Barry Newman's Blog

February 28, 2010

“The Heart” in the Old Testament (part III)

Filed under: The Heart — barrynewman @ 9:51 pm

Usages of lev or levav

The Physical “Organ”

In a few instances, maybe 18 at most, the underlying reference seems to be to the physical organ we know of as the heart or a part of the body associated with the organ, such as the chest or what lies beneath the chest, or even the body itself.  The chest is beaten; items are placed upon the chest; the chest is pierced; the chest of Leviathan is stone-like; an arrow comes out of the back; the heart pounds; there is a lining to the heart, chest or lungs; there are walls of the heart, chest or lungs; the heart (or body?) is strengthened by bread; the whole heart (or body?) is sick. On two of these occasions, once – Judah and once – Israel, these nations are treated as though they were human bodies.

Metaphorical Usage

About 13 times, there is a metaphorical usage with “in the heart of’ meaning something like “in the midst of”. References are made to: in the midst of the sea and in the midst of the heavens. There is one occasion where “heart” is used as part of a code.  There are other instances, not included in the 13, where “the heart” is referred to as the heart of a city or a nation, these corporately referring to the people of that city or nation.


We would classify references made to a god’s heart, an animal’s heart, Satan’s heart and the heart of God, as anthropomorphic, given that the bulk of references apply to human kind. There are about 33 such instances with all but six relating to God. His heart can be grieved, he says in his heart, he refers to what is and what is not in his heart, he determines according to his heart, his heart will reside in the temple, he sets his heart on man, he is wise in heart, he has hidden matters in his heart, he is very strong of heart, he has thoughts in his heart, he has plans in his heart, he will act with all his heart, he remembers in his heart, affliction does not come from his heart, his heart can turn and his heart cries out.


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