75 words for 75 years of Israel – Geulah/Redemption

In honor of Israel’s 75th birthday, Israel365 is excited to launch a new series of essays that will unlock the secrets of the Hebrew Bible!

Excerpted from Rabbi Akiva Gersh’s forthcoming book, 75 Hebrew Words You Need to Understand the Bible (available soon!) these essays illuminate the connection between related Hebrew words, revealing Biblical secrets only accessible through Hebrew.

Enjoy the series – and happy 75th birthday to the State of Israel!

גְּאוּלָּה

GEULAH

GE-OO-LAH

REDEMPTION

“Say, therefore, to the Israelite people: ‘I am God. I will free you from the labors of the Egyptians and deliver you from their bondage. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and through extraordinary chastisements.’” (Exodus 6:6)

לכן אמר לבני־ישראל אני יהוה והוצאתי אתכם מתחת סבלת מצרים והצלתי אתכם מעבדתם וגאלתי אתכם בזרוע נטויה ובשפטים גדלים.

“If any party sells a dwelling house in a walled city, it may be redeemed until a year has elapsed since its sale; the redemption period shall be a year.” (Leviticus 25:29)

ואיש כי־ימכר בית־מושב עיר חומה והיתה גאלתו עד־תם שנת ממכרו ימים תהיה גאלתו.

Geulah, Hebrew for “redemption,” is often used in Jewish liturgy to refer to the future Messianic age. It expresses the fundamental Jewish belief that the problems of our world and the ills of human society will one day cease to exist and belief in God and knowledge of God will spread throughout the world.

The Talmud compares geulah to the morning dawn and rising of the sun. At first, it is a very slow process and one may not notice that the darkness is turning into light. Eventually, though, the light shines more and more powerfully, until it is apparent to all that the morning has come.

The first geulah mentioned in the Bible was God’s promise to free the Israelites from their bondage in Egypt, as it says, “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm” (Exodus 6:6). This promise extends to future generations as well, promising that all future periods of oppression will eventually end as well. As the prophet Isaiah says, “He shall come as redeemer to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn back from sin, declares Hashem” (59:20).

The Bible frequently uses the word geulah to refer to the redemption of lands that are sold by its owner, often to pay off a debt. The person in debt, or their family member or friend, is only permitted to redeem the land within a certain time period. With the Jubilee year, however, all lands were returned to their original owners by force of Biblical law, which demonstrated that ownership of land is ultimately determined by God.

The Israel Bible Team

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