Sounds like: saw’neh
Hate is a harsh word. It may be the harshest word in the English dictionary. But the truth is, it’s an emotion that every human being has experienced at one time or another. We may hate Mondays; we may hate bananas (blek, bananas!); we may hate that one person who was mean to us in school; we may hate racism, homophobia, sexism. These things do not weigh the same on a scale. Hating lima beans and hating your office mate carry different weights, just as loving chocolate and loving your spouse are not comparable.
We all know that classic line from Ecclesiastes: [There is] a time to love and a time to hate [li-s’noh]; a time for war and a time for peace (Ecclesiastes 3:8).
Is that true? Is there a time to hate?
Hatred is a powerful thing and, far too often, hatred is used as a catalyst for some very bad behaviour. We like to justify our hatred. We think we have good reasons to hate and certainly, in the Bible, people hated others all the time. For example, Ahab, the king of Israel, hated his local prophet:
1 Kings 22:7-8a (see also 2 Chronicles 18:6-7)
But Jehoshaphat said [to Ahab], “Is there no longer a prophet of YHWH here, that we may inquire of him?”
And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is still one man by whom we may inquire of YHWH, but I hate him [s’neytiw], because he does not prophesy anything good regarding me, but only bad. He is Micaiah the son of Imlah.”
It doesn’t take much for hate to percolate. It could be as simple as not hearing what you want to hear. That’s all it took for king Ahab to hate the prophet Micaiah.
The Hated Woman
Unfortunately, misogyny and the hatred of women was not uncommon in the Biblical age. But for some reason many of our Biblical translations have removed the word “hated” and substituted the word “unloved” in the stories of women. I believe this does not do justice to the authenticity of the text. Every other time this word is used, “hate” is the preferred translation. But when the word is used to describe a women, most translators substituted the word “unloved” for “hated”. This may be a gentler rendition, but it doesn’t get the point across.
Jacob’s wife Leah wasn’t “unloved”, she was hated. That’s harder to read. Jacob had been tricked, by Leah’s father, into marrying Leah, and the resentment that was built up was probably the reason why Jacob hated Leah. But to say that she was “unloved” by Jacob doesn’t really reflect the picture that the author meant to drawn for us:
Now YHWH saw that Leah was
unloved hated [s’nuah], and He opened her womb, but Rachel was unable to have children. Leah conceived and gave birth to a son, and named him Reuben [meaning ‘see, a son’], for she said, “Because YHWH has seen my affliction; surely now my husband will love me.”
Then she conceived again and gave birth to a son, and said, “Because YHWH has heard that I am hated [s’nuah], He has therefore given me this son also.” So she named him Simeon [meaning ‘heard’].
And she conceived again and gave birth to a son, and said, “Now this time my husband will become attached [yi-laveh] to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore he was named Levi [meaning “my heart”].
And she conceived again and gave birth to a son, and said, “This time I will praise YHWH”. Therefore she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children.
After three sons, Leah had hoped that Jacob’s heart would open up to her. She even named her third son, “My heart” (Levi) in hopes that her husband would finally see, hear, and love her, as YHWH had loved her.
But when her fourth son arrived, Leah no longer focused on gaining favour from the man who hated her; now she chose to focus on praising YHWH the God who loved her.
It is not a coincidence that it was the birth of her son Judah that changed the direction of her heart. She had given birth to the line of Judah, and from Judah’s line would come the Messiah… the one who would change hearts back to YHWH. We may be hated throughout our lives, but the line of Judah frees us from that oppression, just as it did for Leah!
This sin of hating a wife was addressed in the laws of the Torah. There were special precautions to be taken regarding the children of a hated wife:
“If a man has two wives, the one loved and the other
unloved hated [s’nuah], and both the loved and the hated [w-ha-s’nuah] have borne him sons, and the firstborn son belongs to the hated [la-s’niah], then it shall be on the day that he wills what he owns as an inheritance to his sons, he is not allowed to treat the son of the loved wife as the firstborn, at the expense of the son of the hated [ha-s’nuah], who actually is the firstborn son. On the contrary, he shall acknowledge the firstborn, the son of the hated [ha-s’nuah] wife, by giving him a double portion of everything that he owns, for he was the beginning of his strength; to him belongs the right of the firstborn.”
