In Christianese (yes, we have a language) mountains and valleys carry a lot of symbolism. I have heard sermons where valleys are hard places to be but a mountaintop is a place of freedom. Then other ministers will tell you that valleys are where you grow and that it is a struggle to go over a mountain. I suppose in our Christian walk we are always going through valleys and over mountains or in non-Christianese you will have your good times and your hard times.
I was reading Isaiah 22 and Jerusalem was referred to as the “Valley of Vision.” The picture that is painted in Isaiah 22 is not a nice one and the “Valley of Vision” term is obviously not a compliment. But it made me wonder about the meaning and types of valleys and visions that were being talked about.
In my Strong’s Concordance, there are five terms for valleys but only four of them are used in Isaiah. Shephelah (8219) is the one not used and it refers to the Judean hill country. The other four are emeq (6010) and it is a vale or broad depression, wadi (5158) this has a seasonal stream that flows during the rainy season, gahee (1516) is a gorge with lofty sides, and a biqah (1237) is a wide level valley between mountains. In Isaiah, the gahee and wadi carry negative things with them while the emeq and biqah are places that are valued or are at least have a positive context.
The Valley of Vision is a gahee and its root word is gevah (1466), which means arrogance or lifting up with pride. While watching an IMAX movie about Jerusalem they showed a version of this picture and I knew that must be a gahee.
Imagine standing at the bottom of the gahee looking up, I can see why the root word deals with arrogance and exaltation. It would take serious skill and desire to climb out of that valley.
Vision in the phrase is chizzayown (2384) and refers to prophesy. It is used nine times in Scripture and one of those is Joel 2: 28 were young men will see visions.
Other references of valleys in Isaiah:
- Emeq – 17:5, 22:7, 28:21, 65:10
- Wadi – 7:19, 57:5
- Biqah – 63:14, 41:18
- Gahee – 22:1 +5, 28:1 + 4, 40:4
So the next time someone starts talking about being in a valley ask them what kind?
gahee – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Marsava.jpg , the wide valley http://ferrelljenkins.wordpress.com/2008/08/22/the-valley-of-elah-and-the-shephelah/ This blog is excellent and Ferrell Jenkins is an excellent photographer, you should take a moment and check out some of his other blogs.