How have You Loved Us?
“And I shall abide in the midst of the Israelites and I shall be God to them. And they shall know that I am YHWH their God who brought them out from the land of Egypt for Me to abide in their midst. I am YHWH their God” (Exodus 29:45–46).
“For you are a holy people to YHWH your God. You YHWH has chosen to become for Him a treasured people among all the peoples that are on the face of the earth. Not because you are more numerous than all the peoples did YHWH desire you and choose you, for you are the fewest of all the peoples. But because of אַהֲבַת יְהוָה אֶתְכֶם (ahavat Adonai etkhem), YHWH’s love for you, and because of His keeping the vow that He swore to your fathers He has brought you out with a strong hand and ransomed you from the house of slaves, from the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. And you shall know that YHWH your God, He is God, the steadfast god keeping the covenant and the faith for those who love Him and keeping His commands to the thousandth generation, but He pays back those who hate Him to their face to make them perish. He will not delay—him who hates Him to his face He will pay back. And you shall keep what is commanded and the statutes and the laws that I charge you today to do” (Deuteronomy 7:6–11).
“Only your fathers did YHWH desire to אַהֲבָה (ahavah), love, them, and He chose their seed after them, chose you from all the peoples as on this day. And you shall circumcise the foreskin of your heart, nor shall you show a stiff neck anymore. For YHWH your God, He is the God of gods and the Master of masters, the great and mighty and fearsome God who shows no favor and takes no bribe, doing justice for orphan and widow and loving the sojourner to give him bread and cloak” (ibid. 10:15–18).
“And Balaam said to God: ‘Balak son of Zippor has sent to me: “Look, the people that has come out of Egypt has covered the eye of the land. So, go hex it for me. Perhaps I shall be able to do battle against it and drive it out.”’ And God said to Balaam, ‘You shall not go with them. You shall not curse the people, for it is blessed’” (Numbers 22:10–12).
“But YHWH your God did not want to listen to Balaam, and YHWH your God turned the curse into blessing for you, for YHWH your God אֲהֵבְךָ (ahevekhah), loves you” (Deuteronomy 23:6).
“YHWH’s acts of kindness I recall, the praises of YHWH. As for all that YHWH requited us, and the great bounty to the house of Israel whom He requited with His mercy and with His many acts of kindness. And He said, ‘Why, they are My people, children who do not betray,’ and He became their rescuer. In all their distress was He distressed, and the agent of His presence rescued them. In אַהֲבָתוֹ (ahavato), His love, and in His compassion He redeemed them, plucked them up and bore them all the days of yore. But they rebelled and pained His Holy spirit, and He became an enemy to them, He fought against them. But He recalled the days of yore, drawing His people out from the water: Where is He who brought them up from the sea, the shepherds of His flock? Where is He who put in their midst His holy spirit? Who led at the right hand of Moses with His glorious arm, split the waters before them to make Him an everlasting name, leading them through the deep; like a horse in the desert they did not stumble. Like cattle in the valley You guided them, YHWH’s spirit guided them. So you led Your people to make You a glorious name. Look from the heavens and see, from Your holy and glorious abode. Where are Your zeal and Your might? Your deep feeling and your compassion are held back from me. Though Abraham did not know us nor Israel recognize us, You, YHWH, are our Father, our Redeemer of yore is Your name” (Isaiah 63:7–16).
“For whom YHWH יֶאֱהַב (ye’ehav), loves, He rebukes, and like a father his son, regards him kindly” (Proverbs 3:12).
“Better open reproof than hidden אַהֲבָה (ahavah), love. The wounds from a friend are faithful but the kisses of a foe are profuse” (ibid. 27:5-6).
“Thus said YHWH: The people, survivors of the sword, have found favor in the wilderness, Israel going to find rest. From afar YHWH appeared to me: With אַהֲבַת עוֹלָם אֲהַבְתִּיךְ (ahavat olam ahavetikh), everlasting love do I love you, therefore did I draw you in kindness. Yet will I rebuild you and you will be built, O Virgin Israel, yet shall you deck yourself with your timbrels and go out in the celebrants’ dance” (Jeremiah 31:2–3).
