The shorter articles all are on this page in the sequence of the link index:

Son Of Man
Eating The Flesh And
Drinking The Blood Of Christ
The Bride Of Christ
Defiling The Temple
Bondslaves Of Christ
Christ As The Word
Building A House
Christ As A Worm
The Jordan, A Picture Of Man
The Ever-Potent Burnt Offering
A Friend Indeed!
The Triumphant Lamb
Corrective Surgery
The Shadow Of The Cross
Unleavened Bread
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    The word for son in Hebrew is ben, which comes from the verb banah, to build up. The connection between the idea of son and that of building up is clearly seen when it is remembered that in Hebrew families the genealogy was reckoned through the sons only. A daughter might marry and bear children, but they were reckoned in the genealogy of her father-in-law. Only through the sons, then, was the father's house, or family, built up. The verb banah was actually used in the sense of bearing sons; e.g., in Gen. 16:2, where Sarah counseled Abraham to go unto her handmaid, Hagar, saying:

"It may be that I may obtain children (literally, be built up) by her."

The word son therefore literally denotes, one who builds up or restores. This knowledge adds new meaning to the title Son of Man, so often applied to our Lord. Besides all else that the term implies, it denotes him as the builder up or restorer of man. What the first Adam lost for men, the second Adam has more than regained!



    Light from the Hebrew is shed on the statement of Jesus in John 6:53:

"Except ye eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man, ye have no life in you."

The significant words here are eat, drink, blood, and flesh. In order to arrive at the fullness of Jesus' meaning, we must examine the Hebrew counterparts of these words with a view toward ascertaining their secondary meanings. Accordingly, we find that the Hebrew word for blood is dam, which also means likeness. The verb to drink is shathah which is used in several passages in the figurative sense of participate in or receive (Job 21:20, Psalm 75:8, Prov. 4:17) with which agrees I Cor. 10:16a:

"The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion (lit. participation) of the blood of Christ?"

Thus, the Hebrew connotations suggest that to drink the blood of Christ signifies to participate in his likeness. The writer does not, of course, intend to belittle or deny the long-accepted meaning of this passage, but merely to show that this meaning does not exhaust the content of the passage.
    The Hebrew word for flesh is basar which comes from a verb with the same spelling which means to carry or deliver glad tidings and is the exact equivalent of the Greek evangelizo, to preach the gospel or gospelize. Now the noun basar is never used in the O.T. in the sense of glad tidings; but, being derived from, and identical in spelling with the verb basar which meant to deliver glad tidings, there must have been such a connotation in the minds of the Hebrews. At any rate Jesus must have intended to make a play on this latent meaning of the word flesh. The word to eat in Hebrew is akal which was often used figuratively in the sense of receiving or partaking of something other than food: "Thy words were found and I did eat them;" i.e., received them eagerly and assimilated them. Thus the idea of eating the flesh of Jesus suggests eagerly receiving and assimilating the gospel of his grace.



    The church is often erroneously referred to in these days as the Bride of Christ. Nowhere is the church called the bride during this present age. The few passages which speak of the bride at all are future in sense and this idea of the church's being the future, rather than the present, Bride of Christ is reinforced by the literal meanings of the Hebrew word for bride. That word is callah and comes from the verb calal which has two meanings: to finish or complete and to put a crown upon, to crown. Bride, then, in Hebrew literally denotes one who is completed or perfected and one who is crowned. Neither of these states is true of the church at present, but will be true of her when she is presented as a chaste virgin to Christ.



    Much violence has been done to I Cor. 3:16-17, by those who apply it to individuals as an argument against smoking, etc. Both the grammar and the context indicate that Paul is referring to the church - not each believer's body - as being the temple of God and dwelling place of the Spirit of God. (See I Cor. 6:19-20, for the passage which teaches that the believer's body is the temple of the Holy Spirit). Verse 17 is obscured in meaning, due to the fact that the same Greek word, phtheiro, is translated defile in one clause and destroy in the next. The Hebrew equivalent of phtheiro is gaal, two of whose meanings are to be declared impure, to be removed (as from the priesthood in Ezra 2:62) and to pollute or defile. Thus the warning seems to be that whoever defiles or pollutes the church, which is the temple of God, will himself be declared impure and removed. Cf. Rev. 2:5.



