Recently, we brought to a close the Jewish year with a solemn celebration of Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). I was at our local synagogue for this event. Actually, the meeting took place in our village community center not far from our home (as there was just not enough space at the synagogue).

Over and over, throughout the Day of Atonement services, the worshiping community broke out into a familiar song in Hebrew, reciting the very words YHVH pronounced as He shielded Moses from the power of his own presence (Exodus 34:6-7). One of the truly intriguing things that God declared about himself is hidden beneath the English translation. God said that He was אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם (prounced: erech apaim).

If you can’t read Hebrew, don’t feel bad (although God knows you owe it to yourself to start learning some Hebrew already). Not many in attendance knew the meaning of this Ancient Hebrew phrase. You see, the phrase arech apaim means, “[He] has a long nose.” What in the world could that possibly mean in reference to God? The answer is actually very simple.

When a person gets angry his nose is visibly enlarged as he/she expresses his/her indignation. The fact that God has a very long nose (nose is even plural here) is a beautiful ancient Hebrew expression signifying that God is very slow to anger. I am so happy that most of our English translations get it right:

“The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger (אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם), and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin.” (Ex. 34:6-7, NASB)

May God’s very long nose be felt by us during the next cycle of His immense mercy and grace! And may our noses also get longer and longer as we get to know Him in an even more intimate way!

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58 COMMENTS

  1. This is a very good lesson. I wish could afford to pay for this and these lessons, but on what little I get in social security I can’t. This was great.

        • I do and majority of us at Israel Bible Center do to :-). (Just small correction if you mean to spell Jesus in Hebrew it is not YAshua (although it sounds correct), but Yeshua or Yehoshua. Blessings!

          • I’m not sure if I agree with that because YAHWEH said of YAHSHUA “Be on the guard before Him, and listen to His voice. Do not be rebellious against Him, for He will not forgive your transgressions; for MY NAME IS IN HIM. Exodus 23:21
            We know that the Father’s personal name is YAH, not Yeh, hence YAHSHUA.
            Another example, we say HalleluYAH we don’t say HalleluYeh.
            Just saying……..

          • You are confusing things 🙂 YAH is indeed a short version of YHVH, but Yeshua (in Hebrew means HE will save). I invite you to take Hebrew studies with us, if you are serious about reading Hebrew words.

          • Yeshua is aramaic and that is the messiahs correct name. As far as God having a long nose what a load of misinformation perpetrated by someone who should know better. Apayim comes from the root for breathing hard. Erekh comes from the root to be long or prolong and should in fact be translated as being slow. Thus we have ‘being slow of ones breathing hard’ nothing whatsoever to do with God’s nose.

          • Thank you Mikhael for your comment. I’m sorry but I don’t think you’ve provided a fair assessment of “appayim” or of “erekh”. Appayim is a noun and not a verb, and it appears dozens of times in the Bible. I’d recommend doing a word study on those appearances and seeing if your translation fits the context.

    • You might say that when that time comes, our Creator’s nose is a little bent out of shape!
      Jewish, Muslins and Christians need to pull as ONE people because of all three faiths are Father Abraham’s children’s.
      Shalom Alecheim!

    • I to would like to take these courses but social security only reaches so far I do understand your feelings and I will pray for a way to be provided for you to take these classes and more

  2. Like this article; will post to various sites & friends. Also, I like this streamlined format of the web page/site.

    Continued blessings of best wishes & success to Israel Bible Center.
    Jane Mazzola

  3. Hello Sir,

    I just want to state that you have eradicated the Cross with this reference to an Old Testament scripture about God being slow to anger!
    God used to be angry but since the Cross He is no more so because of Jesus Christ. The price was paid hence there is no issue of sin or the sin nature for all who have made Jesus Lord.
    I believe that the prophetic chapter of Isaiah 54 speaks volumes about God’s position.
    Now if people are refusing to see or acknowledge God’s goodness through His Son – for them the issue of God’s wrath is an impending event.
    For the Jews who yet stay blinded they will unfortunately go through the 7 years of tribulation and yes all Israel will be saved then but at what cost?!
    Now For messianic Jews to still believe God is angry that is sad!
    In God’s unconditional love and grace – Jesus Christ.

    • Shally, I am sorry that you chronologizing Christ too late in History :-). Remember that Christ was slain from BEFORE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD (Rev. 13:8). Which means that Moses and God episod was connected God was not ANGRY GOD before – you seemed to be missing the point – it is the same God was ALWAYS SLOW TO ANGER ABOUNDING WITH LOVING KINDNESS, GRACE AND MERCY!

