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!

BEGIN YOUR JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY

110 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
    • I believe the kjv adds patience. which is also long suffering. which makes it a
      better translation not verbal of what it feels when facing problems However slow to anger is an absolutely a trait to follow and slow to speak meaning think before you open your mouth Happy sabbath
  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!

      + More answers (14)
  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.
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