When you finish summer Hebrew…

When you finish summer Hebrew, there’s something that changes in your brain. All of a sudden you appreciate the ability to read books front to back and left to right in a way you never knew you needed to appreciate. All of a sudden you appreciate having learned English as your first language because you realize it’s also a stupidly hard language to learn. All of a sudden you appreciate the time for your vocab flashcard paper cuts to heal. Needless to say, I’m excited for this week off before the next round of seminary class comes to hit me in the face.

But there is another aspect of finishing summer Hebrew I didn’t expect. I leave this last 8 weeks with a greater appreciation for the depth of words. I’ve always believed words are powerful. But reading the Old Testament in its original language just blows my mind. Hebrew words break down into 3 letter roots, which means there are only so many combinations of the letters before you run out. Therefore, some words in Hebrew mean a shocking variety of things. And as the translator, you have to choose. You have the power to drastically change the meaning of a text, and yet there’s a chance it could still be accurate. On top of that, your Sunday School Bible lessons may have altered the text even more. Isaac may not have come back down from the mountain with Abraham after God saved him. The sailors on the boat with Jonah were actually very kind, and it was Jonah who offered for himself to be thrown into the sea (and he had to offer 2 times before they would actually throw him into the sea). Even Genesis 1 does not start out how we all thought.

Saving you from more rambling about interesting Hebrew facts, I approach words differently now that I’ve finished summer Hebrew. I take more time to answer when in conversation because I don’t want to rush. I write longer responses when people ask me for advice because I don’t want to limit the work God is doing through me. I listen even more intently to the words of others so that I may have a chance to better learn of who they are through the words they choose. Words are so powerful.

Bottom line: we should all express wonder and caution and joy with the words we’re given, no matter our language of choice. Our day was not just “good”; and our summer was not just “lazy”; and our life is not just “okay”. Words give us the power and the responsibility to connect with other people and with our Creator. Therefore, I propose that we use words more carefully and much more fully.

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