Anav by Jennifer Ross
Our Father’s principles are completely interwoven with the idea of humility. In the original Hebrew text, signs of it are everywhere! Such as in the word bless, which in Hebrew means, “to kneel” (barak). Or the Hebrew word for worship (shakhah), which means, “to bow down.” G-d in His Wisdom knew that pride would be our biggest obstacle. He loved us enough to instruct us in the way of humility to remind us to remember that we are nothing without Him.
When you lower yourself physically you become smaller and more vulnerable. Smaller and more vulnerable testifies to your need for G-d. Smaller and more vulnerable makes it harder to be proud.
As much disdain as I have for Constantine and the perversion of the Scriptures that took place when the Roman Church was founded….they at least maintained the idea of kneeling before the Sovereignty of G-d. (As do most of the false religions when worshipping their gods.)
Interestingly enough, but by no means a surprise, translators have taken a lot of leeway when dealing with humility. There are five or six different Hebrew words taken and translated as humble. However, these same words are translated even further into different words like poor, low, meek, bowed down, defiled, subdued, afflicted, submit, crushed and on and on and on….
What do you picture when you hear the word ‘poor’?
What do you picture when you hear the word ‘afflicted’?
What do you picture when you hear the word ‘meek’?
When you hear the word poor, you probably picture someone with little income and few possessions.
The word afflicted may bring to mind someone with an illness or a picture of someone in pain.
Now the word meek…well… most people picture a bashful, quiet person who must lack self-confidence. But since this is an article concerning G-d, many minds will probably race to the meek will inherit the earth.
But what is humble? What is meek? Is Scripture telling us that those who are bashful and quiet will inherit the earth? Or is it those who are poor? Or is it those who are afflicted, defiled, crushed or low? Is it all of these…none of these?
How can we discern between all the different words given to us? How can we identify with… and learn from G-d’s Word… if His very important principles have been translated with words that don’t stay consistent? I think that is the primary reason why Gentile Believers shy away from the Hebrew Scriptures. The lack of consistency in translation makes it hard to follow and they do not feel a connection with what is written. It just seems scattered and obscure.
The lack of a strong foundation makes whatever is built upon it….weak.
The lack of a strong foundation makes whatever is built upon it….weak!
THE LACK OF A STRONG FOUNDATION MAKES WHATEVER IS BUILT UPON IT WEAK!
The New Testament is comfortable for Westerners… and in this comfort… without the strong foundation of what is revealed in the Old Testament to build upon… that level of comfort is flimsy and weak.
The Hebrew language is consistent. Every letter has meaning…letters are built into root words, which have meaning…and root words are added to or combined to make other words. The words that are created carry the meaning of all that they are built upon. Just like the New Testament is built upon the old! And that art, that depth, that dimension of understanding…is lost in translation.
So we know that the meek shall inherit the earth. But the promise of the meek inheriting the earth… is not a New Testament revelation.
The Hebrew word anav is often translated in Scripture as humble. This word stems from the actions of ‘responding or answering’ (as in testifying to) and ‘being low”. Not only is anav considered to mean humble, it is also found translated as poor, meek and lowly.
We find this noun used for the very first time in Numbers 12. In this account in the wilderness, Miriam and Aaron have a problem. They have a problem with Moses. So much of a problem… G-d intervenes.
G-d requires us to be clean to enter into His presence. In Exodus 19, when Moses told the people that they would be called to come near the mountain to see G-d descend in the clouds and to hear His voice, they were given three days to prepare. They had three days to cleanse and purify themselves. And Exodus 19:15 specifically states that the men were not to come near a woman.
Our Father’s instructions pertaining to the different ways to become impure (unclean) between a man and a woman are outlined in Torah. I won’t go into detail here, but suffice it to say, drawing near a woman (for a variety of reasons) might cause the man to become unclean and unworthy to approach the mountain. So Avinu said don’t do it.
G-d requires cleanliness… thus Moses strove to remain clean. In his heart he knew that he must be clean in order to approach or to be approached by G-d. Simply put, Moses didn’t want to be called by G-d and be found in an unclean state and therefore unable to answer the call. Imagine that for a moment.
Miriam and Aaron found fault with this. After all, they ask in Numbers 12:2, “Has the LORD only spoken by Moses? Has He not also spoken by us?” Obviously, they were not as zealous to remain clean as Moses tried to be. As the story goes, G-d gets involved and Miriam quickly finds out how it feels to be unclean and separated from G-d and His people. (He disciplines those He loves!)
And in regards to Moses… Numbers 12:3 shows us for the first time that hook that links us so tightly to HaShem, blessed be He… if we are willing to see it.
