KNOWING OUR Hebrew Roots: H-N-K

Ministry of Education in Jerusalem
Misrad Ha Hinuch (The Ministry of Education) in Jerusalem

There are several Hebrew words related to the ancient Hebrew root h~n~k, “to make narrow”. In Prov 22.6, “Hanoch a child in the way he should go... means to teach, instruct or train. (The Ministry of Education in Israel is the Misrad Ha Hinuch) But this proverb could be understood, “Narrow the way of a child...” The idea of training our children in that narrow way - a way that says “no” to the enticements of the world - is strikingly similar to Jesus’ saying in (Matt 7:13), “Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

Hanoch (Enoch) Walked with the Lord
illustration from the 1728 Figures de la Bible by Gerard Hoet

The name Enoch also shares this root and means dedicated. In GENESIS 5 we read, “Hanoch walked with God...” Here was a man who walked a path so pleasing to the Lord that “he was no more because God took him.”

Another related word in modern Hebrew is used after moving to a new home. A house-warming party is called han-ukat-bayit (house dedication).The most well known word sharing this root is Hanukah. The Feast of the Dedication (JOHN 10.22) celebrates the 2nd century B.C. victory of faithful Jews over the threat of assimilation into the then dominant Greek culture. But more importantly it celebrates the cleansing of the Jerusalem Temple from idols and pagan worship and its re-dedication to the Lord. Hanukah is a good reminder for us to re-dedicate ourselves to that narrow path so that we will “be not conformed to this world... but transformed.” (ROMANS 12)


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