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Heart – Lev

Heart – Lev

One of the oldest prayers performed by the Jewish people every morning and evening is the prayer known as the Shema.  It says:

Heart - lev - unveilthebible.com

The fourth Bible word for study from the Shema series is the word: Heart.

This word is pronounced as “Levav” in Hebrew. However, its shorter form is very popular in Bible culture. It’s the Hebrew word LEV (or LÊB).

What is the Heart in the Bible Culture?

Heart Generates Physical Life

The ancient Hebrew culture acknowledged the Heart as an organ in the human body that pumps blood and is essential for physical life. In the Bible, Nabal had an heart attack:

heart attack - lev - Unveil The Bible

However, there are many other ways that the Biblical authors talk about the heart that can seem odd to modern day readers. Here’s why: The Ancient Hebrew Culture had no concept for the human brain. There’s actually no Hebrew word for “Brain.” They used heart (lev) instead.

Heart - Lev - No Hebrew brain concept - Unveil The Bible

Let’s check out the several applications:

THOUGHTS IN HEART?

In the days of Noah, humanity had gone beyond haywire. God the Creator saw  that the thoughts and imaginations of the human heart was growing evil continually with no chance of stopping (Genesis 6:5).

The ancient Hebrew believed that all thoughts and intellectual activities take place in the heart.

Here’s more:

King Solomon discerned good and evil from his heart (1 Kings 3:9). You know from your heart  (Ecc. 8:16). From your heart, you understand things (Proverbs 8:5). Wisdom come from the heart (Proverbs 14:33)

The heart is where you reason from to make sense of the physical world around you.

That’s not all.

EMOTIONS IN THE HEART?

From ancient Hebrew Culture of the Bible, you feel emotions from your heart. You feel pain in your heart:

When Hannah had no kids for herself and her husband Elkanah, she felt grief in her heart (1 Samuel 1:8). The word “grief” used in there is the Hebrew word “yâra” which means to be broken up.” This actually implied that Hannah had a broken heart. That is where that common term came from. “Broken heart” originated from the ancient Hebrew Bible culture. Emotions like fear and depression were also known to emerge from the heart.

On the other hand, good emotions also come from the heart. To be happy in the Bible means to be “good of heart” (Judges 16:25) or have a “heart of joy ( Jeremiah 6:16)

From what we have gained so far, we understand the heart to be the center of all physical, intellectual and emotional aspects of the human life. There’s one more:

CHOICES FROM THE HEART

Your heart is where your affections are centered. These affections are called the DESIRES OF YOUR HEART.  It is out of these you make choices and decisions.

David longed to build a temple for Yahweh. He communicated this desire to the prophet Nathan,who replied to him:

“Whatever is in your heart go and do it.”


2 Samuel 7:3

The Scriptures believed the heart to be the center of all human existence. From this understanding, came this famous proverb:

Guard your heart because from it flows your whole life…


Proverbs 4:23
heart - lev - Unveil The Bible verse

What is Wrong with Our Hearts?

If out of your heart flows all issues of life, why is there much violence in the world? The prophet Jeremiah believed, as received from the Creator, that the heart was fundamentally broken and messed up. He said:

Even in his generation, he watched his people turn away from God and engage in the craziest of messed up activities unimaginable. Some people of those days, happily sacrificed their own kids by burning them alive in worship to the god Molech. Like I said, messed up. We see stuff like this happening in our world. The senseless violence is a result of what Jeremiah saw in his day.

How can this heart situation be solved? Moses believed that the heart must be circumcised if any good was to come out of it. This was a vivid metaphor which implied that the heart is stripped from the evil and stubbornness that envelops it.

The prophet Ezekiel gave a similar metaphor when he prophesied of God’s spirit that there will be a time when the human heart of stone will be stripped off and given a heart of soft flesh.

This messed up heart of humans needs a renewal. After committing adultery and murder, King David cried in utmost regret that God should create in Him a new heart. The renewal of the heart is quite similar to what Jeremiah saw and prophesied that the law of God will not be given externally anymore. God will write it in human hearts.

Jesus With The Solution

How does God intend to renew the Human heart? He did it in and through the Messiah Jesus. Jesus ushered in the era of the new creation, through His death and resurrection. Everyone experiencing this new creation in Christ has been made a temple for the Spirit of God to dwell in. This time, God will not send this new creation external laws like before. Are you one of them? Are you in Christ?

If so, He intends to transform your heart from the inside out through His Spirit now dwelling in you.

Paul puts it this way:

For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and work for His good pleasure.

Philippians 2:13

This is God’s intention for all of humanity starting with those in Christ (which you can join in today if you decide to).

Before this is completely perfected by God’s Spirit, we are all called to fully devote our hearts to God in love. This means to devote every aspect of your life to God in life – your physical life, your intellectual abilities, emotions and all of your desires and choices.

Allow God’s Spirit to transform you through His Word. Especially the task of loving God and your fellow humans without seeking anything in return.

(Check out our post on ahavah – love).

This is what it means to love God with all of your heart.

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