Word Study OT – Meditate

Word Study – The word translated “Meditate” in Josh 1:8

Grasping God’s Word Assignment 9-3

Not this kind of meditation!
Not this kind of meditation!
  1. Strong’s number: 1897.
  2. The Hebrew Word transliterated “Hagah” is used 24 times in the OT.
  3. The New American Standard (NAS) translates it as:
    • declare (1 time): Psalm 35:28
    • devise (2 times):  Psalm 38:12,  Proverbs 24:2
    • devising (1 time): Psalm 2:1
    • growls (1 time): Isaiah 31:4
    • make a sound (1 time): Psalm 115:7
    • meditate (5 times): Joshua 1:8, Psalm 63:6, Psalm 77:12, Psalm 143:5, Isaiah 33:18
    • meditates (1 time): Psalm 1:2
    • moan (3 times): Isaiah 16:7,  Isaiah 38:14, Jeremiah 48:31
    • moan sadly (1 time): Isaiah 59:11
    • mutter (2 times): Job 27:4, Isaiah 8:19
    • mutters (1 time): Isaiah 59:3
    • ponders (1 time): Proverbs 15:28
    • utter (2 times): Psalm 71:24, Proverbs 8:7
    • uttering (1 time): Isaiah 59:13
    • utters (1 time): Psalm 37:30
  4. Context – one instance in Joshua but the 23 others are confined to the wisdom books – mainly Psalms – and the prophets – mainly Isaiah.  Used about people in connection with God and good plans, people in connection with evil and evil plans, a lion over its prey.  Doves can do it and idols cannot.
  5. Semantic range of the Hebrew word transliterated hagah: I think this word is used to describe any deep connection between a thinking being (including animals) and the object upon which the word is used.  It sometimes includes considerable emotion (moan).  It is used in both a positive and negative sense – people can “hagah” and use it to work evil (3 times) or good or to be taken up with evil or good.  It also carries expression with it in 14 instances out of the 24 – declare, growls, make a sound, moan (sadly), mutter(s), utter(s)(ing).  The word “Meditate” doesn’t capture the expressive nuances of the Hebrew word “Hagah”.
  6. In Joshua 1:8 I prefer the words “deeply connect” to “meditate”:

“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall deeply connect with it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”

Note also the connection with speaking it out in the earlier part of the verse.  This suggests another way of saying “hagah” in this context, i.e. “allow it to well up and out”:

“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall allow it to well up and out of you day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”

Maybe we can put both of the meanings together (with some danger of overcooking the word):

“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall deeply connect with it and allow it to well up and out of you day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”

Not just meditation but expression arising from it as well.

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