    The frequent use by the N.T. writers of the Greek word doulos (lit. bond slave, rendered servant in KJV) as a term for themselves and other Christians takes on greater significance when we note that its Hebrew counterpart ebed is used not only in the sense of an actual slave, but also in the sense of one who serves religiously or worships some god, whether the LORD or idols! Thus we find men referred to as servants of the LORD. The verb is similarly used: they served other gods. Thus, a bond slave of Jesus Christ is one who worships and serves him. The emphasis is not on the bondage, which is one of love (the love of Christ constraineth us) but upon the service and worship. A messenger of the LORD was usually denominated, the servant of the LORD.
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    The Greek word, logos, as applied to Christ does not seem entirely apropos, but the corresponding Hebrew term debar (word, matter, etc.) is filled with meaning when we consider the verb from which it is derived. The verb has the same spelling and has the following meanings:

  1. To speak (in various applications)
  2. To promise
  3. To tend as a shepherd
  4. To subdue
  5. To destroy
  6. To set things in order
As the Word, then, Christ is the one who was promised, the one who spoke in the Father's name, who tends his people as a shepherd, who will subdue the earth, destroy his enemies, and set all things in order. Note how these aspects of his character are dramatized in Rev. 19:11-16.



    Building a house in Hebrew denoted begetting sons in addition to its literal meaning. This connotation illuminates Paul's statement in I Cor. 3:4, "Ye are God's building ...," i.e., we are not only God's architecture, but his begotten sons (I Peter 1:23). It also gives additional meaning to Paul's addressing Timothy as my son and referring to Onesimus as one whom he had begotten in my bonds. As the one who had led them to Christ and had placed them (humanly speaking) as living stones in the building of God, he had, in that sense at least, begotten them.



    In Job 25:6, Bildad says to the suffering Patriarch:

"How much less man that is a worm, and the son of man that is a worm?"

The expression son of man or ben-adam, reminds us of Christ, but the assertion that the son of man is a worm does not sound very Messianic. Is this, in fact, a reference to Christ? It most assuredly is! When Bildad says that man is a worm, he uses the word rimmah which means a maggot, such as feeds upon decaying flesh, etc.; but when he says that the son of man is a worm, he uses the word, tolaath, which is also applied to Christ prophetically in Psalm 22:6:

"But I am a worm and no man".

The word tolaath denotes the cochineal insect in its larval or worm stage. This insect was, and in some parts of the world still is, used as a source of scarlet dye. Those furnishings and hangings of the tabernacle which were scarlet are actually described as worm of scarlet (tolaath shani).
    The cochineal larva is small (70,000 to the pound) and is passed by without attention by most people because of its seeming insignificance. Like most other larvae it is abhorrent to those who do not know its value. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the dead body of the adult serves as a protection for the new generation. The worms were collected and killed by exposure to heat after which the red juices of its body were made into a dye that was most precious in Biblical times. Thus the lowly cochineal worm gave up its life that men might be clothed in garments of beauty and glory. No wonder the O.T. foretold that the son of man would be a tolaath!



    The work Jordan is the Anglicized form of the Greek lordanes which is the Greek spelling of the Hebrew Yarden. It is always the Jordan (hayyarden) in Hebrew and the name Yarden is derived by scholars from the verb yarad, to descend. The appropriateness of this name is appreciated when it is realized that the Jordan begins roughly about 1500 feet above sea level and ends in the Dead Sea nearly 1300 feet below sea level, having descended in its course a vertical distance of over 2500 feet, or approximately a half-mile. The last syllable of the word Jordan is left unexplained by lexicons and commentaries, probably because the only philological possibility seems so improbable. About the only possible derivation of the second syllable is from din which means judgment - thus yaraddin which in time came to be assimilated to yarden. If this be correct, then hayyarden would mean the descender to judgment, a name which will seem most improbable to sober-minded philologists. For want of a better derivation, however, or indeed, for want of any other derivation, let us tentatively accept the one who descends to judgment. Having taken this first step we begin to see in the Jordan a picture of man as he is by nature. Let us examine the points of similarity:

