What exactly is “Knowledge”?
Knowledge. It must be important because the term shows up some 150 plus times in all of the biblical texts combined. What is it about “knowledge” that YHVH wants us to know? Why is this term so important that it has to be repeated for us, over and over again in scripture?
I would like to suggest the following for all of us to consider in our study of the Divine and Holy Word of Yah.
In Psalm 25:14, we read the following:
The secret of Yehovah is for those who fear Him and He will make them know His covenant.
In Hebrew, the term “secret” is Samech Vav Dalet. This Hebrew root gives us words and concepts that convey something that is “hidden,” “secret,” “of intimate contact,” “of a confidential discussion.”
In the higher levels of Judaism studies, the word is referred to as “Sod” pronounced with a long “o” as in “oh.” Sod is the fourth level of Hebrew scripture research and it deals with an intimate secret knowledge of Yehovah (for some – Yahweh).
The first level is “P’shat,” which refers to the simple meaning of a biblical text. “Simple” or P’shat DOES NOT mean literal and so do not make the mistake of thinking along these lines. The next level is Remez, which is a subtle hint to something greater in scope, kind of like someone saying one thing but winking his or her eye at you as if to say, “there’s more to this story, right? Wink, wink.” The next level is Drash, which takes Remez to a deeper investigation or inquiry. Drash is usually connected to a parable or metaphor, where the symbolism of “A” is hinting at a deeper meaning and level in “B.” Sod, is a secret.
Returning back to Psalm 25:14, we learn that the gift of intimacy with Yah, which we all should strive for, is actually reserved for those who fear him! In this, He will make his covenant known to the one who is truly seeking His Divine Truth.
All through my study of scripture, the one thing that really stands out for me is this: FEAR and KNOWLEDGE very often appear next to each other, as they are NOT mutually exclusive terms but rather, they are like two sides of the same coin. One side is the FEAR of Yehovah and the other side is the KNOWLEDGE of Yehovah. They are connected concepts – the FEAR OF YEHOVAH and the KNOWLEDGE OF YEHOVAH. I encourage you to do a search on this matter and I can assure you, you will see for yourself!
To Learn About Someone
In Hebrew, the term that is used for getting to know someone, in a personal, intimate way is from the Hebrew root Yud Dalet Ayin. From this root, we get concepts like, “to know,” “to experience,” “to understand,” “to discover,” “to realize,” “to grasp an idea.” To learn how someone is, you have to get to know him or her. This is the idea of the Hebrew root Yud Dalet Ayin. Between a man and a woman, knowledge of one another is taken into the realm of intimacy.
Knowledge as a “Mother”
A mother is one that knows her child. Have you ever heard that idea expressed? It is actually quite common. It is probably because a mother generally possesses a high level of intuition, where as men are more directed to linear thought and logic.
I oftentimes compare knowledge to that of a mother of sorts, kind of like the Ruach haKodesh (the Spirit of the Holy One) who guides our thinking by oftentimes giving us brief glimpses of the Father’s Holiness, His character, His nature, and His logic and emotions. If knowledge is like a mother, then knowledge can ostensibly give birth, to understanding. Understanding is an interesting study in and of itself. However, at its simple level, understanding derives from the Hebrew word binah, from Bet Yud Nun Heh. Interestingly, the Hebrew root “to build” – Bet Nun Heh is very similar to “binah,” which is insight and understanding. No doubt, there is a likely connection between building something and having the understanding to build something and it all starts with knowledge, which is like a mother, at least as I see things. Scripture supports this kind of thinking. Take a look at Proverbs 9:1-6 –
Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn out her seven pillars; she has prepared her food, she has mixed her wine; she has also set her table; she has sent out her maidens, she calls from the tops of the heights of the city: “Whoever is naive, let him turn in here!” To him who lacks understanding she says, “Come, eat of my food, and drink of the wine I have mixed. Forsake folly and live, and proceed in the way of understanding.”
On this principle, I find it interesting that Sha’ul (Paul) in the Brit haChadasha makes this statement in Colossians 1:9-10:
For this reason also, since the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His Will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Master to please in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of Elohim….
The Beginning of Knowledge is the Fear of YHVH
Going the other direction, I see knowledge as the birth child to something much, much greater. I see knowledge as having a creator or progenitor. Let us consult scripture for some understanding in this matter
In Proverbs 1:7, the beginning or Resheet of knowledge is the Fear of Yehovah. In other words, knowledge, of the kind that we love from Yah is the offspring of Yud Resh Alef, which is the Hebrew root for a concept that means to be in Fear, to be Afraid, to be Dreaded, and to acknowledge that Yah is awesome in power, in might, in strength, in authority.
