Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Flames of Love

Three Hebrew Words for Love

During this time of the year many people are looking for love. Some are looking in the right places and some are looking in the wrong places. Regardless, it may be helpful to know what it is that we are really looking for in a relationship.

In the Bible there is a book called Song of Songs. It basically is a collection of Hebrew love poems. In this Biblical book there are three different Hebrew words used to describe love.

While I was dating my wife there came a point in the relationship where I was considering marrying her. I was not sure if I was ready to make this very important decision. So, I asked my pastor for guidance and he gave me a book to read that shared three key things to look for to assess if it was time to get married. Having been married almost six years, I have found these three key things to be very important to a healthy and loving relationship.

Friendship
The first Hebrew word used to describe love in Song of Songs is "Raya," which means basically a friend, a companion or soulmate (Song of Songs 4:7). Basically, this special person should be our best friend.

Deep Affection and Commitment
The second Hebrew word is "Ahava," which means a deep affection. It is a desire that is unquenchable, a wish to be with the other person that makes your heart ache. Rob Bell, who produced a DVD named "Flame" that defines and illustrates love as three dimensional, states that "Ahava" is a love of the will and that it is more profound than just fleeting romantic feelings. It is a desire which leads a person to make a decision to join their life to another forever. It is what makes things last. It is the commitment involved in making a relationship work. Here we see that love is very much a choice as much as it is a connection. The lovers of Song of Songs state that Ahava is as strong as death, that many rivers cannot quench "Ahava" (Song of Songs 8:7).

Passion
The third Hebrew word used in the Hebrew love poems is "Dod." Dod means to carouse, rock or to fondle (Song of Songs 1:2). Dod is the passion and the romantic feelings that are a part of a love relationship, the physical, sexual part.

Bell describes these three ingredients of love as three distinct flames. Each component that we have is a small flame. Some people may just settle for the Dod flame in their relationship. Well, this is only a small piece of the whole of love. We can keep coming back to this flame but alone it never really satisfies. Our souls ache for more. The key is to have all three flames burning as one big flame. This big flame can warm our soul and satisfy us. Anything less is less than what we were intended for. The good news is that if you are in a relationship and one of these three ingredients is missing you can still, many times, light the flames by focusing on them.


Assessment
The key here is that you at least can be honest with yourself about what you have or do not have in your relationship. And if you are not in a relationship that you can at least know what to look for. When I finished reading about these three loves six years ago I realized that I had all three in my relationship and I couldn't wait to read them to my then future wife. I asked her if she believed that we had all three types of love. She said, "yes." When I heard that answer I decided to ask her to marry me right that second. Right then and there I blurted out, "Will you marry me?!"

She said, "Yes" and we got married a few months later. We have been happily married since. We are still working on keeping those flames lit all the time. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves to take a date night without the kids and that begins to light the flames of friendship and passion. In a world where love is defined in so many different ways it is encouraging to know that I can hold on to a definition of love that doesn't leaving me falling down like a deck of cards. A definition that brings me hope and warmth for my soul.

To visit Nooma.com and check out the DVD "Flame" that illustrates these three definitions of love in a creative way click here. If you are interested in reading more relationship articles you can check out the list of articles below.

Relationship Articles:
Building a Marriage That Works
How To Find a Healthy Partner
5 Tips to Cultivating a Healthy Relationship
Healthy Relationships vs. Unhealthy Relationships

12 comments:

Crystal Espinoza said...

This is beautiful and well written. I recently got engaged and my Fiance and I spoke about these similar topics before he asked me to marry him. I can't wait to share this piece with him. Thank you!

Eddie Zacapa said...

Your welcome and congratulations!

Eddie

Anonymous said...

I'm writing a Bible study about sex for women and had noted in my Bible from a sermon that 'dod' (SS 1:2) means "to carouse, to rock, to fondle." My concordances do not show this. Can you give me the reference you used so I can verify and also use this? It's a powerful definition, but I don't want to use it if it is not accurate.

After reading this site, I think his sermon came from here! I remember we had a flame video that day also.

Thank you!
Jennifer Brown
www.hopeintheLord.org
jennifer@hopeintheLord.org

Eddie Zacapa said...

Jennifer,

After looking up Song of Songs 1:2 in Strong's Concordance the definition it gives of "dod" is to boil. The word "better" in the same verse is "towb" which can mean in the wildest sense. Basically we can derive that we are talking about two lovers boiling in the wildest sense. To translate into the English language in simple terms we can say "to carouse, to rock, to fondle." This is implied. Bell may be using these words as he breaks it down for his readers and viewers. The point is "dod" is used for the word love and it's meaning is different from the other two uses of the word love (ahava and raya). Here in the use of "dod" it is clear that sensuality is implied. Hope this helps.

Eddie

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to thank you for putting this down in words for me. I watched Rob Bell's videos when I was in high school and recently bought the Flame video because I found it most applied to my heart. I am thankful for your website because you have listed where each Hebrew word is introduced. I realized this post was created awhile ago, but I just thought I would express my gratitude.

Eddie Zacapa said...

Anonymous - Thanks for expressing your gratitude. It is nice to know people are still reading some of these older posts. I am glad to hear that you found this helpful.

Eddie

Anonymous said...

i am a young teenager, and it's very important for me to understand these while living the way we want to live (the way God wanted us) it's so nice to hear about it form otehr people. it's very important, and these days me and friends don't often talk about these subjects

Eddie Zacapa said...

Anonymous young teenager,

So good to hear from you. It is great that you are seeking out this information and thinking about these topics. Thanks for your feedback. It encourages me that young people are considering these things and wanting to live for God.

Jol said...

Hi Hi want to say that tho' it's a old post, but today God prompted me on this word "Ahava" and i was glad to have read your posting. Really blessed by your sharing. :)

keep sharing!!

Eddie Zacapa said...

Thanks Jol! What a blessing to hear that you were blessed by reading the post.

Stacy said...

I want to thank you too, very interesting, I am looking up all my favorite verses in Hebrew and finding new insight daily. This will help in my marriage as well, hoping my husband will delve into this with me so we can grow closer in our walk with our Creator and eachother. BLESSINGS!

Eddie Zacapa said...

Stacy - I am so encouraged by your comments. I pray that you and your husband continue to draw closer to the Lord.