The Hebrew word abar, the word that really does correctly translate to “pass over” or “pass through”, is one of the most crucial words to understand in the entire Old Testament. It is not simply a translation error that “Passover” became the traditional name for the appointed time of Pesach. Abar, and several other closely-related Hebrew words, define the very nature of Israel! Abar is also the subtle word, used throughout Scripture, to denote a noteworthy move of the Holy Spirit. You can actually follow YHWH’s plan of salvation by tracking this word through The Torah. We’ll need to take another quick detour to reveal the implications of “abar”, which is at the very heart of Pesach.
One profound way to understand abar would be to translate it as “to experience and reveal what it means to be bar”. Of course, that begs the questions: What is bar? What does that have to do with Pesach? Why would abar get translated as “pass over” and then subtly replace the scriptural name of the Feast? This gets deep, and then deeper and deeper.
Using the ancient bet and resh word-picture meanings above, you can see that bar (Strongs H1250) tells the story of “a family of heads” and describes a head of a grain crop such as barley stalk or ear of corn–a “family” (of individual grains) on the “head” (of the stalk). An individual kernel is important, but the term bar, does not describe a solo act. Bar is first used in Exodus 41:33 when Joseph is advising Pharaoh:
“Now therefore let Pharaoh pick out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years. And let them gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities.” Bar is innocently and invisibly translated as “corn” in the KJV. Check some other translations and you’ll see various types of grains based on the type of cereal the translators were eating at the time. We see bar again used as “corn” in the climax of verse 49, “Thus Joseph stored up corn in great abundance like the sand of the sea, until he stopped measuring it, for it was beyond measure.”
“…like the sand of the sea?” Sound familiar?
Where did all this bar come from? Joseph collected it personally. Genesis 41:45-46, “Now Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh, king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh and went through all the land of Egypt.” The underlined phrase “went through” is the Hebrew word abar. If King James had consistently used the words “passed over” every time abar was translated, we may have made the connection to Pesach, but it’s hidden in the English. On the night of Pesach, YHWH passed through all of Egypt marking and protecting each Hebrew house. Here in Genesis, Joseph is going door to door collecting bar and multiplying it. True to his name, Joseph in Hebrew means “Yah will increase”, and his offspring Ephraim means “fruitful”.
Here then, in the story of Joseph, is another parable. To understand the above verses better, and how important Joseph’s bar is to Pesach, we need to jump back in time to Father Abraham, and look at a prophesy imbedded into the Abrahamic Covenant. As several articles in this series has mentioned, understanding the Abrahamic Covenant is crucial to understanding Pesach. We often connect Moses exclusively to the story of Pesach, but the foundation of Pesach is actually the Covenant with Abraham. That foundation is built upon in the subtle patterns in the story of Joseph.
Genesis 15:13-18, “God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age. Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.” It came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces. On that day, YHWH made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates”
Abraham was promised that his seed (which was eventually revealed to be Joseph) would be brought to a land that was not his (Egypt), and that he would be multiplied into a people as numerous as the sand of the sea, and too numerous to count. Note again what Joseph says about the collected bar in Genesis 31:49, “Thus Joseph stored up corn [bar] in great abundance like the sand of the sea, until he stopped measuring it, for it was beyond measure.” Joseph, at 30 years old (possibly the same age of Yeshua when He became our Pesach) is put in charge of collecting bar. How does he do this? …by abar (passing through) Egypt. In this parable, abar is part of the process that YHWH uses to identify and collect bar. Even during the process of making the promise to Abraham, the flaming torch “passed between” (abar) the pieces.
There is still more depth:
Notice bar -the letters bet (b) and resh (r)- in the name “Abram”, whose name paints the picture of “the strongest or primary bar” or “first bar of multitudes”, or even possibly “the first-fruits out of multitudes”. Again, think “The Seed of Abraham”. The mem (m) is an image of water, and in this case illustrates the idea of a sea, or “vast” (think of the English phrase “a sea of people”).
Remember that this important notion of bar is a profoundly Hebrew idea and needs to be understood from that perspective. Our “greek” mindset often limits our understanding by forcing us to think in man-made boxes. Our Strong’s concordances and Lexicons would tell us the bar does not mean seed…it simply means corn. And corn is corn. The word zera (Strongs H2232) is the literal word for “seed”, and comes from the action of “casting or sowing”, which any man, animal, or even plant can do. Zera (physical seed) is important. The lineage of Messiah for example needs to follow a particular physical bloodline (a physical, genetic lineage from David) in order to fulfill various prophesies and covenants.
