Thanks to Ancient Hebrew Research Centre for this article.
Biblical Word – Walk
By: Jeff A. Benner
You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him, and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and cleave to him. (RSV, Deuteronomy 13:4)
We have previously examined a few of the words in this passage: Fear, commandment and voice. In this and future issues, we will examine those words that we have not yet examined: Walk, keep, obey, serve and cleave.
The Hebrew verb הלך (H.L.K, Strong’s #3212) literally means to “walk,” as can be seen in the following passage.
And Abner and his men walked all that night through the plain… (KJV, 2 Samuel 2:29)
This word is also used frequently in a figurative sense as can be seen in the following passage.
And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days. (KJV, 1 Kings 3:14)
In this passage, YHWH is asking Solomon to “walk” in the footsteps of his father David, who walked in the footsteps of YHWH. A son “walks” in the footsteps of his father, a student “walks” in the footsteps of his teacher and a people “walk” in the footsteps of their ancestors. In our English language, we call this “culture.” Many of your thoughts and actions are a result of “walking” in the footsteps of your parents, family, neighbors and community. In the case of Israel, their culture was to patterned after YHWH’s teachings, but the other nations culture was patterned after other gods.
And you shall not walk in the customs of the nation which I am casting out before you; for they did all these things, and therefore I abhorred them. (RSV, Leviticus 20:23)
The Hebrew language always uses concrete concepts to express abstract thought. While we may use an abstract word like “culture,” the Hebrew language will use a much more concrete word, such as “walking,” to express the same idea. Israel was commanded to walk in YHWH’s footsteps (follow YHWH’s customs) and not walk in the footsteps of other gods (follow the customs of other nations).