Whenever I read Psalms in Hebrew and think about their language in the light of Jewish culture, history, and other passages in the Bible, I always walk away with a much deeper understanding of God. Besides being beautiful and inspiring, the Psalms teach me so much about God’s will and purposes. Here is an example.

דָּבַקְתִּי בְעֵדְוֹתֶיךָ יהוה אַל־תְּבִישֵׁנִי׃
(davakti vaedutecha Adonai al tvisheni)

I cling to Your testimonies; O LORD,
do not put me to shame! (Ps. 119: 31)

What are “God’s testimonies”? We’re familiar with “testimony” as a term used in courtroom proceedings. Many readers of the Bible do not realize is that in Hebrew עֵדְוֹת (edot) which is translated as “witnesses” or “testimonies,” is not used in a judicial or courtroom sense. God commanded Israel to behave in a certain way and “testimonies” fall into the category of those commandments. These עֵדְוֹת (edot) have to do with remembrance – visual and tangible representations of past events or the Almighty’s covenants. They are witnesses of God and His works. Join me and discover the practical simplicity of Hebrew Language.

For example, Israel stored the tablets of commandments in the ark of the testimony, and then placed the ark inside God’s dwelling place as a “witness” of the covenant at Sinai. Another example of “testimony” is the unleavened bread eaten on Passover – a visual reminder of Israel’s speedy deliverance from Egypt. The custom of writing Scriptures on the doorposts of Jewish homes (mezuzot) is a “testimony” of commitment to God’s instructions (Deut 6:9). All these commandments have to do with remembrances of God. That is why they are called “witnesses” or “testimonies”.

Psalm 119 speaks about “clinging” to these tangible witnesses of God. The Hebrew verb דָּבַק (davak) indeed means “to cling,” “to adhere,” “to fasten,” “to hold on to,” and even, “to be glued.” Israel, as a people, has done this for many centuries. We clung to the testimonies of God as they are expressed in peculiar customs, ethnic traditions, and cultural ways of life. And clinging to these “testimonies,” we have never been ashamed, but have witnessed God’s presence over and over.

Are you ready to see something deeper in your study? So much more can be uncovered even if you know just a little Hebrew and understand how to dig beneath English translations of Scripture. Join me and discover the practical simplicity of Hebrew Language.

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23 COMMENTS

  1. Yes I to read one Psalms 37 when I had to get a devorice from my first husband. He was the one going out on me and sleeping with them. I thought that he was a beliver when I married him. But that proved to wrong. I have been married to my second husband for 41 years going on 42 in Aug. After I got the devorice I prey to G~D all the time after. We still do for the people that needs pray. I am also taking Hebrew for the third time. Because I have trouble remebering the Hebrew.

  2. Your description of “testimonies” is so fulfilling. Writing “my testimony” was a part of my Christian identity, but the premise (Why did you come to Christ?) did not match my revelations (remembrances of past events that were witnesses of God and His works). I neither knew Christ or came to Him, it was the work of God. I am so glad I read this article. “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

  3. I’m a “new comer” and very excited to start. In 1999, i threw my Bible down on my desk and declared rhetorically, “This book is so disconnected! I can’t “connect the dots.” Lord, how will I ever understand it unless I become Jewish!” Had NO IDEA what I just said. Over the years (and thanks to the increasing volumes on the internet) my SEARCHES always included “Jewish perspective.” I did learn a lot since then but now I have a sense of being in “warp drive!” Thank you so much for providing this service to a “Believing G_d-fearer!”

  4. In the class THE GOSPELS AS JEWISH LITERATURE Class 1.8 Literary Hebraisms @ 16:24 – 23:10 in the recorded lecture, Mark asks about Aramaic or Hebrew texts that may be a written substratum for the Greek gospels. No mention was made of the Syriac Gospels or the Peshitta that some scholars date to the 2nd century CE. Why were they not mentioned? Any further thoughts on this? Thank you.

    • Shalom, Dr. DeFrancisco. Largely because we think that in all likelihood these are translations of the Judeo-Greek originals, although I must admit that this something that I should look into more. Perhaps in time you can help us with this, my good brother. There is no doubt that Peshitta studies are VERY important and certainly will add to the discussion. My friend Andrew Gabriel Roth will be soon helping us with these kinds of issues.

  5. Thank you Dr. Eli. I would be happy to help. I know Andrew Gabriel Roth and have read his work. He will be an asset. There are others as well that are doing research that will be of value. Perhaps you could set up a section on your blog to accommodate comments on Syriac and the Peshitta. Thank you. Shlama.

    • I think it would be good that you make comments as appropriate on any blog post you see fit. Thank you!

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