- Religion and Philosophy»
- Christianity, the Bible & Jesus
"Teacher"—A Hebrew Word Study
There are a couple of Hebrew words in scripture that mean teacher both are equally interesting and full of imagery that can help us develop a better understanding the depths of God's purpose for a teacher. This study will examine one of them, which is the Hebrew word "moreh".
Job credits God as the teacher of all teachers.
“Behold, God is exalted by His power;
Who teaches like Him?
— Job 36:22
Let our greatest lessons be drawn, therefore, from His Word.
According to Gesenius lexicon, the first definition given for moreh is in context of being an archery term and literally means an archer. This gives us an excellent revelation that teachers aim their students toward a specific goal or target. Teaching is not an aimless undertaking.
King Solomon, known for his God given wisdom, recorded in a Psalm, concerning the role of a father in aiming and pointing his children like arrows from a quiver.
..Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them...
— Psalm 127:4
How powerful, this idea is that children need to be aimed and fathers, in teaching them, give vision and purpose to them that can set their children on a meaningful life course, aimed towards a specific target.
Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it
— Proverbs 22:6
Is it possible that our "wandering aimlessly" youth of today, simply need to be aimed, pointed, and given vision and purpose?
Finland is actually beginning an educational system that leads to this very concept in veering away from traditional schooling and moving towards a more integrated learning that is more relevant to life and career choices.
Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, And give attention to know understanding...Let your heart retain my words; Keep my commands, and live
— Proverbs 4:1-4
Some interesting statistics, based on a Swiss study, are reported in an article by Robbie Low, titled "The Truth About Men & Church: On the Importance of Fathers to Churchgoing" are quite confirming to these thoughts about the powerful influence a Father has on aiming his children even by the teaching of His example.
if a father does not go to church, no matter how faithful his wife’s devotions, only one child in 50 will become a regular worshiper. If a father does go regularly, regardless of the practice of the mother, between two-thirds and three-quarters of their children will become churchgoers (regular and irregular). If a father goes but irregularly to church, regardless of his wife’s devotion, between a half and two-thirds of their offspring will find themselves coming to church regularly or occasionally
Hebrew Word Pictograph for Moreh
Hebrew word pictographs can give us some unique and confirming insights into the function, purposes, and concepts of words, as we shall see, in the Hebrew word "moreh", meaning teacher.
In the ancient Hebrew writings, letters were also identified by images and written as such. Example; the first letter of the Hebrew Aleph-Bet is represented by an ox and it was drawn like an ox head. This associated the qualities and characteristics of an ox, such as something that is strong, leading, and dependable, with the letter. This method can give us vision and concept to a word when trying to understand it.
"Moreh" begins with a "mem", which is imaged by water. It can also represent a pregnant womb when the word also ends with a hey, as this word does.
Rabbi Daniel Lapin, an Orthodox American Jewish Rabbi, furthers this idea when he teaches that when there is a "mem" (watery womb) at the beginning of a word and a "hey" (meaning "what comes from" or "the product of") at the end of a word, as does "moreh", it illustrates the transforming of a concept into a reality as imaged by a pregnancy that produces a child.
receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls
— James 1:21
Mary also illustrates this for us in a very physical sense, the idea of receiving truth and producing, when the angel of the Lord visits her with a word from God that she will conceive a Son who will be Savior to the world. Her reply to the angel is...
Let it be to me according to your word
— Luke 1:38
She produced a physical child by the reception of God's word that visited her. Could this be how truth, taught, works in the minds and hearts of students that are receptive? When the truth is received with gladness it will produce.
Could we view teaching as the impregnating of truth, concepts, and ideas, with the expectation that what is taught will be incubated, develop, and produce something useful, meaningful, and productive
Jesus also alludes to this idea in the parable of the four soils representing the hearts of men who would receive His teaching, Word, and Truth. He explains to His disciples that His Word is a seed.
The seed is the word of God ~ Luke 8:11
This indicates to us that teaching is like planting seeds with the anticipation of a harvest.
Vav — Nail — Synapses
The second letter of moreh is a "vav". It is pictured by a nail and illustrates the idea of connecting and joining things.
Our brain function learns and grows by a complex process of neurons. This process direct messages (neurotransmitters), via chemical processes, across what is known as a synapse, where they bind (join-connect) to specific receptors. According to Wikimedia.com
"two connected neural pathways is thought to result in the storage of information, resulting in memory"
They are chemical molecules trapped inside holding tanks until an electrical signal frees them.
Teaching, then, can include the idea of unbinding and unpacking information in way that aims lessons, concepts, and ideas that will help students make connections in their understanding of the desired target, that will lead to productive and right living. For more information on establishing right paths in life as it concerns our mind and practice read "Cow Paths - Ruts of Righteousness".
The third letter of moreh is a "resh" and it is represented by the image of a man's head indicating a person which is inclusive of the mind in general and is associated with wisdom.
The head is the highest place of the body lends to the idea of the highest, as in the greatest and of top priority.
This leads to the idea that teaching is about imparting wisdom that aims students toward their highest and greatest potential targets and making wisdom the utmost priority
Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom
— Proverbs 4:7
True wisdom comes from God alone
To God our Savior, Who alone is wise
— Jude 1:25
Jesus who was identified as a teacher, by even the most religious of His time as recorded of Nicodemus...
we know that You are a teacher come from God
— John 3:3
...is our greatest teacher.
the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding
— Proverbs 2:6
The Greek word used to describe Him as such is defined as one who teaches concerning the things of God and the duties of man. What could be more priority than this?