“And the man Moses was very meek, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.”
Meode anav…. very meek… meode anav ….exceedingly meek.
Anav is a condition of a person; a characteristic of a person’s heart. And the condition of one’s heart shows through one’s actions. We cannot ascribe one English word to anav. If we only see this word as meaning humble or meek or lowly in the English sense, we lose so much! So let’s look at some of the other places this word appears in the text and see if it doesn’t enhance, perhaps, our perspective on what anav, in its fullness, means.
But with righteousness shall He judge the poor and decide rightly for the meek(anav) of the earth: and He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of his lips He shall slay the wicked. Isaiah 11:4
The humble ones (anavim) also shall increase their joy in the LORD and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. Isaiah 29:19
When He makes inquisition for blood, He remembers them: He will not forget the cry of the afflicted (anavim). Psalm 9:12
The meek (anavim) shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seeks Him: your heart shall live forever. Psalm 22:26
The meek (anavim) will He guide in judgment: and the meek (anavim) will He teach His way. Psalm 25:9
But the meek (anavim) shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace. Psalm 37:11
The humble (anavim) shall see this, and be glad: and your heart shall live that seek God. Psalm 69:32
For the LORD takes pleasure in His people: He will beautify the humble (anavim) with salvation. Psalm 149:4
Seek the LORD, all you meek (anav) of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness (anavah): it may be you shall be hid in the day of the LORD’S anger. Zeph 2:3
The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before glory is humility (anavah). Proverbs15:33
Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before glory is humility (anavah). Proverbs 18:12
By humility (anavah) and the fear of the LORD are riches and glory and life. Proverbs 22:4
[It’s important to note that in these three verses from Proverbs many translations say ‘honor’ instead of correctly translating the Hebrew word kavod as glory.]
Now just as a mental exercise, take the time to go back up to all the verses and everywhere anav (singular), anavim (plural) or anavah (state of being) appears, replace it as you read with the thought of Moses and all that he did.
In Torah, G-d informs Moses that in the future He will raise “one like Moses” from among the Jewish people.
I shall raise up a Prophet to them from among their brothers, like you; and I will put My words in His mouth; and He shall speak to them all that I shall command Him.
And in Deuteronomy 34:10 it is confirmed that “there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face”
Face to face. This, according to G-d in the story of Miriam and Aaron, was the very thing that separated Moses from them. This was why Moses endeavored to remain clean. And this wholehearted submission to and reliance on G-d…this complete willingness to trust and follow and obey was an example of anav.
The picture is a bit different now, isn’t it? And we, who are living today, have the advantage of knowing that the prophet predicted in Deuteronomy that would be like Moses is our Messiah, Yeshua.
I just want us to soak up this truth. To soak up all these concepts concerning anav that are screaming at us! The reality that lowering ourselves is a testimony that we are completely dependent on HIM! Because Yeshua, the prophet like Moses, did indeed exemplify and speak of anav when He walked on this earth!
Come to Me, all those laboring and being burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, because I am meek and lowly in heart; and you will find rest to your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matthew 11: 28, 29
The Greek word for meek that appears here is praus. Praus (and its forms)are used just as distinctly in the Greek as anav (and its forms) are used in the Hebrew. Praus does not mean humble. When we find the word humble in the New Testament, it is an entirely different word… tapinos. Praus is much, much more.
If you re-read these verses from Matthew replacing meek with the idea of “like Moses”…it has come around full circle. Yeshua is stating that He contains within Himself the very traits of service to G-d (and all that this service entails) just as Moses did! He confirms that HE IS ANAV.
Saving the people from bondage…making intercessions…testings….burden of leadership… teaching…even the offering of oneself to atone for the people (to name just a few)… were shared by both! In Exodus 32: 30-32, Moses pleads with the LORD to let his name be blotted out from the Book of Life to atone for the sins of the people. This didn’t happen, but what is revealed as you continue to read through Exodus chapter 33, is just how close of a relationship our Father had with Moses.
Let’s look at one more verse in the Tanakh that speaks about this character trait, anav, which Moses and Yeshua personified.
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good tidings unto the meek (anav); he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our G-d; to comfort all who mourn; Isaiah 61:1, 2
The Anointed One speaking here, through Isaiah, is Yeshua. Even Jewish people today, who might not yet see Yeshua as their Messiah, understand (as did the Sages) that the Anointed One here is Messiah.
One of the most beautiful songs to me, a song that I go to constantly to quiet myself and feel His peace, is the Hebrew song Ma Navu. (Marty Goetz’ version will make your Spirit ache to be free).
