Rainbow (hebrew Insight)

rainbow in hebrewThe Hebrew word for Rainbow is קֶשֶׁת – Qeshet .  Interestingly enough Keshet, other than Rainbow, also means a war bow. We can easily see the connection between Rainbow and a bow in English, but since it is one and the same word in Hebrew the connection there cannot be clearer.

Why would the ancient Hebrews (Moses in particular) refer to a rainbow as a bow? That connection has to do with the story of Noah’s flood.

When God judged the fallen humanity by sending his catastrophic flood, he made Noah a very important promise – never to judge the world so harshly again.

Later in the Bible we find out why, but here suffice to say that a rainbow became an eternal sign of God’s forgiveness and his covenantal mercy.

After all it was God’s bow of war that was now on permanent display for all to see. This time God’s bow was not pointing in our (earthly) direction, but in the direction of God’s heavenly residence.

Let us continue to explore the riches of Biblical Hebrew and together grasp the riches revealed in the Holy Scriptures.

Image use courtesy of Revital Eyzenberg ©

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Dr. Eli Lizorkin-EyzenbergTo secure your spot in our new course “The Jewish Background of New Testament” - CLICK HERE NOW

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  1. Dm

    I still wonder why? Jewish. People said “!do not see it”! Is a curse.

  2. David Hood

    I understand letters within the Hebrew word meaning bow, also have a pictorial representation and meaning … if so how is that portrayed in this word for rainbow

  3. Tapugao Falefou

    Dr Eli, I found your view of the rainbow quite interesting. I have also seen a similar view in other sites. With your permission, can I make reference to your view in my research work?

  4. Esther Naidu

    blessed with the revelation of the word of God

  5. Drs. Charles van den Berg

    Dear Eli. It’s a beautiful explanation. However, I am not sure the explanation is right. When you have the bow in your hand, you are somebody’s enemy. The same is true for God. Jeremiah says of God: “He has bent his bow like an enemy….The Lord has become like an enemy… “(Lam 2:4-5). In question is: It may be that God is the enemy of His own heavenly residence? I think Gods bow is not pointing in our earthly direction, or in the direction of Gods heavenly residence, but pointed to the enemy of God and mankind (earthlings), in fight “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12-13). “
    Rev. 12:11: “And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb”. So the believers conquered this enemy by the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 12:11), that‘s “by the blood of the eternal covenant “(Hebr. 13:20), the eternal covenant God is speaking about in the promise to Noah.
    The bow is always in the hand of someone. So the Lamb of God is like a bow in the right hand of God wherewith “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them. “(Col. 2:15)

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Dear Drs. Charles van den Berg, thank you for you note. I prefer to think of my interpretation as a beautiful Midrash.

      1. Drs. Charles van den Berg

        Dear Eli,
        Enjoy your Midrash . I was not in mention to ruin your party. By myself I was inspired by the Midrash Lekach Tov from Rabbi Toviah ben Eliezer Hagadol. Only, I was missing the link to Christ. Almost all views about the rainbow from over the centuries are compiled by Rabbi Jhoeda Nachsjoni.. Most are beautiful.

        1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

          Glad to see Dutch people to think more Jewishly :-).

  6. Ingrid

    Thank you. Very inspiring, indeed.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Welcome, to our forum Ingrid. Dr. Eli

  7. Charles keim

    I recall Nahum Sarna saying that the story of Noah is one of the few if only stories in which no prophet is recorded as first warning the people of the disaster to come.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Dear Dr. Keim, thank you for your comment and welcome to our forum. Very interesting comment. Thank you. Dr. Eli

  8. Hahn Jackson

    I guess it went over my head ad to why the bow points at God’s abode. It seems to me that would mean God was at war with Himself?

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Shalom, Hahn. If Gospel line of thinking is to be believed and assumed, than what God did with his keshet would make a lot of sense. Dr. Eli

  9. Randy

    Dr. Eli, thank you for sharing your knowledge with us its great thing to know that rainbow in hebrew word is keshet and became an eternal sign of God’s forgiveness and his covenantal mercy. Someone told me that he saw a rainbow in me. Thanks for this encouragement . May the Lord bless you richly for sharing Biblical Hebrew Insight.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Randy, welcome to our forum and thanks for leaving this comment. Dr. Eli

  10. Kelly Chew

    Thankyou Dr Eli for the sharing. May I have your permission to post this on my fb for sharing with my friends. Incidentally, I’m just wondering if the `bow’ pointing at YHWH also symbolizes Christ having to bear our sin and became the target instead.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      You have my permission and encouragement to do so! (I think you are right, this is the basic idea (bow and Christ)).

  11. James

    I found the idea of Gods war bow not pointing towards us but His residence an interesting thought, are their two different perspectives of a sign, both Gods and mans.On our side we view the rainbow, as the mercy and forgiveness of God. On Gods side of the rainbow He see’s His war bow pointing at His residence and relents from flooding the earth again.The sign of the blood on the door that caused the angel of death to Passover were their two perspectives to that sign. In case of the rainbow we know how God felt about flooding the world but not how He sees the rainbow , probably because we don’t need to know.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      James, welcome to our group and thank you for sharing your feedback with us. Dr. Eli

  12. Gamal R. Scharoubim

    I am glad to see the relation between Christians and Jews turn into a dialogue rather denouncements. After all we all beliueve in the sanctity of the torah and the whole Old Testament. As Christians we consider the New testament as a continuity of the Old Testament not a refutal of its sanctity. There are many points in it that explanations of them through a Jewish eye is important and helpful for the full understanding of the text.

  13. Miheret tesfaye(mercy)

    Thank you very much YOU Dr introduce me with Rainbow I like it very much ,I see it at the time of rain but I didn’t compere or related with bible now my eye is open when I read .thank you very much my God bless you Dr.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      May the Lord bless you! Dr. Eli

  14. Helton

    Congratulations Dr. Eli by wonderful text on the rainbow-Alliance. I am amazed with this Blog. What The Eternal Bless this Project. Shavua Tov.

    Parabéns Dr. Eli pelos maravilhoso texto sobre o arco-da-Aliança. Estou admirado com este Blog. Que O Eterno Abençoe este Projeto. Shavua Tov.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Thank you, friend. Dr. Eli

  15. Johnson Kanduri

    sir I am really so happy about this Rainbow

    Thank you sir

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Blessings and peace to you, my friend! Dr. Eli

  16. ruth hirt

    For the valuable bonus knowledge you have always been imparting to us readers, thank you very much, Dr. Eli. Such are worth sharing, at the moment that is what immediately I want to do. Till your next write-up please. (By the way I am still with the eTeacher, learning my 1st level in Modern Hebrew with Ulpan-Or under Ayala lili Moses.) Great greetings to you, Shavua Tov.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      All the best! Glad to know you are doing well! Dr. Eli

  17. Barnabas Tiburtius

    Thank you for your illuminating interpretations. May I have permission to use some of your material in my writings.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Barnabas, welcome to our study group! Dr. Eli