n the month of May, we honor mothers for their selfless devotion to their husbands and children. Now it is dad’s turn to be celebrated as his special day draws near. Just as God paid special tribute to the godly mother through the letters of the Early Semitic Hebrew Alphabet, so has He paid homage to the ideal father, of whom He is the supreme example. One could say God has set the bar high for fathers, or perhaps I should say He has set the tent pole high!
What could I possibly mean by that odd statement? Once again, I will refer to the wisdom of the Hebrew alphabet for the purest definition of godly parenting. In the modern Hebrew 'Aleph-Beis', the term “father” is spelled with the first two letters of the alphabet, Aleph and Beit, A and B in English.
The Aleph, the first letter in the words “mother” and “father,” is pictured as an ox head in the Early Semitic pictographic form of the language, depicting strength, power, and leadership. The next letter in the term “father" is the Beit (), pictured as the floor plan of the nomadic tent, separated into two living quarters to accommodate guests, while providing privacy and seclusion for the women and children.
From the pictographic form of the letter, we determine that Beit is a house. The term can also mean “lineage,” or “dynasty.” When the Aleph and Beit are joined together (ba' 'ab), reading from right to left, they spell 'ab' (pronounced ahv), meaning “father.”
The term ab is further defined as “tent pole,” implying that the father of the household is the primary support system, the strength and leader of his family. The tent pole must remain securely in place, steadfast and alert in purpose if the family is to survive and thrive as God intends.
The idea of the tent pole signifying stability in Near Eastern culture, both ancient and modern, assumed new meaning for me recently when I heard about the sad passing of an elderly Jordanian man, the “godfather” of his local region. Word of his death was announced to the village by a collapsed tent that rested in front of his home for three days in accordance with the local custom. In other words, the “tent pole” had fallen, and the collapsed tent relayed the mournful message.
Fathers must remain steadfast in their posture, straight and strong to keep the family “tent” upright and stable for the sake of their families. God has high expectations for all fathers to raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph 6:4) and to love their wives as Christ loved the Church (Eph 5:25). Therefore, stand tall men of God, like an erect tent pole! Endeavor to meet God’s highest expectations for you and your loved ones, and enjoy a blessed day of appreciation. Happy Father’s Day!