In contrast, bar tells a more subtle, allegorical story of a spiritual seed, not passed through bloodlines, but only inherited by faith.
John the Baptist warned those who only relied on their physical lineage in Matt 3:9. “Do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham.” Father Abraham is the patriarch that best models that principle of faith for us—and that mystery is hidden right in the heart of his name.
After the covenant is made with Abram, YHWH adds an additional letter to Abram—changing his name to Abraham. That letter is hey, a picture of a man worshiping. It appears twice in the name of YHWH, and the hey is placed right next to the BR, in Abraham. The letter hey means, “Behold!” It looks like YHWH is not only adding his name to Abram’s, but is extenuating the depth and deepening the mystery of bar at the same time.
The English word for “Hebrew” is “ibry” (Strong’s H5680) (phonetically in the original language it’s ee-bree). is spelled the same as abar but with a yod (a picture of the hand of YHWH) added to the end. That creates the possessive form of abar, and so we modify the meaning of ibry to mean “those who realize they are YHWH’s bar”. Consistent with the focus of themes of abar, the only individuals in all of the Torah who are specifically called “Hebrews” are Abraham and Joseph! Then, starting in Exodus, a new term collective is used repeatedly, “YHWH, Elohim of the Hebrews”.
The letter ayin (an eye) that proceeds bar in abar and also in ibri, implies “realizing” or “experiencing” or “entering into a depth of understanding” that transforms your life. YHWH has opened our eyes and He is training us to see. Being a Hebrew means that your life is now re-centered on that journey of discovery. Your roots are going deeper and your fruits should be getting riper. His people are always on the move, so abar, refers to the movement, momentum, and direction of the God of Abraham and his promised seed. Abraham is given the title “Hebrew” based on the second use of abar in all of scripture. It’s used as a verb, underlined, and in context:
Gen 12:1-7, “Now YHWH said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you, and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, and so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” So Abram went forth as YHWH had spoken to him; and Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his nephew, and all their possessions which they had accumulated, and the persons which they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, thus they came to the land of Canaan. Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. Now the Canaanite was then in the land. YHWH appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to YHWH who had appeared to him.’
Better yet, here is the first use of abar in all of Scripture, underlined: Gen 8:1, “And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters assuaged.”
Notice that the word for “wind” used here is ruach (Strongs H7307), the same word for “spirit”. This verse paints the idea of the Spirit of YHWH, “passing over” over the earth, a pattern he repeated that Pesach night in Egypt. Abram, following the example of YHWH, is not standing still. He is on the move, flowing in the same direction as the Holy Spirit. As Messiah put it in John 3:8, “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going ; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Consistent with that same promise to Abraham, “bless” and “blessed” are based on the root barak (Strongs 1288). Barak is built with bar plus the letter kaf – a letter that implies “a full palm of the hand” implying “to offer up” or “to give away”. The promise contains the first uses of that word. Surprisingly, this word for “blessing” (barak) does not occur in all of scripture until Abraham (the first Hebrew) obey’s YHWH and abar (passed through).
The word for “cursed” (“I will curse those that curse you.”) is translated as “assuaged” in the above verse regarding Noah. Hebrews will be more full (or be made more fruitful…more full of bar) as well as those who “bless” us. While those who attempt to curse, assuage, or “diminish” us will be themselves diminished.
Don’t get in the way of a Hebrew who is passing through! Join us, or be left behind.
The letters bet and resh (bar) are the first two letters in the entire bible—the first two letters in Bereshit, “in the beginning”. As a second witness, the second word in scripture is bara, (Strongs H1254), also a bar rooted word—it means to “fill up, fatten, or create”. So the spiritual bar was planted in the first word, then began to “fill up” in the second word. It continued to grow into the entire “Word” of YHWH. Maybe this is what John meant in John 1:1 when he said, “In the beginning was The Word”. The Hebrew word for “Word” is debar, (Strongs H1696). Debar is simply bar with the letter dalet added–which is a picture of a door.) The Word is the doorway by which spiritual bar enters into a person. Bar is the seed, the beginning, from which the entire Word grows.
