This biblical and modern word has almost identical meanings from then to today. Perhaps this is because we haven’t changed that much in our emotional structure since the biblical era. What we mean here is deeper than how it sounds.
Do you notice, much to the dismay of all ethical people, how respect and wealth are so connected nowadays? Can one be poor and still be honored? Can a poor person be glorified in society and receive honor from others? If your answer to these hypothetical questions is ‘yes’, perhaps you could add the word ‘hardly’ to your ‘yes’ to be entirely realistic and not just idealistic.
If you think, though, that the honor and wealth connection is only typical of our era, then think again. Sadly, it was just the same in the biblical era.
Although most of the references of ‘ka•vod’ (from the root and verb ka•bed or ‘ka•ved’) in the Bible are in relation to God, the root of this word means ‘rich’ or ‘heavy’ (in property and goods).
The great patriarch Abraham was very rich:
“And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold’”
Furthermore, the fact that two very rich people cannot live in peace with one another is also not new either. Here’s the verse describing the relations between two biblical ‘barons’:
“And the land was not able to bear them, that they might live together; for their possessions were great, so that they could not live together”
Even the commandment ‘Honor your father and your mother’ uses the same root ‘ka•bed’ for ‘respect’ or ‘honor.’
There is also a case of “dishonor’ as a proper name in the Bible. This is ‘Ichabod,’ whose name was chosen as such because ‘The glory has departed from Israel’; He was the son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the Lord’s priest in Shiloh (I Samuel 4:21, 14:3).
How is it possible that despite our great and persistent teachings that glorify high ethical values and altruistic virtues, our ‘ka•vod’ inherently still goes first to the ‘ka•ved’?