Hebrew Highlights 129 – Teref
Shalom! This is Yuval Shomron coming to you from Jerusalem.
PSA 111:1-5, “Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart, in the company of the upright and in the assembly. Great are the works of the Lord; They are studied by all who delight in them. Splendid and majestic is His work; And His righteousness endures forever. He has made His wonders to be remembered; The Lord is gracious and compassionate. He has given food to those who fear Him; He will remember His covenant forever.”
Psalm 111 is one of those positive, encouraging, and glorious poems, which is pleasant to read, and full of truth. I’d like to focus on the promise, “He has given food to those who fear Him.” First of all, let’s notice that it does NOT say, “He has given food to those who show up in church every Sunday”, or even “those who work full time in the ministry.” Those who fear Him are those who honor Him and obey Him out of a loving awe.
Now, turning the knob just a little tighter on our word microscope, we should examine “food”. In this case, the Hebrew is not the simple and common “ochel”, which is the general term for food. Here, the word used is “teref”. This very specifically means wild meat. The root in Hebrew is also found in the term “toref”, which means carnivore.
It would be very fair to translate this sentence in the Psalm as “He has given ‘the lion’s share’ to those who fear Him.” The point is that God is giving us something full of protein and vitamins. Those who fear Him will get more than yogurt or a peanut butter sandwich.
Let’s explore a couple of other passages where “teref” is mentioned. PRO 31:10 & 15, “An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. She rises also while it is still night, and gives food to her household, and portions to her maidens.” Here we see the virtuous woman hard at work. She doesn’t get up 10 minutes before her family goes off to work and school and make them a bowl of corn flakes. She has to either go out and kill something, or at the very least, cut up and prepare the meat her husband brought home the day before. Another interesting point her is that her maidens, or servants, also get a portion of the same menu. They are neither given some less nourishing fare, nor sent out to forge for themselves.
In the same way, as Messiah’s bride, we are to bring in the “teref” to the temple, as we see in MAL 3:10, "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this," says the Lord of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven, and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.” Unlike some Eastern religions that sacrifice fruit or flowers to their gods, we are to bring in a costly and savory offering, and our loving Father rewards us in kind.
Just for fun, let’s say you were a king with two wives. After a long day of ruling and reigning, you come home to your family and sit down at the dining room table. One wife offers you a beautiful bowl of rose petals floating in water. The other wife brings you a sizzling t-bone steak. Which offering would you choose to eat?
You may already know that this idea of a robust stew is carried on in the New Testament, as we see in HEB 5:12-13, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.”
There is no doubt that the Word of God is full of strength and sustenance. He WILL remember His covenant to those who fear Him. And, He will never hand them a tofu salad, but a plate full of hot and tasty roast. After all, He IS NOT the cow of Nepal. He IS the Lion of Judah,.
Shalom, Shalom from Jerusalem