Sounds like: boosh, boo’shaw, bow’shet
This is the 200th post of HebrewWordLessons! For 200 consecutive Sundays in a row we’ve taken a deep dive into various Biblical words. Clearly, I love word studies, but word studies are only effective if you can see how the word is used across the entire narrative of the Scriptures. Each word is like a ribbon that weaves in and out of the story. And so many of these words point to salvation, redemption, a return to the Garden of God’s Kingdom, and the renewal of our True Image.
We are made in YHWH’s image, but our reflection has tarnished over time. And one of the biggest things that muddies up of our image is shame.
Perhaps you might consider shae to be a strange word to study for a celebratory posting. But it really is a beautiful thing to look at, because the Bible is clearly anti-shame. We were never meant to bear the chains of shame. The Bible points to our freedom, not our bondage!
We, also, were never meant to use shame as a tool for destruction. And yet, historically the Church has used shame as an expression of oppression for a few millennia. When this has happened, the Church has stood in opposition to the very message of the Bible.
We are not to point fingers; we are not to blame; we are not to oppress. But throughout history the church has done all those things… they waged war (Crusades), promoted racism (anti-semitism & slavery), kept the poor poor, took advantage of the marginalized, sexually exploited vulnerable women and children, colonized the Indigenous people… and on and on it goes. These are shameful actions and the church has a lot to answer for… because none of these actions have Biblical support. Not one. People have interpreted the Bible to support their agenda, but if you take a deep dive and you’ll find they were pretty far off the mark. The beautiful Church, as it was meant to be, is a family that breaks down shame, raises people up, and points them to YHWH.
Shame outside the Garden
The Garden of Eden was an example of a perfect life… being in God’s presence, walking and talking with Him. It was what good living was meant to look like. There was no shame in Eden, until we brought shame upon ourselves. It’s why we had to leave the Garden.
Before the adversarial reptile changed the game, humans were shame-free. There was no feeling of exposure, no guilt, no envy or pride. Eve and Adam enjoyed walking in the Garden and talking to God and there wasn’t a single concern about their nakedness.
And the man and his wife were both naked, but they were not ashamed [yit-boshashu].
All was well and good, until the disobedient apple-bite changed the path of humanity. At that moment shame took its hold and didn’t let go.
God gave Eve and Adam everything in the garden. But there was one tree in the garden that had a purpose, but the purpose was not to feed Eve and Adam. God warned them that the tree was not to be devoured because, unbeknownst to them, it would take their life out of the Garden and throw them into the wilderness. But the adversarial serpent changed Eve’s mind and as soon as they both bit into sin Eve and Adam were flooded with awareness, guilt, shame and fear:
Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves waist coverings.
Immediately they felt shame. With one bite of disobedience they had the knowledge of their guilt, and shame and fear filled them like a dark cloud.
Now they heard the sound of YHWH God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of YHWH God among the trees of the garden. Then YHWH God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.”
And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree from which I commanded you not to eat?”
The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me some of the fruit of the tree, and I ate.”
Then YHWH God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
This is the story that explains the human condition. We are a guilty, shame-filled, bunch of people, but we were not created to be that way. Yet we’re very quick to blame and shame others, just as Adam did to Eve.
YHWH agreed with Eve. It was the snake who deceived, and He cursed the snake with the following punishment:
Then YHWH God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this, cursed are you more than all the livestock, and more than any animal of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.
And I will make enemies of you and the woman, and of your offspring and her Descendant; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise Him on the heel.”
Here YHWH set up the stage for an epic battle. Through the seed of a human woman would come the Descendant who would reclaim the shame of His people and turn it into victory.
The prophet Micah understood the creation story. He understood that there was hope out of despair, and a light that would shine in the darkness. Although we are children exiled from YHWH, He still heard us and would save us. The enemy would feel shame, but we would rise above our shame as YHWH’s children:
But as for me, I will be on the watch for YHWH; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.
Do not rejoice over me, enemy of mine. Though I fall I will rise; though I live in darkness, YHWH is a light for me.
I will endure the rage of YHWH because I have sinned against Him, until He pleads my case and executes justice for me. He will bring me out to the light, and I will look at His righteousness.
