Timshel

Over the course of the night I have talked about everything from music to beer to tattoos. A friend told me she wanted to get “Timshel” tattooed on her. After much discussion I found out what it means. Can one word have enough meaning to change how you think? Maybe, for “Timshel” is Hebrew for “Thou mayest”. It means we are given a CHOICE. You can or you cannot. How profound. There’s a book called “East of Eden” that has a character that has a wonderful discussion involving “Timshel”. He is asking about a passage in the bible 4Genesis particularly the 7th verse. The KJV says “7If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.” The ESV translates it as “7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” The character looks at “thou shalt” and “you must” and begins to question why the difference. “Thou shalt” he sees as a promise from God that Cain will triumph over sin while “You must” he considers a demand that Cain triumph over sin. He wanted to know why there was a difference so asked someone he knew that spoke understood Hebrew to explain this. In Hebrew it says “ז הֲלוֹא אִם-תֵּיטִיב, שְׂאֵת, וְאִם לֹא תֵיטִיב, לַפֶּתַח חַטָּאת רֹבֵץ; וְאֵלֶיךָ, תְּשׁוּקָתוֹ, וְאַתָּה, תִּמְשָׁל-בּוֹ.  If thou doest well, shall it not be lifted up? and if thou doest not well, sin croucheth at the door; and unto thee is its desire, but thou mayest rule over it.” Neither “thou shalt” or “you must’ but instead “thou mayest”, implying a choice to conquer over sin. Does Timshel change the meaning? Does it imply that God gives us the choice to overcome sin? Choice. Such a small but influential word. Choice meaning it’s a decision we must make and thus live with its consequences. What a powerful thought…

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