If we can learn to see things as the Eastern mind sees them, we will understand much more from the Bible which was written by Easterner to Easterners. We Westerners think in the abstract while they think in pictures--in concrete terms. Lois Tverberg is an excellent teacher in helping us to do just that. This excerpt from one of her earlier blog posts on her website ourrabbijesus.com, is a great illustration. Read the rest of the post here.
"As an example, recently I shared about the Hebrew word “shema.” It has a primary meaning of “hear,” but actually also means “pay attention,” “respond,” and even “obey.”
I told the story of a friend of mine who shouted and shouted at her kids to come in from playing outside, but they completely ignored her. Sighing, she said to me, “Oh, Lois, my kids have a hearing problem.” But since she knew a little Hebrew, I responded, “No, they actually have a shema-ing problem.”
Notice what I just said here, about “having a shema-ing problem.” I’m guessing you didn’t need to translate. You simply got my point, and in a sophisticated way — that the kids have a hearing/responding/obedience problem. Believe it or not, you just used the word “shema” to think in Hebrew. You added a newword-concept to your thinking, rather than forcing yourself to replace “shema” with an English equivalent.
Language purists might wince, because I’m not conjugating the verb correctly, and I even added “ing” to the end of it. But my point isn’t to teach you grammar, it’s to help you think with Hebrew word-ideas. So that when you read that Jesus said, “He who has ears, let him shema,” you catch his drift, as his first disciples did."