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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76 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.

  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.

  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??

    • I love it when people check out my Christian orthodoxy :-). I encourage you to read my articles that you can find in the magazine section of this site (on Christ Jesus, on Trinity, etc). Once you read them you will know why I am avoiding answering the question as stated :-). Blessings and much peace in the One who gives us strength, Eli

  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

  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.

    • NKJV as well as several others prefer “longsuffering” instead of “slow to anger.” They mean the same thing.

    • 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.

      • What do you make of the colophon claim by the author of the Cairo codex that the accents and vowels were provided by the prophets themselves?

        I am aware of the dispute over date and authorship of the Cairo codex. If the colophon is untrue, what is to be trusted?

        • The vowel-pointed Cairo Prophets codex likely dates to the 11th century AD. In fact, vowel pointing never appears in manuscripts before the early medieval period, but there definitely was an oral tradition for how to read the text. It probably means to say that this manuscript has captured that tradition of reading the text which originates with the prophets themselves. It likely wasn’t, but that doesn’t cast general doubt on the vowel pointing tradition. It just requires the reader to be vigilant. If you prefer, we can read the non-vowel-pointed texts (DSS) or we can compare ancient translations (Greek, Aramaic, Latin) for clarity.

          • “If you prefer, we can read the non-vowel-pointed texts (DSS) or we can compare ancient translations (Greek, Aramaic, Latin) for clarity.”
            ??? I didn’t mean to ask/imply that. I was just curious about your assessment of the/ claim made by [Moses ben Asher?] in the CCP’s colophon.

  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.

  16. I taught Biblical Hebrew in Seminary. Erech Appayim is wonderful expression. Appayim is a dual ending in Hebrew, which really means two nostrils, hence the nose (we don’t have two noses!). What a wonderful way of describing in realistic terms having patience or being slow to anger.

  17. Greetings in Jesus name since im in SA how can I benifit from these causes that are offered ,Bless you all really interesting topics for teaching

  18. I loved this article. I sure am glad God has a “long nose.”
    The Word being taught from a Jewish perspective is very refreshing. In all my years as a born again Christian I can honestly say that I’ve learnt the most following messianic teachers.
    Shalom Dr Eli

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