If you look up God's name in ancient Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament, you might be surprised at what you find.
Ancient Hebrew was what I would call a picto-metaphoric language. It was constructed of little pictures that are similar to hieroglyphics. Every letter was a picture, and the meaning of every word was based on the metaphorical significance of the pictures that constructed it. As a result, each word had deep, intrinsic meaning.
The root word for “God" is El. For example: El Roi (God Who Sees Me), El Shaddai (The All-Sufficient God) and El Elyon (The Most High God).
El is made up of an ox head and a shepherd's staff. The ox head represents strength because back in the day, people plowed their fields with oxen, and just as a shepherd would use his staff to order and direct his sheep, the picture of the staff means “authority" and “order. " So in Hebrew, the root of God's name inherently means “strong order. "
To complete this line of thought, when we pray to God, we're asking that whatever we're praying about would come under his “strong order. "
People often refer to God as their father. The Hebrew word for “father" is ab, which is represented by an ox head and a tent. The ox head again means “strength, " and the tent means “family" or “covering. " In other words, ab is the strong one, or strong covering, of the family.
That is what God is for you, in your life - your strong one.
We've talked about only two of God's names here, but already you can see how knowing or studying ancient Hebrew could change your opinions about him - and your judgments, should you have them. You might be surprised.
Jim Driscoll is the founder and director of http://www.stirthewater.com , a spiritual training website.
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