It Comes Down To a Single Word

So…the Israelites build a golden calf. Adonai gets very angry and says God will “consume” the Israelites. Moshe talks to Adonai, and then…


Adonai וַיִּנָּחֶם (vayinachem) from the evil that God said God was going to do. 

What is this word, וַיִּנָּחֶם?

The word is often translated as, “repent.” Adonai repented for the evil God said God was going to do. Yet the heart of this word means something like, “console yourself,” or “calm yourself.”

"Here's God feeling like fire and rage," she said.

“Here’s God feeling like fire and rage,” she said.

וַיִּנָּחֶם is not the same as forgiveness, one boy drew. He explained that forgiveness is when someone says, “Oh, it’s fine. I forgive you.” When Adonai וַיִּנָּחֶם, Adonai thought, “I will put this aside but not forgive you.” With וַיִּנָּחֶם, the boy said, Adonai “won’t ever fully forgive.”


A sixth grader explained that וַיִּנָּחֶם means that “way inside, you’re still a little angry.” (See the red dots in the middle?)


Another opinion was that וַיִּנָּחֶם is what a person has to do in order to forgive. “To forgive, first you have to וַיִּנָּחֶם yourself,” she said. Her friend added, “You calm yourself down first, so you can calmly forgive them.”


Oh, yeah, we are so getting ready for Rosh Hashanah, considering what it really means to forgive. We’re doing The Elul Project.




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  1. […] had already explored this text early this month, especially, comparing God’s forgiveness with God’s consoling/relaxing.) Why three […]

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