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Plowing through History from the Aleph to the Tav

Topics Definition of Modern Hebrew Words


By Jeff A. Benner

ChurchThe Modern Hebrew word for a "church" is כנסייה (k'ney'si'yah), written as כְּנֵסִיָה with the nikkudot (vowel pointings), and can refer to the building or the organization. This word is derived from the Biblical Hebrew root word כנס (K.N.S, Strong's #3664) and means to "gather together."

In the Greek New Testament the word for "church" is ἐκκλησία (ekklesia, Strong's #1577) and literally means a "gathering of people." In the Aramaic New Testament, the Peshitta, the Aramaic word עדה (ey'dah) is used and is equivalent to the Hebrew word עדה (ey'dah, Strong's #5712). This word is used throughout the Old Testament and is translated in various ways including; congregation, company, assembly, multitude, people and swarm.

Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel… (Exodus 12:3, KJV) Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together… (Numbers 20:8, KJV)

…there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcase of the lion. (Judges 14:8, KJV)

There are two other Hebrew words that can mean an "assembly," and could therefore be translated as "church."

The Hebrew word מועד (mo'eyd, Strong's #4150) also means "assembly" or "congregation" and is closely related to the word עדה (ey'dah). Both מועד and עדה come from the two-letter parent root עד (eyd, Strong's #5707), which means a "witness" or "testimony."

And thou shalt bring the Levites before the tabernacle of the congregation (מועד – mo'eyd): and thou shalt gather the whole assembly (עדה – ey'dah) of the children of Israel. (Numbers 8:9, KJV)

And Moses did as the LORD commanded him; and the assembly (עדה – ey'dah) was gathered together unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation (מועד – mo'eyd). (Leviticus 8:4, KJV)

The other Hebrew word that could be translated as "church" is the word קהל (qahal, Strong's #6951), which also means an "assembly."

When the sin, which they have sinned against it, is known, then the congregation (קהל – qahal) shall offer a young bullock for the sin, and bring him before the tabernacle of the congregation (מועד – mo'eyd). (Leviticus 4:14, KJV)

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