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In the Beginning. Famous first words and the enigmatic start of the Creation story. Here’s the concrete and abstract meaning.
Did you know that the first word of the Bible, in the book of Genesis, is actually the word head? There, translated by probably the best known Bible quotation: “in the beginning”.
The English word beginning comes from רֵאשִׁית—ray-sheeth. That’s Strong’s H7225. This is the moment you get to practice.
- Go to UnlockBibleMeaning.com, you’ll be in Genesis 1.
- On the right side, choose ‘Strong’s Concordance’ in the short drop-down menu.
- Click on H7225 beside beginning.
- The annotation will open in the right window.
Read the words following the KJV (King James Version). Those are how the KJV scholars translated this Hebrew word רֵאשִׁית—ray-sheeth from the Masoretic text. Notice from the same as H7218. Click on H7218 and you’ll see that reference display just above the present one.
What allows Strong to state ‘from the SAME as?’ Notice the letters in the spelling. You don’t have to read this, just compare the three letters רֵאשִׁ (from right to left: raish, aleph, shin) pronounced rosh. The three letters are identical for H7225 and H7218, that’s why they are the SAME. Again, see how the KJV renders this word: band, beginning, captain, chapiter, chief(-est place, man, things), company, end, excellent, first, forefront, (be-)head, height, (on) high(-est part, (priest)), principal, ruler, sum, top.
Note that this confirms both Key 1, multiple English words for ONE Biblical Hebrew word. Same with Key 2, contrasting meanings. Did you notice (be-)head That’s very much in contrast to head? 2 Sam. 4:7 refers to the head of the son of Saul who was beheaded. As you continue your study, with practice you’ll see multiple keys attached to the same Biblical Hebrew word.
Realize you’re understanding the meaning of the ORIGINAL Hebrew without having to learn any grammar or vocabulary. Not even the alphabet. That’s what this course is all about, unlocking Bible meaning via Biblical Hebrew, with no fuss.
In English, obviously, we know what a head is. We don’t always make the association with other uses of this word. Look at these: headmaster, headspace, header, heading, headlines, headland, headnote, headquarters, headwind. When we think about our own language, we can see these keys in action as well.
Click on Hebrew Concordance for H7218 at the bottom of Strong’s annotation. Understanding some of the 17 KJV translated words for H7218 helps us see that this beginning was excellent, another rendering of this same Hebrew word. I’m sure you see the relationship. But that’s an ABSTRACT one. Here’s the verse rendering רֹאשׁ (H7218), associated with רֵאשִׁית (H7225) as excellent.
Notice in this verse the single Hebrew word rosh (H7218) has TWO English translations. This is a perfect example of why we need multiple translations for ONE Hebrew word. We’re unlocking Bible meaning with some basic mastering of Biblical Hebrew.
Excellent oil comes from the first cold pressing. It gives the highest quality and purity. See the relationship between head and beginning? Head and excellent? Concrete and abstract. Beginnings, especially when God is involved, are excellent.
4 Where were you when I (God) laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if you have understanding.
5 Who has laid the measures thereof, if you know? or who has stretched the line upon it?
6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;
7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? (because the beginning was excellent)
5 Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.
10 He (God) sends the springs into the valleys, which run among the hills.
11 They give drink to every beast of the field: the wild asses quench their thirst.
12 By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, which sing among the branches.
13 He waters the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your works.
14 He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth;
15 And wine that makes glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengthens man’s heart.
16 The trees of the Lord are full of sap; the cedars of Lebanon, which he has planted;
We’ve unlocked Bible meaning. God’s beginnings are always exquisite and magnificent, a picture postcard. Now, consider the very next verse, Gen. 1:2, which tells us there was chaos. If the Bible associates beginning with excellent, how do we explain the chaos? This is what I mean by having just one concrete word for head and beginning giving partial understanding, OR CONCRETE as well as ABSTRACT meaning from a translation, giving fuller perception. As a result of this incomprehension, Genesis 1:1 has more interpretations than ever. If you get the first sentence in a story wrong, how can you really understand the rest?
Since you’re curious, you can read about this apparent contradiction at this link. I assure you there’s no opposition in understanding. It’s a matter of grasping what happened in Genesis 1:1-2 and WHY the author expressed it this way to open the Bible narrative.
For now, retain this third key to master Biblical Hebrew and unlock Bible meaning, that the concrete, tangible, physical words your hands can reach out and touch like head represent abstract conceptual ideas that emanate from the mind like excellent.
Biblical Hebrew departs from the concrete and leads to the abstract including emotions, feelings, ideas, and concepts. For instance, the concrete flaring of the nostrils represents the abstract emotion of anger. In the next lesson, you’ll practice with some common words that have exciting and instructive abstract meanings.
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