Thursday, February 16, 2023

The Hebrew verb אהב (ahav, pronounced ah-HAV, with the final bet pronounced as a "v") is a Biblical Hebrew word meaning "to love." The noun form of this word is אהבה (ahavah, pronounced ah-ha-VAH) meaning "love." Ahav and ahavah cover a broad spectrum of concepts of love.

For instance, it is the love that a man has for a woman, such as in Genesis 29:20: "So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love (באהבתו) he had for her."

It is the love a woman has for a man, such as in Song of Song 3:5: "Do not stir up or awaken love (האהבה) until it is ready!" or Song of Songs 5:8: "if you find my beloved, tell him this: I am faint with love (אהבה)."

It is the love shown by a man for another man, such as in 1 Samuel 20:17: "Jonathan made David swear again by his love (באהבתו) for him; for he loved (אהבו) him as he loved (אהבת) his own life," or 2 Samuel 1:26: "I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; greatly beloved were you to me; your love (אהבתך) to me was wonderful, passing the love (מאהבת) of women."

It is also the kind of love that God is said to show for his people (such as in Deuteronomy 7:8: "It was because the LORD loved (מאהבת) you and kept the oath that he swore to your ancestors, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.")

And for those wondering, this word is different than the name Ahab, which is spelled אחאב, with a het instead of a heh, and with an additional aleph before the bet.