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Plowing through History from the Aleph to the Tav

Topics Definition of Modern Hebrew Words


By Jeff A. Benner

The word שלום (shalom, Strong's #7965) is used in Modern Hebrew as a greeting, similar to our use of “hello,” or as a farewell, similar to our use of “good-bye.” A common phrase in Modern Hebrew using this word is mah shlom’kha and literally means “What is your shalom?” and is used the same as the English phrase “How are you?” The phrase mah shlom’kha is used when speaking to a male, but when speaking to a female this would be mah shlo’mekh.

The common greeting on the Shabbat (Sabbath) day is “Shabbat shalom.” While this is usually translated or interpreted as “Shabbat peace,” the Hebraic meaning is much deeper. The word שבת (shabbat, Strong's #7676) comes from the verb שבת (Sh.B.T, Strong's #7673) meaning “to cease” or “stop,” hence it can mean “to rest” but in the sense of stopping from physical activity. Therefore, the Shabbat day is a day of ceasing. The word שלום (shalom, Strong's #7965) literally means “whole,” or “complete.” Therefore the phrase Shabbat shalom more literally means “May your day of ceasing make you whole and complete.”

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