Re: Hebrew words for love?
Originally posted by Abykale
There are 11 Hebrew words that have been rendered "love" in the RSV, a number of which are related (i.e., belong to a common word set), some are very common, and some are rather rare.
For instance, [hebrew]R(YH[/hebrew] (ra‘yāh) occurs only in the Song of Songs with reference to a "female companion, girlfriend, beloved" (HALOT).
Less rare but rendered similarly in some verses in the Song of Songs is [hebrew]DWD[/hebrew] (dōd) beloved, lover; in other verses in the Song of Songs, as well as in a couple of verses in Ezekiel and in one verse in Proverbs, the word means "love (lust)" (HALOT).
One of the most rare words rendered love in the Hebrew Bible is [hebrew]XBB[/hebrew] (khōbēb), which occurs only in Deuteronomy 33:3. wherein the text speaks of God loving the people (HALOT).
Also rare (occurring only in Jeremiah and in Ezekiel) is the verb [hebrew](GB[/hebrew] (plural participle = ‘ōgebīm) : to desire sensuously (HALOT). A cognate of [hebrew](GB[/hebrew] (occurring only in Ezekiel) is [hebrew](GBH[/hebrew] (‘agābāh) : passion (HALOT).
Another rare word is [hebrew]YDYD[/hebrew] (yādīd) —1. beloved; —2. adjective lovely; a related word is the hapax legomenon [hebrew]YDYDWT[/hebrew] (yedīdōt) = love (song) Psalm 45:1. (HALOT), rendered "wedding" (song) in some versions.
The Qal inflection of the verb [hebrew]RXM[/hebrew] occurs once in the Hebrew Bible meaning to love (object YHWH) Psalm 18:2[1 in English versions] (HALOT). There are quite a number of occurrences of the same verb in the Piel inflection meaning to greet (meet) someone with love, take pity on someone (HALOT). There are five occurrences in Hosea and one in Proverbs in which the Pual inflection of the verb means to find mercy (HALOT).
The usual word set for "love" in the Hebrew Bible is the verb [hebrew])HB[/hebrew] (’āhēb) in its various inflections (Qal, Piel, Niphal, Pealal, and Hiphil) and its cognate nouns ’ahab, ’ōhab, and ’ahebāh ([hebrew])HBH[/hebrew]). The semantic range of [hebrew])HB[/hebrew] includes "to like" as well as "to love" (HALOT).
Then there is the most variously rendered word in the Hebrew Bible (there are nearly as many different renderings as there are English versions): [hebrew]XSD[/hebrew] (khesed). Here is the semantic range of the word as presented in HALOT:
- —1. joint obligation between relatives, friends, host and guest, master and servant; closeness, solidarity, loyalty; [...] lasting loyalty, faithfulness [...] protection favour of the king [...]
- —2. [hebrew]XSD[/hebrew] in God's relationship with the people or an individual faithfulness, goodness, graciousness
- —3. plural [...] the individual actions resulting from solidarity: a) (of people) godly action, achievements [...] proofs of mercy
Note that the word "love" does not appear in the semantic range presented by HALOT; however, the words "love", "loving", and "loving-kindness" are quite prominent in English renderings of [hebrew]XSD[/hebrew] (khesed):
- All the ways of the LORD are loving [[hebrew]XSD[/hebrew] (khesed)] and faithful" Psalm 25:10. (NIV).
- Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love [[hebrew]XSD[/hebrew] (khesed)] Psalm 107:8. (NIV).
- The refrain throughout Psalm 136,. His love [[hebrew]XSD[/hebrew] (khesed)] endures forever (NIV).
This post is becoming too long, so I'll let the above suffice for now — except to say that [hebrew]XSD[/hebrew] (khesed) is the epitome of "commitment-love", to use your term. Let me know if you have follow-up questions.
Last edited by John Reece; February 3rd 2008 at 12:16 PM.
הִנֵּה מַה־טּוֹב וּמַה־נָּעִים שֶׁבֶת אַחִים גַּם־יָחַד