Matowq: Revisiting SWEETness

It’s starting to feel summery here in Prince Edward Island… and with summer comes one of my favourite things: ice cream! I suffer from Reactive Hypoglycemia so sugar isn’t really my friend, but I do try to make a little room for it! 

This coming Saturday is the festival of Shavuot when Jews celebrate the receiving of the Torah… God’s Holy Word. The Word of God is sweet, like milk and honey, and for this reason Jews traditionally eat sweet cheesecake on Shavuot.

Messianic Jews and Christians also celebrate Shavuot (although it is often referred to as Pentecost in Christian circles) by remembering when God sent His Spirit to reside within us. Regardless of tradition, I think eating cheesecake on Shavuot/Pentecost is an excellent idea, so this is a good week to revisit the word SWEET (matowq)!

Image by Daria Yakovleva (

Sweetness is frequently alluded to in the Bible. It was well-used metaphor for things that brought pleasure or joy such as light (Ecclesiastes 11:7), good advice from a friend (Proverbs 27:9), pleasant words (Proverbs 16:24), and being in the presence of a lover (Song of Songs 2:3).

In the Bible sweetness was sometimes paired with bitterness. We see this the first time the word “sweet” shows up in the Bible:

Exodus 15:22-25

Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness and found no water

When they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, because they were bitter; for that reason it was named Marah. So the people grumbled at Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?” 

Then he cried out to YHWH, and YHWH showed him a tree; and he threw it into the waters, and the waters became sweet [wai-m’t’qu].

YHWH brought the sweetness… He made the waters good, and pleasurable, and satisfying. The sweet waters supported life, but the bitter waters were a death sentence.

YHWH brought the Water of Life and it was sweet. Now He would provide the Word to His people… and it was as sweet as honey. The prophet Ezekiel had a vision where he literally devoured the scroll of God’s Word:

Ezekiel 3:3

“Son of man,” He said to me, “eat what you find here. Eat this scroll, then go and speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and He fed me the scroll. “Son of man,” He said to me, “eat and fill your stomach with this scroll I am giving you.” So I ate, and it was as sweet (l’matowq) as honey in my mouth.

Now remember, this is a metaphor. Don’t go running to your Bibles and begin chewing on the pages… BUT do “eat it up” as you read it. Devour all the wisdom left for you to consume. It’s better than any dessert on the menu!

To read the original posting on the Hebrew concept of SWEET, click below:


Next week: cheese

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