10 Bible Verses Where Knowing Hebrew Really Helps - (2024)

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Learning the Hebrew Language can be verybeneficial to our faith as Christians. It’s through Hebrew that we can gain a deeper understanding of the Old Testament and, ultimately, the roots of our faith! When we can know more clearly what the Bible says, we can grow closer to the God of the Bible and our Savior, Jesus!

While understanding Hebrew will help you in your studies throughout the Bible (even the New Testament!), here are ten places I’ve found the Hebrew to make a big difference.

1. Genesis 1:1 – Elohim

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

Genesis 1:1

There’s no better place to start than at the very beginning. Many note that the word used for God here is “Elohim”. The “im” suffix in Hebrew indicates that the word is in its masculine plural form. This appearance of a plural noun form leads some to conclude that this verse shows that it wasn’t just God the Father present before creation, but the whole Trinity – the Father God, the Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.

The first thing to note is that there are words in Hebrew that appear to be plural, like the word for water, מַּיִם, and the word for face, פָּנִים. Although they have the “im” suffix, they are not always plural.

But when you know the Hebrew language enough to conjugate verbs, you can see that the verb just preceding Elohim, בָּרָא, is conjugated in the masculine singular form. This verb form shows that only one male was creating, not three.

That said, I won’t comment on the truth of whether the other persons of the Trinity were present at creation or not. If that’s your belief, the verse in Genesis below may better support your discussion on the subject, along with others in the New Testament (John 1:1-3, 1 Cor. 8:6, and Col. 1:16-17).

Then God said, “LetUsmake man inOurimage, according toOurlikeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

Genesis 1:26 (Emphasis added)

2. Exodus 15:2 – Yeshua

And while we’re on the subject of names, let’s look at the use of the name of our Savior! We know that Jesus’s name is used in the New Testament, as the stories about his life and ministry are found there.

But Jesus’s name is used throughout the Bible, not just in the New Testament. His Hebrew name, Yeshua (יֵשׁוּעַ), is found throughout the Old Testament as well. The Hebrew language is based mainly on root words. The root word of Yeshua isya-shah(יָשַׁע) and means “to save” or “to deliver.” So, we can see why God told Mary to give Jesus this name. He came to save us – to be our deliverer!

When we find Yeshua in the Old Testament, we can see how the attributes of our savior are foreshadowed even before he came to earth.

The LORDis my strength and song,
And He has become my yeshua

Exodus 15:2a, emphasis mine

The name “Joshua” (Ye-ho-shua – יְהוֹשֻׁעַ‎) is similar in Hebrew spelling to that of yeshua, which also indicates that the actions of Joshua in the Old Testament also foreshadows Jesus.

Other interesting places to find the word yeshua in the Old Testament are:

  • Exodus 14:13
  • 2 Chronicles 20:17
  • Psalm 9:14, 13:5, 14:7, 20:5, 21:5, 53:6, 62:2, 67:2, 118:14, and 119 (many verses).
  • Isaiah 33:6, 52:7-10, and 62:1.

3. Genesis 2:18 – Ezer

Then the LORDGod said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helpersuitable for him.”

Genesis 2:18

This verse is sometimes used to show that a wife is less capable or significant than her husband. She’s merely his “helper”. But when we look at the Hebrew word used here for “helper,” it changes the perspective.

The word used here is “ezer” (עֵזֶר, pronounced “eh-zer”). “Helper” isn’t an inaccurate word to use when translating ezer from Hebrew to English, but let’s look at some other places where this same Hebrew word is used.

This word is used 21 times in the Old Testament, most of which refer toGodas the helper. So this story in Genesis isn’t telling us that a wife is a helper in the respect that we would allow a toddler to be our “helper” in the kitchen but as anecessaryandindispensablesource of support.

Without God’s help, we’re absolutely nothing. So when we see the same word for “helper” used for a wife as it is used for God, we can conclude that God’s view of a wife is that she’s of great importance in a marital relationship!

4. Psalms 1:2 – Torah

But his delight is in the law of the LORD,

And in His law he meditates day and night.

Psalm 1:2

The word “law” is typically considered a negative thing among Christians. It’s believed that the grace given to us through Jesus and the Law given to us by God cannot coexist. Therefore, we must throw out any idea of the Law applying to us to accept the grace given to us through Jesus.

But the word that’s translated here and elsewhere as “law” in some translations is the word “Torah” (תּוֹרָה). So, this verse says:

But his delight is in the Torah of the LORD,

And in His Torah he meditates day and night.

Psalm 1:2

Knowing the Hebrew changes the overall meaning of the verse, doesn’t it? Other translations translate “Torah” as “instruction,” which emits an entirely different emotional response than the word “law.” Rather than a bad thing God’s given to control us, the “law” or the “Torah” isinstructionto lead, educate, and help us know right from wrong.

If the Law is a positive thing, that explains how we can “delight” in it, as the Psalm says. When we understand the Hebrew, we can see God’s love and guidance that He’s given us in His Word and even in His commands. He knows what’s best for us, and we’re blessed that He has instructed us on how to live.

5. Exodus 20:13 – Murder

“Thou shalt not kill.”

Exodus 20:13

This verse is from the King James Version of the Bible, but it’s worded differently in most other versions. Most say, “You shall not murder” or something similar.

The word “murder” is a much better translation of the Hebrew word in this verse. The Hebrew says ratz-ah (רָצַח), which means “to slay” or “to dash to pieces” and is used in the Bible mainly in the context of homicide. In contrast, the Hebrew word for “to kill” is ha-rog (הָרַג) and is used in situations such as killing others in war or killing an animal for food.

