One of many peoples favorite past times is hiking through the peace and quiet of the wilderness. Before setting out on a hike there is one essential that no hiker should be without, a map.
The map identifies the landmarks and directions of the trail you are taking and without it one can easily become lost.
You might ask, what does hiking have to do with “the way of Yahweh?” Everything! It is the core teaching of God’s word.
We view the Bible from a western abstract perspective and view such Biblical words as law, commandments, righteousness, wickedness , judgment and repentance from an abstract point of view. But what will be presented here is a Biblical Hebraic point of view for these words which are the very same concrete concepts as taking a hike in the wilderness.
We will begin this investigation with the Hebrew word מדבר (midbar), usually translated as wilderness.
Because the Hebrew language is a root oriented system where all the words from any given root are related in meaning, it is beneficial to examine the root of any given word, as well as the other words that are derived from that root. In the case of the word midbar, the root is the three letters dalet-beyt-resh, davar, a Hebrew root meaning word. At first glance, their does not seem to be any connection between midbar meaning wilderness and DBR meaning word, that is until we dig a little deeper.
All three letter Hebrew roots, such as DBR, are themselves derived out of a two letter root or parent root. The parent root of DBR is the letters dalet and resh, DR, meaning a circle which is a symbol of order (it is interesting that our word order includes this ancient parent root). From DR come several three letter roots, each having to do with order.
GDR – To encircle or enclose to keep order
SDR – To set in order
AhDR – To arrange in order
DBR – To combine in order
Several words are derived out of the root DBR, each having to do with a combined order.
DaBaR – as a noun it means word, which when combined in order with other words, sentences are formed.
DaBaR – as a verb it means speech, a combination of words.
DeBoRah – is a bee, a colony of combined insects living in perfect harmony/order.
miDBaR – a place of harmony/order, the wilderness.
To see the Hebraic understanding of the wilderness as a place of harmony, we can contrast it with its understanding of a city, which in Hebrew is עיר (iyr). This word is derived out of the parent root ער (ar), meaning “enemy” and from this parent root is derived other words, each conveying the idea of chaos, the opposite of order.
Or – Blind
Ya’ar – Forest, a dark place
Sa’iyr – Goat, from its black hair
Erev – Evening, from its darkness
Anyone who has hiked in the wilderness has experienced its harmony and anyone who has walked the busy streets of a city has experienced its chaos.
As a people who live in the wilderness, the Hebrews are, by necessity, a nomadic people. A nomad survives on his livestock, usually sheep and goats, which supply him with hair and hide for his clothing and tents and meat and milk for his food. To sustain his livestock, and in turn himself, he must migrate from pasture to pasture.
This nomadic lifestyle is the foundation to the entire Hebrew language. Almost every word in the Hebrew language is rooted in this nomadic culture and without understanding the culture properly, misinterpretation and misunderstandings of the text are the result.