The Language of the Bible

The Language of the Bible

Leslie S. Rainey

The revival of Hebrew which died out of popular use long before the time of Christ is a remarkable phenomena. During the early beginnings of the New Nation Israel there were about one hundred mother tongues, resulting in a lingual chaos in the minature united nations state. Now Hebrew is the official language of the State, a living tongue. The language is logical, pictorial and spiritual.

Logical

Hebrew is one of the most logical languages in the world. Instead of the useful bogey that it is exceedingly difficult, it is on the contrary, easy to understand. In English as well as other tongues many words are constantly used to convey a single idea. In Biblical as well as modern Hebrew, such is not the case. Hebrew lends itself to quality rather than quantity, a minimum of words instead of a maximum, reminding one of the amazing brevity and profundity of the greatest of all Hebrew writings, the Scriptures of Truth. Who else but God could put the message of salvation into a language that would be adaptable to every people under the sun.

Pictorial

As you scan the letters that make up the Hebrew alphabet, you quickly discern that they possess names with recognized meanings. A few will suffice as illustrations —: an ox, a house, a camel, a hand, an eye, a fish, a serpent, while the last letter of all is Tav — a sacred symbol, or the sign of the Cross. Thus the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet are associated with sacrifice. In all the pages of the Bible by means of these letters, there are conveyed to the mind portraits of men and women, boys and girls, places and events, of lasting interest. It is like the sun which enlightens all lands. It speaks to the heart and conscience of every race with crystal clarity and undimmed brilliance over the centuries.

Spiritual

Perhaps in the rise of modern Hebrew there will be research undertaken in relation to the alphabet. To many the alphabet continues to he a sealed mystery. Yet to the pious Jew, as well as many scholars in Biblical research the alphabet is believed to be God-breathed. It is the work of God, written in Hebrew, written in Greek, by the Spirit of God in the language of humanity. The study of such words as God, Jehovah, Truth, Man, Earth, etc., which appear on the threshold of the Bible are filled with vital, enriching spiritual depths of knowledge. To approach the Book, or the fascinating study of its words there is no wiser counsel than that of the Psalmist, “Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy Law” (Psalms 119:18).

The Study Of Hebrew

The Bible is a revelation that yields riches and royalties far beyond our individual capacities. Whilst all cannot be students of the Word, we can be among those who meditate upon the Scriptures. I once heard of a simple Christian who had meditated the Bible through three times.

Progress in the knowledge of God does not come through intellectual attainment, but, on the contrary, spiritual adjustment. The Word of God is “living and powerful” (Hebrews 4:12,13.) Its very words are, “spirit and life,” (John 6:63), and “light” (Psalms 119:105), but the prerequisite to revelation is regeneration. Was it not C. H. Spurgeon who said, “Other books can delight the mind, this one only can quiet the conscience?” The wisdom and knowledge of God is not on the basis of innate wisdom but by the indwelling witness of the Holy Spirit of God. Therefore, much of the progress in spiritual truth and Christian grace will be dependent on heart searching instead of head studying, communing rather than cramming, humility of spirit rather than highness of soul, and faith rather than facts and figures.

I often used to wonder what words like Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy meant, and just where they originated. After spending several years in the land of the Bible and studying the language of the land, I learned they were words adopted by the translators of the Hebrew Bible into Greek in the days of Alexander the Great. They simply stated the beginning, the going out, religious exercise, wilderness journeyings and the repeating of the law to the nation Israel.

Going beyond the Old Greek version of the Scriptures I learned the original words of the Hebrew Bible shed new light and beauty on the Sacred Volume. The very opening word of the Bible is, “In the beginning” and the Hebrew word, “Beresheet” emphatically states that which is pre-eminent or foremost in time and thought, and contains three words symbolized in the Hebrew letters as, “B” — Son; “R” — Mind, and “T” —Cross. Thus the very first word of our Bible contains the revelation of God with every seed thought of the knowledge and wisdom of the Lord.

Long ago it has been pointed out there are twenty-two essential parts to the head of man, the Masterpiece in the miracle of Creation, so there are twenty-two letters to the Hebrew Alphabet bringing to us the revelation of the mind of God. The Bible alone teaches us the true fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom, and it is able to make us wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus, (2 Tim. 3:15, 17).

The first book of the Bible is not Genesis, but “Beresheet” which being interpreted is, “In the beginning.” Exodus is rightly rendered, “These are the names,” for after the beginning of everything except God, there is the indication of a people for God emancipated and established as sons on the ground of redemption. The third book of the Bible is Leviticus or, “And He Called,” immediately taking us into the Sanctuary where we learn something of the Holiness of God and our relationship in worship. Numbers simply means, “in the wilderness” and so vividly points out the problems, perils and privileges of all who walk through the desert sands and howling waste wilderness. The fifth book of the Pentateuch, Deuteronomy, like all other books of the Bible has the key right inside the door, “These be the words” (Deut. 1:1). This book emphasizes the truth of God’s Word to a new and rising generation.