The Mystery Hidden in Shachah: The Hebrew Word for Worship

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You have no doubt heard the word worship many times, but do you know what it really means? Have you ever wondered what Yahweh considers true worship? Is there any information hidden in the Hebrew letters themselves that would help us understand more about worship? Does anything point to Messiah? If you have spent any time studying the Hebrew letters, you are probably thinking yes. You are going to be pleasantly surprised. 

In the ancient prophetic text, the book of Joshua records the account of the people of Elohim entering and conquering the land promised to them through their father Abraham. After the miracle of crossing the Jordan River at flood stage on dry ground and before the attack on the fortified city of Jericho, Joshua experienced a surprise encounter with a very unusual warrior.

In Chapter 5 verse 13 of the book of Joshua this encounter is recorded:

And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand:  and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, art thou for us, or for our adversaries?

Joshua boldly approached this warrior to wisely determine his intentions. Joshua was, after all, an invader in a foreign land that was filled with warriors determined to fight to stay where they were. But Joshua was not expecting the reply he was given in verse 14 and 15:

And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come.  And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant?​
And the captain of the LORD’s host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.

Who was this captain? Why did Joshua fall on his face? Why did Joshua worship him? 

The first clue comes from the last book of our ancient text. In the Revelation of Yeshua to his beloved disciple John we read in Chapter 19 verse 9 and 10 of another encounter with someone unusual: 

And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage super of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.  And I fell at his feet to worship him.  And he said unto me, See thou do it not:  I am thy fellow servant and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus:  worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.​ 

This could only have been an angel because he refused to be worshiped and insisted that John worship God only. So Joshua did not meet with an angel, but someone who deserved to be worshiped. But why was the place he was standing holy? 

Because the captain of the host of the LORD was none other than Yahweh Himself. And why did Joshua fall on his face? 

The Hebrew word for worship, Shachah, means to depress, to bow down, or to fall down flat. It is a picture of humility before Yahweh. The Hebrew letters in this word tell us even more.

Shachah is spelled Sheen Chet Hey.


Sheen is the picture of teeth and can mean to consume, destroy, or to press. It is the one letter God uses to identify Himself.


Chet is the picture of the place of protection or refuge; the sanctuary or the inner room. 


Hey is the picture of the outstretched arms and means to behold, to look up, or to pay attention to what follows.

So the first mystery we discover in the letters is that in the act of worship we are pressed down as we behold Elohim as He draws us into that inner sanctuary where He identifies Himself to us. As we humble ourselves before Him, He safely draws us close and builds a relationship with Him. 

But there is more to this mystery that can be easily overlooked. The letter Hey also means to pay attention to what follows. What can we find in these ancient Scriptures that comes as a result of worship besides relationship? 

The first place this word is found in our ancient text is in the first book of the Torah in Chapter 18 of Genesis. In verse one, Yahweh, along with two angels, appears to Abraham. In verse 2 we find Abraham’s response: 

And he lift up his eyes and looked, and lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground. ​ 

The words bowed himself is the Hebrew word for worship, Shachah. Abraham worshiped Yahweh and went on to serve Him with the best he had to offer. What was the result of this meeting? Up until this time, Abraham’s wife Sarah had been barren, but Yahweh declares the following in verse 10:

And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. 

Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90 years old when Isaac their son was born. This great blessing was a miracle that was pronounced by Yahweh right after Abraham’s act of worship. 

Another example of blessing following worship is found in Exodus Chapter 23 where Yahweh reminds His people that worship belongs to Him only. In verse 24, He warns them:

Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them and quite break down their images.

Again, the bow down is the word Shachah or worship. The next two verses give the contrast and point to the blessing of worship of Yahweh only: 

Ye shall serve the LORD your God, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water, and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee.  There shall nothing cast their young, nor be barren in thy land:  the number of thy days I will fulfil.

The opposite is also true. In the book of Zechariah, we see a future time where a failure to give worship is costly. In Chapter 14 verse 17, the Prophet Zechariah tells us:

And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them there shall be no rain.

The letters in Shachah are also numbers. Sheen is the number 300 and signifies the final blood sacrifice made by the perfect Lamb of God. Chet is the number 8 which stands for a new beginning. Hey is the number 5 and represents grace. So the final mystery in Shachah shows that by a final blood sacrifice by Yeshua Ha-Mashiach we have been given, by His grace, a new beginning. 

The Rabbi Paul writing to the Church at Philippi said in Chapter 2 verse 9 through 11: 

Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name. That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.​ 

Here we see everyone will someday bow in worship before Yeshua. It will not be a happy time for those who have refused to trust in Him. If you haven’t yet committed your life to Him, don’t delay. Make this future event one of great joy for all.

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. Jane Cairns says:

    Thank you for explaining shachah so clearly. Your insights are very helpful.

  2. Teresa Howard says:

    God showed me 2 weeks ago this very lesson. As I was studying Daniel 10, He spoke to my heart and mind that this wasn’t an angel encounter with Daniel. It was in fact the Lord Himself. He didn’t speak with words, yet I fully understood. I am so very humbled and thankful. I can’t explain, but it was so very real. He put a picture together for me to understand. It was like being given an answer to a question you didn’t even know you needed to ask. I love you Lord, to You all honor, glory and praise belong!

  3. earnest says:

    i need to change the way i worship

  4. David Edwards says:

    Thanks so much for this insightful explanation. When we read the word of God through western eyes we loose most of the text and its meaning .This word has added a whole new perspective to worship.
    Thanks so much.


    This knowledge has lifted my spirit. Thanks

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