What does the word “glory” mean to you?
Last week we talked about “the glory of the Lord” and discovered the Bible uses the word “glory” a lot, (285 times in the NIV), but we never did settle on what it means. That’s probably because it’s one of those words we hear, but only vaguely grasp it’s meaning.
According to Merriam Webster.com, glory has many definitions: five noun definitions, one verb definition, and one interjection definition. I was going to list them all here, and discuss which definitions applied to what we read in the Bible, but I remembered something important.
The word we read as “glory” is translated from another language; two other languages actually. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew, and the New Testament was written in Greek. In order to have better understanding of the word we read as “glory”, maybe we should see how the original writer’s meant it.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I really need to learn ancient Hebrew..and Greek..and probably Latin too. Since I don’t know any of those languages, except for a word here and there, I broke out both Young’s Analytical Concordance, and Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. Both are for use with the King James version.
The first thing I realized was that my eyes aren’t as good as they used to be, so I used a page magnifier to get a better look. Still, the eye strain got to me pretty quickly. The second thing was that there are several different words translated “glory”, as well as all the variations of the word. In Strong’s, I counted 15 different Hebrew, and 6 different Greek words. It’s a little more difficult to count in Young’s but I’m guessing the number to be the same, or at least, very close.
The way Strong’s works is that words appearing in the KJV are given in alphabetical order. Under the listing for the English word, scripture references are given, in the order in which they appear. Next to the scripture reference is the phrase from that verse, using the word in question. After the phrase, there is a number. This number either corresponds to a word in the Hebrew/Chaldee or Greek dictionary, both which are located in the back of the book. If the reference is in the Old Testament, use the Hebrew/Chaldee dictionary; if it’s in the New, use the Greek. The dictionary will give the word as it is written in the original language, the English version and then what the word means, and how it is used.
Looking at the first entry under the word glory, I saw that it was in Genesis, and the number was 3519. Looking in the Hebrew/Chaldee dictionary I found the following.
About half the time you read the word glory in the old testament, this was the original word. Kabod means heavy or weighty, as in having value or abundance. Sometimes it is translated as “honor”.
Young’s works a little differently. Under the English word, it gives you different meanings with the corresponding Hebrew or Greek word. Then it gives a scriptural example of that meaning. Using the English spelling of the Hebrew or Greek word, you can go to the back of the book and locate the corresponding word. Then you can see how many ways that word is translated, and how often it is translated a certain way. It shows kabod translated as glorious ten times, gloriously twice, glory 155 times, honor 29 times, and honorable once.
We could spend a LOT of time researching each of the different Hebrew and Greek words translated as “glory”, but I am discovering that is way beyond the scope of this blog. At least it is for now.
This post from Regina at Daily Bible Study Tips not only explains the usage of kabod, but also covers some of the same territory we did last week. The Holman Bible Dictionary gives a lengthy definition of glory, using both kabod and the Greek word doxa.
Before we go, let’s look at one more use of kabod.
This takes place after the event involving the golden calf (Exodus 32). God is angry and tells Moses, and the people to go ahead into the promised land, but He isn’t going with them because He might kill them. Moses asks the Lord to reconsider, because they are His people, and how will anyone know that they are God’s people if He doesn’t go with them? God tells Moses that He will do as Moses asks. Then Moses says something extraordinary:
“Then Moses said, ‘Now show me your glory (kabod).’” (Ex 33:18)
What did Moses mean? There may be a clue in verse 13. Moses says,
“ If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you.”
I think he wanted to know God as intimately as God knew him. He wanted to know the full weight, the full abundance, that is God. Moses wanted to really see God. Look what God says to him.
“And the Lord said, ‘I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,’ he said, ‘you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.’ Then the Lord said, ‘There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.‘”(Ex 33:19-33)
Isn’t that amazing?