Barry Newman's Blog

March 9, 2010

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

Filed under: The Heart — barrynewman @ 11:50 pm

The Human Heart (cont.)

The Wise/understanding/knowing Heart

Over half of the references to heart in the context of wisdom, knowledge or understanding are to be found in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. The books of Exodus and Job also have a significant share.  The heart may obtain wisdom, wisdom may be put within the heart or the heart may simply be wise or belong to a wise man.  Conversely, a heart may lack wisdom, indeed be foolish, and lack sense and God may take away wisdom from the heart.  Similarly, the heart may understand, learn, apply itself to understanding, be enlarged (as in gaining understanding) or does not have understanding, be fat or dull or lose understanding. A heart may know, one might know with all one’s heart and soul or a word may be in one’s heart. The heart may be a searching heart, looking for wisdom or applying itself to wisdom or understanding.

The Turning Heart and the Heart that can be Influenced

The heart sometimes turns away from God, even after other gods, needs to turn back to God and occasionally does so. A person may turn to God with all the heart, even all the heart and soul. God turns the heart.  The heart may not turn to God, not turning aside from its ungodly ways.  A heart may simply change its point of view.  A heart may be spoken of as a tender, fleshy heart, a heart that can be affected or spoken to.  A heart may be persuaded or something simply comes upon a man’s heart and is then in his heart and his heart may then impel him.  The heart can be tempted or deceived.  Matters are put within the H or written upon the H.

The Heart of Noble Character, the Unsettled Heart and the Heart that issues in Speech

There is a heart that is courageous, a strong heart, a heart that stands, a heart as the heart of a lion.  God may be the rock of one’s heart.  The heart may trust another or keep trust with another.  The heart may be settled, steadfast unswerving or free from anxiety with matters not being laid to heart.  An unsettled heart may be a heart that is confused, hasty, restless or timid.  One may give thanks with all the heart.  The heart can teach.  Speech may come from the heart or the heart may burn to speak. The heart can speak perverse things.

The Heart that is the Mind or the Inner Being and the Heart – the Person

Sometimes the heart seems to refer to somewhat unspecified aspects of what we would call the mind with its dispositions, interest, attitudes and fears etc.  God instructs that tender speech be made to the heart of Jerusalem.  The heart of a man is to become the heart of an animal.  There can come into being a new heart or a different heart.  A heart can reflect what the person is really like and it can determine how life will be lived.  A heart can be trusted in, won over or have a similar attitude and resolve to that of another.  The heart may stand for the person and a suitable translation might simply be “he”, “she” or similar.  Such a person lives or if the heart fails, dies.  In many of the instances above, regardless of the categorisation given there, the translator may see the use of the word “heart” as referring so fundamentally to a significant aspect of the person, in the context given, that a personal pronoun is chosen in the translation without any reference to the word “heart”.  A person is what their heart is.


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