He has shown (pointed out, taught, revealed) to you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?
— Micah 6:8
This letter also indicates a forward facing position indicating that teaching is about pointing people on a forward path. Moving forward in Scripture is connected to God's wisdom and doing things His way and not our own.
they did not obey or incline their ear, but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward
— Jeremiah 7:24
The fourth and final letter of the Hebrew word for teaching, "moreh" is a "hey" and it is imaged by a window indicating revelation. When at the end of the word it means "what comes from"
Recall that, when "mem" is the first letter of a Hebrew word, and hey is the last, it shows the process from beginning to end of a transformation of seeds or concept into a reality. When a baby is born it reveals what has been processed for the last nine months. It is a, from "seed time to harvest" experience.
A teachers goal is to produce results that can be seen and are translated into action as it is with God to us.
he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces
— Matthew 13:23
be doers of the word, and not hearers only
— James 1:22
The whole goal of teaching is to result in revelation. As it concerns, an aimed, targeted, and purposed life "The Preacher" in Proverbs tells us...
Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint (become aimless and unproductive)
— Proverbs 29:18
Putting it all together we could conclude from the Hebrew word pictographs of the word "moreh", that a teacher is someone who imparts and implants wisdom and instruction, to the womb-like minds of their students. They unpack concepts in a way that connects their understanding with real life living, which is the heart of wisdom, with the goal of aiming students towards the target of a meaningful, useful, and productive life.
The Hebrew word for Torah (first 5 books of the Bible) which is also defined as teaching, shares the same root word as "moreh" and has only a one letter difference. "Moreh" begins with "mem" and "Torah" begins with "Tav".
Tav is the sign of the cross in its pictograph concept and it is connected with the idea of a covenant (Gods' life or death agreement with us). An abbreviated pictograph understanding of "Torah" might read; What comes from the man connected to the covenant.
In archery term, we might understand that the Torah is the target of life. The bullseye, which would be Leviticus (middle book of the Torah) centers around the sacrificial system which points to the cross/covenant sacrifice of our savior Jesus that we might be restored to God.
It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered...Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption...He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
— Hebrews 9:9, 11,12
In interesting confirmation of this is found in the Hebrew text of the Torah itself. If you start with the first tav in the book of Genesis and count 49 letters you will find a vav, which is the second letter of Torah. Count 49 again and you will find a resh which, is the third letter of Torah. Count 49 again, and you will find a hey, the final letter of Torah. The book of Exodus does the same.
The book of Leviticus that contains the sacrificial system, the only way to meet with God, the third and middle book of the Torah, is different. This time every eighth letter from the first yod spells God's covenant name YHVH.
The book of Numbers every 49th letter from hey spells Torah backwards
The book of Deuteronomy, the fifth and final book of the Torah, beginning with the first hey in the 5th verse, "On the other side of the Jordan" (picture of salvation through Christ and entering the promised land of a new eternal life), spells Torah backwards too.
What does all this mean? The first two books spelling Torah forwards point to Leviticus which contained God's covenant name YHVH connecting us with the cross, Jesus, and the sacrificial system. The last two books of have Torah spelled backward is pointing back to Leviticus again the book containing God's covenant name YHVH connecting us with the cross, Jesus, and the sacrificial system. The Torah is teaching us that the bulls eye in life is faith in Jesus Christ as our sacrifice for sin. Everything everywhere including the Torah itself, points to Him.
Sin—Missing the Mark
Another archery term as it concerns the Bible is the Hebrew word for sin which is "chatah" and literally means to miss the mark. Missing the mark might sound trivial when viewing it in terms of target practice with a bow and arrow, but as it concerns life eternal, nothing else is counted but the bullseye, which means if we miss the mark, our lives are sent in a trajectory away from God. This is a much weightier matter.
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us (sets us off course), and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto (aimed toward) Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith
— Hebrews 12:1-2
Another definition/translation given for the Hebrew word moreh/teacher, in this study, is early rain. The early rains are the rains that soften the soil for planting and water the tender plants that grow in it. God's teaching both softens the soil of our hearts as well as nurtures the implanted words, Torah, and teachings that He is cultivating in us.
Its root word "yarah" means to scatter water upon in the sense of watering.
Let my teaching drop as the rain,
My speech distill as the dew,
As raindrops on the tender herb,
And as showers on the grass.
— Deuteronomy 32:2
"Mem" the first letter of the word "moreh" being a picture of water confirms this. Teaching is not only imparting and implanting but also watering what we want to produce.
The Holy Spirit who is much symbolized in scripture by water...
He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive
— John 7:38-39
...and is associated in this context, with guiding us into the truth, and teaching, that waters our souls
the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things...when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth
— John 14:26, 16:13
Both Word and Spirit are essential to learning and growth. Jesus told His disciples...
The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life
— John 6:63
We will conclude with A final definition borrowed from the root word of moreh, yarah which also translates as teach, and means to lay foundations.
“Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation
— Isaiah 28:16
That Cornerstone is Christ Himself the sure foundation, as He invites and exhorts us, to hear and do as He teaches
whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock
— Matthew 7:24
© 2015 Tamarajo