We know that “negotiation” is about two parties reaching a compromise that benefits both sides. In these difficult times of conflict, negotiation plays an even more important part. When negotiations seize, wars begin. It is true of personal relationships as much as the relationships between people groups and states. When it comes to thinking about the Hebrew concept of negotiation we immediately understand the very nature of such an important concept. It is actually very simple. As always Hebrew Grammar made simple allows us to see this fact quite clearly.
In Modern Hebrew, we continue to use ancient Biblical Hebrew words to describe the process of negotiation. The phrase we use today for negotiation is מַשָּא ומַתָּן (masa umatan). The Hebrew word משא in its root נ-ש-א carries the idea of “taking” something for yourself, while the word מתן with its root נ-ת-ן communicates the idea of “giving” something to someone else.
So in Hebrew the meaning of the word “negotiation” is actually – “give and take.” Therefore, we all must understand that in order for the two opposing parties to move forward in relative harmony both have to give away something costly, but in order for both parties to feel that they were not duped into unfair deal, they must also take something of value in to be truly satisfied. This is the meaning of the “give and take” in relationships of any kind. This is the meaning of true negotiation. The importance of taking the time in thinking through any kind of agreement must also be in sync with the right timing.