Hebrew Helps
As we work to build a greater awareness of Israel in Johnson County, we sometimes find ourselves in conversations about the Hebrew language. We are often ask,
“What does that word mean?”
So, each month at JCFI we will ad to a glossary of terms to help broaden our Hebrew vocabulary.
Please, enjoy this Hebrew Help and contact us with any definitions you think we should ad.
This month’s Hebrew Help definition is:
Shamash (shä′mäsh′)
 1 the sexton of a synagogue
2 the candle or taper used to light the other candles in a Hanukkah menorah
3 servant (in Aramaic)
Previous Definitions:

1.the act of proceeding to the bimah (reading table) in a synagogue for the reading of a portion from the Torah. 2. The immigration of Jews to Israel, either as individuals or in groups.

Azazel (ah-za-ZAYL)

Scapegoat. Goat sent into the wilderness signifying removal of the nation’s sins (Lev.16:8, 10, 26). Jesus, the Passover Lamb, is also our scapegoat!

Bayit (bet, beit, beth) 
Masculine noun meaning house. It is transliterated as bet or beth and means house of. So, many congregations / synagogues use Beth as part of their name: Beth Israel (House of Israel), Beth Shalom (House of Peace), Beth Lechem (House of Bread).


Hebrew for “Gospel” or “Good News”. In the Hebrew Scriptures, the Good News is the announcement that Adonai has come to deliver His people and restore Israel from exile. Writers of the New Covenant Scriptures see Yeshua as the fulfillment of this proclamation.
Bracha or Berakhah (be-ra-KHAH) 
In Judaism, a bracha (a “benediction,” a “blessing,” a “drawing down [of spiritual energy]”) is a formula of blessing or thanksgiving, recited in public or private, usually before the performance of a commandment, or the enjoyment of food or fragrance, and in praise on various occasions. The function of a berakhah is to acknowledge God as the source of all blessing.

Counting of the Omer
a verbal counting of each of the forty-nine days between the Jewish holidays of Passover and Shavuot as stated in the Bible: Leviticus 23:15-16.
This mitzvah (“commandment”) derives from the Torah commandment to count forty-nine days beginning from the day on which the Omer, a sacrifice containing an omer-measure of barley, was offered in the Temple in Jerusalem, up until the day before an offering of wheat was brought to the Temple on Shavuot. The idea of counting each day represents spiritual preparation and anticipation for the giving of the Torah, which was given by God on Mount Sinai at the beginning of the month of Sivan, around the same time as the holiday of Shavuot.

Elaion (el’-ah-yon)
Oil. Olive Oil. Used throughout Scripture in many ways. Figuratively, representing the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 25:3-8.

Hebrew for “faith,” “trust,” or “faithfulness.” It occurs in the Torah first in connection with Abraham in Genesis 15:6. Emunah comes from the word “aman,” which means to “securely trust or rely upon” and from which we get the word “amen.”

Eretz Yisrael (er-ets-yis rah-el)
the Land of Israel. Related biblical, religious and historical English terms include the Land of Canaan, the Promised Land, the Holy Land, and Palestine. The definitions of the limits of this territory vary between biblical passages, with these specifically in Genesis 15, Exodus 23, Numbers 34 and Ezekiel 47. Nine times elsewhere in the Bible, the settled land is referred as “from Dan to Beersheba, and three times it is referred as “from the entrance of Hamath unto the brook of Egypt” (1 Kings 8:65, 1 Chronicles 13:5 and 2 Chronicles 7:8).” 
Goy (goi — regular plural goyim)
gentile or nation. Goy is the standard Hebrew biblical term for a nation. The word nation has been the common translation of the Hebrew goy or ethnos in the Septuagint, from the earliest English language bibles such as the 1604 King James Version and the 1530 Tyndale Bible, following the Latin Vulgate which used both gentile and nations. The term nation did not have the same political connotations it entails today.
Long before Roman times it had also acquired the meaning of someone who is not Jewish. It is also used to refer to individuals from non-Jewish religious or ethnic groups, when used in this way in English, it occasionally has pejorative connotations. However, many people do not see the term goy as any more or less offensive than the term gentile. However, to avoid any perceived offensive connotations, writers may use the better-known English terms gentile or non-Jew.

Hebrew for “Holy.” This term describes the people set apart for God, often translated as the “saints.” In Leviticus 19:1-2 the people are commanded to be kedoshim(plural form), for Adonai Himself is kadosh.

