We read in Gen. 13:14: “And the LORD said to Abram… ‘Raise your eyes and look out from where you are, to the north (צָפֹנָה) and south (נֶגְבָּה), to the east (קֵדְמָה) and west (יָמָּה).’” The Hebrew words for the four directions where Abram was asked to direct his gaze are: “north” צָפֹנָה (pronounced as tsafonah), “south” נֶגְבָּה (negbah), “east” קֵדְמָה (kedmah) and “west” יָמָּה (yamah).

In English these words are technical navigational terms, but Hebrew is an extremely physical language and the origin of these words is tied to the environment.

The Hebrew phrase translated as “to the north” – צָפֹנָה (tsafonah) – is connected to Mt. Tsaphon in modern Syria (see Isa. 14:13), which lay to the north of Abram when God told him to look in all directions. The Hebrew term נֶגְבָּה (negbah), traditionally translated as “to the south,” literally means “to the Negev” – the name of a wilderness in the south of Canaan/Israel. The phrase יָמָּה (yamah), translated as “to the west” means “to the sea.” Similarly, קֵדְמָה (kedmah), translated as “to the east,” evokes an image of “going back to something from a time long ago”, namely to the Garden of Eden that God planted in the beginning of history (Gen. 2:8).

Someone put it very well: “To read the Bible always and only in translation is like listening to Bach, always and only played on the harmonica. You certainly get the tune, but you will miss pretty much everything else”. We invite take your first steps in learning how to read Hebrew.

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163 COMMENTS

  1. Love these mini lessons! If I could afford it I would certainly get the one on Revelations! Being on limited income I hope to still enjoy the daily lessons! I am sharing with my Senior Sunday School class what I learn during the week.
  2. I suggest that 'to the east' has the sense of going away from the LORD. E.a. Adam (Gen 3:24), Cain (Gen 4:16), the people (Gen 11:2), Lot (Gen 13:11). To go to the LORD is going to the west, as the gate of the tabernacle and the temple is on the east side.
    • Hi Tony. Interesting observation. Which, by the way, is the reason John Steinbeck's famous novel, and the movie, are called "East of Eden"!

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    • In my opinion, going to the east means going backwards to what we know and feel comfortable with as compared to trusting what the Lord has in store.
      Although it is obvious to me that the Lord is leading Abram to understanding of his destiny as father of us all, there is also a feeling (with the translation) that the compass describes stages that we go through in our lives.
      Anyway, before I get carried away, I also cannot yet afford lessons, but these mini teachings help mine immeasurably to understand so much more. I am so so grateful.

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    • Thanks so much for all the efforts of teaching us.I am greatful for receiving books and remarks of others give us a better understanding of the Word of God. I'm not able to study now lack of funds but I appreciate everything especially the emails. God bless you all.shalom
    • My thoughts on looking to the East was in remembering the Garden of Eden and the forfeiting of their authourity and dominion over the world to Satan, but knowing that the resurrection of Jesus would bring us back to that place of dominion and out of law into Grace.

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  3. Like Betty above, I cannot join these classes at this time, but I surely DO appreciate these mini lessons. Thank you so very much. You ARE appreciated!
    • Sharlom Thank you for the chance to study with your team, at the moment I live on a budget, I never honestly thought that I would be given this opportunity and deeply appreciated learning, having the joy and happiness of my adopted mother being Jewish,I am Happy to learn.

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  4. Biblical Hebrew is a beautiful visual language, this language the Creator chose for Yehudah to preserve His instructions to mankind in. I have made Hebrew study and courses with you a high priority. On a pension, I find applying my first tithe an appropriate way to pay for my classes, as we are to tithe where we are being spiritually fed ... and I have been (and continue to be) spiritually fed here. Thank-you, Dr. Eli.
    • Anita. NT does not require tithing. Jesus said the Pharisees to tithe food not money as The Temple was still standing. The NT says 2Cor.9:7-8 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver from the heart.

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    • yes He said the Pharisees should. But wasn't holding them up as examples For Christians to follow But yes to follow judgement mercy and faith. The food tithe was 2 in years 1-2 4-5. 3 in years 3-6 and 1 in years 7 But there is no Priest/Temple today.

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  5. I think Jewish Insights are important to understanding how the Greco-Roman world embraced the Jewish concept of God. I think it is also important to honour how the Greco-Roman world thought about Zeus, Hermes and Apollos. Many Christians insist Jesus is the incarnation of the Trinity, the one and only God. Whereas, it is my understanding some Jews tried to venerate Moses as a god too. So others say that is why God buried Moses in a secret place so that "no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day" to keep Moses from being worshipped as an idol.
  6. Have just started Abraham's journey of faith module. Can anybody tell me who the lovely lecturer is - not Dr Eli aand haven't identified him from other pictures. Thank you!
  7. Like some of the other comments I too are able to afford the course and as I am nearly 80 yrs old, my memory is not as good as it once was. I very much enjoy the explanations you give are excellent.
  8. Like so many of your respondents I really appreciate these little insights to the Hebrew Bible and have learned a lot. Unfortunately I currently do not have the time to take your courses, but they are high on my bucket list. Thank you for the daily emails.
    • Audrey, make the time! :-) It is just the issue of priorities! Our studies can be taken as you do something around the house, exercise or during your commute! We all have that time! Come on board, don't postpone. Time is of the essence - https://israelbiblecenter.com/membership-account/certificate-in-jewish-studies/
    • All it takes is 15 to 30 minutes daily these courses are designed to learn at your own pace and to say you don’t have the time to learn I’d like saying to God I don’t have time to listen to you today or it’s like saying I don’t care
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