This is an article I wrote for Daughters of Israel Magazine. I hope you enjoy it. Shalom!
I sat down to write about beauty. I sat down a few times. And then I heard crickets chirping. Just because brushing my teeth, slapping some coconut oil on after showers and choosing a head covering is the extent of my beauty routine doesn’t mean that other women live this way. Would other women want to hear from me about beauty? I began to despair of ever being able to write something relevant. I know so many stunningly beautiful women in the Torah Observant community, and they all seem to have it all together. They find the time (or make the time) to exercise. I’m lucky if I can manage to get a full-night’s rest. They eat organic, healthy, GMO free foods. I’m really trying to just eat Biblically clean foods and have nice meals for Sabbaths…all while staying within our budget. They look positively radiant every time I see them. They are all so much more beautiful than I am. They are so much better and have so much more to offer. What can I possibly share?
So, I prayed.
And then I stumbled upon some Facebook posts–women asking for prayer or just sharing their hearts. These were believing women, daughters of The Most High. One sister in Christ mentioned being cursed at and called fat by a stranger. Another sister mentioned crying in her car after being called old. There was such pain in these posts. It was heart-breaking, really, because I can relate to their pain and because, well…the cause of the pain is a lie. John 8:44 says “The devil…was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him….For he is a liar and the father of lies.” From the beginning he has targeted women with his lies, and he continues to do so. Did you notice those lies he threw at me in the first paragraph? And I was falling for it.
Suddenly, it hit me. What IS beauty? We need to define our terms and we need to make sure that our definitions align with the way YHVH sees beauty. Beautiful in Hebrew is יָפֶה . The transliteration is ya-pheh which is Strong’s number 3303. Notice that the word even begins with part of YHVH’s name. We read from right to left in Hebrew so the first letter is yud. The ancient Hebrew picture is an arm and closed hand. It means work, throw, worship. The second letter is pey. The ancient Hebrew picture is an open mouth. It means blow, scatter, edge. The last letter is hey. The picture is a man with his arms raised. It means look, reveal, breath; the word picture we get from the Hebrew word for beautiful is work/worship – blow/scatter – look/reveal/breath. In Hebrew thought, our works truly are a form of worship because we show that we belong to YHVH by doing. First we receive the gift of faith, and then through His grace we worship Him in love by our actions, our obedience. YHVH’s idea of beautiful is our works being blown or scattered, causing others to look and revealing not us but the breath of YHVH in us. Perhaps instead of asking myself what I can do to make myself more attractive I should ask “Am I reflecting YHVH today?”
Exploring the Hebrew definition of beautiful got me to thinking: “So then how have we ended up with our current, cultural ideas about beauty?” Many of the ideas that our culture calls beautiful are destructive to us. They cause us to compare ourselves to others, alter ourselves physically, and ultimately spend money and time on the things of this world instead of building YHVH’s Kingdom. Now who would be behind this? Who would desire to distract us from our true calling as daughters of Israel? Of course, we find our answer in scripture. John 8:44 tells us “He (the devil) was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” He desires our destruction! Ever since Eden he has especially targeted women with lies. Sadly, just like Eve, we listen. Scripture says “Flee also youthful lusts but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Master out of a pure heart. But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. (2 Timothy 2:22-23) Rather than flee, Eve allowed herself to be drawn into foolish questions. This is exactly what we do when we listen to lies about what makes us beautiful! We end up being drawn into foolish questions. We do as Eve did and begin to dwell on the evil one’s lies. Psalm 119:11 tells us “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” This is how we arm ourselves against his lies. We store up His word in our hearts! And then we flee youthful passions and pursue YHVH’s truth. John 14:6 says “Yeshua saith unto him, I am the way, the Truth, and the life…” We look to Yeshua and His Word to counter the lies of the evil one.
We need to remember Numbers 23:19 which says “El is not a man, that he should lie…” and Titus 1:2 which says “In hope of eternal life, which Elohim, that cannot lie, promised before the world began…” And if you have struggled in your life, as I have, with lies you have believed about your value, your beauty, and your worth, I give you these 2 scriptures: John 8:32 says “And ye shall know the truth,and the truth shall make you free.” And 2 Corinthians 10:12 says “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.”
There are only two possible outcomes when we compare ourselves to others. Either we become distraught and see ourselves as inadequate, which is not in line with YHVH’s will for us. Remember Phil. 4:13 “I can do all things through Messiah which strengtheneth me.” Or we become leavened in our attitude,puffing up our accomplishments in our own mind and relying too much on ourselves. We need to start thinking like YHVH, and when YHVH knows He doesn’t “know” like we do. He doesn’t just remember for the test and promptly forget. He KNOWS. Knowing His truth means storing it in our hearts and doing it, living as though we truly believe it! When we know the truth about our beauty like Yah knows, then we will be set free from the bondage of the adversary’s lies!
Ok, so what is the truth? Time to look at what YHVH’s word says about beauty. Psalm 139:14 says “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” Do you believe Elohim about your worth? Do you trust His word to show you your value? Or are you falling for the same lies that Eve believed in the garden? Genesis 3:6 says “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” The Hebrew word for pleasant here is Strongs 8378 תַֽאֲוָה־ and the transliteration is ta’avah. From right to left we have tav, aleph, vav, hey. The ancient Hebrew picture for tav is crossed sticks and means mark, sign, signal or monument. The ancient Hebrew picture for aleph is an ox head and means strong, power or leader. The ancient Hebrew picture for vav is a tent peg and means add, secure or hook. The ancient Hebrew picture for hey is a man with arms raised and means look, reveal, breath. The word picture could be a mark or sign of power secured by looking or looks. Is your desire to be pleasing to the eye, to have a mark or sign of power secured or added to you by having men look? Or do you desire to be truly beautiful, for your works/worship to be blown/scattered causing others to look and have the reflection of Yeshua revealed to them? Eve chose what was pleasant to the eyes instead of choosing to trust and obey YHVH. She chose external appearance over her relationship with YHVH. Proverbs 31:30 says “Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth Yahweh, she shall be praised.“
1 Peter 3:3-4 says “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of Elohim of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also who trusted in Elohim adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him master: whose daughters ye are as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.”
1 Timothy 2:9-10 says “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array, But (which becometh women professing piety) with good works.”
So it is my goal to help you see yourself as Yah sees you and ultimately to help you reflect the light of Yeshua to an unbelieving world. When we begin doing this then we will be like a lighthouse, leading Yah’s people home to His Torah. Next time I hope to begin sharing some more practical helps. Shalom!
*All scripture quotes are from the Restoration Study Bible.