Kehilah or Congregation
Messianic congregations are not called churches. Jewish people often associate churches with anti-Semitism. In the past, and in some places today, anti-Semitism has come from those who profess to be believers, both from clergy and laity. Ecclesia refers to people and not to buildings. The term congregation has the same reference point. A synonym in the New Covenant for ecclesia is ?synagogue? as it is used in James 2:1-6. There, it points to a meeting of believers. For this reason, the term congregation, or even synagogue, is the most appropriate one to describe organized gatherings of Messianic believers.

a communal living arrangement based on farming and agriculture that was popularized during the settling of the land of Israel by returning Jews. This lifestyle helped the Jewish people to set down roots and survive in their ancient homeland, which was often a hostile, unwelcoming environment. Communal settlements were often the only option for surviving. Today, some kibbutzim have been privatized and changes have been made in the communal lifestyle.

Kohen or Cohen (kohain)
A man who offered sacrifices and performed other religious rituals at the Temple in Jerusalem. The kohanim were descended from Aaron, the brother of Moses. The priests were mostly from the Sadducee sect of Judaism. See also “Levite.”

In Judaism
a. Conforming to dietary laws; ritually pure: kosher meat. b. Selling or serving food prepared in accordance with dietary laws: a kosher restaurant. c. To make proper or ritually pure.

Magen David (mäˈɡen däˈvēd)
Another name for “Star of David.” Actually means “Shield of David” in Hebrew. Today, the official Israeli flag bears this symbol. However, the history of the Magen David remains somewhat mysterious!


Two principal meanings:

Menorah (Temple), a seven-branched lampstand used in the ancient Tabernacle in the desert and Temple in Jerusalem, a symbol of Judaism since ancient times and the emblem of the modern state of Israel

Menorah (Hanukkah), a nine-branched candelabrum used on the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, commemorating the above

relating to Messiah: belonging or relating to the Messiah. Messianic Jews are those in Messianic congregations who are of Jewish descent. Messianic refers to that expression of the biblical faith which articulates itself in a Jewish manner.

(doorpost) is a piece of parchment (often contained in a decorative case) inscribed with specified Hebrew verses from the Torah (Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21). These verses comprise the Jewish prayer Shema Yisrael, beginning with the phrase: “Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is One”. A mezuzah is affixed to the doorframe in Jewish homes to fulfill the mitzvah (Biblical commandment) to inscribe the words of the Shema “on the doorposts of your house”(Deut.6:9).

a bath in which certain Jewish ritual purifications are performed.
Neshamah (nesh-aw-maw’)
breathe or to breathe. The breath of God, the breath of man, the breath of life. Or, the spirit of man.
Parashah (pah-rah-shaw) plural parashot
a portion of the Torah chanted or read each week in the synagogue on the Sabbath. The Jewish people world-wide read the same portion of the Tanach (Hebrew scriptures or Old Testament) each week and have been for centuries.
Pesach (pay’ sahk) or Passover 
The deliverance of the Israelites from the worst of the plagues of Egypt, and the annual festival kept afterward in memory of the event. Through Moses, God told the Israelites to prepare a special meal to be eaten in haste the evening before their escape from Egypt (see Exodus ), with a whole roasted lamb as the main dish. The blood from the lamb was to be used to mark the Israelites’ houses. That night, God would send the angel of Death to kill the firstborn males of the Egyptians (this was the worst of the plagues of Egypt), but God would see the blood on the Israelites’ houses, and he would command his angel to “pass over” — to kill no one there. God told Moses that the Israelites were to repeat the meal each spring on the anniversary of their departure from Egypt. The Jews keep the festival of Passover to this day.

a Jewish holiday that commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people in the ancient Persian Empire where a plot had been formed to destroy them. The story is recorded in the Biblical Book of Esther According to the Book of Esther, Haman, royal vizier to King Ahasuerus, planned to kill all the Jews in the empire, but his plans were foiled by Mordecai and his adopted daughter Esther who had risen to become Queen of Persia. The day of deliverance became a day of feasting and rejoicing.

Based on the conclusions of the Scroll of Esther (Esther 9:22): “[…] that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor” Purim therefore celebrated by:

Exchanging reciprocal gifts of food and drink
Donating charity to the poor
Eating a celebratory meal
Public recitation, usually in synagogue, of the Scroll of Esther
Other customs include drinking wine, wearing of masks and costumes, and public celebration.
Purim is celebrated annually according to the Hebrew calendar on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar, the day following the victory of the Jews over their enemies.