This law protected the children of the hated wife, which tells us that this was a problem in ancient Israel. Men having multiple wives was never the intent of the Creator who had paired two people in the garden to be partners. These two humans were forced to leave Eden because, by their own choosing, they disobeyed God. They were sent out into the wilderness where their choices became more and more corrupted. Having multiple wives was part of that corruption, which led to division of the sexes, inequality, jealousy, lust and, you guessed it… hatred.
One of the most vile expressions of hating women was rape. Tamar’s half brother Amnon desired his sister. David did not know this when he requested that Tamar bring her brother some pastries:
2 Samuel 13:11-15
When she [Tamar] brought them to him [Amnon] to eat, he took hold of her and said to her, “Come, sleep with me, my sister.”
But she said to him, “No, my brother, do not violate me, for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do this disgraceful sin! As for me, where could I get rid of my shame? And as for you, you will be like one of the fools in Israel. Now then, please speak to the king, for he will not withhold me from you.”
However, he would not listen to her; since he was stronger than she, he violated her and slept with her.
Then Amnon hated [wai-s’neyha] her with a very great hatred [sin’ah]; indeed, the hatred [ha-sin’ah] with which he hated [s’neyah] her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, “Get up, go away!”
First of all, Amnon would not listen to his sister’s pleadings; he had no care or consideration for her words or feelings. He forcibly had sex with her and then banished her from his sight. In order to alleviate his shame he heaped hatred upon his sister. In his twisted mind he made himself the victim and he hated his sister for the deed that he did.
When Tamar’s brother Absalom found out that Amnon had raped his sister, he protected Tamar in his own home and plotted revenge against his brother, “for Absalom hated [sahney] Amnon because he had violated his sister Tamar” (2 Samuel 13:22b). Absalom waited two years before exacting revenge by ordering his servants to kill Amnon while they were on a sheepshearing expedition.
The sin of misogyny and sexism was, and is, rooted in hatred. It’s a recipe for chaos, with the key ingredients of lust, power, injustice, inequality, and violence. Hatred is a springboard for a myriad of crimes.
The Hated Brother
Hatred sets things in motion that can have a long-lasting affect on history. Every war is rooted in hatred. Jealousy, greed, and the desire for power are little flames that can easily turn into a fiery hatred. This was what happened to Joseph (of technicolour dreamcoat fame). He was a favoured son of Jacob, whose mother was the beloved Rachel, and his brothers were jealous of the affections their father bestowed upon him:
And his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers; and so they hated him [wai-s’n’u] and could not speak to him on friendly terms.
Joseph seemed to be a bit oblivious to his brother’s jealousy. When he described his dream to them (which does come across as rather self-centered) their hatred grew towards Joseph:
Then Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated [s’noe] him even more. He said to them, “Please listen to this dream which I have had; for behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf stood up and also remained standing; and behold, your sheaves gathered around and bowed down to my sheaf.”
Then his brothers said to him, “Are you actually going to reign over us? Or are you really going to rule over us?” So they hated [s’noe] him even more for his dreams and for his words.
Their hatred grew so strong that they made a plan to kill him. They threw him in a deep pit, without water, but when they saw Ishmaelite traders on their way to Egypt, one of the brothers (Judah) suggested they sell Joseph into slavery instead:
Then some Midianite traders passed by, so they pulled him out and lifted Joseph out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. So they brought Joseph into Egypt.
In this instance, hatred led to slavery. This would be a theme throughout history. The institution of slavery was, and is, rooted in fear and hatred.
The Hated God
Humans weren’t the only hated beings. Many have hated God, and many continue to do so today. But it is not up to us to defend God’s honour. He can take care of Himself.
Forcing people to love God and condemning those who didn’t was the catalyst for Holy Wars, power-hungry religious institutions, and abusive religious leaders. This was why YHWH said, “I will return vengeance on My adversaries, and I will repay those who hate Me [w-lim-san’ai]” (Deuteronomy 32:41b) and instead encouraged His followers to “love your neighbour as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18).
We cannot force people to love YHWH, but God calls on us to love Him, seek Him out, obey Him, and keep up the covenant relationship we have with Him. When we do this love is lifted up and hatred fades away. We are meant to be God’s image bearers on this planet. By elevating love over hate we share YHWH’s reflection with the rest of this world.
