John T. Willis

Friday, January 06, 2017

The Heart Fears [Part 1]

The Hebrew Bible uses the word "heart" in connection with NEGATIVE FEAR: cowardice, anxiety, faintheartedness; and POSITIVE FEAR: standing in awe, respect, revere, honor.

Describing NEGATIVE FEAR, the Hebrew Bible uses 16 Hebrew words derived from 13 different roots.

1. yatsa'--"to go out, depart."
    When Joseph's brothers received Joseph's grain, after they left, one of them saw his money at the top of the sack. Genesis 42:28 says: "He said to his brothers, 'My money has been put back; here it is in my sack!' At this THEY LOST HEART [Literally, their heart failed them] and turned trembling to one another, saying, 'What is this that God has done to us?'"

2. rakhakh--"to be tender, weak, soft."
    a. Deuteronomy 20:3 says that the priest shall speak to the army troop of Israel preparing for battle: "Hear, O Israel! Today you are drawing near to do battle against your enemies. DO NOT LOSE HEART, or be afraid, or panic, or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you."
        Deuteronomy 20:8 says the officials are to continue to address the army troops: "Is anyone afraid or DISHEARTENED? He should go back to his house, or HE MIGHT CAUSE THE HEART OF HIS COMRADES TO MELT LIKE HIS OWN." A similar term meaning "irresolate" appears in
2 Chronicles 13:7.
    b. When the Syrians [Arameans] under Rezin and the North Israelites under Pekah approached Jerusalem to overthrow Ahaz king of Judah, Yahweh sent Isaiah the prophet with this message to Ahaz: "Take heed, be quiet, do not fear, and DO NOT LET YOUR HEART BE FAINT because of these two smoldering stumps of firebrands, because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and the son of Remaliah" (Isaiah 7:4).
    c. Encouraging Yahweh's faithful people of Judah, Jeremiah declares:
        "DO NOT BE FAINTHEARTED or fearful
               at the rumors heard in the land--
          one year one rumor comes,
               the next year another,
          rumors of violence in the land
               and of ruler against ruler" (Jeremiah 51:46).

3. The Hebrew noun morekh, "weakness, faintness" appears once with "heart" in Leviticus 26:36: God through Moses tells his people that if they reject and disobey God, "As for those who survive, I WILL SEND FAINTNESS INTO THEIR HEARTS in the lands of their enemies, the sound of a driven leaf shall put them to flight, and they shall flee as one flees from the sword, and they shall fall though no one pursues."

4. The Hebrew adjective raggaz, "trembling," appears once with "heart" in Deuteronomy 28:65: Yahweh through Moses gives this warning against the disobedient: "Among those nations you shall find no ease, no resting place for the sole of your foot. There THE LORD WILL GIVE YOU A TREMBLING HEART, failing eyes, and a languishing spirit."

5. The Hebrew noun pachad, "fear, dread," appears once with "heart" in Deuteronomy 28:67: Yahweh through Moses gives this warning against the disobedient: "In the morning you shall say, 'If only it were evening!' and at evening you shall say, 'If only it were morning!'--BECAUSE OF THE DREAD THAT YOUR HEART SHALL FEEL and the sights of your eyes shall see."

6. The Hebrew verb charadh, "to tremble, be terrified" appears twice with "heart."
     a. 1 Samuel 28:5 says: "When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, AND HIS HEART TREMBLED GREATLY."
     b. Elihu, one of Job's young friends, give a long speech in Job 32-37. In Job 37:1, he says:
         "At this also MY HEART TREMBLES,  
                 and leaps out of its place."

[To be continued]

Share YOUR fears and anxieties and concerns and reversals and prospect with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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