John 1:14 in Hebrew

"The Davar became flesh and mishkaned among us,
and we gazed upon his glory:
the One and Only of a father, full of steadfast love and truth."

In Hebrew Scripture the noun davar has dual meaning clusters: (1) what is spoken, and (2) what is done. Davar denotes a word, promise, message, report, oracle, or plan. Or it denotes a thing or reality: that is, a thing that is done, a deed, an action.

The Davar of God (or of the LORD) is not merely words but also their related action. God guarantees his Davar-Promise to come to pass, so it is a Davar-Deed.

Though there are Greek ideas in John 1 surrounding Logos (the word for "Word" in the Greek texts), I believe there are also Hebrew associations. Yeshua is the Davar of God because he both speaks and does the will of the Father. The word-promise becomes reality. The redemptive love of God promised to Israel in ancient times is living and acting in Yeshua, the living Davar. (Some disciples described him as "a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God"; Luke 24:19.)

The Greek verb skeno’o is usually translated "dwelt among." Its root signifies dwelling in a tent (skene). The tri-literal S-K-N root reflects the Hebrew influence of the verb shakhan (SH-K-N) and the noun mishkan, tabernacle (dwelling tent).

John says Yeshua "tabernacled" or "dwelled in a tent" or "lived in a mishkan" during his life. Another view thinks of Yeshua as the Mishkan himself. Jewish readers would have heard the allusion to the portable Mishkan in the wilderness, in which the Glory of God dwelled in the midst of the camps of Israel.

Note: "we gazed upon his Glory" (v. 14b).

The contextual timing of his birth suggests that it took place during the festival of SUKKOT ("tabernacles"), not in December during Hanukkah. The author's choice of the verb "mishkaned among us" shimmers with allusion, as well. Messiah was born in a temporary shelter and lived as a portable Tent (in his human flesh), dwelling place for the Glory of his Father.

The verb theaomai at times implies a deeper form of looking: an "admiration for august things and persons" (Thayer, Lexicon), "in such a way that a supernatural impression is gained" (Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich, Lexicon) (John 1:32; 1 John 1:1, 4:12).

This suggests the Hebrew verb hazah, often used of the prophet or "seer" (hozeh) who had visions (hazon) of God and the divine world. A hazon also implies a revelatory word (Isa 1:1; Ezek 7:13) from the Lord.

Those who "saw" the Davar in Yeshua, gazed upon (and heard) a revelatory word-message-action from the one who sent him.

The Greek monogenes is usually translated "only begotten" in English Bibles. But the root denotes "one of a kind, a unique one, a one-and-only." (The rendering "only begotten" is an influence of Jerome's Latin Bible of the 5th century.)

In the Septuagint, monogenes at times stands for an original Hebrew yachid: one and only (Judg 11:34 daughter; Ps 22:15 precious life; 25:16 solitary person; 35:17 precious life). Elsewhere in place of yachid, the Septuagint uses agapetos, uniquely loved one (Gen 22:2, 12, 16 Isaac; Jer 6:26; Amos 8:15; Zech 12:15 only son). Both monogenes and agapetos are used in the NT for Yeshua.

In the Gospel of John, God has children other than Yeshua (John 1:12; 11:52). But he alone is uniquely God's child; he is his Isaac; his one and only.

Here in v. 14 modern Hebrew translators chose ben yachid — "precious, one and only son" — to represent the Greek monogenes (so also in John 1:18; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:19).

Hesed denotes steadfast, unchanging love. It is "covenant love" in that it undergirds the faithful love God held for Israel (Lamentations 3:22).

The noun emet usually means truth, for its root (aman, cf. amen) denotes something that can be leaned on or trusted. Truth is a reliable thing upon which to depend. Thus emet can also be translated faithfulness, steadfastness, loyalty.

In the Bible, the phrase hesed ve'emet — "steadfast love and truth" or "unchanging love and loyalty" — is a hendiadys or two-word single-unit thought meaning something like "enduring love," "lasting devotion" (Gen 24:49; 2 Sam 2:6; Ps 25:10).

Psalm 85:10 (Heb v. 11) says, "Hesed and emet have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other."

In Yeshua, John says, hesed ve'emet have met in full realization, just as the davar of God is made real. What ancient Israel had learned about God, Yeshua confirmed. God's previous demonstrations of loyal love were repeated, amplified, and extended to others through the Ben Yachid.



Directory | Site Map | NT Studies | Transliteration-Translation