Please know that the words I’m choosing to highlight in these posts are not the only words that can be translated as “courage,” “courageous,” “valiant” or “gather up courage,” but they are the common terms. Also know that I am not using every word found in each definition; that would take up a lot of space and you might get bored. If you want to pursue this further (and I hope you do!) check out the “original language tools” at StudyLight).
My hubby came down with a cold on Thursday night. Dosed up with a decongestant, with a doggy at his feet, he drifted off in to the beautiful world of sleep while I researched Hebrew and Greek words for bravery and courage.
I came away with some fascinating conclusions.
First, the Hebrew.
I found four words that are commonly translated “courage,” “courageous” or “valiant” in the Old Testament. The fist is chayil, meaning “strength, ability, efficiency.” These are all terms that we would associate with bravery. A strong person is brave. A capable person is brave. A brave action is usually taken quickly; in and out, to the point. The root of chayil leads down an entirely different path, however: Chiyl, meaning “twist, whirl, dance.”
Even now I am brought up short with that definition. Twisting and whirling I can connect with bravery. I can picture such moves being used in a fight? But dancing? I equate dancing with things like happiness and romance. Dancing is done from a place of joy, exuberance, delight.
Is being brave delightful?
The second pair of related words intrigue me even more. Leb refers to “the inner man, the will.” This makes sense. Courage comes from a place within, not a place without. We know that it is connected to choices. Yet leb cannot be understood on it’s own. There is a link between this word and ruach, meaning “wind, breath, mind, spirit, smell, scent, perceive, vigor, courage, energy.”
You know ruach. You’ve read it dozens of times.
The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. – Genesis 1:2 (NKJV, emphasis mine)
Ruach can be used of men, but it is always used when describing the Holy Spirit:
When applied to God, the word ruach indicates creative activity (Gen. 1:2) and active power (Isa. 40:13). The Spirit of God also works in Providence (Job 33:4, Psa. 104:30), in redemption (Ezk. 11:19, Ezk. 36:26-27), in upholding and guiding His chosen ones (Neh. 9:20, Psa. 143:10, Hag. 2:5) and in the empowering of the Messiah (Isa. 11:2, Isa. 42:1, Isa. 61:1). … Ruach may be understood as the Author of the animating dynamic of the created order, the underlying Principle of creation… – Hebrew for Christians
In other words, God’s ruach gives us our ruach, which in turn forms our leb.
Can anyone be truly brave, consistently brave, apart from God?
All of this is swirling around in my mind today. Our leb can be chayil, and in turn choose to chiyl, because of the indwelling ruach of God.
For all of the posts in the 31 Days: Brave series, go here.