Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Three Required Hebrew Words for Every Bible Reader’s Vocabulary


The three Hebrew words above have no English equivalents. The English words used to translate them are not accurate meanings. At a minimum, it would take a sentence or more to convey the Hebrew meanings to English readers. In order to understand TOV, SHALOM, and TZEDAQAH in the context in which they appear, you need to do two things.


1. Add their transliterations and meanings to your vocabulary and use the transliterations when you read and discuss verses in which they appear.


2. Use an interlinear Bible (it has Hebrew and English words) to locate the Hebrew words or use BHC translations of Bible portions in your Bible studies. (See Website Page)


The Story of TOV


The Hebrew word TOV appears seven times in the first story in Genesis. The first appearance is in Genesis 1:4.


And God saw the light, that it was TOV.


Most translators translate “TOV” as “good.” Translators generally use lexicons (dictionaries) that list several English words as options for translating. In addition, we must look for “contextual meanings that emerge from the context in which they appear.” As I said above, TOV appears seven times in Genesis 1 and from that context this contextual meaning emerged:


TOV is the standard the Creator used to

measure the results of His actions.


Acts that measure TOV protect lives, preserve lives,

make lives more functional, and/or increase the quality of life.”


As you can see, the English word “good” doesn’t reflect the meaning of the Hebrew word TOV.


The Story of Shalom


Dr. William Chomsky, Noam Chomsky’s father, provides the following meaning for “SHALOM.”



The word shalom, usually rendered by ‘peace,’ has in effect little in common with its English equivalent. Shalom does not have the passive, even negative, connotation of the word ‘peace.’ It does not mean merely the absence of strife. It is pregnant with positive, active and energetic meaning and association. It connotes totality, health, wholesomeness, harmony, success -- the completeness and richness of living in an integrated social milieu.”



A description of “the completeness and richness of living in an integrated social milieu” was given in my previous email. It is the Creator’s vision of “what human life in His kingdom would be like.”


● People will reflect the image of God through their TOV acts. The will be actively engaged in protecting each other’s’ lives, preserving each other’s lives, making each other’s lives more functional, increasing the quality of life for each other.


● People will also be actively engaged as the Creator’s Co-Shepherds over all life on earth.


Acts that measure TOV increase SHALOM.


I will discuss TZEDAQAH in my next email. It is one of the most important words in the Hebrew Scriptures and the teachings of Jesus. But in closing I want to give you a chance to put what you learned above to work. Below is the BHC translation of Psalm 34:14. Using the above information, write your commentary about what the verse meant to the author and readers of the ancient Hebrew text.


Depart from evil and do TOV;

seek SHALOM and pursue it.


May you SHALOM increase,

Jim Myers


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