How many times do we look at something and then think to ourselves – I did not need to see that!? And you cannot erase that image anymore. In ancient Jewish thinking, our eyes illuminate what we see. They paint a reality and interpret everything we see in light of how things are conceived and understood deep inside of us. If we think something is unattractive, we look at it and it is not appealing to us and visa versa. Children interpret the world in their limited scope of knowledge and experience. In the same way, the condition of our inner being determines our perception. For this reason, the Psalmist says:

הַעֲבֵר עֵינַי מֵרְאוֹת שָׁוְא בִּדְרָכֶךָ חַיֵּנִי׃
(haaver eynay merot shav bidracheicha chaeyni)
“Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity,
and revive me in Your ways.” (Ps. 119:37 NASB)

Turning away from seeing vanity implies seeing something worthless or empty. The Hebrew word שָׁוְא (shav) indeed means “vanity.” This same word is in the 10 commandments, in which God’s name is not to be used “in vain.” But the translation “turn away” is weak if compared to what the Hebrew actually says. The original verb הַעֲבֵר (haaver) literally says, “make me to cross over” or “pass” or “go beyond.” It comes from עָבַר (avar), from the same root as the word “Hebrew” עִבְרִי (ivri) — as in the name of the people. To the nations, Hebrews are people who came or “crossed over from beyond” from “another side” of עֲבָרִים (avarim) – a mountain range beyond Jordan across from Jericho. And the psalmist is endeavoring to act like a true Hebrew and “cross over” with his eyes, to get away from looking at worthless things. But how can one do this? “God’s paths,” his “ways,” are the means by which the worshiper is transformed. The Hebrew text says חַיֵּנִי (chayeni) – literally “make me come alive” in your paths. God is the one who provides us with the means and the strength to cross over and get away from things we do not need to see.

So here is an alternative way to read this sentence: “Make my eyes cross over and go away from looking at empty worthless things and cause me to come alive by walking in your paths”.



  1. Thank you for this information on Psalm 119:37. I appreciate the richness of the Hebrew language, and I see how we can easily miss the meaning or misinterpret scriptures by not digging dipper. I will begin Hebrew language studies today.
  2. There are languages that could emulate part of it. "Bati legani achoti gala" could be translate into Finnish something like "Tulin tarhani, siskoni, morsijani", where the suffix '-ni' does the same what -i does in Hebrew. Somehow Finns have decided against it, and have translated otherwise. (Maybe they did well by avoiding it; I'm not a Finn, so who am I to tell it.)
  3. The language is very interesting. I had no Bible Language when I repented so I saw what was revealed through Law (Ten Commandments). What I see in Psalm 119:37 is what many would call the Resurrection of Christ (works, mark of God). This makes me wonder if the emptiness the Psalmist saw was a type of mark of the beast.
  4. I think it is good to take Hebrew so that we can better understand and how it was translated to English. Some of the translated Hebrew was translated wrong or someone used to benifit themselves. Right now I am taking Hebrew from Eteacher a one on one. I have taken it two other times and had trouble in the translateration because the other teacher would go from Hebrew to Engish and I did not understand the Translateration part of it. When I was younger in High School I never took any other languages.
    • I commend you for trying. The journey is worth it. If you can work with a teacher one on one that is the best approach.
    • Indeed, Sandra! I've been studying and reading Koine Greek for a few years now and have found that reading the New Testament in the language it was transmitted in enables new insights into what it means, through the nuances and even the derivations of some words. Now Hebrew is next!
  5. Thank you for this. The idea that the psalmist is asking the Lord to help him overlook (הַעֲבֵר) and not pay attention to vanity is profound. We cannot help what we inadvertently see, but with HaShem's strength, we can help what we pay attention to and meditate and focus on. HaShem helps us to get over our past traumatic events by causing us to overlook and forget the memories and pain (Manasseh).
  6. May the lord lift you high above what you could imagin or taught.
    Your interpretation is accurate and acceptable to any student
    of the Bible as God devine inspired word.

    Eternity For Christ Church International
    • Israel Bible Center equips you with the tools you need to enter into the Jewish world of Scripture. We provide first-rate teaching, and the opportunity to learn from some of the world’s top scholars. As a student, you will be able to interact personally with our teaching faculty, and gain access to hundreds of hours of Bible courses, including Stories of the Jewish Church I: Acts 1-5 and . Become a part of the community of teachers and students at Israel Bible Center today!
  7. I love reading what you are teaching. I have wanted to learn Hebrew for yrs. Even bought a Bible written in the true language, but I am disabled and living on very low income. After paying my bills I had 3$ left for the month, but GOD I$ FAITHFUL AND
  8. Great work is being done.Heb 6:10 is for you.Kindly let me know the Hebrew word for worship.Does Heaven obey the earth or the earth obeys heaven?Discuss!
    • I am sorry I cannot discuss this topic here. It is not related to the article, plus I am not even sure what your question is truly asking. If you want to find out a Hebrew word for something, use a dictionary, even Google search will reveal that. :) Try answering your own questions before asking someone else. Answering our own questions is how we learn.
    • We are very happy that you’ve joined our discussion forum. Would you believe that these articles are only a taste of what Israel Bible Center has to offer? We also provide comprehensive teaching on a variety of biblical, historical, and cultural topics. You might begin with Biblical Hebrew I: First Steps or . You’ll be amazed at the Jewish world that awaits you. Don’t delay another minute: enroll now!
  9. Thank You , Your explanation is truthful and satisfactory to any one who want to know
    of the Bible as God Devine inspired word.


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