As a central theme throughout the Bible, the Hebrew word אוֹר (or) – meaning light – has both literal and metaphorical meanings. In the Torah, light is the first thing that God creates, representing the beginnings of life and knowledge. The word אוֹר, “or”, is used to describe the light of the sun, the moon, and the stars, but it is also used metaphorically to represent knowledge, enlightenment, and God’s presence in the world.
The Torah is often used interchangeably with the word “light” in religious thought and practice. Based on scriptures like Psalm 119:105, for example, the Psalmist proclaims, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path,” indicating the role of the scriptures as a source of guidance and illumination for the believer. Similarly, in Proverbs 6:23, the Text is described as “a lamp and a light,” indicating its importance as a source of wisdom and understanding.
In the prophetic voice of Isaiah, the word אוֹר (or) takes on a different meaning. Isaiah 45:7 reads, “I form light and create darkness; I make peace and create evil; I am the Lord, who does all these things.” In this context, light is not just a symbol of life and knowledge, but of God’s power and sovereignty over all things. Isaiah 9:1-2, another example of Isaiah’s prophetic voice, describes a future time when the people of Israel will see a great light, a metaphor for the spiritual enlightenment that will come when they return to God.
The lighting of candles on Shabbat and Jewish holidays is a powerful symbol of the role of light in Jewish life. According to tradition, the light of the candles represents the spiritual light of the Torah, illuminating the darkness of the world and bringing peace and harmony to the home. The blessing that is recited when lighting the candles includes the words, “Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to light the candle of [Shabbat or the holiday].” This blessing connects the act of lighting the candles with the sanctity of God’s commandments, reinforcing the idea that the light of the Torah is an essential part of Jewish life.
To a christian, the Hebrew word אוֹר holds significant meaning. Christians believe that the concept of light is central to their faith, with Jesus referring to himself as “the light of the world” (John 8:12). This declaration is understood to mean that Jesus brings spiritual illumination and understanding to those who follow him. This suggests that the scriptures provide guidance and direction to believers, much like a source of light illuminates a dark path.
Overall, for Christians, our Hebrew word of the day, אוֹר represents the illuminating power of God’s presence in the world. It reminds them of the guidance provided by God’s word, the spiritual understanding brought by Jesus, and the light that they are called to share with others.
“Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 9:5
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid” Matthew 5:14
- Psalm 119:105
- Proverbs 6:23
- Isaiah 45:7
- Isaiah 9:1-2
- John 9:5
- Matthew 5:14
- Traditional Jewish blessings and practices