Tuesday, February 8, 2011


How many words for "Love" in the Hebrew language? There are three in Greek. Agapao=to deeply love; Phileo=to like, admire. Eros=physical, sexual love (Not in the NT).

But in Hebrew there is only one word: A'hav=love, like, love between man and wife, love between people.

Why is there only one word in the Hebrew language for love? That is a good question that seems to be impossible to answer. However, there is only 600 common words in Hebrew, so the vocabulary is limited. Because there are different forms in Hebrew for each verb, this may be part of the answer. There are four parts or translations for the Hebrew verb. This gives a wide spread for interpreting the word "love." (1) He loved. (2) He definitely love with intensity. (3) He was loved. (4) He made himself love.

Those of us who teach Hebrew have no problem translating Hebrew as it is. In some ways, I love translating Hebrew even above translating Greek, though I do more Greek than Hebrew translating. Hebrew is so rich and colorful!

I'm now doing translation work in Esther. We read "The king love Esther above all the women in his harem" (2:17). Without a doubt he fell for her. This makes the story and the plot thicken up!

—Dr. Mal Couch