Then my enemy will see, and shame [booshah] will cover her who said to me,
“Where is YHWH your God?”
My eyes will look at her; at that time she will be trampled down like mud of the streets…
The enemy, like the snake, would fall on its belly in the mud. Later in the same chapter, Micah highlighted how the shameful nations had become image bearers of the Garden’s deceiver:
…Nations will see and be ashamed [w-yeh-boshu] of all their might. They will put their hand on their mouth, their ears will be deaf.
They will lick up dust like a snake, like reptiles of the earth. They will come trembling of their fortresses; to YHWH our God they will come in trepidation, and they will be afraid of You.
Who is a God like You, who pardons wrongdoing and passes over a rebellious act of the remnant of His possession?
He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again take pity on us; He will trample on our wrongdoings.
Yes, You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
Even though humans began to emulate the Deceiver, rather than God, YHWH still showed mercy and loving loyalty to His people. For all who sought Him out, He would throw their sins into the chaotic depths of the sea and redeem them. There would be shame-no-more for His children.
Sadly, outside of the Garden, the human mindset was not to return to our shame-free identity, but to embrace shame and use it against each other. The Tanakh is filled with stories of shameful people who needed to be held accountable for their actions. There were really only two main categories of shameful people: Enemies and Idol Makers.
- Enemies were those who were in opposition to YHWH, such as false prophets (Zechariah 13:4), seers and diviners (Micah 3:7), and haters (Psalm 44:7)
- Idol Makers & Worshipers were those who turned their backs on YHWH and chose to profit from, and worship, false gods of foreign nations.
YHWH’s enemies were in opposition to YHWH’s children and His people felt the sting of continual threat and oppression. King David felt trapped on every side by enemies. He was constantly in military campaigns throughout his reign and the stress of being hated around the known world was wearying:
[David:] I am weary with my sighing; every night I make my bed swim, I flood my couch with my tears.
My eye has wasted away with grief; it has grown old because of all my enemies. Leave me, all you who practice injustice, for YHWH has heard the sound of my weeping.
YHWH has heard my pleading, YHWH receives my prayer. All my enemies will be put to shame [yeh-voshu] and greatly horrified; they shall turn back, they will suddenly be put to shame [yeh-voshu].
Hoping for shame on the enemy was a continual theme in the Psalms:
- Let those be ashamed [yeh-voshu] and dishonoured who seek my life (Psalm 35:4a)
- May those who exalt themselves over me be clothed with shame [yeh-voshu] and dishonour (Psalm 35:26b).
- May those be ashamed [yeh-voshu] and humiliated together who seek my life to destroy it (Psalm 40:14).
- May those be appalled because of their shame [bash’tam] who say to me, “Aha, aha!” (Psalm 40:15).
- May those who seek my life be put to shame [yeh-voshu] and humiliated (Psalm 70:2a)
- May those who say, “Aha, aha!” be turned back because of their shame [bash’tam] (Psalm 70:3)
- May those who are enemies of my soul be put to shame [yeh-voshu] and consumed (Psalm 71:13)
- May they [the enemy] be ashamed [yeh-voshu] and dismayed forever, and may they be humiliated and perish (Psalm 83:17)
- Show me a sign of good, that those who hate me may see it and be ashamed [w-yeh-voshu] (Psalm 86:17a)
- May those who attack me be put to shame [wai-y-voshu], but may your servant rejoice (Psalm 109:28b)
- May my accusers be clothed with disgrace and wrapped in shame [bash’tam] as in a cloak (Psalm 109:29)
- May the arrogant be put to shame [yeh-voshu] for wronging me without cause (Psalm 119:78)
David called these shameful enemies Workers of Injustice, because they were people who tore people down with blame and shame. But YHWH would be a refuge for those cloaked in shame and He promised salvation for all who sought it.
Psalm 14:4-7 (see also Psalm 53:4-6)
Do all the workers of injustice not know, who devour my people as they eat bread, and do not call upon YHWH? There they are in great dread, for God is with a righteous generation.
You would put to shame [ta-vishu] the plan of the poor, but YHWH is his refuge.
Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion! When YHWH restores the fortunes of His people, Jacob will rejoice, Israel will be glad.