Our efforts should be focused on expressing God’s love to others. God will deal with His haters on His own time; we don’t have to concern ourselves with them:
Know therefore that YHWH your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His faithfulness to a thousand generations for those who love Him and keep His commandments; but He repays those who hate Him [l-sohn’aw] to their faces, to eliminate them; He will not hesitate toward him who hates Him [l-sohn’ow], He will repay him to his face. Therefore, you shall keep the commandment, the statutes, and the judgments which I am commanding you today, to do them.
David struggled with this. He wanted to hate God’s haters, but He called on YHWH to lead him in the right direction, because ultimately he knew hatred wasn’t the way:
[David:] If only You would put the wicked to death, God; leave me, you men of bloodshed. For they speak against You wickedly, and Your enemies take Your name in vain.
Those who hate You [m-sahn’eka] do I not hate [eh-s’na], YHWH? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? With the utmost hatred I hate them [sin’ah s’nehtim]; they have become my enemies.
Search me, God, and know my heart; put me to the test and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there is any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.
What YHWH Hates
The question we started with was, Is there a time to hate?
To be utterly honest, God is described as hating certain things. God never announced that He hated His haters, but he did hate many of the actions and behaviours of those who hated Him. The Hebrew Bible has given us a full list of things that God claims to hate:
There are six things that YHWH hates [saney YHWH], seven that are an abomination to Him:
a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that run rapidly to evil,
a false witness who declares lies,
and one who spreads strife among brothers.
David understood the key component of God’s character: YHWH was entirely good; He could not abide in evil and so he hated the things that were a threat to a good and pure heart:
[David:] In the morning, YHWH, You will hear my voice; in the morning I will present my prayer to You and be on the watch. For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; no evil can dwell with You.
The boastful will not stand before Your eyes; You hate [saneta] all who do injustice. You destroy those who speak lies; YHWH loathes the person of bloodshed and deceit.
But as for me, by Your abundant graciousness I will enter Your house, at Your holy temple I will bow in reverence for You.
No evil could dwell in YHWH so He it was in His nature to opposed wickedness. He was a lover of good and hater of evil, a promoter of life and an opponent of death. Evil-doers were proponents of injustice, deceit, and death (bloodshed), everything which God, by nature, hated.
Here are a few other things the Bible tells us YHWH hated:
YHWH tests the righteous and the wicked, and His soul hates [san’ah] one who loves violence.
Paganism and Child Sacrifice:
“You shall not behave this way [the way pagan worshippers] toward YHWH your God, because every abominable act which YHWH hates [saney], they have done for their gods; for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire for their gods.”
Covenant Breaking (divorce), Violence and Treachery:
[YHWH:] “Be careful then about your spirit, and see that none of you deals treacherously against the wife of your youth. For I hate [sah’ney] divorce,” says YHWH, the God of Israel, “and him who covers his garment with violence,” says YHWH of armies. “So be careful about your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.”
Planning Evil and Loving Perjury:
“Also let none of you devise evil in your heart against another, and do not love perjury; for all these things are what I hate [saneti],” declares YHWH.
Insincerity by Those who Claim to Worship Him:
Isaiah 1:14-17 (see also Isaiah 61:8 & Amos 5:21-24)
[YHWH:] “My soul hates [sahn’ah] your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts, they have become a burden to Me; I am tired of bearing them.
So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; Yes, even though you offer many prayers, I will not be listening.
Your hands are covered with blood. Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Stop doing evil, learn to do good.
Seek justice, rebuke the oppressor, obtain justice for the orphan, plead for the widow’s case.”
It turns out that there is a time to hate, and there are things worth hating. But our petty hatreds are far off the scale from hating evil and everything that evil loves.
Be Kind to those Who Hate You
During Yeshua’s (Jesus’) ministry, the topic of hatred took centre stage. The political landscape was ripe with hostility and hatred. Both the Jews and the Greek Gentiles hated the Romans. They were their oppressors and the cause of their hardship. Hating Romans was an easy thing to do. Who loves their oppressors? It’s always easier to hate them.
But Yeshua turned the tables on hate. He preached that people ought to love others rather than hate them:
[Jesus:] “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate [Greek: miseseis] your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may prove yourselves to be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors, do they not do the same?”
Being hated is, unfortunately, a human experience. Almost everyone has experienced being hated. It was a common complaint that David expressed in his poetry:
[David:] Be gracious to me, YHWH; see my oppression from those who hate me [mi-sohn’ey], You who lift me up from the gates of death, so that I may tell of all Your praises, that in the gates of the daughter of Zion I may rejoice in Your salvation.
