Faith vs Emunah
What does it mean to have "faith" from an Hebraic perspective? In our western minds faith is a mental exercise in knowing that someone or something exists or will act. For instance, if we say "I have faith in God (El)" we are saying "I know that God (El) exists and do what he says he will do". When we think of the word 'faith' our minds would probably think along the lines of faith being our belief system or placing our trust in someone or something. The Hebrew word for faith is emunah and is an action oriented word meaning "support". This is important because the Western concept of faith places the action on the one you have faith in, such as "faith in God (El)". But, the Hebrew word emunah places the action on the one who "supports God". It is not a knowing that God will act, but rather I will do what I can to support God. This idea of support for the word emunah can be seen in Exodus 17:12.
'But Moses' hands grew weary; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat upon it, and Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; so his hands were steady (emunah) until the going down of the sun.'.
It is the support / emunah of Aaron and Hur that held of Moses' arms, not the support / emunah of Moses. When we say "I have faith in God" (El), we should be thinking "I will do what I can to support God (El)".
The Hebrew word for faith and faithfulness is the same, 'emunah'.
From a Hebraic perspective the word emunah means firmness, something or someone that is firm in their actions. It is a firm action, not just an internal reality.
The word emunah comes from the Hebrew root word 'aman'. The Hebrew root aman means firm, something that is supported or secure.
In Hebraic thinking , if a person has faith, he will be a faithful, covenant-keeping person. He will have the character trait of faithfulness in his daily actions. Faith and faithfulness cannot be separated. The person whose faith is not deeply rooted in his heart will often not be faithful in his behaviour, but the person of real faith will exhibit faithfulness in His actions. Therefore, we can see that faith produces faithfulness in our actions. You cannot have one without the other.
As a Yahudim (Jew) once said, 'if someone is not doing it, what do I care what they believe.'
James 2 v 14 also confirm this:
'My brothers, what use is it for anyone to say he has belief but does not have works? (emunah) This belief is unable to save him.'
When we have faith (emunah) in Yahuwah we believe that He is faithful (emunah) to us. We stand firm and are secure in the knowledge that He will support us and be faithful (emunah) in His deeds towards us and we show our belief in our actions.
Emunah is a two way thing. Yahuwah is emunah to us in His actions towards us, and we must also be emunah to Him, in our actions towards Him. How are we emunah to Him? We obey and keep His Commands.
In pictograph the pictures for the words emunah are:
We can see we have:
An Aleph - Ox head - strong, powerful, leader
A Mem - Water - chaos, Mighty, blood, people
A Waw - Peg - secure, add, hook
A Nun - Seed - heir, inheritance, continue, son
A Hey - Man praising - behold, look, life, breath
This can be interpreted as:
The Strong, Mighty One secures Himself to us and makes us an heir / gives us an inheritance that leads to life.
When we secure ourselves to the Strong Mighty One and through His Son we have life.
May each one of us choose to secure ourselves to our faithful (emunah) compassionate El, and may our faith (emunah) overflow in our hearts and minds. May our lives reflect the faithful (emunah) El that we serve, through our faithful (emunah) deeds and actions.