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Ahavah אַהֲבָה (pronounced ah-ha-vah)
is a Biblical Hebrew noun translated in English as love. Its verb form is ahav אָהַ֤ב (pronounced ah-hav). You’re probably reading an English Bible and have read the word love in many places. For example, love appears 131 times in the Old Testament and 310 times in the King James Bible. Interestingly, not all of them meant ahavah in the original Hebrew. In this article, we’ll focus on ahavah. What is it?
The word first appeared in the Bible in Genesis 22:2, “Then He said, ‘Take your son, your only son whom you love (ahav)—Isaac—and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains about which I will tell you.’” Ahavah conveys such an intense feeling in which a person delights earnestly toward another. It implies having a singular and fixed mind on an object or person. Some examples in the Bible are Abraham’s parental love toward his son Isaac; Jacob’s ahavah toward Rachel (Gen. 29:18), Jonathan’s brotherly love toward David (1 Sam 18:1), Isaac’s love for savory meat (Gen. 27:4), and God’s ahavah toward Israel (Deut. 7: 7-8). Deuteronomy 6: 5 demonstrates the intensity that ahavah can potentially be expressed: “You shall ahav the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength”. Notice “all” placed prior to each of the three aspects: all or whole of your heart, whole of your soul, and whole of your strength. This was GOD’s intent for the commandment. “All” would convey a different meaning if it were placed once in the beginning in which case it would refer to composite three i.e., without missing one of them.