Hebrew Word Study – Repent

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Genesis 6:6

And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.

If you ask most Christians what REPENT means they will usually reply with one of two responses. 

We have all heard the expression Turn or Burn.  There was a time in this country when that would have been the response of most Christians. 

Today you're more likely to respond to the question of repentance with a definition that calls for the one considering repentance to turn around and go in the opposite direction. 

Our LORD who never changes has an entirely different concept of Repentance.  It is clearly revealed in the Picture and Number language of the two Hebrew words that are most often used to communicate the concept of Repentance and Regret.  In this article, we will examine the picture language of the two Hebrew words most often used in Scripture to communicate what the English translations call Repentance.

Curiously the first time the word Repentance is used it has nothing to do with man.   Let’s read again the passage from Genesis 6:6.

And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.

The real scary part of the concept of God repenting can be discovered in the following verse where in Genesis 6:7 we read the following:

And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

Let’s explore the meaning of the Picture and Number language of the two words most often translated Repent or Repentance in the English bible.

The first Hebrew word is comprised of two letters.  They are the letter Sheen and the letter Beyt.


sheen_letter Sheen


To Consume – To Destroy –  Sharp – To press

beyt_letter Beyt 


House – Tent Dwelling Place
It describes what is Inside pictured as a
Tent / House



The literal translation of this word is to Return or to “Turn About” and it is used to mean Repent

The two pictures of Sheen and Beyt are connected in a way you may find surprising.

Instead of Turn or Burn, the Hebrew Word Sheen Beyt has the idea of destroying or burning the house.  It could literally be translated Burn or Destroy and then Turn Around and leave.

The concept is eloquently simple.  If you burn the house down then you cannot return to live there, unless you wish to spend your life living among the charred ashes of death and destruction.  Sadly some actually do end up returning to live in the ashes. 

To Repent based on the Ideal Picture meaning of Sheen Beyt is to leave the place you were living in never to return.  It has been crushed, burned down, demolished and destroyed and there is no reason to return. 

Obviously, the spiritual implications of this Picture meaning are not lost on anyone.

But this is not the entire picture that God gives us of Repentance.

The first time the word Repentance is used in the Scripture it is not Sheen Beyt but rather it is the four letter Hebrew word Noon Yood Chet Mem.

This 4 letter Hebrew word translated Regret or Repent in Hebrew adds substance and context to the Hebrew word for Repentance that is simply lost in the English translation

Let's look at each letter of this word and see what picture message emerges.


Regret / Repent

     mem_2_letter chet_letter noon_letteryood_letter




Picture of Regret and Repentance

yood_letter Yood  

  yood_hand_picture yood_fist_picture   


A Mighty Deed or Work done to accomplish a Divine Purpose

noon_letter Noon  


Life & Activity


chet_letter Chet  


A Graciously provided a private place of protection that provides refuge, security, and Peace.  A garden sanctuary




Water that provides life and comes down like the soft rain or a gentle stream.   The Word of God that is the Living Water.


What is the LORD trying to communicate to His Children?

Is it not obvious?

God is inviting His Children to come Home.  He is beckoning His children to leave the worldly place that is going to ultimately be burned up and destroyed and come to Him for sanctuary, safety, and salvation.

God is always surprising us with His kindness.  Even the harshest word has a gracious purpose in the lives of those that will put their faith and trust in Yeshua Ha-Mashiach.

And so God calls after us to Repent.  To leave our comfortable home in this world and become pilgrims on a journey that will lead to Eternal Life.

The Translation of the Picture meaning for the Hebrew Word Repent not only has the warning of devastating Fire it also has the in it the invitation to drink the Waters of Life provided so graciously for us by the fully  accomplished and sufficient atoning work of the Yeshua.

Repentance is a Wonderful Thing if it is what welcomes you into the Arms of our Savior.




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  1. Mark Cunningham says:

    Depending on the translation you use, depends on the word used in the verse.
    The NIV at least, uses this word repent.
    The NASB and ESV both use the word sorry.
    The original Hebrew uses the same word for this verse “I am sorry”.

    In Strong’s…….
    5162. nacham ►
    Strong’s Concordance
    nacham: to be sorry, console oneself
    Original Word: נָחַם
    Part of Speech: Verb
    Transliteration: nacham.

    The thought here is, that the LORD did not have second thoughts about what He had done, as in He had reservation of what had taken place. That would imply He is not sovereign.
    The word “repent” is just that. Turning away. Turning from, or about face.

    We know that the LORD did purpose this to happen, although it grieved Him to have to do this. And wearing His emotion on His sleeve of sorts, said He would destroy man and beast if it weren’t for Noah, who found favor in the LORD’S sight, who the LORD might use as an intercessor.
    The problem I see here is the translated word. “Repent” or “I Am Sorry”.
    The ESV and NASB at least use a more word for word translation, while NIV and KJV use a more thought for thought translation.

    when we as people “repent”,we are turning away from a sin or something in which we were wrong in doing originally.
    We make amends or restitution of sorts that we might not make that sin again.
    If we are sorry about something simply means we are grieved in something. Remorseful. We as people can even be wrong about something, but being sorry doesn’t mean we will turn or “repent” from our current wrong.
    This is why we can be sorry and not repent. We can be sorry we got caught.
    Repent means we turn a different direction from the one we’re going.

    The reason I bring this up is because the LORD did not make a bad decision and regret and “repent” from what He’d done. But rather He was sorry what had to happen.
    Just like when His Son was to be crucified. He planned for this to happen and it grieved Him greatly. So much that our Lord Jesus asks, “Why have you forsaken Me?” in that the LORD had to turn His presence from the Son.
    He did not repent of this, but He was sorry it had to happen. As in, it was His will and preordained.

  2. Phyllis “Quilisi” Witham says:

    I enjoyed your teaching and agree with it totally. Thank you !

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