Three days ago, we began a new series that has a connection to the previous series, ‘fruit,’ in its metaphorical manifestation. It consists of the qualities noted in Galatians 5:22-23 as the fruits of the Spirit. If you missed the Hebrew Word from the Lord titled ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ we recommend that you read it now. You can find it in a previous email from about two weeks ago. The fourth fruit of the Spirit is ‘patience,’ ‘o•rech a•pa•yim’ or ‘sav•la•noot.’
O•rech a•pa•yim is a noun and e•rech a•pa•yim is an adjective. In the Old Testament it appears as a noun only once. All other references are adjectives, relating to one of God’s 13 attributes as described in Exodus 34:6. In the New Testament, it is the opposite: only once as an adjective while all other occurrences are nouns. This is quite amazing and it may show that the focus of the New Testament in regard to ‘long forbearing’ is instructional (guidance of how to behave), whereas the Old Testament is descriptive, focusing on God’s attributes. It is highly amazing because it illuminates the interrelationship between to two testaments: the first teaches us about this great quality of God, whereas in the second, God thrives to apply it to His children:
“Put on therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, humility, and perseverance”
The dictionary defines patience as the ability to wait quietly or face rejection or delay; ability to bear calmly and with self-control frustrating and upsetting situations. But the Hebrew word suggests the primal feeling one experiences when being patient: suffering. Sav•la•noot comes from ‘se•vel,’ which means pain, suffering, agony.
In English, this lingual connotation is non-existent, or at the most, very vague. Unlike Hebrew, the English ‘patience’ is believed to be borrowed from Old French, which in turn was borrowed from Latin. Only in Latin does it have the primal feeling we mentioned above: patientia – ‘suffering.’ Pathology is also related to the same feeling; it means suffering and disease in Greek.
Patience has another word in Hebrew which is also Biblical: ‘E•rech Ru•ach’ (literally, long breath). It appears once in the Bible as an important gift of the Spirit:
“Better is the end of a thing than its beginning; and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit”
On a lighter note, in the early years of the State of Israel, this was the first word new immigrants to Israel learned upon arrival when they experienced the snail-slow speed at which things were done. For example, up to the early 80’s the only phone company in Israel was the government. During those years, it took between 5-8 years to get a phone line from the day you placed the order. One surely needed much ‘sav•la•noot’ in Israel during that time. And some sense of humor was definitely a real plus…