Ma navu al heharim
How lovely on the mountains
are the feet of the messenger of good tidings
The words of this song are taken from another part of Isaiah, chapter 52, which says:
How pleasant on the mountains are the feet of the messenger of good tidings,
proclaiming peace, proclaiming good, proclaiming salvation;
saying to Zion, your God reigns
Our G-d reigns!!!!
And Yeshua…Salvation… proclaimed from atop the mountain:
Blessed are the poor in Spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven
Blessed are they who mourn for they shall be comforted
Blessed are the meek (praus) for they shall inherit the earth. Matt 5:3-5
Those with ears…can you hear Isaiah? The Psalms? Moses and Torah?
Yeshua was not saying anything new. In fact, in Luke 4:16 we find Yeshua going into the synagogue of his hometown, Nazareth, AS WAS HIS CUSTOM, where He stood to read. In the synagogue, then as it is today, men are called to read from Torah and the Prophets. They don’t just walk in and stand up to read. And they do not choose what to read.
In Judaism today, the Torah is divided into weekly portions allowing it to be read in its entirety in a calendar year. Along with the Torah portion, portions from the Prophets and Writings that correlate to the Torah portion are also read. In Yeshua’s day, the entire Torah was read according to a three-year cycle and in this account in Luke, Yeshua was called to read from the scroll of Isaiah. And the portion for Him to read was already predetermined.
And what portion did He read from? Isaiah 61! The very words above! And in Luke 4: 21 He says to those in the synagogue “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your ears.”
And for those who had eyes to see and ears to hear, for those whose hearts were firm in the truth laid out by Moses and the Prophets, for those who were anav… YESHUA WAS CONFIRMING EXACTLY WHO HE WAS BASED UPON WHAT HAD ALREADY BEEN WRITTEN!
What is so exciting to me is how He abruptly ended His reading. Because if we look at what He read (and there was no numbering system back then) Isaiah’s words immediately before and immediately after the small little part that Yeshua read, speak of times yet to come! Times that hadn’t been fulfilled yet!
Look up to the text in this article showing Isaiah 61: 1-2. Yeshua stopped and rolled up the scroll before speaking of the “day of vengeance of our G-d”. In addition to this, the words prior to what He read, the entire chapter of Isaiah 60, speaks of a future that Israel and all who are joined to her are still hoping for!
Just stop and imagine this! Imagine if we were sitting there hearing this! Our eyes would be fixed on Him just as “the eyes of all those in the synagogue” were! Whatever it was that He was supposed to read, His actions in just reading that little bit must have been somewhat of a shock. And what He said after was even more of a shock! And being subject to Rome as they were, with this man from their midst…from their ‘town’…from a family they knew… speaking and doing such things….just imagine!
But Yeshua knows our weaknesses. Because just as some were marveling, some questioning, some discounting and some outright denying….He knew what was still to come. He knew that after His crucifixion many who were marveling would be disappointed because their expectation was for salvation from Rome. He knew that many who were defiant would feel validated after His death…and continue to deny. And He knew that many of those questioning, after his crucifixion, would be fearful… and be led astray.
This explains His words (and the people’s reaction) that follow in Luke 4: 22-30. But be assured that there were a few who were anav… a few who understood… a few that were full of joy!
We living today should heed the warning given to us here. To be watchful and truly firm in a strong foundation. For the words of Moses and the Prophets have been in a revitalized process of fulfillment since Israel was reborn 6 decades ago. These are days for choosing, days for readiness. These are days for those who are anav to be ever diligent and ever discerning so that we can stand against deceit or doubt.
I urge all Believers to seek the qualities of anav. I urge you to see that the condition our Father delights in, the condition of the heart that pleases Him and secures our relationship with Him, runs deep. It cannot be contrived. It cannot be for show. It is forgetting self and being completely open and trusting and prepared for Him.
Whether in a bent knee or a bow, kneeling or taming your tongue, crediting Him alone for what is good or accepting His discipline with gratitude… anav is always being mindful of Him and His instructions.
Remember what King Solomon said in Proverbs 15? Telling us that the fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom? And that before glory is anavah? Remember what Psalm 25 said? That He will guide the anavim in judgment, teaching them His way?
Just as a young ox would be yoked with an older ox to learn to walk the straight path through the fields, Yeshua invites us to take His yokeand learn from Him. We learn by immersing ourselves in the Word. If He is the Living Word, which HE IS, we must walk with Him through the fields of Torah and the Prophets to fully realize and magnify HIS desired potential in us.
May we all endeavor to completely submit to the authority of our Father!
Author: Jennifer Ross