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.