  1. Like man, the Jordan springs from both an earthly and a heavenly source - the rocky springs of Banias and the snow-covered peaks of Mt. Hermon. See Gen. 2:7.
  2. Like man, the Jordan goes in the wrong direction:
    1. Where other rivers flow to an ocean or large inland sea, the Jordan ignores the Mediterranean so near at hand and plunges downward to the Dead Sea.
    2. It is the only major river of Palestine, yet it gives no outlet to the sea.
  3. Like man, the Jordan passes at times through deep dark valleys; at other times its course is in the full light of day.
  4. Like man, the Jordan has its seasons of quietness and peace, but soon continues its inevitable downward course.
  5. Like man, the Jordan's course is through the wilderness.
  6. Like man, the Jordan meanders aimlessly, yet its progress is continually downward.
    1. It requires 240 miles to traverse a distance of 120 miles.
  7. Like man, the Jordan's course is downward to the lowest point of earth.
  8. Like man, the Jordan's solid matter remains in the Dead Sea, but the water itself evaporates upward.
    1. "The body returns to dust, but the spirit returns to God who gave it". Ecclesiastes 12:7.

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    The Hebrew word for virgin, bethulah, comes from a root meaning to separate, keep apart from. Thus when Paul says that we shall be presented "... as a chaste virgin to Christ" (II Corinthians 11:2), the emphasis in the word virgin is not so much on our spiritual chastity which is expressed by the word chaste, as upon our separateness. Of course, these two ideas are closely related, but they are not identical.



    Two words, which in English seem to have little or no connection, are closely related in Hebrew; being derived from the same verb and being identical in spelling except for the vowel points. These terms are: burnt-offering (olah) and leaf (aleh). Both of these nouns are derived from the verb alah, to go up, to ascend. There must have been in the minds of the Hebrews a certain degree of identification between these two ideas since the similarity was not accidental but was the result of their being derived from the same root. This identification imparts a beautiful meaning to Psalm 1:3 where it is said of the godly man that "his leaf also shall not wither". Note that it is leaf not leaves. The word translated wither is the verb nebel, which can also mean to fail. Thus the verse may be taken as assurance that the burnt-offering of the godly man shall not fail!



   The Hebrew word tor friend is reeh, from the verb raah, which means to shepherd, to tend or feed as a flock, to delight in. What a tender meaning is added to the words of Jesus to his disciples, "Ye are my friends!" He shepherds, tends, feeds and delights in us! Conversely, it makes the 23rd Psalm more meaningful, for saying. The LORD is my shepherd, is practically equivalent to saying, The LORD is my friend.



    It seems strangely incongruous to our minds to read in the Revelation such statements as:

"These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of Lords and King of Kings."
Rev. 17:14.

Such power and majestic titles seem out of keeping with the gentle nature of a lamb. We would rather expect to find Jesus referred to in such passages as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, or some other title compatible with such power and might. Strangely enough, however, to the Hebrew mind there was nothing incompatible between the idea of a lamb and that of domination. The word most frequently used in Hebrew for lamb is kabes, which is derived by Gesenius from an unused root kabas, meaning to subdue, to force, to beget offspring. This unused verb is obviously closely related to a similar one; kabash, which means to tread or trample with the feet, to subject or subdue to oneself, to dominate. Thus it would seem very natural to the Hebrew mind for one who is called a lamb to perform such feats of power and to assume such majestic titles as Lord of Lords and King of Kings.



    In Job 5:17-18, the chastisement of the Lord is compared to surgery. When a patient has some condition which requires surgery to correct it, the surgeon must first make sore before he can bind up. He must wound and sew up in order for the patient to return to health. The words make whole, translate the Hebrew verb rapha, which means to sew up, to mend, to repair. As the surgeon must hurt before he can heal or correct the ailment of the patient, so God's chastisement may make sore, but is designed to restore to spiritual health. Correction is the very term used by surgeons to describe their work.



    As coming events cast their shadows before them so the cross was foreshadowed in various ways in the O.T., the most common one being the offering of the heave-shoulder and the wave-breast. According to Gesenius the heave-shoulder was offered by being moved up and down, in a vertical line. The wave-breast was offered by being moved back and forth in a horizontal line. Since both these offerings were usually made on the same occasion, they resulted in the priest's making a kind of primitive sign of the cross!  


    Unleavened bread, besides symbolizing Christ as being without sin (of which leaven is a type), also by its literal meaning speaks of his sweetness to the soul. The Hebrew for unleavened bread is matstsah from the verb matsats, to be sweet.

© 2008 John H Mattox

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