When people asked what our newborn’s name would be, sometimes I shared a riddle: “It’s a biblical name, but it’s not a name, I’m telling you the truth.”
Emet is the Hebrew (Old Testament) word for “truth.” This three letter word is made up of the first, middle, and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet, indicating that truth encompasses all things and endures from the beginning to the end.
The first letter, aleph, is the ineffable letter that represents the oneness and glory of God. Without aleph, the word becomes “met,” which is the word for “dead.” Without God there is no life.
The word emet comes from the verb aman that expresses the image of the strong arms of a parent supporting their helpless infant. Truth actively carries the burden by being the foundation of one’s existence in creation.
The Jewish sages sometimes say, “the seal of God is truth,” since the final letters of the three words that conclude the creation story spell emet.
Genesis 2:3 – “God created to do – Bara Elohim la-asot”
There is a difference between how Hebrew speakers and Greek speakers understood the concept behind what English speakers call “truth.” In other words, when the Israelites and the Jews of Jesus’ day spoke about truth they understood something a bit different than when the Greeks to whom Paul evangelized spoke about truth.
The Western (English) understanding of truth has been more influenced by Greek thought. So, when we say something is true, we mean that a true statement corresponds perfectly to a universal, objective reality. For example, “this lawn is green” is a true statement because it’s obvious to any observer that this grass right here is green. Truth is about static being. The grass is truly being green.
But in Hebrew thought compared to Greek and Western, truth is about doing. It is more dynamic, relational, and concerned with the “moment of truth,” the exercise of character in a given situation. So, a true friend is a friend who sticks with you when times are tough. A true arrow ends up flying exactly where it was aimed.
When we combine the Greek and Hebrew concepts of truth, we can understand Jesus to be the most trustworthy and true person, because there is no distinction between who he is and what he does. He is truly God and man, and he acts perfectly divinely and humanly.
And that’s the truth about Emet.
~ Some of the background information was obtained from www.hebrew4christians.com