The usage of this word is significant because the commandment not to kill (or murder) is often used to imply that war is a sin. While a quick read of the Old Testament will reveal that there are times God does condone war, this command uses a different word than the one used in the case of war to make sure we don’t confuse the two.

So, while killing may at times be murder, the word murder implies more than just killing. Murder reveals a condition of the heart. It shows actions resulting from malice, pride, hate, bitterness, and selfishness. It implies that the victim is innocent or at least doesn’t deserve the consequence of death by another.

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6. Psalm 34:7 – Malak

The angel of the LORDencamps around those who fear Him,
And rescues them.

Psalm 34:7

Along with the other places in the Old Testament where angels are mentioned, the Hebrew word translated into “angel” is mal-ak (מַלְאָךְ). Malak isn’t a word for a specific type of being, though. A better translation is “messenger” or “deputy.”

In Scripture, the word “malak” is usually followed by “of the LORD,” meaning the being described is sent from God to deliver a message or do some work God sent it (or him? or her?) to do. Knowing the Hebrew here helps us understand that the word isn’t meant to describe the being itself but its purpose in interacting with humans in these situations.

7. Job 2:2 – Satan

The LORDsaid to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Then Satan answered the LORDand said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.”

Job 2:2

While we don’t like to dwell on Satan (Sah-tahn – שָׂטָן) as we study our Bibles, it’s helpful to understand his character so we know what we need to avoid and rid our lives of. And we don’t have to go further than his name to understand who he is.

The word “satan” comes from a Hebrew verb meaning ” to accuse” or “to be an adversary” (also pronounced sah-tahn – שָׂטַן). In the Bible, names have significant meanings. Names weren’t just to identify but to describe one’s identity or purpose. Satan’s name tells us he’s “the adversary” or “the accuser.”

So, who is Satan an adversary of, and who does he accuse? God? Humans? Jesus? We can find examples to back up each of those in the Bible, so the answer is all of the above. When we can see Satan for who he is – an adversary of our God – we know that he’s our adversary as well. We know that siding with Satan or anything he stands for puts us on the wrong side.

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8. Acts 2:2-4 – Spirit

And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of firedistributing themselves, andthey rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving themutterance.

Acts 2:2-4

Hebrew in verses from Acts, you say? But the New Testament isn’t translated from Hebrew! True (mostly), but the New Testament was written by those with a knowledge of Hebrew and a mindset based on their Hebrew culture.

Take, for example, the Hebrew word for “spirit,” ruach (roo-ach – רוּחַ). While it does mean “spirit,” it also can mean “wind” or “breath.” The Hebrew language contains words that represent more than one thing. Because these words come from the same root word, they don’t just sound alike; they’re related concepts.

In the verses above, the Holy Spirit is being given to the apostles, and they hear a sound like a violent wind filling their house. It was at that time that they became filled with the Holy Spirit!
The Spirit sounded like a rushing wind because wind is an aspect of God’s Spirit. The following verse is another place we see the Ruach – God’s Spirit:

The earth wasformless and void, and darkness was over thesurface of the deep, and the Spirit of God wasmoving over thesurface of the waters.

Gen 1:2
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9. Genesis 2:7 – Soul

Then the LORDGod formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a livingbeing.

Genesis 2:7

Here’s another word for “spirit”. Neshama (נְשָׁמָה) can mean “spirit,” but it can also be translated as “breath”. And the remainder of this verse has the beautiful Hebrew word for “soul” in it – nefesh (נֶפֶשׁ), which is translated as life.

So, when God “breathed life” into Adam, he gave him a “soul breath.” Doesn’t that give you chills? The God of the universe hassoul breath, breath that contains His very spirit that, when shared with a human, gives them asoul! What a truly awesome God we have!

10. Matthew 1:16 – Messiah

Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is calledtheMessiah.

Matthew 1:16

The word “Messiah” is derived from the Hebrew word “mashiach” (ma-shee-ach – מָשִׁיחַ), and so is the word “Christ.” Mashiach means “anointed one,” so “messiah” and “christ” do also. But did you know that this Hebrew word for “messiah” is also found in the Old Testament?

Levitical priests are frequently described as mashiach, or anointed, as in the following verse, as well as in Leviticus 4:

“The anointed priest who will be in his placeamong his sons shalloffer it. By a permanent ordinance it shall be entirely offered up in smoke to the LORD.

Leviticus 6:22

This verse could also say “themashiachpriest.” I’m pretty sure no version of the Bible translates this as “the messiah priest,” but it’s the same word. Most translate it as “the anointed priest.” Someone being anointed means they’re chosen by God and consecrated for a specific job, such as the priests being anointed for work in the Temple.

The knowledge of this word’s meaning is significant because it draws a parallel for us between our Messiah and the Levitical priests. The book of Hebrews describes how Jesus is the perfect High Priest (chapters 9 & 10) and how, because of that, he is able to atone for our sin fully. Our God chose him and sent him to save us from the desolate consequences of our sin. What amazing grace!

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Learning the Hebrew languagewill illuminate so many things in your Bible and can ultimately help you grow closer to God through a better understanding of who He is! If you want to get started, check out my post on theHebrew Alphabet,Hebrew Vowels, andBiblical Hebrew Words for Beginners. Interested in an online course? Check out the one I’m currently taking through the Israel Institute of Biblical Studies.

10 Bible Verses Where Knowing Hebrew Really Helps - (2024)
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