David hoped that the Salvation of Israel would come out of Zion (Jerusalem) and he was waiting for the salvation of Israel, when YHWH would save them from their enemies and restore their fortunes. They may have been surrounded by persecutors, but YHWH provided the hope they needed.
One group that was continually associated with shame were the idol makers.
Those who fashion an idol are all futile, and their treasured things are of no benefit; even their own witnesses fail to see or know, so that they will be put to shame [yeh-boshu]. Who has fashioned a god or cast an idol to no benefit? Behold, all his companions will be put to shame [yeh-boshu], for the craftsmen themselves are mere men. Let them all assemble themselves, let them stand up, let them tremble, let them be put to shame [yeh-boshu] together.
Idol makers were high on the list of shameful people. Not only did they deceive people and profit on the deception, but they tore people away from the path that leads to YHWH:
Jeremiah 51:17, 47, 49-52
Every person is stupid, devoid of knowledge; every goldsmith is put to shame [ho-vish] by his idols, for his cast metal images are deceitful, and there is no breath in them…
…Therefore behold, days are coming when I will punish the idols of Babylon; and her whole land will be put to shame [teh-vo’wosh] and all her slain will fall in her midst….
…Indeed, Babylon is to fall for the slain of Israel, as the slain of all the earth have also fallen for Babylon. You who have escaped the sword, Go! Do not stay! Remember YHWH from far away, and let Jerusalem come to your mind.
We are ashamed [bosh’nu] because we have heard rebuke; disgrace has covered our faces, because strangers have entered the holy places of YHWH’s house.
“Therefore behold, the days are coming,” declares YHWH, “When I will punish her idols, and the mortally wounded will groan throughout her land.”
Not only the makers of idols but also everyone who put their faith in lifeless gods, be it foreigners or the Hebrew people, would be put to shame. They had turned their back on the Living God:
Isaiah 42:17 (see also Psalm 97:7)
They will be turned back and be
u tterly put to shame shamefully shamed [yeh-voshu voshet], who trust in idols, who say to cast metal images,
“You are our gods.”
YHWH would stand out as the One true God and all the other gods of the nations would fall from grace:
‘Babylon has been captured, Bel has been put to shame [ho-vish], Marduk has been shattered; her idols have been put to shame [ho-vishu], her images have been shattered.’
But it wasn’t just foreigners who followed pagan gods, the Hebrew people started experimenting with idol worship from foreign lands. The prophets recognized that even YHWH’s people had turned away from YHWH and towards a myriad of surrounding pagan deities… YHWH’s children had become their own worst enemies:
“But the shame [w-ha-boshet] has consumed the product of our fathers’ labour since our youth—their flocks and their herds, their sons and their daughters. Let us lie down in our shame [b-vash’tenu], and let our humiliation cover us; for we have sinned against YHWH our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even to this day. And we have not obeyed the voice of YHWH our God.”
My People will Never be put to Shame
Putting enemies to shame was a common prayer, but we also find the Psalmist and the Prophets praying that they, themselves, not be put to shame:
- My God, in You I trust, do not let me be ashamed [eh-vowosha]; do not let my enemies rejoice over me (Psalm 25:2)
- Guard my soul and save me; do not let me be ashamed [al eh-vowosh], for I take refuge in You (Psalm 25:20)
- May those who wait for You not be ashamed [al yeh-voshu] because of me, Lord YHWH of armies (Psalm 69:6)
- In You, YHWH, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame [eh-vowoshah] (Psalm 71:1)
- Let those who persecute me be put to shame [yeh-voshu], but as for me, let me not be put to shame [w-al eh-vosha] (Jeremiah 17:18)
God listened to the prayers of His children. He heard the authenticity in these prayers and He responded:
This is what the Lord YHWH says:
“Behold, I will lift up My hand to the nations and set up My flag to the peoples; and they will bring your sons in their arms, and your daughters will be carried on their shoulders.
Kings will be your guardians, and their princesses your nurses. They will bow down to you with their faces to the ground and lick the dust from your feet; and you will know that I am YHWH; those who hopefully wait for Me will not be put to shame [yeh-voshu].”
Enemies “licking the dust” was again a flashback to the snake in Genesis who was cursed to crawl on its belly in the dust. These enemies were bearing the image of The Adversary (Ha-Satan)… and a time would come when they would fall at the feet of YHWH’s children in shame.