Allow me to use this illustration: if someone greater than you has the power and the authority to ruin or destroy your life, your best objective would be, I would think, to plead for mercy and kindness. We see this all the time in the movies! The bad guy, when he is caught, pleads for mercy from the good guy, who has the power to destroy. This is why the beginning of knowledge IS the FEAR of Yehovah. He – Yehovah (or Yahweh) has the power and the authority to ruin you, destroy you, or show you unmerited kindness, favor, and mercy. Thus, we could say that the FEAR of YAH is in those that show humility. If you show arrogance and exaltation in the face of the One who has the power to take away your life, I would think that you would exhibit a measure of humility.
As a Tour Guide in Israel, I oftentimes relate the following true story that took place between two men in early July 1187 in the Land of Israel. After a gruesome military battle between the Crusader forces of King Guy of Lusignan and the Muslim forces of Sultan Saladin on a hot July 4th day in 1187, at the Horns of Hattin in northern Israel, the battle came to an end with the defeat and destruction of these Christian armies of the Third Crusade.
The exhausted captives were brought to Saladin’s tent, where King Guy of Lusignan was given a goblet of iced water as a sign of Saladin’s generosity and mercy. He drank and then passed the goblet to his fellow captive Renaud de Châtillon. Saladin allowed the old man (Renaud was about 60 years old) to drink but shortly afterwards said that he had not offered water to Renaud and thus was not bound by the Muslim rules of hospitality. When Saladin accused Renaud of being an oath breaker, Renaud replied, “Kings have always acted thus. I did nothing more.” Saladin looked him in the eyes and then immediately executed him, beheading him with his sword. Guy of Lusignan fell to his knees at the sight of the headless corpse of his comrade and showed humility and fear before Saladin, and Saladin spared his life.
My point is this: without Yud Resh Alef – the reverential FEAR of Yehovah, the pursuit of spiritual knowledge is worthless. It becomes merely a wayward child or perhaps even a stranger to Yehovah – carnal and secular. This is what YHVH warned Adam and Havah against in the Garden of Eden, NOT to eat of that tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which is exactly the same thing that Moses also commanded all Israel to strictly avoid as recorded in Deuteronomy 30:19!In the Garden, not only did Adam NOT exhibit the fear of YHVH but also it is clear that his wife did NOT exhibit the FEAR of YHVH, by putting the pursuit of spiritual knowledge ahead of the FEAR of YHVH. Thus, Havah allowed herself to be snookered and convinced by the Adversary of old that it was in fact something quite beneficial to do, to eat of the fruit of that tree! In agreement, both Havah and Adam were taken into the lie that there is great spiritual knowledge just waiting to be picked off that tree! But the Adversary conveniently did not tell them what it would cost, to give up the FEAR of YHVH! And today, we are still living with the results of that belief system.
In the world, today, Knowledge is Power and some people will pay BIG MONEY for knowledge on many different subjects. Of course, secret spiritual knowledge, specifically, is really something and in very high demand! And especially, if someone should come along and say,
“Here is the real deal: now, IF you are spiritually mature enough and IF you are a real truth seeker, you too can take hold of the truly Spiritual teachings of YHVH,” I am going to respond to that and say, “I’m sorry, but access to true spiritual knowledge of YHVH is only available to those who first take hold of the key of the Fear of Yehovah and insert that key into the door that is called humility or Yir’at Yehovah (the Fear of Yehovah),” because scripture teaches this principle in places such as Proverbs 1:7.
As I understand things, gaining biblical knowledge is NOT…I REPEAT is NOT, about getting into a spiritual elevator and pushing the button that says, “Going Up.” No, no, no. That’s incorrect. Scripture says Yir’at Yehovah Resheet Da’at. It is not the elevator button that says, “Going Up” that we want to push. Rather, it is the elevator button that says, “Going Down” that is the real direction towards access to the true Kingdom principles as they are found in all of the written scripture of the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. This is the paradox!
If you want to go up, you must first go down. Yir’at Yehovah or the Fear of Yehovah of Proverbs 1:7 is clearly pointing us to the principles between exaltation (going up) and humility (going down). If we desire spiritual exaltation, we must first start with spiritual, heartfelt humility. YHVH is greater than we are! He is our King and we are His People. Never, ever forget this.
Conversely, it is NOT THROUGH EXALTATION and SPIRITUAL ELEVATION AND DEEP MEDITATIONS of the soul towards the higher and hidden secrets of Yah that we are going to get an up-close view of Him and to know His heart, His character, His Wisdom, His Love. The pursuit of the true spiritual knowledge of the Torah is not through the pursuit of knowledge in and of itself, however one may define the term. Rather, access to true spiritual knowledge is only through exercising our soul in the room that is called HUMILITY.
