Flame of Fire

The Hebrew language can have some curious links which are obscured in English bible translations. The burning bush is one example with the word ‘flame – labba‘, which seems to have a cognate link with the word for ‘heart’.

“And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed.” (Exodus 3:2).

This Hebrew word for ‘flame’ in Exodus 3:2 is the word labba which is used in 2 Samuel 13:6, 8 of the heart-shaped cakes which Amnon asks Tamar to make for him. Is there any real connection? What is conveyed by this Hebrew word translated flame in Exodus 3:2?

Young’s concordance seems to suggest that the idea is that the flame represents the ‘heart’ of the fire. While Jackie Naude in the NIDOTTE states that the verb in 2 Samuel 13 refers to making cakes by using flames of a fire.

I don’t have a lot of insight – for me it is a curiosity which draws me to meditate upon a word that I’d easily skim over in the English. At this point I simply note this about the word in Exodus 3:2. There is certainly more to explore in the ‘flame of fire’ expression where other words (similar and connected? – Jackie Naude has more to say on that word group which seems to indicate connection) are used such as in Psalm 104:4 which is quoted in Hebrews 1:7:

“Of the angels he says, He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire.”

The writer to the Hebrews refers to the angels in order to emphasize the superiority of the Son. It seems fitting then to conclude this reflection by quoting the words of Jesus when he himself referred to the meeting of Moses at the burning bush in Exodus 3:

“But Jesus answered them, you are wrong, because you know neither know the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.’ And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching.” (Matthew 22:29-33).

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