Hebrew In Israel | Glory of God – Learn Torah

Hebrew In Israel | Glory of God – Learn Torah

Admin No Comments

One of the difficulties with Biblical passages is a phenomenon known as “Ellipsis”.  Elliptical clauses are usually missing the subject, making it sometimes difficult for readers to understand to whom the clause is referring.  In most languages there are a set of ground rules of speech which are understood by the speakers, but can be lost to one who does not understand contextual reference of that particular language.  A translator will sometimes miss the point being made if they are not proficient in the language they are translating from.  In other cases, the original text creates an ellipsis, and gives us hints in the rest of the text to the subject.

An example of this is Isiah 60 where the verse jumps straight to a description, and does not mention the subject.  Only if we read the whole passage will we understand.

א קוּמִי אוֹרִי, כִּי בָא אוֹרֵךְ; וּכְבוֹד יְהוָה, עָלַיִךְ זָרָח

ב כִּי הִנֵּה הַחֹשֶׁךְ יְכַסֶּהאֶרֶץ, וַעֲרָפֶל לְאֻמִּים; וְעָלַיִךְ יִזְרַח יְהוָה, וּכְבוֹדוֹ עָלַיִךְ יֵרָאֶה

ג וְהָלְכוּ גוֹיִם לְאוֹרֵךְ; וּמְלָכִים לְנֹגַהּ זַרְחֵךְ

1 Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of YHWH rises upon you.

2 See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but YHWH rises upon you and his glory appears over you.

3 Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

As can be seen, the verses do not disclose who is the subject of this description.  To find the context one must look into the rest of the verses. We can find context much later in the chapter:

י וּבָנוּ בְנֵי נֵכָר חֹמֹתַיִךְ

יד וְקָרְאוּ לָךְ עִיר יְהוָה, צִיּוֹן קְדוֹשׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל

10 Foreigners will rebuild your walls

14 and (they)will call you the City of YHWH,

Zion of the Holy One of Israel.

As can be seen, the subject of the description (which can be argued to be the object) is Jerusalem/Zion.  Jerusalem will be turned into a glorious city with a light shining upon it.  The word used here for the glory is זרח.  This word is usually equated with the shining sun at dawn, and is understood to be a reddish color (such is the case in Arabic and Syriac).

We find a similar idea in Deuteronomy 33:2

יְהוָה מִסִּינַי בָּא

וְזָרַח מִשֵּׂעִיר לָמוֹ

הוֹפִיעַ מֵהַר פָּארָן

וְאָתָה מֵרִבְבֹת קֹדֶשׁ

YHWH came from Sinai

and dawned over them from Seir;

he shone forth from Mount Paran

He came with myriads of holy ones

The verbs are clearly used in the sense of appearance, which resembles the idea of the sun appearing behind the horizon, and is probably the original use of this verb.  Hence the verb זרח is used in the sense of “to appear” which was associated with the sun, and then moved to a meaning of “to glow”.

We can assume that in our case of Isiah the prophet is describing a light which will surround Jerusalem.  This kind of divine light is also found in the ancient near east and is called “melammu”.  It is important to note at this point that God is described in Deuteronomy 4 as a consuming fire. (http://www.academia.edu/195356/On_the_Early_History_of_melammu)

Another question which has been raised about this passage is it’s connection to the glory of God on the tent of meeting.  In the case of the tent and the temple, God appears in two symbols which are the cloud and the fiery glow (some scholars believe that the cloud covers the presence of God which is the light hidden by the cloud).  Numbers 9:15-16 describes both appearances:

וּבְיוֹם הָקִים אֶת הַמִּשְׁכָּן, כִּסָּה הֶעָנָן אֶת הַמִּשְׁכָּן, לְאֹהֶל הָעֵדֻת; וּבָעֶרֶב יִהְיֶה עַל הַמִּשְׁכָּן, כְּמַרְאֵה אֵשׁ עַד בֹּקֶר. כֵּן יִהְיֶה תָמִיד, הֶעָנָן יְכַסֶּנּוּ; וּמַרְאֵה אֵשׁ לָיְלָה

On the day the tabernacle, the tent of the covenant law, was set up, the cloud covered it.  From evening till morning the cloud above the tabernacle looked like fire.  That is how it continued to be; the cloud covered it, and at night it looked like fire.

The fact that the glow is described as a fire hints to the “red glow” as understood from the Arabic and Syriac, and is probably the meaning of the concept זרח in our passage.

In conclusion, it seems to be that the glory on Jerusalem will be a red glow like a fire which resembles the concept of God being a fire which glows in a reddish light.  The light represents YHWHs’ presence in Jerusalem and his protection of the city.


Originally Published:  January 22, 2015

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Join My Group Bible Class TODAY!

The class is done in a virtual class room with multiple participants. We meet on Sundays at 11:45am US eastern, or 6:45pm Israel time. You do not need to know Hebrew for this class, and you also receive a recording of the classes every month. For the link and how to join, click the More Info Button to email us.