Sunday, 28 June 2009

To cleave

"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." - Genesis 2:24

Those familiar with the Old Testament will recognize the above scripture, and understand completely the meaning of the word "cleave" - to cling to, to hold onto dearly.

But have you ever thought of what the first meaning of the word "cleave" means? Think of the object "cleaver" - that big butcher's knife that actually cuts things into two. The first definition of the word cleaver is actually to split apart.

So where on earth did this second use, used in Genesis, come from? Actually, the Hebrew word is what shines light on the subject. When it was written that a man should "cleave unto his wife", it actually insinuates a rejoining of two things that were previously one.

When I read this last week, the whole idea of marriage held new meaning for me. In the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were not joined together for the first time, and told to henceforth cling to each other; rather they were rejoined together, a couple that had been separated for a short time and was being brought back together.

Now when people talk about their spouse as someone they feel they always knew, or when they mention that upon meeting this person they immediately knew "this was the one", perhaps we can understand that a little better. They aren't meeting someone new and falling in love, they are finding the one from whom they had been temporarily "cleaved" (split apart) and were now cleaving to (rejoining) that loved one again.

Isn't that a beautiful thought?

And in much the same light, note this scripture in the book of Joshua:

"But cleave unto the LORD your God, as ye have done unto this day." (Joshua 23:8)

Again, don't read this as "find God and cling to him", but rather as "find God and be rejoined to him." When a person comes to God will full purpose of heart, it is often described as feeling like one is coming home again. Now we can understand Joshua's words here - we were temporarily split from God, but we can search him out and cleave to (be rejoined with) him.

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