Here is the recap of the hidden allegory of YHWH’s spiritual bar. Our spiritual father is Abraham (the first, or strongest bar). Abraham is called a Hebrew, which describes a people who are on a journey because we realize that we are YHWH’s bar, and we allow that reality to drive all of our decisions. The first entity that ever abar(ed) (“passed over” as an action) was the Ruach of YHWH, after the flood that destroyed most of creation. YHWH elected and protected Noah and his family. We, as Hebrews–by the very definition of that term–are to follow that same Holy Spirit wherever it takes us. The only other single person referred to in the Scriptures as a “Hebrew” after Abraham, is Joseph. He was the spiritual seed promised to Abraham in the covenant. He was the first bar (spiritual seed) to abar (pass through) into Egypt, in order to abar (pass through) throughout Egypt to gather all of the bar (spiritual seeds) together, so they could all abar (pass out of) together. When would they abar? On Pesach!
It’s easy to see how easily Pesach (the Protective Sacrifice previously discussed) and the day appointed to remember it, was confused with “pass over”. Abar is a defining movement of YHWH; a word that literally defines the nation that was redeemed on Pesach. Abar is the verb used (usually translated as “pass by”) when Joseph is rescued in Genesis 37:28, “And Midianite merchantmen passed by and they drew out and brought up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver, and they brought Joseph into Egypt.” What did they do to Joseph when they “passed by”? They “drew him up and brought him out”. That Hebrew word is mashach (Strongs H4900). This is the same root word as Moshe, (Moses) the first Hebrew “drawn out” from the Nile in Egypt. It also shares the same root as Mashiach, translated into English as “Messiah”. Once we can see past the English, we realize YHWH included the basic elements of Pesach in all that one verse: Moshe, Messiah, Passover, and Egypt.
The notion of bar is so crucial, so foundational, that even as Hebrews began to adopt a new language in Babylon (Aramaic), the term bar continued to be accentuated and exalted. Its plain meaning as “grain” or “kernel” was left behind, yet a deeper spiritual allegory entered into the common language. Here in Daniel (the first book to be written in both Hebrew and Aramaic) the Aramaic term bar (Strongs H1247) is first used like this, Daniel 3:25, “He said, “Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son [the Aramaic bar] of the gods!” Bar is first used in Daniel describing the supernatural deliverer of the boys in the furnace! Then it gets better: Daniel 7:13, “I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him.” “Son of Man”, the title of a then still mysterious divine-yet-somehow-human entity, is Bar Enosh… “bar of mankind”. Messiah claims this title repeatedly in the gospels. He is the Bar Enosh!
Once we enter in the New Testament, translated into the English from Greek, we’ve moved very far from the original ancient Hebrew. However, it’s no less apparent that the allegory of the bar has not been lost or diminished. Let’s reflect on the explanation of the parable of the seed sower (Luke 8:4-15), and how that relates to the core understanding of bar. Messiah explains, “Now the parable is this–the seed is the word [debar] of God.” In his parable, the debar is planted in our hearts. Messiah continues the parable of spiritual growth as we continue to abar. Mark 4:28, “The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head.” This “head” is original meaning of bar. He expounds upon the power of in Matt 17:20, “And He said to them, ‘Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed [the tiniest bar], you will say to this mountain, ‘Move [abar?] from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible to you”.
Let the depth of the concept of bar (as a grain) sink in when Yeshua is quoted in John 12:24, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a “grain of wheat” falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Yeshua is connecting himself as the Bar Enosh, who will enter into the grave. When? On Pesach! Incidentally, the Hebrew word for “grave” is the same spelling as the word for “bury”, kabar, which could mean to “gather bar”. Imagine being gathered unto our ancestors, or euphemistically “gathered into Abraham’s bosom”. We are being gathered for the purposed of being replanted permanently in the land. Messiah is teaching that the spiritual growth of a Hebrew only begins in earnest once we realize (ayin) that we are dead to sin, and therefore alive in Messiah.
We won’t cover the significance of every bar rooted word, but this one is too good to skip: The ice that falls from the sky, “hail”, is barad in Hebrew. (It’s meant to be pictured as “the bar (grain) that comes down) and is first mentioned in relation to Pesach–14 times just in one chapter. This hint of the object lesson of the uncountable seed of Abraham this time used as a weapon against the crops (seeds?) of Egypt. Notice that barad (hail) is a simple rearrangement of the same letters in debar (The Word). Of course, hail makes a comeback in Revelation, with some of the stones weighing as much as 80 pounds.
We’ll refocus on bar and abar as it relates to Pesach in the next and final part of this sub-series. We’ll start with looking at the letters in yet another bar rooted word–the word brit (covenant!).