So many of us continually “Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem”, so I thought I’d share this article I found. It brought a fuller dimension to a familiar phrase.
Ancient Hebrew Research Center
Biblical Hebrew E-Magazine
March, 2006 Issue #025
“Q: Will I better understand the Bible by learning Hebrew?
A: There is no argument that reading any work in its original language will provide a better understanding of that text. For instance, to really understand the works of Martin Luther it is best to read it in German and the works of Plato in Greek. This also applies to the Hebrew of the Tenach/Old Testament. Just as one example the phrase “sha’alu shalom yerushalam” is translated as “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” but much of the Hebraicness of the verse is missing. The word sha’alu is the verb sha’al meaning to ask or make a request and the suffix “u” identifies the subject of the verb as plural. The word shalom more specifically means completeness or to be in health and prosperity. The name Yerushalem is a combination of the word Yeru meaning teach. Shalem which is identical to shalom meaning completeness. The full Hebraic understanding of this verse is “All of you make a request that the ones who teach shalom/completeness will be given health and prosperity.”
It should also be understand that learning Hebrew will not always bring out the original intended meaning of a word or phrase. The problem is that we think from a western perspective and this is also true for those who speak Hebrew today. For instance the word tsadiyq is usually understood as “righteous” as identified in all modern lexicons and dictionaries of the Biblical Hebrew language. While we are comfortable using abstracts in our modern western minds, the Ancient Hebrews always understood things through the concrete. The word original concrete meaning of tsadiyq “to remain on the correct path”.
In summary, learning Hebrew will enhance ones understanding of the Biblical text but the Hebrew must be learned through ancient Hebraic mind and not the modern Hebrew mind.” (emphasis, mine)