In this week’s Word Nerd Wednesday post, Adele-Alys shares what it means when we call Ma’Ozi – God our strength.
H4581 mâʻôwz, maw-oze’; (also מָעוּז mâʻûwz )
from the root words H5810 and H5797
1) A Stronghold Can Be A Good Thing
At the risk of showing my “church girl roots”, I would have to say that the word stronghold carries a negative connotation. Whenever I hear it, the passage from 2 Corinthians 10:4 immediately comes to mind. Then I go looking for the proper tools so I can demolish them.
Yet the literal definition of a stronghold is simply “a place or means of safety, protection, refuge, and strength.” Break apart the Hebrew and that is literally how it translates: Ma (place) and Oz (strength).
2) It’s Not Just a Misprint
I love a good Concordance, but mine seemed to go rogue as I was researching this article.
For Stronghold H4581 – it cited 36 uses in the Old Testament alone but I could barely verify 10. I looked up the other 26, and I could see a similar theme (sometimes) but the wording was quite different.
Yes , this has happened before in my Bible Study, and I have chalked it up to misprints. But 26 misprints is way too many
Math matters- so I looked a little further and found that the Hebrew word “Ma’oz” was indeed used in each example but the English translation selected an alternate word or metaphor.
In the New American Standard Version it breaks down this way:
Defense (4) Fortress (4)
Fortresses (3) , Helmet (2) , Protection (2 ), Refuge (3),
Safety (2) , Strength (5) , Strong (1), Stronghold (9), Strongholds (1)
Both uses of “helmet” occur in Psalms (60:7; 108:8) and the wording is practically identical:
“Gilead is Mine, and Manasseh is Mine; Ephraim also is the HELMET of My head; Judah is My scepter.
So where does the concept of stronghold factor in?
Remember that Ephraim was the second son born to Joseph in Egypt and his name meant “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.” Surely the knowledge that God will turn around our hardships or that he will turn them so they work for our good, can be a stronghold and guard our minds against despair and bitterness over disappointments in life.
3) A Stronghold Becomes a Refuge When God is Present With His Saving Help
This world is complicated, confusing, and sometimes just plain risky. Being God’s Girl doesn’t exempt me from such circumstances but it does give me someone to run to when they threaten to overwhelm me.
Tho the Hebrew People wandered in the desert for 40 years – they were never lost because God (The Ark of His Presence) went with them.The Disciples were caught in a storm in a small boat, yet they were never in danger because Jesus was in the boat with them. Throughout the Bible it has always been God’s Presence that saves.
Whether we are worshiping in His sanctuary:
The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?Psalm 27:1
Or praying in the privacy of our own homes:
The LORD is their strength, And He is a saving defense to His anointed.Psalm 28:8
He will meet us where we are and bring us rest and peace:
So they were willing to receive Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.John 6:21
4) Trading My Strength for His Strength Is What Makes Me Strong
Wikipedia states that the strengthof a material is its ability to withstand an applied load without failure or plastic deformation.
If that is the standard for strength, I might meet it some days but I have no hope of sustaining it over the long haul of a difficult life or a challenging season. Eventually I will tire of the fight and my strength will fail.
But God has strength enough to stand fast forever. No force can prevail against him- whether it be natural disasters, evil individuals, or wrong-headed nations:
O LORD, my strength and my stronghold, And my refuge in the day of distress, To You the nations will come From the ends of the earth and say, “Our fathers have inherited nothing but falsehood, Futility and things of no profit.”Jeremiah 16:19
For You were a fortress for the poor, a fortress for the pauper in time of his distress, a shelter from pouring rain, a shade from heat, for the spirit of the tyrants is like a flood against a wall.Isaiah 25:4
5) Personalize It
Technically, the Name of God that I was given to discuss was not MA’OZ (a stonghold), it was MA’OZI (my stronghold). The “I “makes all the difference.
It calls to mind my favorite of the MAOZ Scripture references:
Then he said to them, “Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”Nehemiah 8:10
Ma’Ozi – God Our Strength
What does this verse mean to you? How is/has God been a Stronghold in your life?Is God your Ma'Ozi, your strength? Is He your stronghold in times of trouble? #namesofgod #stronghold #godourstrength Click To Tweet
The daughter of a Lutheran minister and a Catholic college professor, Adele-Alys faith life has always been a patchwork. Married to a Jewish man for 38 years, she delved deeply into his faith. It sharpened my picture of Jesus and popped my spiritual ears in ways I could not imagine.” You can connect Adele-Alys via Twitter (@morgantonrose), Pinterest, and her blog (adelealysblog.wordpress.com).