‘Childisms’ in the Bible
Yehovah designed The Torah, the first six books of the Bible, for children. Yet many adults have found some of these books difficult. I am continuing a series of articles on the ‘childisms’ of the Torah and Tenach (‘Old Testament’). You may desire to collect these articles, since they will define and describe some very important Hebrew words and expressions.
Genesis 17:9 And God said unto Abraham, “Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.”
When I was a child and I used to read texts that were worded in a manner similar to the above text, I used to wonder what keep meant. Did it mean to do or to obey, or did it mean to carry it in my pocket and not lose it? The meaning of this word eluded me. It was a common word, but like so many words in the Bible, the definition was not provided in the Bible margins, and my imagination was the untrustworthy source of what it might mean.
When I began considering definitions of Biblical words in Hebrew, I found that this word was one of several words that seemed to have similar definitions, but each word had a very different flavor. Each word meant to guard, but the guarding circumstance wasn’t the same. One word described the type of guarding that a child would do with a favorite small toy—keeping it close and accessible, and watching it if it was being passed to other children to view. Another word meant to guard like what a prison guard would do in a guard tower or while conducting a prisoner. Another word meant to beware as in guard against a danger.
The particular word that was used so much is the Hebrew word shamar. It means what I described above: what a child would do with a favorite small toy—keeping it close and accessible, and watching it if it was being passed to other children to view. Yet, it meant more: to memorize it (like a secret password) in order to always be ready to respond to a situation that calls for it by using it. It also meant to make certain to not violate it—not to harm it in any way. This carried the idea of protecting it as if it were a delicate possession, like a toy that could be harmed.
A child that is able to understand the idea of taking care of a favorite toy can easily understand this word, since the word is designed for children (as are all other Hebrew words and ideas used in the Bible). Adults may find some Hebrew words and concepts difficult and exotic, but they are always very simple for children when the words are properly defined and described.
1 Corinthians 1:26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that there aren’t many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble. 27But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty. 28And God has chosen the base things of the world and things that are despised and things that aren’t to bring things that are to nothing 29so that no flesh will glory in His presence!
Yehovah gave His Teaching with a vocabulary and a style that best fits young children. Even words that appear to have complex meanings don’t, but instead describe things that young children can either experience or can imagine with little difficulty.
What does the Bible mean by keeping the commandments? It means all of the following:
- To get to know them and their contents, like a child would get to know the details of a favorite toy
- To keep them always close, like a child would with a favorite toy
- To not lose them, but keep tabs on where they are, like… (you know what I will say: like a child would with a favorite toy)
- To protect them from being stolen or taken away, like… With commandments, this means to not believe anyone (including pastors) who try to give the impression that the commandments have been abolished, changed, or turned into something else that they are not.
- To do and obey the commandments that are directed toward the one holding them. (Many commandments will have nothing to do with the ones guarding them, since some will be for the High Priest, for example, but those commands still need to be guarded by all the Israelis.) Thus, if a child’s toy includes instructions to the child for using the toy, the child will do what the instructions say. The child will still guard the favorite toy.
Anyone who does the above with the commandments that Yehovah gave to Israel (far more than 10 of them), and studies them like a child will study a favorite toy, will come to understand all of the following:
- The plans of God
- The character of God
- The characters of humans
- The history of the world
- The future in very great detail
- How to save lives
- How to do right
- How to do justice
- How to be responsible (with joy)
- What love really is
- What Biblical faith really is
- How important physical, literal Israel is in the plans of the God of the Bible
- Sense and Wisdom
All these things and many more are gently placed into the commandments that Yehovah entrusted to the Jews. They are so well hidden only because He didn’t hide them. He made them obvious by making the entire priesthood one very big ‘Show-and-Tell’ designed for children.
No faith that has anything to do with teaching that ‘the Law has been done away with’ is for children. That faith is for enemies of the Bible; it would also force children to get rid of their favorite good and safe toys, claiming that those toys harm the children.
All who fear the God of the Bible are responsible to guard His commandments. The first step is truly getting to know them. Don’t be suckered by teachers of lies who make them into what they aren’t. Take texts literally… like a child.