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 www.stirthewater.com, a spiritual training website. Exercise your gift and see what God is doing around you.