Jots & Tittles: A Closer Look at a Little Bit of Hebrew

‘No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations.’ Genesis 17:5 NIV

The Jewish people of today are named after ‘Judah’, the fourth son of Jacob. Jacob was the grandson of Abraham. From Judah, we derive the word ‘Judea’, and that was the name for the territory around Jerusalem in the time of Jesus.

Judah’s father Jacob was given another name by God, just like his grandfather Abraham. Jacob’s new divinely appointed name was ‘Israel’. And it’s from that special naming that we derive the present name for the land of Israel.

In the time of Jesus, the world was divided into Jews, Samaritans and Gentiles. In fact, because Jesus was brought up in Galilee, and not in Judea, He was considered to have grown up in the Gentile world. That’s the reason some people of the time thought He couldn’t be the Messiah, forgetting that there’d been a long-ago prophecy: ‘There will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory.’ (Isaiah 9:1 NLT)

Some translations say ‘Galilee of the nations’ because the word for Gentiles is exactly the same word as that used for nations.

Outside the United Nations building in New York is another prophecy of Isaiah about the nations. Inscribed on a wall in a park is his vision of a future day of peace:

They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore. Isaiah 2:4 NLT

This verse actually starts with these words: ‘The Lord will mediate between nations and will settle international disputes.’

It’s a great reminder to us that the Lord is the one who is the bringer of peace between nations—not politicians or diplomats, not treaties or sanctions, not alliances or embargoes.

Jesus is our Peace. ‘He Himself is our peace.’ Ephesians 2:14 NIV

 

About the author

Anne Hamilton

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