Mishlé (Proverbs) 16:18: Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.
Pride, a word we are all familiar with, is a concept with positive and negative connotations. What did it mean to the people of Shelomoh’s (Solomon’s) time, or the Hebrew people in general? Let’s delve into the meaning behind the word pride and seek a greater understanding!
The word “pride,” as seen above, is translated from the Hebrew word “ga’own“גָּאוֹן (H1347 – gä·ōhn) meaning “pride, arrogance (bad sense), majesty, exaltation, excellence.” It is derived from the primitive Hebrew root “ga’ah” (H1342 – gä·ä’) meaning “to rise up, to grow up, to be lifted up, be raised up, be exalted.”
Looking at the possible pictographical meaning we have the “strong addition to the walk of the heir” and/or the ” strong hook of the new walk” or “the power dividing the walk of the seed.” When examining those possible meanings, you can see where descriptions such as pride (good or bad), arrogance, majesty, etc. can be derived – all have a strong pull on your character, in a good and/or bad sense, as you walk this journey in life , possibly more so when the walk changes or after success or overcoming adversity. We can also see this through a decisive moment that separates one moment from the next, with a power that is not our own – through the works of our Elohim (the vav sometimes represents a “connection/connector” between the heavenly and the earthly, the spiritual and the flesh). Now let’s examine this concept through scripture:
First Instance of the word “ga’own”:
Shemoth (Exodus) 15:7: “In the greatness of your excellency, you overthrow those who rise up against you: You send forth your wrath. It consumes them as stubble.”
– Here we see the last portion of the possible meanings – the excellency is ascribed completely to Yahweh, because it is by His mighty hand and outstretched arm that the children of Yisra’el were saved from the hand of Pharaoh. It also served as dividing moment between their life as slaves under Pharaoh and as a free people under the rule of their Spiritual King.
Other instances of ga’own:
Vayikra (Leviticus) 26:19-20:
(19) And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass:
(20) And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.
– This portion of the scripture comes as foreboding warning to the children of Yisra’el about disobedience to Yahweh, sometimes known as “the blessings and curses.” Great blessings came for those following the Torah – life and prosperity in the land where He was sending them. Curses came for those who were disobedient and, for the purposes of this study, the prideful and arrogant. You may be thinking what is wrong with pride in this case – when you take away the esteem that belongs to Yahweh for the blessings in your life and ascribe them to yourself, you set yourself as Elohim and begin a dangerous cycle of self-love and appreciation for the blessings that, in your mind, you have created.
Tehellim (Psalms) 59:13-14:
(13) For the sin of their mouth and the words of their lips let them even be taken in their pride: and for cursing and lying which they speak.
(14) Consume them in wrath, consume them, that they may not be: and let them know that Yahweh rules in Ya’akov unto the ends of the earth. Selah.
– This verse from the Psalms further demonstrates the punishment that comes with pride – death! Nothing good comes from glorifying yourself, but all good comes from glorifying Yahweh our Elohim.