One of my regrets is that after learning Hebrew and Aramaic in my last year in seminary in 1987-1988 (Columbia International University, Columbia, SC), I did not keep up with it as I should have and I forgot a lot of it. I even made pretty good grades and enjoyed it; but I confess I have forgotten a lot of it. I forgot a lot of Greek also, but I have been able to keep up better with NT Greek than with OT Hebrew. (One of the interesting aspects though, is as I was learning Farsi / Persian, a few years later, I recognized the similarity in some of the words that came from Arabic, because I could see the similarity in Hebrew! Cool!)
One of the great things now a days is how many resources there are on the internet and one of them is the “Daily Dose of Hebrew” by some evangelical Hebrew professors. (Mark Futato, Tom Blanchard, and Adam Howell – see under “about” at the Daily Dose of Hebrew website. ) I was blessed recently by taking the time to review and study (and pray) with these helpful videos and review some OT Hebrew.
I remember now learning the names of the vowels and symbols. This professor emphasizes the accents and line divisions that the Hebrew writer divided the sentences into.
Here are several videos on Psalm 1. Be sure to watch all of them for the full effect of this Psalm, as I only embed two of the videos below, in order to just make a few comments on certain elements of the Hebrew and teacher’s insights.
They are all helpful to me and this is enhancing my memory of Hebrew. I remember learning a long time ago about the Hebrew word for “meditate” הגה (Hagah – “to meditate, to growl, to mutter, to utter, to speak, to muse, to complain, to moan, to plot and image, devise)
“but rather, in the law of the LORD is his delight; and in His law he meditates day and night.” Psalm 1:2
Some one familiar with the Bible immediately thinks of other texts about meditating on the Word of God, like Joshua 1:8, Psalm 19:14 (noun form – Higayon – הֶגְיֹון ); Psalm 119 (uses mostly a different Hebrew word, שיח – siach) ; and Psalm 63:6.
I remember learning about this word also used for animals growling under their breath over their food, and muttering and murmuring to oneself. This was a blessing to be reminded and think on this word and the other verses and other Hebrew words with similar meanings.
I like what the professor says here about this word. It means “to think deeply on something”, but the Hebrew idea of this word is much more than that:
“Unlike our western culture, in Biblical culture, meditation was done out loud, a low murmuring of the text. And it was not a mindless activity; it was an activity that engaged the mind. Here, engaging the mind, on God’s law.” (Dr. Mark Futato, professor at Reformed Theological Seminary)
I appreciated the professor mentioning the tension between “in whatever he does, he succeeds/ prospers” (Psalm 1:3) as compared to a verse like Jeremiah 12:1 – “You are always righteous, LORD, when I bring a case before You. Yet I would speak with You about your justice. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? (same word, צלח )
It is interesting to me how success and prosperity are understood in the Hebrew language and Old Testament culture.
Joseph was “prosperous”, yet at the same time suffered tremendously. (Genesis 37-50)
In Genesis 39:2, 3 and 23, the text says Joseph prospered or was successful, yet at the same time he suffered for righteousness sake. He was falsely accused of rape and put in prison and forgotten about, yet “God was with him”.
“The LORD was with him”, even in suffering. That is true blessedness – that even in suffering, God is with us.
Jesus became flesh, human (John 1:1-5; John 1:14; Philippians 2:5-8) and was born of the virgin Mary (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-35), and came as “God with us” (Matthew 1:23)
True believers in Jesus Christ have “God with us” – Jesus said, “When the Holy Spirit comes, He will lead you into all the truth . . . and He will be with you forever (John 14:16), and “abides with you and will be in you.” (John 14:17)
(see John 14:16-17; 14:26; 15:26-27; 16:7- 15)
So, when we think about what it means to be blessed and the right kind of success and prosperity, (Not the heretical “Word of Faith” Prosperity heresies that are so damaging and prevalent in Charismatic and Pentecostal churches and Christian TV networks.) true prosperity is when God is with us even in our trials and sufferings. We can be in economic trials and still be “prosperous”, according to the Bible. There is another word for “success” in Hebrew (שכל), used in Isaiah 52:13 about the coming suffering servant-Messiah, and also Joshua 1:8 that means “to act wisely, and so accomplish the goal” (that God wants for us). Joshua 1:8 has both words. True success is a life connected to God in faith, repentance, humility, prayer, the Word, and a local Biblical church in community, fellowship, and service. True blessedness is when God is with us; and we are walking with Him in a life of holiness, and we learn to act wisely and so accomplish or do God’s moral will for our lives, even in the midst of suffering, and loss, grief, and hardships and mysteries.