Rosh Hashanah (rōSH (h)aˈSHōna) 

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year. The Biblical name for this holiday is Yom Teruah or the Feast of Trumpets. It is the first of the High Holy Days, which usually occur in the early autumn of the Northern Hemisphere. Rosh Hashanah is a two-day celebration, which begins on the first day of Tishrei. Tishrei is the first month of the Jewish civil year, but the seventh month of the ecclesiastical year.

Ruach HaKodesh (ROO-akh hak-KOH-desh)
Holy Spirit; the Holy Ghost. Occurs more than 90 times in the Brit Chadashah (New Testament). Note that kodesh is an adjective meaning holy that agrees with the noun it modifies.

Sabra (sah-bruh)

An informal slang term that refers to any Israeli Jew born on Israeli territory. The term first appeared in the 1930s, referring to Jews who had been born in Land of Israel. The term alludes to a tenacious, thorny desert plant, known in English as prickly pear, with a thick skin that conceals a sweet, softer interior. The cactus is compared to Israeli Jews, who are supposedly tough on the outside, but delicate and sweet on the inside.
Shaalu (shaw-al-loo)
Hebrew word for “pray”; to ask, inquire, to request, to find out
Literally, to end, cease, or rest. The Jewish Sabbath, a day of rest and spiritual enrichment beginning at sunset on Friday and ending at sunset on Saturday. It is the day on which Jews remember the traditional creation of the heavens and the earth in six days and the Exodus of the Hebrews, and look forward to a future Messianic Age. Shabbat observance entails refraining from work activities, often with great rigor, and engaging in restful activities to honor the day.
Shaliach (shah-LEE-akh)
A person sent with authority to carry out a mission. This person represents and speaks for the one who commissioned him. Other names include apostle, delegate, envoy, emissary, ambassador, and messenger. Plural shlichim ((Matt.10:2 / Mark 6:30 / Luke 22:14)
Shalom (shah- lohm)
Hebrew word used to mean both “hello” and “good-bye”; literally, it means “peace.” Shalom means completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord. Shalom comes from the root verb shalom meaning to be complete, perfect and full. In modern Hebrew the obviously related word Shelem means to pay for, and Shulam means to be fully paid.Shavuot (Shavu’ ot)
“Weeks.” The name of the festival that is counted from the day of the Omer, when the first sheath of the barley harvest was brought to the priest during Pesach (Passover). 
(also, Feast of Booths, Feast of Tabernacles) is a biblical Jewish holiday celebrated on the 15th day of the month of Tishrei, (varies from late September to late October). It is one of the three biblically mandated festivals on which Hebrews were commanded to make a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem. The holiday lasts seven days. The Hebrew word sukk?t is the plural of ?sukkah? or ?booth?, which is a walled structure covered with palm leaves. The sukkah is intended as a reminder of the fragile dwellings in which the Israelites dwelt during their 40 years of travel in the desert. Throughout the holiday, meals are eaten inside the sukkah and some people sleep there as well. On each day of the holiday, members of the household recite blessings and read the Torah. According to the prophet Zechariah, in the Messianic era Sukkot will become a universal festival and all nations will make pilgrimages annually to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast there. (Zech.14:16-19).

The name Tanakh is an acronym of the first Hebrew letter of each of the Masoretic Text’s three traditional subdivisions: Torah (“Teaching”, also known as the Five Books of Moses), Nevi?im (“Prophets”) and Ketuvim (“Writings”)-hence TaNaKh. The books of the Tanakh, or Old Covenant, were passed on by each generation.
Derived from a root that was used in the realm of archery, yareh. Yareh means to shoot an arrow in order to hit a mark. The mark or target, of course, was the object at which the archer was aiming. Consequently, torah, one of the nouns derived from this root, is, therefore, the arrow aimed at the mark, The target is the truth about God and how one relates to Him. The torah is, therefore, in the strict sense instruction designed to teach us the truth about God. Torah means direction,teaching, instruction,or doctrine. Usually refers to the first 5 books of the Tanakh or Old Testament.

Tefilah (tefi’la)
The Hebrew word for “prayer.” Sometimes used to specifically refer to the Jewish prayer recitations that are part of Judaism.

Todah Rabah (todá rabá)
(in Jewish cultures) Thank you; many thanks; thank you very much
Yom Kippur (yôm kiˈpo͝or)
known as Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year in Judaism. Based on Leviticus 16:29, its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jewish people traditionally observe this holy day with an approximate 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services.
Zayith (zay’ yith)
Olive tree; olive. Origin of uncertain derivation.


Zebach (zeh’ bakh)

1. Sacrifice (sacrifice, sacrifices of righteousness, sacrifices of strife, the covenant sacrifice, the passover, annual sacrifice, thank offering)