YOUR HOST HAS NOTED elsewhere that in studying Hebrew at CitizenCafe Tel Aviv, he gets exposed to a lot of Israeli pop culture. Listening to modern, secular folks discuss Hebrew – or speak or sing in Hebrew – carries with it these echoes of the Tanakh. It cannot but just as much modern English carries echoes of Shakespeare and the King James Bible. However it’s rare that a pop song will explain a passage in King Lear or the Acts of the Apostles just by virtue of being in the same language. Even listening to the news broadcast in Hebrew, one can hear “Judea” and “Samaria” and have some strange flashbacks. But today’s email for the American’s in the crowd – talking about “Thanksgiving” – blew my mind. And then the mind of several people at work today.
The email offered to teach me:
Fun facts about “todah” which means “thanks” or, in Modern Israeli Hebrew, it’s used for “Thank you”. It linked to a blog post but here’s the mind blowing part:
Some of you may know the word Jewish or יהודים (yeh-huh-deem) comes from the name Judha or יהודה (ye-huh-dah). It is told in the book of Genesis, that after Leah gave birth to Judah, she gave thanks to God and praised him for her good fortune. The name comes from the verb לֵהוֹדוֹת (leh-hoh-doht) which means – to thank. However, it also means to confess or to admit something. It seems like in the bible, these two verbs were strongly related and sometimes even interchangeable.
You will not notice, perhaps, if you are not a Christian reading this, but “giving thanks” and “confessing” are two different Sacraments in the Christian tradition. To “Give Thanks” is the Eucharist or Mass, to confess one’s sins is the Sacrament of Confession. To read (even in this off-handed way) that they are the same word in Hebrew is quite the surprise. Not, mind you, that this was unknown to others, only to the present writer and everyone he’s spoken to so far. Yet here it is in the Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary, #3034:
yadah: to throw, cast
Original Word: יָדָה
Part of Speech: Verb
Phonetic Spelling: (yaw-daw’)
Definition: to throw, cast
confess (10), confessed (3), confesses (1), confessing (2), gave (1), gave praise (1), give you thanks (5), give thanks (59), giving praise (1), giving thanks (3), glorify (1), hymns of thanksgiving (1), making confession (1), placed (1), praise (17), shoot (1), thank (5), thanksgiving (1), throw down (1).
A primitive root; used only as denominative from yad; literally, to use (i.e. Hold out) the hand; physically, to throw (a stone, an arrow) at or away; especially to revere or worship (with extended hands); intensively, to bemoan (by wringing the hands) — cast (out), (make) confess(-ion), praise, shoot, (give) thank(-ful, -s, -sgiving).
The linking of worship with extended hands and bemoaning with wringing of hands even adds the proper physical gestures for the two sacraments.
There’s so much more to go into between the “offering of thanks and praise” in the Mass and the Thanksgiving offering in the Temple; the Rite of Yom Kippur and the Sacrament of Confession…. there’s so much more. One random line in a blog post from my Hebrew School opened the Bible in an entirely new way for me today. Every word is an echo of the language used by the prophets.
I started my second semester on Monday.
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