Sometimes the language of the Hebrew Bible challenges us not because we do not understand the words themselves, but because we miss the feelings they express, the ideas they develop. We do not fully connect with how these words are used in the Bible. Consider this example.

דֶּרֶךְ־מִצְוֹתֶיךָ אָרוּץ כִּי תַרְחִיב לִבִּי׃
(derech mitzvoteycha arutz ki tarchiv libi)
I shall run the way of Your commandments,
for You will enlarge my heart. (Psalm 119: 32)

The psalmist says he runs in דֶּרֶךְ־מִצְוֹתֶיךָ (derech mitzvoteycha) “path of your commands”. The word for “command” or “commandment” in Hebrew is מִצְוָה  (mitzvah). It originates from the Hebrew verb צָוָה (tzavah) which means “ to order” or “to direct” and thus “a commandment” is something literally “ordered”. The psalmist does not just walk, but he runs in the “path which God ordered”. He is clearly eager to follow God’s direction.

Biology has taught us that the heart pumps blood filled with oxygen through our body literally supplying us the strength to run. But that is not what the psalmist means when he says “you will enlarge my heart”. The verb for “enlarge” is רָחַב  (rachav) and it indeed means something “wide” and “broad”. In the ancient Near East one’s “heart” לֵב (lev) was not understood as a blood-pumping organ in a biological sense. It was understood to be something responsible for will, decisions, motivation, emotions, thinking and intent of any human being. By saying “you will enlarge my heart” the psalmist in fact says “you will give me the desire, will, right thinking, in other words, an ability to keep running in your commandments, i.e. being utterly committed to God and His Word.”

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18 COMMENTS

  1. The enlarged heart sounds like the mark of God or John 14:15 (another counselor). What I find fascinating is the remembrances. Popular evangelism considered me “under law”, but a remembrance (revelation) is the work of God, not law. Writing scripture on a doorpost is visual, but how could its remembrance be works?

  2. Hi, I am Whynant Prince, I have started my course last week; thus far I am enjoying the lessons. hope to meet everyone as time progresses

  3. David was called by God “A man after my own heart” (Acts 13:22). David had a passion for the law; he was also a humble man who found joy in the law not just to meditate on them but to practice them.

  4. Enlarge my heart, dear Lord. Open the eyes and the ears of my heart. These blogs and all your lessons have had such an impact on me. Thank you for making all of this possible.

    • Fran, thank you so much for your kind words! Many blessings and much peace! Glory be to Our God forever and ever!

  5. Hi Doctor Eli ,

    May you please help me to understand these verses according to the law of Moses and Hebrew language :
    the head covering of the woman it is her own hair ? or she can use a hat or something else to cover her head ?

    Thank You,
    Oliver.

    1CORINTHIANS11: 4Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. 5But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. 6For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. 7
    13Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? 14Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? 15But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.

    • We are glad that you are finding our articles enlightening. You’ve already started your path into Scripture, but there’s so much more that awaits you! Consider enrolling in our immersive online courses: Biblical Hebrew I: First Steps or . We guarantee that they will deepen your understanding of Scripture and enrich your faith experience.

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