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"Teacher"—A Hebrew Word Study

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Tamarajo is an avid Bible Studier who loves nothing more than to seek out the treasures in God's Word and share them with others.

teacher-a-hebrew-word-study

Introduction

There are a couple of Hebrew words in Scripture that mean "teacher." Both are equally interesting and full of imagery and can help us develop a better understanding of 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.

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Think Archery

According to Gesenius lexicon, the first definition given for "moreh" is in the context of an archery term and means an archer. This definition gives us an excellent revelation that teachers aim their students toward a specific goal or target. Teaching is not an aimless undertaking.

Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.

— Proverbs 22:6

King Solomon, known for his God-given wisdom, recorded in a Psalm concerning a father's role 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

Children need to be aimed or pointed in the right direction. The verse above implies that fathers set their children on a meaningful life course aimed towards a specific target.

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

There are Some intriguing 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. The findings confirm these thoughts about the powerful influence a Father has on aiming his children by teaching through 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.1

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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. For example, the first letter of the Hebrew Aleph-Bet is represented by an ox, and it was drawn like an ox head. This letter, therefore, is associated with the qualities and characteristics of an ox. Words that contain it will be related to things that are strong, leading, and dependable. This method can give us a visual concept that can help in understanding the word.

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Mem—Womb

The Hebrew word for teacher, "Moreh," begins with a "mem," 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 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 the idea of receiving truth and reproducing 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.

Let it be to me according to your word

— Luke 1:38

She produced a child by the reception of God's word that visited her. Could this be how truth, when taught, works in the minds and hearts of receptive students? 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 the teaching 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

The above thought indicates to us that teaching is like planting seeds with the anticipation of a harvest.

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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 mind learns and grows by a complex process of neuronic synapses. This process directs messages, via chemical methods, across 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 can include the idea of unbinding and unpacking information in a way that aims lessons, concepts, and ideas that will help students make connections in their understanding of the desired target, which will lead to productive and right living.

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Resh—Priorities

The third letter of "moreh" is a "fresh," 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 in the body. It leads to the idea of things or people that are highest, as in the greatest and top priority.

This concept 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 was identified as a teacher by even the most religious of His time, as is recorded of Nicodemus.

. . . we know that You are a teacher come from God.

— John 3:3

He is our most excellent 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

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Hey—Revelation

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 was being processed for the last nine months. It is a, from "seed time to harvest" experience.

A teacher's goal is to produce results that can be seen and translated into action. This is how God works with 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

Therefore

. . . 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 a 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

Altogether Combined

Putting it all together, we could conclude from the Hebrew word pictographs of the term "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, intending to aim students towards the target of a meaningful, useful, and productive life.

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Torah—Target.

The Hebrew word Torah (first five books of the Bible), also defined as teaching, shares the same root word as "moreh" and has only a one letter difference. "Moreh" begins with "mem," and "Torah" starts with "Tav."

"Tav" is the sign of the cross in its pictograph concept and connects 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 terms, 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 experience restoration 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

A fascinating confirmation of this thought finds its discovery 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, the second letter of the Torah. Count 49 again, and you will find a resh, which is the Torah's third letter. 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 contains the sacrificial system, the only way to meet with God. This third and middle book of the Torah is different. This time every seventh letter from the first "yod" spells God's covenant name YHVH.

  • In the book of Numbers, every 49th letter from hey spells Torah backward.
  • 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 backward 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 teaches us that the bullseye in life is faith in Jesus Christ as our sacrifice for sin. Everything everywhere, including the Torah itself, points to Him.

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Sin—Missing the Mark

As it concerns the Bible, another archery term is the Hebrew word for sin, which is "chatah." It 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 counts but the bullseye, which means if we miss the mark, our lives are sent in a trajectory away from God. This reality 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

Rain

Another definition 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 ground of our hearts and 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.

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God's Teaching is Like the Rain

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 "more," 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 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

He 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

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Foundations

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

The 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

Credits and Sources

1http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=16-05-024-v#ixzz3YY2PZmvn

© 2015 Tamarajo