One of the major problems nowadays, when there’s Rabbi Google and too much information easily available, is deciding what to remember and what to forget. You can have a surface level understanding of so many things; is it evern worth taking the time to really learn and understand?
Back in Biblical times, the problem was different. When God said the famous line “and they (the Israelites) forgot me” the reason wasn’t too much information. To believe in one abstract God, whose words were spoken quietly only to few prophets, while at the same time other gods, like Baal, were tangible – was a really difficult thing for the Israelites to deal with.
For that reason, from the time of Hosea, God helped the Israelites remember him by telling them explaining that God was the people’s husnad and they are His wife – a wife that poorly chose to leave their husband for other lovers. In our free weekly Biblical Hebrew Webinar, we discussed this metaphor of relationship.
One subject that we didn’t discuss was the change of name that usally takes place when on commits themselves to another:
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, Bring her into the wilderness And speak kindly to her. Then I will give her her vineyards from there, And the valley of Achor as a door of hope .And she will sing there as in the days of her youth, As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.” (Hosea 2:16-17)
“לָכֵן הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי מְפַתֶּיהָ, וְהֹלַכְתִּיהָ הַמִּדְבָּר; וְדִבַּרְתִּי עַל-לִבָּהּ. וְנָתַתִּי לָהּ אֶת-כְּרָמֶיהָ מִשָּׁם וְאֶת-עֵמֶק עָכוֹר לְפֶתַח תִּקְוָה; וְעָנְתָה שָּׁמָּה כִּימֵי נְעוּרֶיהָ וּכְיוֹם עֲלוֹתָהּ מֵאֶרֶץ-מִצְרָיִם”
Every so often we cast our minds back to the the places where we were born and grew up. For the Israelites it was the wilderness, which is a place you never forget. God as a husband took His wife to the place where they had their first date – the wilderness. Another place that is mentioned is the Valley of Achor, which echoes that story of Achan the sinner in Joshua 7. However, this valley that was considered a place of sin is now known as a place of hope- פֶתַח תִּקְוָה.
What do I hope for as teacher?
I hope that, though Rabbi Google is amazing, people won’t rely on him alone to connect with the Holy Bible and its language, but rather they will become active participants with a desire to deepen their understanding and share their love for the texts with others.
This is something to remember, don’t you think?
Hope-tiqvāh – תִּקְוָה
The wilderness-hammidbār – הַמִּדְבָּר
Tangible-mûchāšî – מוּחָשִׁי