Shemoth (Exodus) 20:12: Honor your father and your mother: that your days may be long upon the land which Yahweh your Elohim gives you.
The concept of “honoring” your father and mother is one that many of us have heard our entire lives, but do we really understand it? Was our understanding of the word “honor” comparable to what they understood at the time the words were given? Let’s delve into the word honor and explore its origin and meaning in those days, so that we may understand the true essence and meaning of those precious words!
The word “honor” is translated from the Hebrew word “kavad” (H3513 – kä·vad’) meaning “to be heavy, be weighty, be grievous, be hard, be rich, be honorable, be esteemed (glorious), be burdensome, be honored.” It is the root word for the Hebrew word “kavowd/k’vod” (H3519 – kä·vōde’) which is commonly translated as “esteem/glory.“
The pictographical meaning that we can gain from the word “kavad” is “supporting the movement/entrance/door of the house” lending to the idea of weight or heaviness or burden, as a door post/lintel supports the weight of the door into the home. The idea of “taming the movement within” also lends to the idea of honor – a healthy reverence for ones own integrity achieved through overcoming burdens with the help of Yahweh our Elohim.
The first instance of “kavad”
Beresheit (Genesis) 13:2: And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.
– Interestingly enough, the reference to the word “kavad” refers to the weight of wealth pulling down on a man, in the case Avram/Abram (better known as Abraham/Avraham), not the burden of honor. And yet, it was through Yahweh’s honoring of His oath to Avraham that Avraham gained such wealth in the face of all men, and through no real works of his own hand. It brings to mind a scripture found in the book of Luke:
Luços (Luke) 12:48: …”For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”
Other Instances of Kavad:
Beresheit (Genesis) 18:20: The Messenger of Elohim said, “Because the cry of Sedom and `Amorah is great, and because their sin is very grievous.”
– This passage is from the pending destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah where Avraham is questioning the Messenger of Elohim (angel of the l-rd, or just l-rd as translated in some versions) on whether the righteous will die with the unrighteous of the two cities. The word “grievous” is the word translated from “kavad,” lending to the idea of the ‘weight of the peoples sin bearing down upon them.”
Beresheit (Genesis) 48:10: Now the eyes of Yisra’el were dim for age, so that he couldn’t see. He brought them near to him; and he kissed them, and embraced them.
– This passage is from the blessing of Ya’akov/Yisra’el (Jacob/Israel) upon his children and the tribes before his death. Because of his age, both the lids of his eyes were heavy and his eyesight was waning, because of the length of his life.
Shemoth (Exodus) 8:15: But when Pharaoh saw that there was a respite, he hardened his heart, and didn’t listen to them, as Elohim had spoken.
– The concept of “hardening of one’s heart” was due to the heaviness of hatred, spite, pride and denial upon the Pharaoh’s heart. Yahweh had to break Pharaoh down, strip him of all his earthly glory, and humble him in order to show His greatness. Yahweh also used the Pharaoh’s pride and self love against him to do His will. The concept of hardening of the heart is also seen in Exo 8:32; 9:7,34; 10:1; 14:4,17.
Shemoth (Exodus) 20:12: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which Yahweh your Elohim gives you.”
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 5:16: “Honor your father and your mother, as Yahweh your Elohim commanded you; that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you, in the land which Yahweh your Elohim gives you.”
– The fifth of the Ten Commandments carries a dual meaning in the word “honor” – the burden of responsibility for your parents, who give you life and teach you in the ways of the Most High; and, the burden of responsibility to Yahweh your Elohim because your parents were set in place to guard you and raise you up in His ways. Disobedience of the command does not only slight your parents, but Yahweh himself for if you cannot honor your earthly parents that you can see, how much more then your Creator whom you cannot see! Obedience of the command was never meant for salvation, it was meant as life and a display of your love for your creator!
All told, there are over 100 reference to the word kavad in the Tanakh (Old Testament) alone, mostly translated as the word honor, and several in the New Testament as well. Seek them out, seek understanding, and may Yahweh bless you as you seek out His paths of righteousness. Shalom Aleichem!