Monday, September 18, 2017

Word study: Holy days and feasts from Israel Biblical Studies

The Greatest Appointment

In Leviticus Chapter 23 we find a list of holy days and feasts. The Hebrew word used to describe them is מּוֹעֵד (moʽed), but this is no mere festival nor even a day simply set apart from other days. Its root – יעד (yaʽad) – has the meaning of setting an appointed time. In this context, the word מּוֹעֵד means nothing short of an appointment with God, set by God himself.

The Circle

Another word used to describe these appointed times in Hebrew is חַג (chag). Its root – חגג (chagag) – has the meaning of something circular, indicating the cyclical, repetitive nature of the annual holidays. It is also used to describe physically going around in circles, often around a holy site. Like anniversaries, these appointed times are supposed to be celebrated every year – whenever they “come around” on the calendar.
 In the upcoming Jewish holiday season, you may hear people around the world saying “Chag Sameach” (חג שמח) to each other, which means “have a happy holiday”.