Thursday, May 17, 2007

Shalom -- Dis Ain’t Ebonics: Treasures of the Hebrew Language Part 1

In this new series, we’re going to be talking about different Hebrew words, their meanings, their spiritual connotations, and what it all means for you. This series could go on for a long time – Hebrew is a big language – so don’t be surprised if I throw in other articles from time-to-time.

So buckle your seatbelts and prepare to learn some Hebrew!

Treasure #1: Shalom (שלום)

It’s natural that we should start with Shalom, the word used every day by Israelis today to greet one another. Walk down the streets in Israel and you’ll hear “Shalom!”, or derivatives of it, all the time. So what does this word mean?

Now, unlike most English words, every Hebrew word is built from a root. What does that mean? It means that words are derived from other words, and the whole language is ultimately derived from the meaning of the letters themselves. So, when we look at word in Hebrew, we don’t just get a one-word “translation”: we receive an entire picture that comes from the word itself, its root(s), and the word pictures that help shed light on the ancient thought that went with the root. Not to worry, it’ll all make sense in a minute as we look at the word “Shalom”.

Let’s start with the simple definition: peace. Yep, Shalom means peace. Yet it means a whole lot more than that. The idea of Shalom includes wholeness, soundness, peace, fulfillment, prosperity, health.” Even “friendship” enters into the idea of Shalom. It is about being in a state of total peace that all of the above things just flow right out of that peace. Pretty powerful eh?

If we look at the root of Shalom (which is Sh. L. M. ש.ל.מ.) we see that the root gives us the idea of completeness, payment, and even recompense. The idea is that payment restores the situation to completeness, to correct order. In other words, Shalom just isn’t about a state of internal peace – it is about total oneness with God and with others. When we look at Yeshua’s prayer in John 17:21, we see that it is all about oneness – Shalom – with God and with our fellow brothers and sisters in Messiah. From the beginning of the Scriptures with Shma Yisrael (Deut. 6:4) to salvation through Yeshua (where he paid our debt of sin for us), it has all been about restoring Shalom – total peace, unity, and oneness with God.

Until next time!
H.B.

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