One of the oldest prayers performed by the Jewish people every morning and evening is the prayer known as the Shema. It says:
The sixth and final word for study in the Shema is the word STRENGTH. The actual word used in the Hebrew Word is Me’od. As you should be expecting (given our study on the previous Bible word studies), the word strength does little justice to what Me’od stands for.
There is a Hebrew Word for Strength. That word isn’t Me’od. Not at all. The main Hebrew word for STRENGTH is KOAKH.
In fact, the Shema is one of the only places in the Bible that you would find Me’od translated as strength in English. Me’od is a popular Hebrew word in the Bible. It is found about 300 times in the Old Testament. So what does Me’od really stand for? You’ll find out in a sec.
Very Much Me’od
The most popular and basic meaning of Me’od is VERY or MUCH. Yup. What kind of words are these? You guessed right. They are adverbs. Me’od is an adverb. What are adverbs?
An adverb is a word that describes – or modifies, as grammarians put it – a verb, an adjective or another adverb. That’s exactly what Me’od does. Let’s go through a few examples of its usage in the Bible. Starting from the very beginning.
Me’od in the Creation Story
In the Book of Genesis, God made incredible stuff. Six times He called his creation good. On the seventh time, the climax of it all, God said it was Me’od Good. That means VERY GOOD (Genesis 1:31)
The Angry Cain
Later in Genesis, in the story of Cain and Abel (which most of you know), Cain wasn’t just angry that his offering wasn’t accepted (Genesis 4:5). He was me’od angry.
Noah and the Flood
Then we get to the story of Noah and the flood. The Bible recalled that the flood waters kept on rising until they me’od increased (Genesis 7:18). That is, they increased greatly on the earth – they became very powerful.
Happy King Saul
Let us leave the Book of Genesis for a while and go to the Book of Samuel. When Saul became the king of Israel, he became me’od happy (1 Samuel 11:15). Many Bible versions translated that He rejoiced greatly (me’od).
Me’od Courageous Joshua
After Moses died, God commissioned Joshua to lead His people Israel. In the advice He gave to Joshua, He did not just tell Joshua to be courageous. Joshua was encouraged to be me’od courageous.
This Hebrew word, as you can see, is
In several instances in the Bible, when Biblical authors really want to intensify a word, they don’t just use me’od. They pump it up with another Me’od. This intensifies the meaning of the word on a whole new plane.
In the Book of Genesis, Jacob became me’od me’od wealthy with cattle, camels, servants etc. He wasn’t
Also, when the spies from Israel were sent to explore the land of Canaan, they came with a report about the land. They said it was me’od me’od good (Numbers 14:7).
Loving God with Your Strength (Me’od)
So it’s very clear that me’od isn’t about strength or physical energy. It’s an intensifying factor. It means very or much. Therefore, loving God with all your me’od is deep. It’s not just about your effort
Loving God with all your heart (Lev) suggests loving God with all of your mind, will, and emotions.
Loving God with all of your nephesh (soul) suggests loving God with all of your being and sensations- everything that makes you alive, craving for God as one would crave for the basic must-have necessities for sustaining and generating life – food, water, health, protection, sex etc.
However, when you say you love God with all me’od, it suggests loving Him with all your intensity, plentitude or muchness. This is not just one thing. It is everything you have in all its intensity geared to loving God and your fellow human (God’s image).
This means to love God with all you have and all you are – Love God very very much.
Thousands of years later, when the Biblical authors translated the Bible to Greek in their writings, they chose the Greek word DUNAMIS as the most suitable word for me’od.
Dunamis means inherent power or strength and this is what many Christians know the word to be. But it is much more than a dynamo power.
In Jesus’ time, Aramaic was one of the most common languages spoken by His people. Jesus actually spoke Aramaic like many Jews in his day. It was the closest to the Hebrew and Jesus’ main language.
In the ancient Aramaic translated versions of the Hebrew Bible, the Biblical scholars translated me’od to mean wealth. This makes perfect sense since wealth is a very good way to express yourself and everything you have. It is a concrete thing that opens up endless opportunities to express your love for God and your fellow human.
MIND AND POWER
When Jesus was asked of the most important thing to observe, Jesus quoted the Shema:
“Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘
HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD, AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.‘”
Mind and Power (or strength) are both human capacities that can be used to love God in an infinite number of ways. What then is Me’od in all these? Mind? Strength? Wealth?
To think in this way is to miss the point. The point is this:
Everything, every moment, every opportunity in a person’s life, every ability and capacity that you possess presents you with a chance to love the One who made you.
Loving God with all your me’od is loving God with all your intensity and muchness. It is to love God very very much.
Do you love God with your me’od? It’s not too late to start. As a follower of Jesus and a member of the new creation, you have God’s Spirit working in you to help you do just that.
If you enjoyed this in any way, please don’t forget to share this with as many people as you can. We would me’od appreciate it. Thank you.