What Does Yada Mean?

by | Jan 6, 2024 | Blog | 0 comments

God spoke to people in their own language because He intended His Word to be accessible to everyone. However, the original biblical language is Hebrew. Often, Hebrew words are difficult to translate because they are specific to the language of origin and may depict another thing when translated literally. Amongst the numerous Hebrew words, one that has been translated into English and has maintained its meaning is Yada. So what does it mean?

The basic meaning of Yada is to know. However, in biblical Hebrew, the word Yada covers a wide range of meanings that range from simple recognition to intimate sexual relationships. The translation of the word Yada from Hebrew to English conveys the literal and original meaning of the Biblical text.

Translations Of The Word “Yada”

The Old Testament was mostly written in Hebrew and was later translated into other languages. Bible translation can seem simple at first glance. All you have to do is take a Hebrew word and put an English word in its place, right? Well, most of the time, it’s not that simple. For instance, the Hebrew word Basar, when translated, means a primitive root or to bear news.

However, it also means flesh, body, or meat. For example, Ezekiel 10:12 describes the seraphim: 

“Their whole Basar including their backs, their hands, and their wings, were completely full of eyes, as were their four wheels.”

Since this scripture is referring to angelic beings, we can’t use flesh; instead, the word Basar, in this case, means body. Thus, translations can alter meanings as some Hebrew words have multiple interpretations. However, while there may be slight changes, the basic meaning is retained.

The word Yada is translated to take the Bible as literally as possible. Biblical literalism involves straightforwardly interpreting the Bible and adhering closely to the literal meaning of the words as they appear in the scripture.

Yada: To Know God / Intimate Relationship With God

Yada means to know God or have an intimate relationship with Him. The word Yada is seen in scriptures where God makes it clear that He exists and we are his creations. Psalm 100:3: “Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.”

The word Yada/know also portrays an intimate relationship or love between man and God. For instance, the relationship between God and Moses is portrayed in Exodus 33:12 when God states, “I know you by name.”

The Hebrew verb translated “knew” in Jeremiah 1:5 describes an intimate relationship God has with His chosen ones. Before Jeremiah was conceived in his mother’s womb, God had already thought of him and set him apart or sanctified him for a specific purpose (to be a prophet). In 1 John 4:8, we read what it takes to have an intimate relationship with God: “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

God is the perfect example of how to love. From the Old Testament, there are numerous examples where people acted against God’s teachings and laws (Genesis 3:1-24; Exodus 32:1-35; 2 Samuel 11:1-27).

In all instances, God was patient and forgiving and gave sinners time to change their ways. In the New Testament, God sends his Son to die for our sins so that we can have eternal life (John 3:16). That points to God’s perfect love. We can imitate Jesus by loving our neighbors as we love ourselves (Mark 12:3) and adhering to what the scripture says about love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.

While both the Old and New Testaments inform us that we need to know God, how we know him and the means by which we know him can differ.

Yada: Sexual Love

The Hebrew word Yada also means to “know carnally,” “lay,” or “to have sexual intercourse.” As a result, it indicates sexual love. For example, Joseph did not “know” Mary until after Jesus was born (Matthew 1:25). In Genesis 4, we read that Adam “knew (Yada) his wife Eve and she conceived and bore Cain” (Genesis 4:1). In both contexts the word Yada refers to sexual intercourse between husband and wife.

Yada: To Be Known

Yada also means to be known, i.e., people know you. In Proverbs 31:23, King Solomon writes, “Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.” King Solomon uses Yada to say that the woman’s husband is well-known. In the Bible, to be known is a blessing, and God states that He knows all of us and our thoughts, weaknesses, and strengths:

“O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar” (Psalm 139:1-2).

Yada: Knowledge

The word knowledge, da’at, comes from the verb Yada. Knowledge began in the Genesis story with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:9) and continued as something that  God wants us to seek. The Bible encourages us to seek the knowledge of God (proverbs 18:15), and lack of it is perceived as detrimental to our spiritual growth (Hosea 4:6). In addition, the value of knowledge is also emphasized when God explains that instead of an offering, He would rather have our loyalty and for us to pursue knowledge (Hosea 6:6).

Derivatives of Yada

“Fearfully” is derived from the verbal root “Yara” to mean awe, obedience to the divine will, reverence, and honor. Furthermore, the verb “Yada” is related to “Yadah” in Hebrew. Both words share the common root “Yad. However, they have different meanings. Yada is associated with knowledge, understanding, and being intimately acquainted with someone or God, while Yadah means to lift hands, acknowledge praise, or thanksgiving.


To sum it up, the literal translation of the Hebrew word Yada is to know. In the Bible, this word has been used in different contexts including carnal knowledge (sexual intercourse), intimate knowledge (or deep knowledge), and being known (or being famous). In all instances, knowledge is the common denominator. 

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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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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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