Orakh Khayim: The PATH of LIFE

For the past few weeks we’ve been looking at popular Biblical phrases about life. We’ve looked at…

Previously we have also discussed the Book of Life (sefer khayim), once in the posting on the Hebrew word for Book, sefer, and again when we revisited sefer last year.

So today we’ll look at the Path of Life (orakh khayim), from the Hebrew word orakh (Strong’s 734), meaning path, and khai (2416), meaning life.

The Path of Life is almost exclusively found in the book of Proverbs. The exception is in the book of Psalms:

Psalm 16:7-11

[David:] I will bless YHWH who has advised me; indeed, my mind instructs me in the night. I have set YHWH  continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will dwell securely. For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; You will not allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.

You will make known to me the path of life [orakh khayim]; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

The Path of Life is a simple concept. There’s a path, or a way, that leads to God and the fullness of life He offers… and in the opposite direction, there’s a way to death. The book of Proverbs really puts a focus on this. We need to stay on the path so we do not go astray:

Proverbs 10:17

One who is on the path of life [orakh l-khayim] follows instruction, but one who ignores a rebuke goes astray.

The immoral woman is a caricature in the Proverbs and it is balanced by the moral and valiant woman found in Proverbs 31. The immoral woman takes you far off course from the path of life:

Proverbs 2:19-21

None who go to her return, nor do they reach the paths of life [ar’khot khayim]. So you will walk in the way of good people and keep to the paths of the righteous. For the upright will live in the land, and the blameless will remain in it.

Again, in Proverbs 5, of the immoral woman, we read:

Proverbs 5:5-6

Her feet go down to death, her steps take hold of Sheol. She does not ponder the path of life [orakh khayim]; her ways are unstable, she does not know it.

We need to be careful about who and what we follow, because more often than not we’ll steer off the path and head in the wrong direction… and the wrong direction is deadly.

The path away from YHWH was always in the direction of Sheol (the grave):

Proverbs 15:24

The path of life [orakh khyaim] leads upward for the wise that he may keep away from Sheol below.

Image by jplenio (pixabay.com)

The path of life was the more common phrase, but we can also see the way of life (derek khayim) in two different passages, Proverbs 6:23 and the following:

Jeremiah 21:8

“You shall also say to this people, ‘This is what YHWH says: “Behold, I am setting before you the way of life [et derek ha-khayim] and the way of death.”

Again, there’s just two options. One way or the other. Life or death.

Yeshua: The Way

When Yeshua (Jesus), came onto the scene, He became our tour guide to the right path:

John 14:4-6

[Jesus to His disciples:] You know the way to the place where I am going.”

“Lord,” said Thomas, “we do not know where You are going, so how can we know the way?

Jesus answered, “I am the way [Greek: ego eimi he hodos], the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would know My Father as well. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.”

Follow Yeshua, and you’re on the right path. He is the way… the way to truth and eternal life. Paul used this path metaphor to point out just how misdirected he had been:

Galatians 1:13

[Paul:] For you have heard of my former way of life [Greek: anastrophen pote] in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it.

In other words, Paul was saying, You know what I used to be like… I was going the wrong way! Don’t make the same mistake.

Paul wanted his readers to know it was never too late to turn around. It was never too late to renew yourself and walk in the likeness of YHWH:

Ephesians 4:22-24

[Paul to the Ephesians:] …in reference to your former way of life [Greek: proteran anastrophen], you are to rid yourselves of the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you are to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self,  which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

The Bible couldn’t be more clear… one path, one way, one life, eternally:

Proverbs 12:28

In the way of righteousness there is life, and in its pathway there is no death.

Next week: Tree of Life

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