill)  raises an issue that no one seems to question.  “gala” does not mean to answer, or to grant.  It means to make compete, to fill up to completion, as  you would fill a cup of water up to the brim.  I find it hard to make sense out of the idea that the Lord will make your petitions full or will fill your petitions up to the brim. You could imply “fulfill” from this, but there are a number of  other Hebrew words that would express this idea much more clearly.  I believe the use of the word “gala” would really be an indication as to the proper syntax.  For this could be rendered not “The Lord fill or complete your petitions,” but rather “The Lord is complete or filled with your petitions.”   Hence, this is not a promise that God will grant your every petition, but He will receive your petition, and not ignore a single one.

I read in Jewish literature a comment on this passage.  In this comment the writer said that the main reason for repentance must be for God’s honor.  We repent not to save our own gizzard, but to restore the honor of God.  When God is restored to His rightful place in our hearts, He can then break the stronghold that sin holds on our lives.   Rabbi Mevaser Chukas put it this way: “In all you request, have in mind the honor of Shechinah,  that all God’s request be fulfilled.”   In other words, all of your requests to God should be that God is fulfilled.

David is sharing some really nifty insight here if we accept this little spin on the syntax.  We do not need God to fulfill all our petitions.  If we seek to fulfill God and He is made complete through our petitions to Him, then should it not naturally follow that we also will be made complete if we abide in Him?   Did not Jesus say:  “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and then all these things will be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33.   I think David is telling us in Psalms 20:5 that we should also seek Him first in our prayer of petition.  In other words our prayer is not: “Lord, here is my petition for you,”  but “Lord what is your petition for me.”  Do you think President Kennedy was revealing a little Jewish influence when he said: “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.”