Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.
Shalom is a Hebrew word that most people think means peace and nothing else. However, the word goes far beyond the meaning of just peace. Many things are wrapped up in the one word.
Even though peace is the general meaning, shalom means a lot of other good things such as tranquility, harmony, contentment, completeness, soundness, fulfillment, well-being, wholeness, prosperity, safety and welfare. When shalom is present in a person's life, he has all-sufficiency.
When you say shalom to people in Israel today, you are literally blessing them with all of those things. In essence, you are saying, “May you be full of well-being” or “May health and prosperity be upon you.”
Shalom means the absence of conflict and war. It is peace with God in its highest form of satisfaction within yourself that shows up in your lifestyle.
It is interesting that shalom is a word that can mean one thing and its complete opposite. It means hello when you meet and greet someone and its opposite when you say goodbye.
Even though shalom is a common greeting for Jewish people around the world, non-Jewish people also use the word. However, they might limit it to just a greeting, but there is so much more to the word.
When you say shalom, you are actually blessing the person. If the person responds by saying the same thing to you, then a blessing is also bestowed upon you.
Shalom shows up throughout the Bible in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. In the Old Testament, it means peace between God and man and peace between two groups of people. It can also be the absence of conflict and war between countries.
In the New Testament, shalom often refers to inner peace that a person has. Jesus wanted shalom for Himself and for others. That's why he left the world with this blessing: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you." (John 14:27)
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:1)
Because shalom is a Hebrew word, it is not found at all in Bibles written in English. Paul spoke to a Hebrew and Greek audience. Therefore, in the first couple of verses in every one of his, he expressed peace and grace to both of his audiences.
He said grace for the Greeks and peace for the Hebrews. Check this out in his books, Romans through Philemon, and you will see that this is true.
All Parts of Speech
The word shalom is used in a variety of expressions and contexts in Hebrew speech and writing. It is so unique and versatile that it can be used as five of the eight parts of speech. Shalom is a noun, verb, adjective, adverb, and interjection. The missing three parts of speech are pronoun, preposition and conjunction.
- Noun: God is referred to as Jehovah-Shalom, one of His sacred names. Shalom is the name used for both men and women.
- Verb: People greet one another when they say shalom. According to Ephesians 6:15, shalom is something we do as well as something we have within us.
- Adjective: If you say, "The man was having a shalom day," shalom is an adjective describing the pleasant day the man had.
- Adverb: If you use shalom in a sentence describing a verb, shalom becomes the adverb.
- Interjection: When a person is happy to see someone, he might exclaim "Shalom!" Then the word becomes an interjection.
Keep in mind that you will not see the word shalom in your English Bible because it is a Hebrew word. Since you know shalom means peace, whenever you read a scripture with the word "peace" in it, it should take on a deeper meaning.
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May they prosper who love you. May peace be within your walls, and prosperity within your palaces.” (Psalm 122:6-7)
“The LORD bless you from Zion, And may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life. Indeed, may you see your children’s children. Peace be upon Israel.” (Psalm 128:5-6)
In Matthew 10:12-13, Jesus explained how the greeting should be used.
Peace is a fruit of the Spirit, according to Galatians 5:22.
Peace is a piece of the whole armor of God listed in Ephesians 6:15.
You don't have to be Jewish or know any other Hebrew word to say "Shalom."
After teaching some Hebrew words to the youth at my church, I began to use the word shalom to greet and say good-bye to not only the youth but also to the adults. Before long, others around the church were saying "Shalom" to one another.
I smiled when I heard a group of youth talking about me one day. Instead of using my name, they were referring to me as "That Shalom Lady."
Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on March 12, 2019:
Mary, you are right when you say "shalom" means "peace." However, it means so much more. I like the word because it is a pronouncement of a "blessing." Also, it is so unique that it means "hello" as well as "good-bye." Not too many words mean something and its opposite.
Thanks for reading and commenting. By the way, I have several other articles containing word studies on HubPages. Since we can't provide links here, they can be found under my profile if you are interested in checking them out.
Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on March 12, 2019:
I love the story and I am glad you explained the meaning so well. I always thought, Shalom only meant peace. Now, I know better and have a much more meaningful appreciation of the word.