Barry Newman's Blog

March 13, 2010

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

Filed under: The Heart — barrynewman @ 8:59 pm

All the Heart

There are about 42 references to “all the heart”, “all” being co-joined with lev or levav.  A person has not turned or turns or is to return to Yahweh with all the heart.  One walks before or does not walk before Yahweh with all one’s heart.  Yahweh is or is to be sought, served, loved or trusted with all one’s heart.   His commandments are to be obeyed with all one’s heart.  One looks for favour from Yahweh and gives thanks to him with all one’s heart. One may know with all the heart.  God himself wishes to do good with all his heart.  To react towards Yahweh with all one’s heart, that is, with one’s whole heart, is to have one’s affections, desires, dispositions, attitudes, interests, and loyalty centred upon him.  “Wholeheartedly” is an appropriate way to describe such a response.  There are about 15 references to “the perfect heart” or “the heart that is not perfect”.  The sentiment expressed seems to be similar to what is intended by “all the heart”.


The most common main categories in Table 1 are: the internally active heart (mental processes), the emotional heart (emotional states) and the unrighteous heart (a morally deficient state).

Of the larger books of the Old Testament, the most concentrated occurrences of lev or levav  taking account of the different word lengths of these books, are to be found in: Proverbs, Psalms, Deuteronomy, 2 Chronicles, Jeremiah, 1 Kings, Job, Exodus, Isaiah, Ezekiel and 1 Samuel, roughly in descending order.  The total occurrences for these words in these books are:  98, 136, 51, 44, 66, 37, 30, 47, 49, 46 and 30, respectively.  Of the medium sized books, Ecclesiastes is the most concentrated with lev or levav occurring 42 times, the concentration being higher than that for Proverbs.  Hosea, with lev or levav occurring 10 times has a concentration near that of 2 Chronicles.  Daniel, with lev, levav or their Aramaic forms occurring 15 times, has a concentration approximating that of Isaiah.  Of all the occurrences of lev or levav approximately one third are levav and two thirds are lev.  Of those books mentioned in the previous paragraph, the ones with the percentage of occurrences of levav greater than 50% are: Deuteronomy (92%), 2 Chronicles (70%) and 1 Kings (65%).  The books mentioned above, with a percentage of levav occurrences less than 15% are: Ezekiel (13%), Jeremiah (12%), Hosea 10%, Ecclesiastes (2%), Exodus (2%) and Proverbs (2%).


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