As to the word 'teach', I was thinking it might be profitable to study this concept Biblically. A lot is said of 'teaching.' but can we learn something from the Word of God about teaching? Most here (in fact I just read this in a post from Brorog) know that we are commanded by God to teach. Many may assume that teaching is for 'teachers' or only for those 'with the gift of teaching.' That assumption fails to understand that teaching is commanded for all believers. Teaching is actually soemthing we all do in some way - for better or for worse... So then if we know we are to teach, the next question is how and when?
First off, the English language is a relatively new language and limited, so I have to show this in terms of another, more robust language - the language of the Bible.
There are five words in Hebrew that are used for the English word 'teach.' By understanding these words, we can get an idea of how we should teach. By examining these words in context of Scripture, we can see what we should teach. These principals are carried over in the Greek of the NT, so we'll be able to study some of that too.
In Matthew 22:37-38, Jesus names the principle commandment from which all others hang. In Matthew, and the parallel verses in Mark and Luke, Jesus is using the beginning of what is called 'The Shema." The Shema is as old as Deuteronomy chapter 6, where we find a commandment to teach..."You shall teach them (these words) diligently to your children..." The Hebrew word used in this passage is "shanan." It means to sharpen or use a whet stone. While some may think of this in military terms, we all know a dull knife will not cut. Children need to be 'sharpened' like arrows or swords. This shows a teaching method that shapens for preparation of conflict - or to teach by sharpening. Another passage demonstrates how we might use this method in regard to children:
(41) If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me.
Is it any wonder God referes to children as 'arrows' here?
(3) Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
(4) As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
(5) Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.
Another Hebrew word used for 'teach' is 'yarah.' Yarah is the root word for "Torah," which is translated into English as "Law," although a much better translation would be 'instruction.' Yarah means to shoot or throw. It means to teach by pointing the way.
Yarah is used in this passage. It can be better shown by answering these questions (regarding he passage),
- Who is going to do the teaching?
- What is being taught?
- How does the word 'yarah' used here relate to 'shoot' or 'throw'?
(10) And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.
(11) And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?
(12) Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.
(13) And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send.
(14) And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart.
(15) And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do.
Here's another one....
(11) I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths.
The next Hebrew term is 'lamad.' It is spelled with the Hebrew letters 'lamed-mem-dalet.' The reason I spelled it is that ancient Hebrew was written as pictographs. The pictograph for his word shows a shepards staff prodding in a flow through a door. It shows a method to teach by showing the way. Lamad is the word used below:
(1) Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers giveth you.
(2) Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
(3) Your eyes have seen what the LORD did because of Baalpeor: for all the men that followed Baalpeor, the LORD thy God hath destroyed them from among you.
(4) But ye that did cleave unto the LORD your God are alive every one of you this day.
(5) Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it.
(6) Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.
(7) For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for?
(8) And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?
(9) Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons;
What is being taught above, and why? Another usage -
(10) Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
(11) Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
(12) Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
(13) Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.
What motivated David to teach (lamed)?
Another Hebrew word is 'alaf.' It is spelled alef-lamed-fay. It means to be yoked together as in a pair of oxen. Historically, a young ox was yoked with a more experienced ox in order to show by example. "Alat" means to teach by example. Used here;
(33) If not, hearken unto me: hold thy peace, and I shall teach thee wisdom.
Note the effect of being 'unequally yoked.' -
(25) Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.
Finally there is the Hebrew word 'yasar.' (this is my favorite one becuase this is how God mostly taught me). It is spelled 'yod-samech-resh.' The pictograph shows a hand encircling a head. It literally means "to turn the head." English translations usually use the word 'chastise', 'punish', 'correct.' This method is to teach by discipline. Some places it is used:
(5) Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee.
(12) Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O LORD, and teachest him out of thy law;
(18) Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.
I guess I'm not the only stiff-necked child of God He has taught in this manner. "Yasar" is a very common word in the Bible. As children of God, we should not rise up against what they imply for us. God's chastening had is a loving and graceful one. We need to accept "yasar" form God as a gift. Now we know why resisting God's hand turning our heads is such a picture of rebellion - aka 'stiff-necked.'
Read the Gospels with these methods in mind. You'll see Jesus taught in these 5 ways, just as His Father.