Do Hebrews and Gentiles see the past and future differently?
Question: Do Hebrews and Gentiles see the past and future differently?
Answer: Yes, they do.
In the Greco-Roman mindset, for instance, the past is behind, and future is before. This concept is derived from the simple idea that as one walks forward, he sees what comes to him, i.e. the future. And what is behind him is the past.
However, in the Hebraic mindset, the things are turned 180 degrees: the past is before the Hebrew, and the future is behind. Why is that? This strange concept for the Gentiles needs explanation.
In his last address to the nation, Mosheh told his people,
For ask now of the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that Elohim created man on the earth, and ask from one end of the heavens to the other end of the heavens, whether there has been a Word as great as this, or has been heard like it. (Deu 4:32)
The phrase the days that are past, which were before you literally means the days that are past, which were before your faces (panyim, faces). This literal translation gives the Hebraic concept that the past is before us and the future is behind us.
Simply put, the past is before us, because we see it, it is known to us, and the future is behind us, because we cannot see it, it is unknown to us.
For Mosheh and the Israelites who were listening that was no issue. It was no issue for the translators of the Scripture in a different way, and they translated the phrase figuratively: before you.
Does this Hebraic concept of the past and future change the way we should read the Scripture? Yes, it does in many ways: we should study the Hebraic Scripture from Hebraic perspectives. And a good way to study is to begin with the article “To foresee Yeshua the Messiah” in which the unknown concept of the past and future has led to mistranslations and misunderstanding of what Avraham and Mosheh saw.