[b-hebrew] Exodus 20:6 - ...for/in vain...

Adam Golebiewski adgolek at gmail.com
Sat Apr 14 10:51:34 EDT 2007


what do you say about it - http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/40_exodus1.html ?

I think about "leshav" (לַשָּׁוְא). Do you agree that it means "for/in vain" 
less than "(in) falsely"?



Exodus 20:7
By: Jeff A. Benner

      You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain

Take (Strong's #5375)
The Hebrew verb behind this English word is נשא (nasa) and is a very generic 
verb used in a wide variety ways in the text. This word has been translated 
as lift, carry, accept, exalt, regard, obtain, respect and many other ways. 
In the context of this verse it is the "name" that is being "lifted up." One 
lifts up a name by making it known to others.

Name (Strong's #8034)
In our modern western culture a name is nothing more than an identifier, 
really no different than being assigned a number. The Hebrew word for a name 
is שם (shem) But, in the Ancient Hebrews culture the "shem" is much more 
than just a name it is the "breath" of the individual. To the Hebrews the 
breath is more than just the exchange of air in the lungs it is his 
"character," the internal qualities of an individual that make him unique. 
This idea of the word shem meaning character can be seen in 1 Kings 4:31, 
"and his fame was in all the nations round about." Here, the word fame is 
understood as his "character."

All Hebrew names are words with meaning and these words reflects their 
characters. For instance, Eve (Hhavah in Hebrew) means "life" because she is 
the mother of all the living (Hhay, a related word to Hhavah, see Genesis 
3:20). The names for God is no different. The name Yahweh means "he exists" 
and God (Elohiym) means "one of power and authority." Some other names of 
God include "Jealous" (Exodus 34:14), "One" (Zechariah 14:9 which literally 
reads "his name is one"), Holy (Isaiah 57:15) and others. What is God's 
name? Most will answer with Yahweh or God but we must remember that a name 
or shem in Hebrew is the character of the individual so the correct question 
should be "What is God's character?"

Vain (Strong's #7723)
The third word that we need to understand correctly is the word "vain." This 
is the Hebrew word שוא (sheva). This word literally means "empty" and vain 
actions are empty of substance. This word can also be understood as 
"falsely" in the sense of being empty of its true substance. This idea can 
be seen in Exodus 23:1, "You shall not utter a false report." The word 
"false" is the very same Hebrew word שוא (sheva).

Now that we have a more complete understanding of the words in the passage 
we are able to make a more Hebraic interpretation.

      You shall not represent the character of Elohiym Falsely

So, what does this mean? In another study we saw that when it says "God 
created man in his own image" it is in fact saying that God had placed 
within us a representation of himself. This representation is his shem or 
character and we are to show this character to others. If however, we 
represent that character falsely, in other words live our lives contrary to 
the character of God, then we are violating this command.

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list