Levav - Heart, Mind
by Lois Tverberg
In Hebrew, the heart (lev or levav) is the center of human thought and spiritual life. We tend to think that the heart refers mainly to our emotions, but in Hebrew it also refers to one's mind and thoughts as well.
Many cultures assumed that the heart was the seat of intelligence, and without an advanced understanding of physiology, it makes sense. The heart is the only moving organ in the body, and strong emotions cause the heartbeat to race. When the heart stops beating, a person is dead. Because the Hebrews were a concrete people who used physical things to express abstract concepts, the heart was the metaphor of the mind and all mental and emotional activitiy.
Other interesting physical terms are also used - when we read "inmost being" the Hebrew often is literally "kidneys" (Prov. 23:16), and the life was understood to be in the blood (Genesis 9:4).
Understanding that the word "heart" often meant mind and thoughts often helps clarify the meaning of passages. For instance:
that I give you today are to be upon your hearts." (Deut. 6:6)
One more lesson we can learn from
the meaning of heart is from the greatest commandment, to "love the
Lord with all your heart." It means we are to use all of our thoughts
as well as our emotions to love the Lord. In the Gospels the phrase "and
all your mind" is there to emphasize that fact, but from Moses' time
it would have been understood that way.
Paul says, we must "take captive every thought to make it obedient to
Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:5).
As Paul says, we must "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Lois A. Tverberg, Ph.D., OurRabbiJesus.com. All rights
reserved. This article is copyrighted and may not be redistributed
without the express written consent of the author. To request
permission for use, contact Tverberg@OurRabbiJesus.com.