Shame has No Place in the Garden
But before this great day would ever come about, YHWH’s people would struggle and suffer and feel the shame of servitude and loss. Because of their continual disobedience they were defeated by their enemies, on numerous occasions, and exiled out of the Promised Land and into enemy territory.
Being defeated by enemies certainly would have felt like a great shame, but YHWH had a plan. He would not leave His people as exiles forever. He turned His back on His people because they turned their back to Him. But YHWH promised to save, and He would live up to His promise. He would bring them back from exile:
“Fear not, for you will not be put to shame [lo teh-vowoshi]; and do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced; but you will forget the shame [voshet] of your youth, and no longer remember the disgrace of your widowhood.
For your husband is your Maker, whose name is YHWH of armies; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, who is called the God of all the earth.
For YHWH has called you, like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, even like a wife of one’s youth when she is rejected,” says your God.
“For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In an outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment, but with everlasting favour I will have compassion on you,” says YHWH your Redeemer.
The people of Israel had once been scattered from their land by the Assyrians, and the people of Judah were exiled out of Jerusalem and into Babylon. But the first exile was out of the Garden of Eden. Shame has no place in the Garden. Those who seek YHWH with a pure heart will come home to Him when their day is done, but those with hardened hearts will remain cloaked in their shame:
YHWH, the hope of Israel, all who abandon You will be put to shame [yeh-voshu]. Those who turn away on earth will be written down, because they have forsaken the fountain of living water, that is YHWH.
Heal me, YHWH, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for You are my praise.
Look, they keep saying to me, “Where is the word of YHWH? Let it come now!”
But as for me, I have not hurried away from being a shepherd following after You, nor have I longed for the disastrous day; You Yourself know that the utterance of my lips was in Your presence. Do not be a terror to me; You are my refuge in a day of disaster.
Let those who persecute me be put to shame [yeh-voshu], but as for me, let me not be put to shame [w-al eh-vosha]; let them be dismayed, but let me not be dismayed.
So many in this world have opted to keep their shame and behave utterly shameless. They don’t even seem to even care:
Jeremiah 6:13-15 (see also Jeremiah 8:9-12)
“For from the least of them to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for gain, and from the prophet to the priest everyone deals falsely.
They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ but there is no peace.
Were they ashamed [ho-vishu] because of the abomination they had done? They were not ashamed [lo yeh-vowoshu] at all! Or did they know even how to be ashamed [how to blush]?
Therefore they will fall among those who fall; at the time that I punish them, they will collapse,” says YHWH.
This smacks of modernity. There’s a lot of superficial talk and promises these days. A lot of misdirection and blurred promises. False narratives and underhanded bribery. A lot of people with big smiles saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there clearly is no peace. And they are not ashamed at all about the lies… because human allegiance is strongly directed towards the gods of money, power and pride. But YHWH promises these people will fall and their life will collapse.
Although there are people who don’t seem to care, for most of us we recognize this weakness in ourselves and we feel ashamed about it. We live in this ever revolving door of bad choices, followed by shame, followed by denial, bad choices and shame again. Or maybe we downplay and misdirect our involvement, and opt to blame others, rather than ourselves. But then our conscience gets the better of us and we’re back to feeling shameful about our actions. How do we get out of this dreadful revolving door?
As we recall, we were never created to be creatures of shame. We were meant to walk in the Garden with God, free from shame.
Somehow God would have to pay off the guilt we had acquired. The only way to set us free from our shame was to set us free from our guilt, and the bondage of death that came with it.
How would we get back to the Garden and walk with God without shame? YHWH had a plan.
Yeshua: Shame Breaker
Yeshua’s life on earth was a ministry of shame-breaking and life-giving. He consistently gave a hand to the needy, fed the poor, embraced the “unclean”, lifted children up, elevated women, cared for foreigners, and cherished the oppressed. These people lived in constant societal shame, but when Yeshua tore down the heavy garments of shame, He gave them a glimpse of Eden. Yeshua brought The Kingdom to earth, but the sneak peek into Heaven wasn’t welcomed by everybody.
