LAW! Such a harsh word. A word disliked and abhorred by many Christians. But was this always the case? Why did David delight in the “Law“? (Psa 1:2, 119:70,77,174) Why did Paul – the misunderstood apostle say the same thing?(Rom 7:22). A simple word study into the original Manuscripts of the Scriptures can help us understand God’s Law in new light.
The word commonly translated as “LAW” in our English versions of the Scriptures is “Torah” in the Original Hebrew, and derives from the root word “Yarah”.
Strong’s Hebrew Concordance H8451 – תּורה – tôrâh
From H3384; a precept or statute, especially the Decalogue or Pentateuch: – law.
(Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew Lexicon – law, direction, instruction)
Strong’s Hebrew Concordance H3384 – ירה – yârâh
A primitive root; properly to flow as water (that is, to rain); transitively to lay or throw (especially an arrow, that is, to shoot); figuratively to point out (as if by aiming the finger), to teach: – (+) archer, cast, direct, inform, instruct, lay, shew, shoot, teach (-er, -ing), through.
(Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew Lexicon – to throw, shoot, cast, pour)
Looking at the definitions given on the Strong’s Concordance and BDB Lexicon, it is clear that Torah and it’s root word Yarah are connected to “direction & instruction”. And not only is it connected to these ideas, it also denotes “shooting an arrow” or “taking aim”. A few examples of usage of the word “Yarah” is given below.
Gen 46:28 And he sent Judah before him unto Joseph, to direct(H3384) his face unto Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen.
1Sa 20:20 And I will shoot(H3384) three arrows on the side thereof, as though I shot at a mark.
Psa 64:7 But God shall shoot(H3384) at them with an arrow; suddenly shall they be wounded.
Exo 4:12 Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach(H3384) thee what thou shalt say.
Lev 10:11 And that ye may teach(H3384) the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses.
Psa 119:102 I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught(H3384) me.
Since we have looked at the meaning of Torah, let us look at another word which is closely connected with it in Scripture – the word “SIN”. The word commonly translated as “SIN” in our English versions of the Scriptures is “Chatta’ah” in the Original Hebrew, and derives from the root word “Chatta”.
Strong’s Hebrew Concordance H2403 – חטּאת – chaṭṭâ’âh
From H2398; an offence (sometimes habitual sinfulness), and its penalty, occasion, sacrifice, or expiation; also (concretely) an offender: – punishment (of sin), purifying (-fication for sin), sin (-ner, offering).
(Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew Lexicon – sin, sinful, sin offering)
Strong’s Hebrew Concordance H2398 – חטא -châṭâ’
A primitive root; properly to miss; hence (figuratively and generally) to sin; by inference to forfeit, lack, expiate, repent, (causatively) lead astray, condemn: – bear the blame, cleanse, commit [sin], by fault, harm he hath done, loss, miss, (make) offend (-er), offer for sin, purge, purify (self), make reconciliation, (cause, make) sin (-ful, -ness), trespassive
(Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew Lexicon – to sin, miss, miss the way, go wrong, incur guilt, forfeit, purify from uncleanness)
Looking at the definitions given on the Strong’s Concordance and BDB Lexicon, it is clear that Chatta’ah and it’s root word Chatta are connected to “missing & going astray”. It denotes “missing the mark”. An example is given below.
Jdg 20:16 Among all this people there were seven hundred chosen men lefthanded; every one could sling stones at an hair breadth, and not miss(H2398)
The relationship between Sin and Law
As per John’s explanation in his 1st Epistle, Sin = Breaking the Law(1John 3:4).
While “Law” means to “shoot”, “take aim”, “direct” and “instruct”, “Sin” means to “miss”or “go astray”. If we put this thought in a picture form, “Torah” is an archer who aims/shoots at a target, while “Sin” is the same archer “missing the mark”. If we stop taking aim at the perfect instructions of God, we stand to miss the mark, thereby falling into “Sin”.
Children are like arrows
We see that the teaching of YHVH’s Law to ones child was of utmost importance, being mentioned throughout the Scriptures multiple times (Gen 18:19, Deu 4:9, 6:7, Psa 78:3-6, Eph 6:4, 2Ti 3:15). God wanted His people to guide their children in His ways, and this would have been the reason for the Psalmist to have compared children to arrows held in the hand of a mighty man (Psa 127:4 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.)
While referring to God’s instructions/directions as “Law” has caused His words to be seen in a negative light, looking at the Original Hebrew Manuscripts open up the words in full color, providing a picture of shooting an arrow at a target. It also helps us understand the reality, that we may miss once in a while, falling into “sin”, but we must keep aiming at the target given to us by our Heavenly Father. We must ask the Holy Spirit to help us and teach us to take aim, and even if we miss, Yeshua(Jesus’ true name) is there to help us at every turn.