God Is a Faithful King

Yael Eckstein  |  August 25, 2021

A bejeweled golden crown on an orange pillow.

Then all the people shall say, “Amen!” — Deuteronomy 27:15-26

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Ki Tavo, which means “when you have entered,” from Deuteronomy 26:1–29:8.

As a Jew who speaks Hebrew I am always fascinated when there are English words that are actually Hebrew words spelled out in English letters. “Cherub,” “leviathan,” and “behemoth” are just a few examples that come to mind. These words in the Hebrew Bible have made their way into the English language.

But there is one Hebrew word that is used in English, especially by Christians, more often than any other. It’s not even close. That word, of course, is Amen. It is used so frequently in English that when I point out to my Christian friends that it’s a Hebrew word, it’s not uncommon for them to be surprised. I’ve even been asked how to say “Amen” in Hebrew!

There are twelve consecutive verses in this week’s Torah portion that end with Amen. All these verses are warnings against immoral behavior such as idolatry, sexual immorality, and dishonest dealings with others. Each verse begins with the words, “Cursed is anyone…” followed by the sin in question. All twelve verses end the same way: “Then all the people shall say, ‘Amen’!”

God Is a Faithful King — Amen!

According to Webster’s dictionary, the definition of “Amen” is “used to express solemn ratification (as of an expression of faith) or hearty approval (as of an assertion).” While this definition is correct, Jewish tradition going back thousands of years teaches us that there is a much deeper meaning to Amen.

In Hebrew Amen is made up of three letters: Aleph, Mem, and Nun. The Jewish sages in the Talmud revealed that Amen is an acronym, each letter implying a Hebrew word that begins with that letter. Aleph is the first letter of El — “God.” Mem is for melech — “king,” and Nun is for ne’eman — “faithful.” 

The sages explained that when we say “amen”, what we are really saying is, “God is a faithful king.” God is in control. He is the king. His will is true and good. And He is “faithful” — He will keep His promises. Even if we don’t understand His plan in the present as we see it, we have full faith and confidence that everything He does is for the good and that He will punish evil and repay and bless the righteous.

God is the faithful king. Amen!

Your Turn:

Is there something happening in your life or in the life of someone close to you that makes you wonder what God is doing? Remind yourself that God is a faithful king. He is in control. His will is good.

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