Understanding True Repentance

The Hebrew concept for repentance comes from some basic Hebrew words. These words must be understood in order for anyone to stand before Yah in a righteous state. The word “righteous” meaning “right-standing” with Yah. This lesson is not for the “faint of heart” but for those who want to seriously study the matter.

In this particular lesson I will not be explaining how Yeshua the Messiah plays into this equation of “right-standing” with Yahweh by His blood atonement upon the cross. I will only make a couple of statements here. First, there must always be “blood atonement” and Yeshua provided that. Second, Yeshua came so that He might “restore” that which was lost in the Garden of Eden by returning mankind to the heart of His Father. Lastly, that Yeshua was the Word made flesh, and as is so adequately explained in the Newer Testament, He was “in the beginning” and all things were created by and through Him.

That being said let's begin this journey to true repentance and right-standing with our Creator.

The concept of sin in the Bible is that of an archer. An archer has a target. When he misses the target, his arrow goes astray. This going astray is what is called sin or “missing the mark”. What is the target that the archer is aiming at to make a perfect bullseye? Well, the Apostle John, among many others, tells us what the target is and how we go astray like that arrow.

I John 3: 4 “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness (torahlessness), and sin is lawlessness (torahlessness)” (NKJV - brackets added by me)

Hence, we go astray (sin) when we do not keep Torah, Yahweh’s Holy Word.

In Hebrew, repentance is connected to two words:

nacham - meaning “to be sorry”, and

shuv – meaning “to turn back”

In other words, when a person repents for going astray from God's Holy Word, they must do two things in this order: first, they must be sorrowful for the transgression they committed against God's teachings and instructions, and they must ask God to forgive them for this sin. Second, they must turn around and go back the other way.

What does it mean to “turn back” as it relates to repentance?

A couple of scriptures can help us to understand this concept.

The first occurrence of this word “shuv” (turn back) takes place in Genesis. The law of first mention is important here. God is speaking to Adam.

Genesis 3:19 “In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return (shuv) to the ground (adamah), for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return (shuv).”

(NKJV – brackets with Hebrew word added by me)

Here we see the common Hebrew play on words: Adam came from Adamah (ground), and we also see that Adam was to return (shuv) to the starting point from where he began, or originated; the ground.

Exodus 13:17 “Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, “Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return (shuv) to Egypt.”

Again, they may want to return (shuv) to where they had come from.

The word shuv is not just a “turn around and go back” to any point that a person desires. If I am headed in a direction and about to fall off a cliff, I can turn around and go in a different direction and still fall off a cliff. Instead, when dealing with repentance and restoration, “shuv” is a returning to a starting point, or origin. To simply “turn away” from some sin is not to “shuv” but a person must “return” to a previous point that was accepted by YHVH. What is the starting point?

Let's continue to explore some more Hebrew words that will give us the explanation. Please keep in mind that we are trying to discover the “starting point” that we are to “return” to that was acceptable to God; so that we can “hit the target” and not go astray.

Shavua – the word in Hebrew for “week”. In Strong's concordance (H7620) it means “sevened”.

Shava or She-vu-ah – the Hebrew word for “oath or swear”. It is a root word in Hebrew and in Strong's (H7650) it means to “be complete, to be full, to seven oneself”.

Sheva – the Hebrew word for the number 7. In Strong's (H7651) it means “7, the full one, seven times, a week”

What do these words all have in common with “shuv” (to turn back)?

In Hebrew, words are related by the way they sound and by the letters, and/or root words, that they share. In the Hebrew language a person must look at the consonants for these similarities because Hebrew has no written vowels. The vowels are spoken in the language because of familiarity of the word usage. Hence, we can see that all of the above words, share the same consonants. They all contain the Hebrew letter “bet/vet” and the Hebrew letter “shin”. The “Bet/vet” in Hebrew represents a house or dwelling place and The Scriptures begin with this letter in Genesis 1:1.  It denotes that the Creator is building His house or dwelling place. The “Shin” represents Yahweh’s Divine Power and His Name. In Hebrew the “Shin” is said to represent the 7th day Sabbath. 

In fact, the word “shavua” and “sheva”, the words for “week” and “seven”, both come from the root word for “oath or swear”; “shava or shevuah”. This is a very important point to this lesson. These words are all intrinsically ti