      • Dr Eli, I believe you are truly right on this point saying God has always been merciful and full of grace. And I think that this is demonstrated in Exodus when it talks about the Ark of the Covenant, saying that God told Moses to meet with Him at the place of the mercy seat and there God would discuss and explain everything about His Laws (His Torah). To me, this makes the point that everything about God’s Laws (His Instructions) is filtered through the concepts of Mercy and Grace. ALSO, thanks for this explanation about God’s long nose –

        • Afterall, it is the Mercy Seat that sits over the contents of the Ark … and those contents contain the Broken Tablets, and it contains the “lechem” given to Moses and which God’s people could not recognize (and did not understand) and this is the reason they called it (the lechem) “ma” (meaning “what is it” … we don’t know what it is) … and still even today most of God’s people do not know or understand this significant point: I see signs at churches all the time announcing “Fresh Manna” (fresh ma that is not understood)

      • Dr. Eli, The phrase “Christ was slain from BEFORE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD (Rev. 13:8)” Do you interpret this to mean that 1. Since Christ was going to be slain at the right time in history and it was a done deal before the creation of the world, that it is being stated as if it already happened or 2. Do you interpret this to mean that since God is outside of time and sees past, present and future all at once, that it was continually happening or already happened in God’s eyes? Thank you so much. Blessings.

        • In Rabbinic tradition, of the things that existed before the creation of the world, Messiah is one. So it seems that either of your suggestions is plausible. Messiah’s job was known to God before the Creation, and of course God’s timeless perspective should be construed as “completed” past tense.

  4. I, for one, am very thankful for HIS ‘slow to anger’, forgiveness, loving-kindness, mercy, grace, etc. HE is TRULY a very, MERCIFUL GOD. HE surrendered HIS SON for us…surely we can surrender all ourselves to HIM as a ‘very small’ thank you for ALL HE has done and given us. THANK YOU JESUS. I wish my exclamation point worked right now.

  5. It has always been my dream to learn to read and write in Hebrew. However, my husband and I are both disabled (in the eyes of the world). He is on Social Security and I am on Teacher’s disability. Please life us up, as we seek a sponsor.

  6. Good day,
    This is not a comment but a question. Please enlighten me about the following: The significance of dead bones which is placed in a box (coffin) and can be (re)moved from place to place.
    I have read about the deep feelings, affections and affiliation in (dry)bones, (Gen29:14; jdg 9:2; Job 2:5, 30:30 and Ps 22:17)

    Much appreciated
    Lourens

  7. I just want to ask a question Dr Eli.

    Genesis 25:22 where she went to inquire and from which god? I am talking about Rebekah.

  8. Regarding God’s “nose”: We must also remember that we are still sinners, so we still commit sin ( and therefore anger God). While still on earth we need God’s redeeming love and patience with us. Yes, we receive His grace every time we repent, and until such time, we must be grateful that God has a ” long nose “.

  9. Comment: Thanks a lot for the answer you gave to Shally. We must not take Gods mercy for granted. The death and resurrection of Christ is not a license to continue in sin. The New Covenant contains more than 800 commandments. why should God border to give us these commandments if we are free from all obligations just because of the cross. Thanks for the long nose of God insight.

  10. Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God and the Messiah who died on the cross for the sins of the world and brought salvation to all who believe? And believe he was resurrected on the third day and sits on the right hand of God in heaven and in the Holy Spirit, the Trinity??

  11. Well, how interesting can the Hebrew word for nose be? It might interest you to know that the word for nose – ‘aph (עף) – is the same word for anger and wrath. The anger of YHVH is ‘aph YHVH. The flaring of the nostrils is a demonstrative sign of disgust and indignation. Remember that in Hebrew the names of nouns are found in their expressive verbal roots.

  12. To be hung on this scripture and believe that God is still angry with mankind is to ignore and / or disregard the sacrifice of God’s Beloved Son.

    If God is still angry with mankind then it simply means Christ died in vain – that The promise that our sins and iniquities He will remember NO MORE is a lie.

    Sir, yes those who disregard the sacrifice are still under God’s wrath – not because God desires it but because one is choosing self-righteousness over Christ’s Righteousness!

    Blessings in Christ Jesus
    Sincerely
    $hally

    • Hi Shally, my point in the article was not that God is (still) angry, but that God is slow to anger. He is patient, and isn’t that wonderful?

    • Shally, your Christian theology is very compartmentalized. For instance, Yeshua/Jesus deliberately gathered the materials, fashioned a scourge, and in a less than “peace and love only” manner which you seem to view Him as exclusively possessing, He cleared the Temple grounds of a whole crowd of buyers, sellers, and money changers. He drove the livestock out gates in the center of the walls. That is no easy thing! Yeshua/God had a temper, He got angry. But Christianity isolates this story and ignores it in making their theology of a kinder, gentler NT God. Same Bible, same Jewish people, same God.

  13. I have been following your teachings. But for now I don’t find word “slow to anger” in NKJV Strong’s Bible. Can you please explain.

    • Spoken Hebrew has used vowels from the very beginning. 🙂 Written Hebrew, however, began to use vowel letters during the first temple period; the Babylonian vowel pointing system was invented in the 6th century; and the Tiberian (Masoretic) system was invented in the 7th century.

  14. Could you please tell me where I can get Jewish Christian bible in English.I go to a Baptist church of course we read the King James bible.I think Im missing something.

    • A lot of translations have emerged to meet this demand. One popular version that maybe you would be interested in is the Complete Jewish Bible. But remember that any translation will always be missing something.

  15. What I find strange is that out of the very many commentary’s that I have access to online and the ones at home, None, not one of them says a thing in the Hebrew about God saying His nose is long.

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