“And I will betroth you to Me forever, I will betroth you in right and in justice and in kindness and in mercy. And I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you shall know that I am YHWH” (Hosea 2:21–22).
“For Israel was a lad וָאֹהֲבֵהוּ (va-ohavehu), and I loved him, and from Egypt I called to My son. They called to them, yet they went off from them. To the Baalim they sacrificed, and to the idols they burned incense. Yet I taught Ephraim to walk, took him by his arms, but they did not know that I had healed them. With human cords I tugged them, with bonds of אַהֲבָה (ahavah), love, and I became to them like those who lift an infant to their cheeks, and I bent over them and fed them. No! He turned back to the land of Egypt, and Assyria was his king, for they refused to come back to Me. And the sword shall swoop down on his towns and destroy his limbs and devour because of their counsels. And My people cling to rebellion against Me. When they call him on high, he does not rise up. How can I give you over, Ephraim, surrender you, Israel? How can I make you like Admah, set you like Zeboiim? My heart churns within me, My compassion altogether is stirred. I will not act in My blazing wrath, I will no more destroy Ephraim. For I am God and not a man, the Holy One in your midst, and I do not desire to root out” (ibid. 11:1–9).
“I will heal their rebellion, אֹהֲבֵם נְדָבָה (ohavem nedavah), I will love them freely, for My wrath has turned back from them” (ibid. 14:5).
“אָהַבְתִּי (Ahavti), I have loved you, said YHWH, and you said, ‘How have אֲהַבְתָּנוּ (ahavtanu), You loved us?’ Is not Esau Jacob’s brother? said YHWH. וָאֹהַב (Va-ohav), and I loved Jacob, but Esau I hated, and I made his mountains a desolation and his estate—for the desert jackals. Should Edom say, ‘We are beggared, but once more we will build the ruins,’ thus said YHWH of Armies: They shall build but I will destroy, and they shall be called the region of wickedness and the people YHWH cursed for all time. And your own eyes shall see and you shall say, May YHWH be great beyond the region of Israel.’ A son honors his father, and a slave his master, but if I am a father, where is My honor, and if I am a master, where is the fear of Me?” (Malachi 1:2–6).
“He has brought me to the house of wine
and his banner over me is love.
Stay me up with raisin cakes,
cushion me with quinces,
for I am in חוֹלַת אַהֲבָה (ḥolat ahavah), a swoon of love.
His left hand beneath my head,
his right hand embracing me.
I make you swear, O daughters of Jerusalem
by the deer or the gazelles of the field,
that you shall not rouse not stir הָאַהֲבָה (ha-ahavah), love,
until it pleases” (Song of Songs 2:4–7).
“I was asleep but my heart was awake:
Hark! דּוֹדִי (dodi), my lover, knocks.
—Open for me, my sister, my friend,
my dove, my perfect one.
For my head is drenched with dew,
my locks with the drops of the night” (ibid. 5:2).
“How fair you are, how sweet,
O אַהֲבָה (ahavah), Love, among delights!” (ibid. 7:7).
“Set me as a seal on your heart,
as a seal on your arm.
For strong as death is אַהֲבָה (ahavah), love,
fierce as Sheol is
Its sparks are fiery sparks,
a fearsome flame.
Many waters cannot
put out הָאַהֲבָה (ha-ahavah), love,
nor rivers sweep it away.
Should a man give
all the wealth of his house בָּאַהֲבָה (ba-ahavah), for love,
they would surely scorn him” (ibid. 8:6–7).
“You who dwell in the garden,
friends listen for your voice.
Let me hear it.
—Flee דּוֹדִי (dodi), my lover, and be like a deer
or like a gazelle
on the spice mountains” (ibid. 8:14).