In the biblical text, the word for FATHER is אָב ʾāv – Phonetically: awb.
You may know it as ABBA.
It uses the first letter in the Hebrew alphabet א, Aleph. This makes sense since the primary meaning of father in the text is to “begetter” (to procreate – to generate – to cause to exist) – the one that starts it.
ʾāb (awb) or “father” is a central theme in the text. It occurs 1191 times (some frequency lists have it at 1210). As a noun, there are only 12 words used more in the Hebrew text:
- כלל) כֹּל ) all = 5415
- בן) בֵּן־ 1 ) son = 4942
- ם C אל) אֱ ) God = 2602
- ־ 1 E מלך) מֶלֶ ) king = 2530
- ארץ) אֶֶרץ ) land, earth = 2505
- יום) יוֹם־ 1 ) day = 2303
- אישׁ) אִישׁ ) man = 2187
- פנה) פֶָּנה ) before, face = 2128
- בית) בִַּית־ 1 ) house = 2046
- עמם) עם ) people = 1867
- יד) יד ) hand = 1627
- דבר) דָּבָר ) word, speech = 1454
It is even used more than the pronoun “I.” There are only 7 verbs used more than it is. Like I said, a central theme in the text.
Father has many meanings in the text – it has many subtle meanings:
- The literal father
Genesis 2:24 (CJB)
24 This is why a man is to leave his father and mother
and stick with his wife, and they are to be one flesh.
- Someone genetically tied to others:
Genesis 28:13 (CJB)
13 Then suddenly Adonai was standing there next to him; and he said,
“I am Adonai, the God of Avraham your [grand]father and the God of Yitz’chak.
The land on which you are lying I will give to you and to your descendants.
- It can refer to the person that started a family trade or profession
Genesis 4:20 (CJB)
20 ‘Adah gave birth to Yaval;
he was the ancestor of those who live in tents and have cattle.
- It can refer to someone that acts in the “role” of father to those in need
Job 29:16 (CJB)
16 I was a father to the needy,
and I investigated the problems of those I didn’t know.
- Teachers are often called fathers
- Husbands are called fathers
Jeremiah 3:4 (CJB)
4 Didn’t you just now cry to me,
‘My father, you are my friend from my youth’? —
- Advisors are called fathers
Genesis 45:8 (CJB)
8 (iii) So it was not you who sent me here,
but God; and he has made me a father to Pharaoh,
lord of all his household and ruler over the whole land of Egypt.
- The young David addressed King Saul as “my father”
1 Samuel 24:11 (CJB)
11 Moreover, my father, look! Here in my hand you see the corner of your cloak. By the fact that I only cut off a piece of your cloak and didn’t kill you, you can see and understand that I have no plan to do harm or rebel, and that I haven’t sinned against you — even though you are seeking every chance you get to take my life.
These are some of the meanings.
The father is the central authority figure in the next after God himself. Fathers are to be:
Feared – Honored – Respected
If this sounds familiar, it should. We are to fear and honor our Father in heaven.
We learn how to Fear, Honor, and Respect our Father God,
by fearing, honoring, and respecting our earthly fathers.
It is our proving ground.
Malachi 1:6 (CJB)
6 “A son honors his father and a servant his master.
But if I’m a father, where is the honor due me?
and if I’m a master, where is the respect due me? —
says Adonai-Tzva’ot to you cohanim who despise my name.
You ask, ‘How are we despising your name?’
Fathers teach children how to be faithful to God:
Isaiah 38:19 (CJB)
19 The living, the living— they can thank you, as I do today;
fathers will make their children know about your faithfulness.
The father has a duty – a command given to him in the Torah of God . . .
It is PART the MOST IMPORTANT COMMAND in the text:
Deuteronomy 6:7 (CJB)
7 and you are to teach them carefully to your children.
You are to talk about them
- when you sit at home,
- when you are traveling on the road,
- when you lie down and
- when you get up.
When aren’t you doing one of the 4 bullet points above during a day?
When are you doing something besides getting up, going somewhere, sitting at home, or lying down?
This is a perpetual command . . .
This is a daily command . . .
This is an hourly command . . .
Maybe that is why it is part of the MOST IMPORTANT COMMAND – part of the Sh’ma.
What is it that the Father is to teach his children so thoroughly that it consumes the entire day?
Deuteronomy 6:5 (CJB)
5 and you are to love Adonai your God
- with all your heart,
- all your being and
- all your resources.
It is THIS command . . . the MOST IMPORTANT COMMAND
that is entrusted TO the earthly father . . .
BY the Heavenly Father . . .
to teach to the children . . .
If the Creator of all things values earthly fathers so much,
as to give them a duty and command of such importance,
the teaching of his most important command . . .
should we not give our earthly fathers the fear, honor, and respect that they deserve and that God demands?
Happy Father’s day to my Father, My Father-in-Law,
and all of the Fathers out there!
Blessings to you all!