Gender Issues

Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

John 16:7 (KJV)

Him – When translations go awry, so do our doctrinal paradigms. For example, the grammatical gender of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) is female, not male. This tells us that all pronouns referring to the Spirit should be feminine, not masculine.

In English, we have three genders; male, female, and neuter. Hebrew and Aramaic have only two; male and female. This means that everything in the Hebrew mindset can only be “he” or “she”, and nothing is “it”. While in English, gender is really only an issue when dealing with pronouns, in Hebrew (and Russian, etc.), gender takes on a much more integrated role with language. You see, nouns and verbs also take on a gender in these languages. For example:

The girl ran. – English (no grammatical gender)

Девушка побежала. – Russian (both noun and verb are feminine)

הילדה רצתה. – Hebrew (both noun and verb are feminine)

So when we understand that the word ruach in Hebrew is feminine, we immediately see the correlation Yeshua is making by calling her the Comforter which aligns with Isaiah’s feminine focus here:

As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem.

Isaiah 66:13

Language is very tricky and the principle of linguistic relativity states that your language directly influences the way you think. This means that a Russian speaker will think differently than an English speaker, or a Hebrew speaker. The world views vary from language to language, or from culture to culture. An English speaker (thinker) interpreting Scripture based on their English translation is going to interpret the text much differently from that of Hebrew speaker reading the same text in Hebrew.

So my point isn’t that the Spirit is female. I really don’t think YHVH or His Spirit are gender specific. But the ideas that congregate around gender are influential to our interpretation. So when we claim the Spirit is male in gender, it’s much easier for us to create doctrine that the Spirit took on the form of a man at a particular point in history (as some religions do). And our doctrine goes awry, and we become subject to linguistic relativity from our own cultural perspective.

Take a step back. Look at the text from the world view of a Hebrew. It’s a different perspective than yours. This involves exegesis and hermeneutics. Digging in to Scripture takes work, in fact, it should take your entire life.

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