This radical removal of public-approved-shame set the high society people on edge. Yeshua was messing with cultural normativity (oppressive though it was), and that triggered, in them, the fear of losing control of the power that they had acquired. Pharisees, Sadducees, priests, scribes and lawyers felt that Yeshua was a threat to their own stability and that was enough to have Him killed. They worked with the Romans to have Him arrested, tortured, humiliated, and executed.
As He suffered on the cross, it appeared as if He was the epitome of shame:
Those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, shaking their heads and saying, “Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself by coming down from the cross!”
In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes, were mocking Him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself! Let this Messiah, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross, so that we may see and believe!” Those who were crucified with Him were also insulting Him.
When the sixth hour came, darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour. At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabaktanei?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”
The weight of carrying the shame of humanity must have been overwhelming. But when Yeshua cried out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” it wasn’t spoken out of shame. Yeshua was quoting the Psalms:
My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?
Far from my help are the words of my groaning. My God, I cry out by day, but You do not answer; and by night, but I have no rest.
Yet You are holy, who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel. In You our fathers trusted; they trusted and You rescued them.
To You they cried out and they fled to safety; in You they trusted and were not ashamed [voshu].
Yeshua’s human side may have felt forsaken as he suffered horribly on the cross but, just like the Psalmist, He trusted and was not ashamed.
Even with His last breath, Yeshua quoted another Psalm:
And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit.” Having said this, He breathed His last.
These final words came from Psalm 31, which was also a prayer asking for the removal of shame:
Psalm 31:1-5, 14-17
In You, YHWH, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame [al eh-vowoshah].
In Your righteousness rescue me. Incline Your ear to me, rescue me quickly; be a rock of strength for me, a stronghold to save me.
For You are my rock and my fortress; for the sake of Your name You will lead me and guide me. You will pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me, for You are my strength.
Into Your hand I entrust my spirit; You have redeemed me, YHWH, God of truth…
…But as for me, I trust in You, YHWH, I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in Your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from those who persecute me. Make Your face shine upon Your servant; save me in Your faithfulness.
Let me not be put to shame [al eh-vowoshah], YHWH, for I call upon You; let the wicked be put to shame [yeh-voshu], let them be silent in Sheol.
There was no shame in Yeshua’s death. Undoubtedly there was pain and sorrow… but the shame was not His that He bore. He bore our shame and destroyed it on the cross. His death and resurrection paid our entrance fee back into the Garden, where we could walk and talk alongside our Creator, guilt free.
But those who rejected YHWH and held on to shame and used it to tear down people… those people could not be inhabitants of YHWH’s Garden. They would be silent in Sheol, where the grave would swallow them up, wrapped in their own shame.
Shame Free Citizenship
In Yeshua’s day, the Hebrew people had waited a long time for their Messiah. They expected He would be a triumphant, militant, King, sent to reclaim Israel from the oppressive Romans.
[YHWH:] I will make the horn of David spring forth there [Zion]; I have prepared a lamp for My Anointed [Messiah].
I will clothe His enemies with shame [boshet], but upon Himself His crown will gleam.”
Yeshua wore a crown, but it was made of thorns. He was raised up, not onto a throne, but onto a cross. He wore our shame like a royal robe, but then it was striped from Him. He was naked and exposed on a cross, just as Adam and Eve had become naked and exposed at the bite of the first sin. Eve and Adam felt the shame of their own disobedience, but Yeshua felt the shame of EVERYone’s disobedience.
Although we still consistently sin, our goal is to stop and remember the great sacrifice Yeshua gave to us:
Therefore, since we also have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let’s rid ourselves of every obstacle and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let’s run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking only at Jesus, the originator and perfecter of the faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Followers of YHWH are all racing on the same path, leading back to the Garden, our Heavenly home. But we are still surrounded by people who want to be our enemy, and Paul tells us that their glory is their shame:
For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even as I weep, that they are the enemies of the cross of the Messiah, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who have their minds on earthly things.
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus the Messiah; who will transform the body of our lowly condition into conformity with His glorious body, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.
Our citizenship is in Heaven, shame-free. We’re going back to the vibrant Garden, full of life and freedom, where we can stand in the Presence of YHWH and see His face!
What a beautiful day that will be!
Next week: Revisiting Khesed