Knowledge: da’at- (Strong’s 1847)
Root: דָּ֫עַת (dalet, ayin, tav). [Sounds like: da’awt].
Pictographic symbols: door, eyes, covenant.
The first incident of the word knowledge in the Bible is found in one of the most recognizable passages:
Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
And of course we know the story from there… God tells Adam and Eve that they can eat from any fruit tree, with the exception of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Regardless of the warning they eat from the tree anyway. And when they do, Genesis 3:7 tells us that: the eyes of both of them were opened. (Genesis 3:7a).
They’ve tasted and seen…
Once Eve and Adam eat the fruit they see and become self-aware. In the beginning they were naturally good, but now they must strive to know good. Knowledge is the antidote to ignorance. It helps you make right choices. We have the ability for evil, but knowing God puts you on a path of goodness.
There is a strong current throughout the Bible that associates knowledge and sight. Even the Hebrew word knowledge, דַּ֣עַת (da’at), includes the letter ayin which, when it was a pictographic alphabet, was a picture of an eye. In fact the three pictographic symbols in the word knowledge are door, eye, covenant, so knowledge is a door from which the eye can see the covenant.
When Eve and Adam eat of the fruit their eyes are opened. They could have lived blissfully, completely unaware of the potential for evil. But their choice changes their story. Now they must consciously seek knowledge and rely on God to lead them to truth. And He does! God shows His people things so that they have knowledge because, as they say, seeing is believing, or perhaps it’s better expressed as experiencing is knowing.
“For YHWH your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as YHWH your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed; that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of YHWH is mighty, so that you may fear YHWH your God forever.”
Why did YHWH part the Red Sea? He did it so that the Hebrew people could have knowledge of the mightiness of God and from this knowledge they would fear/respect/be-in-awe of Him. Abraham and the Hebrew people experienced, first, hand, God’s might… and once you experience it, you know it. It is much like working. If you have job experience, you have job knowledge:
1 Kings 7:13-14
Now King Solomon sent and brought Hiram from Tyre. He was a widow’s son from the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in bronze; and he was filled with wisdom and understanding and the knowledge (ha’da-at) for doing any work in bronze. So he came to King Solomon and performed all his work.
Why was Hiram given the job as bronze worker? Because he had wisdom, understanding, and the knowledge (experience) of working alongside his father, who was a bronzesmith.
Seeing and experiencing brings knowledge. There were no schools for the wandering Hebrew people… they learned through seeing and experiencing. This is a good lesson for us. The greatest knowledge does not come from sitting in a lecture hall at the most exclusive university. The best learning comes from seeing and hearing and feeling; immersing oneself in the task and learning with your entire body. You can’t learn to farm from reading a textbook, you have to get into the field!
It is the same for learning about God. Reading the Bible is a wonderful thing, but it needs to be more than just words on a page, you also have to live it! You need to live out the Scriptures. Follow through with the instructions that God gives you from the Holy texts. It is a great gift, a living textbook for life and beyond.
God Knowledge: Too Wonderful!
Gaining knowledge of God is a priceless gift and we should be in complete awe of it. David and Job were completely aware of the wonderfulness of God’s knowledge:
David: You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it.
God knows us inside and out. Can we know Him just the same? Job, who experiences pain and hardship like few others in the Bible, answers this question:
Then Job answered YHWH and said,
“I know that You can do all things,
And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
“Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”
‘Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me.’
“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You.
Job recognizes that we need to see YHWH on a deeper level than just surface vision. What’s the point of hearing with our ear if it doesn’t sink in. We need to experience Him. We need to dive into the heart of YHWH and truly know Him.
Knowledge is Power
Ignorance is bliss, they say, but knowledge is power! Job’s “friends” try to tell him what he is doing wrong and why he is suffering. But Job has the knowledge of God and he knows they have no right to judge him. They may have “textbook” knowledge, but it is not experiential God knowledge!
Job to his “friends”:
“Behold, my eye has seen all this, my ear has heard and understood it. What you know I also know; I am not inferior to you.”
God loves you! You are inferior to no one! The knowledge of God will give you the confidence to proclaim it.
The Messiah Knows
Yeshua (Jesus) HaMashiach (the Messiah) is certainly our best teacher for seeking and knowing God, because He is the living example of God’s love. Isaiah tells us that by His knowledge we are justified because He knowingly takes our sins upon Himself:
But YHWH was pleased to crush Him [Messiah], putting Him to grief. If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of YHWH will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied. By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities.
Knowledge sometimes comes at a price. Perhaps we should be grateful that we don’t know all that is to come. Jesus knew. He knew everything that would happen to him… and it was costly.
It was now just before the Passover Feast, and Jesus knew that His hour had come to leave this world and return to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the very end.
Jesus (Yeshua), knew He had to leave the world behind. His career on this planet as a teacher was finished. He had taught all He needed to… and we have access to those full teachings. One of those teachings focuses in on the importance of knowledge. Quoting Isaiah 6:9-10 Yeshua explains why he talks in parables:
Then the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Why do You speak to the people in parables?”
He replied, “The knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. This is why I speak to them in parables:
‘Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand.’
In them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled:
‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
For this people’s heart has grown callous;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and return and be healed.’
But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”
Do not be the person whom Yeshua is speaking of. Do not be the person who hears a sermon but doesn’t draw it in, who sees the beauty of God’s handiwork but gives it no attention, who hardens their heart to the teachings of God and throws up walls to block God’s voice. Do not be blind or deaf or imprisoned to the gift you have been given.
Listen, Seek, Discover!
Here’s the thing… God wants you to listen for His voice, seek and discover Him. More than any gift you could give Him, He wants you to really know Him. It is what God delights in:
YHWH: For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
The Proverbs highlight that your whole body should be focused on knowing God… your ear, your heart, your voice, your whole soul:
Make your ear attentive to wisdom,
Incline your heart to understanding;
For if you cry for discernment,
Lift your voice for understanding;
If you seek her as silver
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
Then you will discern the fear of YHWH
And discover the knowledge of God.
For YHWH gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
He is a shield to those who walk in integrity,
Guarding the paths of justice,
And He preserves the way of His godly ones.
Then you will discern righteousness and justice
And equity and every good course.
For wisdom will enter your heart
And knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
Here is what Paul hoped for:
…that they may be encouraged in heart, knit together in love, and filled with the full riches of complete understanding, so that they may know the mystery of God, namely Messiah, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
This, also, is my hope for you!
Next week: wisdom