Seven Hebrew Words Every Christian Should Know

I recently came across a devotion titled: “7 Hebrew Words every Christian Should know”,  and with permision from the author- Dave Adamson, have compiled to share with you.

Most Christians know that being fluent in Hebrew would improve their understanding of the Bible but who has time to learn Hebrew? Here you will learn seven key Hebrew words to transform the way you read scripture, and how you apply it in your daily life

1. HESED: Which means LOVE

Isaiah 54:10 – Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

When I photograph mountains like these in north Georgia, a verse in the Book of Isaiah comes to mind that says: “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken”. The Hebrew word translated as ‘love’ here is hesed which is a hard word to define. Theologian John Oswalt says hesed is “… a completely undeserved kindness and generosity …”.

Hesed is not just a feeling, it’s an action. It “… intervenes on behalf of loved ones and comes to their rescue” according to Lois Tverberg.

Hesed is not romantic love. It’s faithful. It’s reliable. It’s a wife praying for years for her husband to know God. It’s a dad once again bailing out his drug-addicted son. It’s parents who lovingly care daily for their autistic child.

Today, you can rely on God’s ‘hesed’ for you no matter what you face.

2 EMUNAH: Which means FAITH

James 2:17 –  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

When I first started following God, I thought faith was an intellectual decision – I knew there was a God, so therefore I had faith. But the Hebrew word for ‘faith’ – emunah – is less about KNOWING, and more about DOING.

‘Emunah’ literally means “to take firm action”, so to have faith is to act. It’s kinda like a staircase; you may intellectually know the stairs go up to the next level, but until you climb the stairs you won’t experience the next level. What you do is more important than what you know. Don’t just believe in the stairs, climb the stairs.

What would you need to change today to ensure your faith was defined by what you did, instead of what you know?

3. TEFILLAH: Which means PRAYER

2 Corinthians 13:5 – Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?

How often do we use prayer as nothing more than an emergency call or a cold call to God?

Too often we only pray when we need or want something from God – which is understandable considering the English word “pray” means to “ask or beg”. But the Hebrew word for prayer – tefillah – means to “self evaluate”. So to the Jews of the Bible, prayer was not a time when they asked God for things … it was a time when they examined themselves. They would use prayer as a way to compare their actions, behavior and attitude against God’s holiness.

Could this idea change your prayers today?

4. RUACH: Which means BREATH

Genesis 2:17 –  but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

We don’t often think abut breathing … unless we’re running out of air. But breath is an important theme throughout the Bible. The Book of Genesis says God made man from mud and put skin, muscles, bones, blood vessels, tendons, veins and hair in place, but the man was not a “living being” until God breathed into the his body.

The word for breath in Hebrew is ruach which also means Spirit, so man only becomes a “living being” when God gives him His Spirit. According to the psalms, “… everything that has breath praise the Lord”, so to be alive we first inhale God’s Spirit and then we exhale praise. Inhale Spirit, exhale praise. This is life.

Do you have this rhythm in your life?

5. SHALOM: Which means PEACE

John 14:27 –  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Whenever I imagine the city of Jerusalem in Bible times, I picture it being like NYC – loud, chaotic, busy … even messy and violent. But this was not God’s plan for a place known as His Holy City.

The word Jerusalem in Hebrew is Yerushalayim which is made up of two Hebrew words; yeru which means “you will see” and shalom which means “the peace of God”. So Jerusalem is supposed to be the place where you will see the peace of God.

In the Book of Revelation we read that the followers of God will live in a “new Jerusalem” in God’s Kingdom – and we will see the peace of God. Jesus told his followers that “… the Kingdom of God is within you”, which means the “peace of God” is within us.

Will the the people around you see and experience the peace of God today because of you?

6. NEPHESH: Which means SOUL

Psalm 19:1 – The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Sunsets remind me of Psalm 19, when David writes; “How clearly the sky reveals God’s glory … no speech or words are used, no sound is heard; Yet their message goes out to all the world and is heard to the ends of the earth”. Have you ever considered that your life is supposed to send this same message? In several places in the Bible we’re told to love God with “… all our soul”, a phrase that uses the Hebrew word nephesh which means “soul” and also means “life”, so we’re supposed to love God WITH all our life FOR all our life. This is not loving Him for an hour each week at church – it’s loving Him in everything we do in every minute of every day.

If you never spoke another word, would the way you live your life glorify God before the world?

7. MAH: Which means CHAOS

John 16:9 – When they had rowed about three or four miles,[a] they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened

There aren’t many houses or hotels on the Sea of Galilee, because the sea has always had a negative connotation for Jews. In fact, the Hebrew word for water – mayim – comes from the root word mahmeaning “chaos”, which makes sense when you consider they grew up hearing that a flood wiped out the earth.

So why then does Jesus “insist” his disciples cross the Sea of Galilee during a storm? He sent them into the chaos! But, then came to help them by walking on top of the water – showing that he is in total control of ALL chaos.

Are you facing turmoil today? Remember that Jesus is in control of your chaos, and he’s calling you to get on top of the chaos with him.

Compiled from Devotion by  Dave Adamson of North Point Church, Atlanta

t: @aussiedave  


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