The Hebrew Bride
I love studying scripture through the lens of the Hebrew language because it is so much more descriptive and carries far more meaning than its English equivalent. For example, there are 11 Hebrew words that are translated wife or bride in English. So much meaning is lost when we do not dig out the meaning in the original language.
The Hebrew noun kallah means bride or daughter-in-law, depending upon whether this title is being spoken by the bridegroom or his father. Hence, both the Father and the Son call His set-apart overcomers by this one title. This word comes from a primitive root verb kalal that means to end, complete, or finish as well as to make perfect. There are two interpretations contained in this meaning.
First and most obvious, we are made perfect and complete in Christ. Christ’s completed work on Calvary was the finishing work required to make us perfect in His very image and likeness. Indeed, we are made complete and perfect in communion with Christ (Col 2:10). Consider also that the work of conforming His Bride into His own image is God’s final work before bringing created order to a completion.
Second, and a more challenging concept to comprehend, in Genesis 2:18, God declared, “It is not good (sufficient, satisfactory) that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper meet (suitable, adapted, complementary) for him.” (Amp) The first Adam is a representation of Christ, the second Adam. We hear the heart of the Father saying that His purpose for creating humanity was to make for His Son a Bride (kallah), a companion who would complete Him. She would be given His nature, conformed into His image, and sit with Him upon His throne. We see the fulfillment of this purpose manifest in Revelation 21:1-10. How inconceivable that God would choose to make Himself vulnerable to and completed by His created work.
The equivalent Aramaic words mean crown (noun) and putting a crown on one (verb). This crowning speaks of our joint heirship with Christ described in Romans 8:17. It also reveals our authority in Christ to administer His Kingdom on the earth. Authority is God’s authorization for us to represent Him and that authority carries with it power, which is the resources needed to exercise this authority. When Peter demonstrated God’s power and authority operating through him in powerful signs and wonders in Acts 3, he responded to the crowds’ amazement with, “Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?” (Acts 3:12 NIV) The purpose of our authority is to carry out the will and business of our Bridegroom, with whom we share a crown.
Like most ancient languages, Hebrew was originally pictographic, meaning that each letter began as a picture of something. For Kallah ,the K כַּ was originally a picture of a hand or palm, the L ל was originally a picture of a staff or an extended arm, and the H ה was originally a picture of someone with uplifted hands (these pictographs went through 4 stages of transformation over thousands of years that now bear little resemblance to their ancients forms). It suggests that kallah originally conveyed the meaning of one whose hands and arms were extended upward toward heaven. The double L’s or lameds in the center gives a double-portion message of one who possesses nothing (emptying oneself) except for her devotion to the one who captured her heart. We are a people who approach God with uplifted hands in prayer and worship as we fix our gaze on the source of our strength and provision.
Going back to kallah’s primitive root kalah, another aspect of this word comes into the light. It means to be filled up and then to be spent, waste away, make clean riddance, or come to an end. What a profoundly beautiful picture of us being filled with the fullness of Christ and conformed into His image. Our former independent identity wastes away until all that is left is us dwelling in the image and likeness of Jesus. This is the manifestation of John the Baptist’s declaration in John 3:30 that we must decrease and He must increase.
Jesus’ last word on Calvary’s cross was, “It is finished.” The Greek word for finished is teleo, which is the same word in Hebrew as kalah. I imagine Jesus speaking this declaration of completion (kalah) to His Bride-to-be (kallah). In the times of the writing of the New Testament, Hebrew documents were written in Greek because this was the official written language of the Roman empire, who presided over Israel at that time. Yet, Aramaic was the common spoken language. More than likely, Jesus spoke these words in Aramaic. The Aramaic word for finished is shelim, or the passive form of the word shalom (which means peace, completion, and fullness)[i]. What was finished? He was paying for His Bride’s dowry payment or mohar so she could be set free from her sin and made acceptable to His Father.
Like most Hebrew words, there is a lot of meaning packed into this one little word for bride called kallah.
[i] https://firm.org.il/learn/the-meaning-of-shalom/, October 6, 2019
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