[David:] But my enemies are vigorous and strong, and those who wrongfully hate me [sohn’ai] are many. And those who repay evil for good, they become my enemies, because I follow what is good.
Do not abandon me, YHWH; My God, do not be far from me! Hurry to help me, Lord, my salvation!
[David:] Look at my enemies, for they are many, and with violent hatred they hate me [w-sin’at khamas s’neyuni].
Guard my soul and save me; do not let me be ashamed, for I take refuge in You. Let integrity and uprightness protect me, for I wait for You.mRedeem Israel, God, from all his distress.
[David:] Rescue me from the mud and do not let me sink. May I be rescued from those who hate me [mi-sohn’ai], and from the depths of water. May the flood of water not overflow me nor the deep swallow me up, nor the pit close its mouth on me.
Answer me, YHWH, for Your mercy is good; according to the greatness of Your compassion, turn to me, and do not hide Your face from Your servant, for I am in distress; answer me quickly.
In these passages David called out to God to be saved from his haters. David also thanked God for rescuing him from his haters:
Psalm 18:16-19 (see also 2 Samuel 22:17-18, 40-42)
[David:] He [God] sent from on high, He took me; He drew me out of many waters. He saved me from my strong enemy, and from those who hated me [u-mi-sohn’ey], for they were too mighty for me.
They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but YHWH was my support. He also brought me out into an open place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me.
Both Yeshua and David knew the writings of the Torah and they both knew that YHWH required their obedience in not hating their enemies or taking actions against them. The better way to live was to love:
‘You shall not hate [lo-ti-s’na] your fellow countryman in your heart; you may certainly rebuke your neighbour, but you are not to incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor hold any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbour as yourself; I am YHWH.’
In His teachings, Yeshua directly quoted this passage in Leviticus:
One of the scribes came up and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?”
Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is One; and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
The Tanakh (Old Testament) consistently commanded that God’s people show compassion and mercy to those who hated them:
Proverbs 25:21-22 (see also Romans 12:19-21)
If your enemy [your hater: sana’ka] is hungry, give him food to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for you will heap burning coals on his head, and YHWH will reward you.
Job argued his innocence by sharing how he behaved regarding those who hated him:
[Job:] “Have I rejoiced at the misfortune of my enemy [my hater: m-sahn’i], or become excited when evil found him? No, I have not allowed my mouth to sin by asking for his life in a curse.”
Similarly YHWH commended Solomon for not seeking the lives of his haters, but choosing instead to receive the wisdom and knowledge of God:
2 Chronicles 1:11-12
Then God said to Solomon, “Because this was in your heart, and you did not ask for riches, wealth, or honour, or the life of those who hate you [sohn’eka], nor did you even ask for long life, but you asked for yourself wisdom and knowledge so that you may rule My people over whom I have made you king, wisdom and knowledge have been granted to you. I will also give you riches, wealth, and honour, such as none of the kings who were before you has possessed, nor will those who will come after you.”
Solomon sought wisdom instead of vengeance and the death of his haters. This was what God wanted to hear. Desiring death does not belong in the hearts of those who follow YHWH, the God of Life. Desiring death means supporting the enemy of YHWH. It’s playing for the wrong team.
The Bible makes it pretty clear, those who hated their fellow humans were not in alignment with God.
One who hates [sohney] disguises it with his lips, but he harbors deceit in his heart. When he speaks graciously, do not believe him, because there are seven abominations in his heart.
Though his hatred [sohn’ah] covers itself with deception, his wickedness will be revealed in the assembly.
One who digs a pit will fall into it, and one who rolls a stone, it will come back on him. A lying tongue hates [yi-s’na] those it crushes, and a flattering mouth works ruin.
Those with hatred in their hearts were incubators for deceit and wickedness. Their actions vowed to crush and ruin the object of their hatred. This was not how people, who were created to be God’s image bearers, were to live.
Under the power of YHWH’s Adversary, the wicked supported and nurtured chaos and death. They use hatred as fuel for their fire; but they were walking into their own trap:
Evil will bring death to the wicked, and those who hate [w-son’eyi] the righteous will suffer for their guilt.
YHWH redeems the souls of His servants, and none of those who take refuge in Him will suffer for their guilt.
The only thing that the followers of YHWH were called to hate was evil:
Hate evil [sin’u ra], you who love YHWH, who watches over the souls of His godly ones; He saves them from the hand of the wicked.
