The Hebrew Word For Glory: Kavod

by | Feb 15, 2024 | Blog | 0 comments

We live in a world that glorifies wealth and success. We have elevated wealth and success to a point where they are apparently the only variables that are important in life. However, as Christians, we strive to give God the glory for all the success we may experience. The Hebrew word for glory appears approximately 200 times in the Old Testament, emphasizing its importance.

So what’s the Hebrew word for glory?

The word “kavod” is translated as ‘glory’ in the Bible. The Hebrew word for glory, kavod has more than one meaning. It often represents God’s glory and honor and the second Hebraic meaning represents heaviness or physical weightiness. In the Old Testament, God’s glory would come and go and sometimes it refers to Himself.

What Does Kavod Mean?

This Hebrew word Kavod, Kabod, or kabowd has two main translations: glory and weight. The pictographs in the word kavod give us a deeper and better understanding of the Hebrew Bible. Kavod is the Hebrew noun derived from the 3 letter verb root: kaf-bet-dalet.

The ancient pictographs of Kaph, Bet, and Dalet are

  • Kaph represents a palm or open hand. This pictograph tells us that God’s glory covers us.
  • Bet represents the house, a place of shelter and protection. This pictogram tells us that glory is experienced inside or in a close relationship with God.
  • Dalet represents a door, to enter, move towards something or connection. This pictogram tells us that the only way to experience glory is through God.

The translation of kavod to mean weight is seen in scripture that says, “Behold, tomorrow about this time I will cause very heavy (kavod) hail to rain down, such as has not been in Egypt since its founding until now” (Exodus 9:18).

Calling God the “King of Glory” means He is the most powerful king worthy of our love, praise, and worship (Psalms 24:8). However, to get into God’s presence or stand in his holy place we must have clean hands, a pure heart, a soul not lifted to vanity nor sworn deceitfully (Psalm 24:4-5).

What is Glory in the Old Testament and Its Importance?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, to glorify something means to speak of it in high esteem. For instance, an athlete attains glory by breaking the world record. So, glory is honoring someone after some achievement.

However, glory in the Bible has a different meaning. God’s love, power, wisdom, and grace make him glorious. Glory also refers to the display of his magnificence or praise and honor being showered upon His name. It was important for Israel to witness God’s glory because it points to His wonder, goodness, and desire for our Lord to have a relationship with His people (Psalm 19:1).

We owe our deepest tribute to our Lord, and we should not fall short of recognizing His glory because God is worthy to receive glory and honor (Revelation 4:11).

 David understood this, and that’s why he sang.

“Ascribe to the LORD, all you families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him. Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness” (1 Chronicles 16:28-29).

This passage also points to how the Israelites can ascribe glory to God by bringing Him offerings. The people of Israel also ascribe glory to the Lord in worship and fear of Him (verses 29–30). David also reiterates a similar message of giving glory only to God because He is powerful and worthy (Psalm 29:1). 

Where Do We See God’s Glory in the Old Testament?

In the Bible, the Hebrew word kavod is often associated with God, i.e., the glory of God. The glory of God reveals His presence. A good example of where we see this is on the fifteenth day of the second month after the Israelites had left Egypt and they were still living in the desert.

The community grumbled against Moses and Aaron because they were hungry and assumed they would die. Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the morning, you will see the glory of the LORD because He has heard your grumbling against him” (Exodus 16: 1-8).

While Aaron was speaking to the Israelites, they looked toward the desert and saw the LORD’s glory in the cloud (verse 10). In this case, God’s presence is revealed as glory.

God’s Glory was present in the Tabernacle in the Most Holy Place (holy of holies) in the Old Testament. God’s glory is also seen when Solomon built and dedicated the house of the Lord in Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 6:32; 1 King 8:6-11).

Hezekiah calls the Temple the “dwelling of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 29:6). This scripture affirms that God dwells in the Temple. Before that, God’s dwelling place was in the ark in the holy of holies. In the Old Testament, where God dwells, so was His glory.

Moses requested to see God’s glory. But God said, “You cannot see my face and live.” God hid Moses to protect him from the fullness of God’s glory as it passed (Exodus 33:18-23).

Fire, smoke, a great quaking of the earth, and thick clouds accompanied the manifestation of God’s glory in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 5:24–25; 1 Kings 8:10–11; Isaiah 6:1–4; Ezekiel 1:26–28). For example, when Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God at the foot of Mount Sinai, the Bible says, “There was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled (Exodus 19:16-17).

God descended on Mount Sinai as fire, and the entire mountain was also covered with smoke and trembled violently. And when Moses spoke, God answered him in thunder (verses 18-19).

Unlike in the Old Testament where God’s presence would come and go, through Christ, God’s presence is ever with us because he dwells within us.

Conclusion

The Hebrew word “kavod” teaches us that God’s glory has depths and measures that go beyond our comprehension. For ancient Jews, the glory of God was not some abstract entity or something they could measure. It was a concrete manifestation of His divine presence. The Israelites felt God’s presence when it appeared and proved to them that God was real and actively involved in their lives.

 

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About: Ronie

Ronnie Amaya has been actively involved in ministry since his high school and university days where he served as a Christian union leader. After graduation, he worked as an itinerary minister preaching in Schools, Universities, Street Evangelizations, and Churches. In 2018, he led a team in planting a new church in Nairobi, Kenya where he is currently serving as the lead pastor.
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Ronie

Ronnie Amaya has been actively involved in ministry since his high school and university days where he served as a Christian union leader. After graduation, he worked as an itinerary minister preaching in Schools, Universities, Street Evangelizations, and Churches. In 2018, he led a team in planting a new church in Nairobi, Kenya where he is currently serving as the lead pastor.

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