If, in our pursuit of knowledge, we try to bypass Yir’at Yehovah – the FEAR of YHVH, then all that is left is in fact, a bastard child called knowledge and this serves us no purpose. First, we must start with FEAR.
Elevation of the Soul is stuff that is at the core of all man-made religion and it is not the teaching of divine scripture at any level that is above the floor! We’ve got to go below ground level to find true biblical knowledge. There is something much, much higher than ourselves and we will only find that higher authority and power (Abba-Ima Yehovah), by going lower and lower.
In the Hebrew text of Isaiah 30:20, we find something very, very interesting. Read along with me, in a Hebrew Bible, if you will.
“…V’lo Yicnayf Od Moreycha.” (“and your teachers will no longer have wings”)
We can recognize from the Hebrew that the false teachers of Israel were described as having, in a sense, “clipped wings.” That’s the P’shat or simple meaning of the text. Understanding this P’shat, we can now raise the bar of the interpretation: by seeking humility first, we will no longer find ourselves sitting under the spread out wings of these exalted teachers. Their wings will be “clipped” and they will not be able to fly or if you will, exalt themselves anymore! However, if we pursue the FEAR of YHVH only then, we will receive an invitation to come and sit under the wings of the Shekinah and our eyes will learn to SEE and FEAR our real teachers and this FEAR is accessed only through humility and going down and not by spreading out our (kanphot) – our wings and going up, to show off all of our “Ivory Tower” glory and learning and knowledge, like a bunch of colorful peacocks! Scripture, points this out over and over again – the battle lines are always drawn in scripture between exaltation and humility.
The Adversary loves the pursuit of exaltation and elevation (see Matthew 4:8-9) but Yehovah loves humility (Isaiah 66:2), which is the direct byproduct of truly “seeing” and understanding Him. We will know the true servants of Yah by the fruit of the Spirit in their lives, which we know encompasses love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control and a desire and willingness to serve and give good counsel with compassion and forgiveness and all manner of things like this.
So, a question: is this or that philosophy or ministry “true” or not? It can be answered with a simple investigative look into a person or ministry’s manifestations of the fruit of the Spirit. This will tell us immediately what they are really made of. What a person teaches or what knowledge they appear to possess, it matters not! In Hebrew we say, az mah? (So what?). Simply smell their fruit. If it smells rotten, it likely is rotten because it lacks the Fear of Yehovah.
The higher that one wants to go, the lower that one must go and then those that first go down are also those that are given an invitation from on high, to go up! Again, reiterating, if we seek to first go up without first going down; that is, without first entering through Yir’at YHVH, we remain guilty of true earthly carnality, proving ourselves to be thieves who are trying to enter the Kingdom of Elohim by some other way, as Yeshua said in John 10:1. Again, scripture says, Yir’at YHVH Resheet Da’at – the Fear of Yehovah is the first or beginning or the Head of Knowledge (Proverbs 1:7).
Along these lines, remember what Ya’acov said in 3:13-18 –
Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, and demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in shalom by those who make shalom.
But, like the adversary of old, who logically quoted scripture to Yeshua, from Psalm 91, encouraging him to jump from the pinnacle of Har haBayit (the Temple), this same Adversary will take advantage of any perceived weakness in a person and make that one question Yehovah by saying to the person, “Has Elohim really said…? “(Fill in the blank).
Remember the agenda of the forces of the surrounding darkness. They want to be elevated and worshipped and honored (see Isaiah Chapter 14). So, it makes sense that the Adversary would offer a taste of that forbidden fruit of spiritual exaltation to you or me or anyone! I will not take a bite of it. I just cannot do this. My learning in scripture tells me to first descend to meet Yehovah, not first ascend to meet Him. Should any of this surprise us? Not at all. We are told that the adversary has the ability to transform himself into a messenger of light:
2 Corinthians 11:14 – And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their deeds.
You may come into contact with some teaching or doctrine or idea that looks good, feels good, and sounds good but in the end, it could very well spell death and destruction for you. And what did King Solomon say about this?
There is a way, which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. (Proverbs 14:12)
To investigate if some teaching, philosophy, or ideology is true, again, the simple test is to examine those who are espousing the material, the ones writing the material. If the fruit of the Spirit doesn’t look or smell right on the tree, if they are trying to go UP in elevation and not DOWN in humility, then I must agree with Proverbs 14:12:
There is a way, which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death
I close with these words from 1 Peter 5:6-8:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of Elohim, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
Avi ben Mordechai