Seek good and not evil, so that you may live; and so may YHWH God of armies be with you, just as you have said! Hate evil [sin’u ra], love good, and establish justice in the gate!
Proverbs 8:13, 34-36
[Wisdom:] “The fear of YHWH is to hate evil [s’noht ra]; pride, arrogance, the evil way, and the perverted mouth, I hate [saneti]…
…Blessed is the person who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at my doorposts. For one who finds me finds life, and obtains favour from YHWH. But one who sins against me injures himself; all those who hate me [m-sahn’ai] love death.”
Evil was the only thing that deserved our hatred; everything else was to be loved.
Hatred at the Cross
Yeshua certainly felt hatred directed towards him during His entire ministry. The elite Jewish leaders hated him; Rome hated Him; even some of His own family members resented Him.
God of my praise, do not be silent! For they have opened a wicked and deceitful mouth against me; they have spoken against me with a lying tongue.
They have also surrounded me with words of hatred [sin’ah], and have fought against me without cause. In return for my love they act as my accusers; but I am in prayer.
So they have repaid me evil for good, and hatred [w-sin’ah] for my love.
During His trail and execution, Yeshua was surrounded by hateful words. He was accused, without cause, by power-hungry, deceitful, religious leaders. All the love He had for them, they repaid to him in hatred.
Yeshua knew His fate. He would be mocked, insulted, beaten and scorned before facing a terribly painful death. But before he would go to the cross He taught His followers that they too would face hatred, insults and scorn, but in their suffering YHWH would bless them:
“Blessed are you when the people hate [Greek: misesosin] you, and when they exclude you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice on that day and jump for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven.”
Bearing God’s name wasn’t easy; it was never meant to be easy. We may be hated for our allegiance to Yeshua, but if we hold onto faith and remain strong in our love, YHWH will save us:
Mark 13:13 (see also Matthew 10:22. Luke 21:17)
“And you will be hated [Greek: misoumenoi] by everyone because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.”
Centuries earlier the prophet Isaiah shared a similar message:
Hear the word of YHWH, you who tremble at His word:
“Your brothers who hate you [sohn’ekem], who exclude you on account of My name, have said, ‘Let YHWH be glorified, so that we may see your joy.’ But they will be put to shame.”
Yeshua taught His disciples that the hatred that they felt, He also felt. They were not alone; He would understand their suffering because He also suffered:
“If the world hates [Greek: misei] you, you know that it has hated [Greek: memisekem] Me before you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates [misei] you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you as well; if they followed My word, they will follow yours also. But all these things they will do to you on account of My name, because they do not know the One who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. The one who hates [Greek: mison] Me hates [Greek: misei] My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated [memisekasin] Me and My Father as well. But this has happened so that the word that is written in their Law will be fulfilled: ‘They hated [Greek: Emisesan] Me for no reason.’”
The apostle Paul, who was no stranger to being hated, called on the followers of God to hate only one thing:
Love must be free of hypocrisy. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honour, not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
It’s a simple message: hate evil, cling to good… and pray for those who persecute you. Prayer can free you from the hatred you feel. Hatred can feel like a form of slavery; it binds you in chains and holds you back from true freedom.
Corrie ten Boom who suffered for months in the Ravensbruck concentration camp, had many reasons to hate, but she promised her sister Betsie, before she died in the camp, that she would not hate… she would not succumb to the heavy burden of dwelling in her hatred. Later in life Corrie wrote, “Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hatred.”
In the book of Proverbs we read, “Hatred [sin’ah] stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses” (Proverbs 10:12).
It is the love of Yeshua that has freed us from the chains or hatred and oppression. As the Roman poet Virgil put it, “Amor vincit omnia, et nos cedamus amori” (Love conquers all things, so we too shall yield to love). About fifty years after Virgil’s death, Yeshua would yield to love, give up His life, and set us free from hatred by His outstanding love:
“Just as the Father has loved Me, I also have loved you; remain in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will remain in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that a person will lay down his life for his friends.”
Yeshua’s sacrifice opened up, for us, the gates to YHWH’s Kingdom where there will be no evil… because there will be nothing left to hate. There is no place reserved for hatred in God’s Heavenly Home. It will cease to exist, because where God is love resides, and hate cannot exist in an ocean of love.
Next week: The Expanse, Firmament, Sky