The word “aria” appears several times in the Bible, but its meaning is not always clear from the context. This has led to some confusion among Bible readers about what exactly this term signifies. In this comprehensive blog post, we will examine the original Hebrew and Greek words behind “aria”, look at how they are translated, and explore the possible meanings and significance of “aria” in the biblical texts.
Whether you are a pastor seeking to better understand this word for a sermon, a small group leader preparing a lesson, or an individual Christian interested in going deeper in God’s Word, this post will provide helpful insight on this important topic.
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- “Aria” comes from Hebrew and Greek words meaning “lion” or “lioness”
- It may refer literally to a lion or figuratively to characteristics like strength, fierceness, or judgment
- In some verses, “aria” likely means “the altar” – a place of sacrifice
- Jesus Christ is called the “Lion of Judah,” emphasizing his majesty and authority
- Understanding “aria” requires looking carefully at context and original language
The Hebrew Word Behind “Aria”
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word transliterated as “aryeh” is translated as “aria” in some English Bible versions. This word means “lion” or “lioness.” The lion was a symbol of strength and ferocity in Middle Eastern cultures. The Israelites respected the lion for its power and aura of royalty.
This Hebrew term “aryeh” literally refers to the animal we call a lion or lioness. However, it is also used figuratively in the Old Testament to conjure up images of strength, fierceness, leadership, or judgment.
For example, in Genesis 49:9, Jacob pronounces a blessing over his son Judah, saying, “You are a lion’s cub, Judah; you return from the prey, my son.” This is not meant literally but rather as a metaphor signifying the tribe of Judah’s kingly status and military prowess.
Elsewhere when “aryeh” appears, it may be meant more literally, as when describing Daniel surviving the lions’ den or Samson battling a lion. The term is also used to portray God as a powerful judge, such as in Hosea 5:14: “For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, And like a young lion to the house of Judah.”
The Greek Word Behind “Aria”
In the New Testament, we find a different original language behind the word “aria.” The Greek “araios” means altar or place of sacrifice. It comes from the word “ara” meaning shrine or altar.
There are a few verses in the New Testament where the word “aria” clearly refers to an altar or place of sacrifice, based on the original Greek term. For example:
- Luke 1:11 – “Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense.”
- Hebrews 13:10 – “We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.”
- Revelation 8:3 – “Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.”
- Revelation 14:18 – “And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, “Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.””
In these verses, the connections to sacrifice, offerings, and an actual altar in a temple clarify that the original meaning had to do with a physical place where religious sacrifices occurred.
The Significance of “Lion of Judah”
One important occurrence of the “aria/lion” concept is the title “Lion of Judah” used for Jesus Christ. This name for Christ highlights his authority, kingship, and fierceness.
Revelation 5:5 declares about Jesus: “But one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.'”
Here the image of the Lion evokes royalty, honor, and military victory. Jesus as the Lion of Judah emphasizes his majesty and suggests he has conquered and earned the right to open the scroll.
This title also connects back to the blessing Jacob gave over the tribe of Judah, saying they would be like a lion. It reminds us of Jesus’ lineage from the tribe of Judah, further legitimizing his claim to kingly authority. When we consider Jesus as the Lion of Judah, we recognize him as the promised King from David’s line who will reign in power and glory.
The Need to Examine Context
As with many words in the ancient Biblical languages, determining the precise meaning of “aria” requires carefully looking at grammatical and literary context. Sometimes it literally means a lion or lioness. Other times it conjures up those attributes we associate with lions – strength, fierceness, leadership, judgment. In the New Testament, it is likely referring to an altar or place of sacrifice.
Making assumptions about the meaning of “aria” without thoroughly examining the original languages, translations, and context could lead to misunderstanding. Bible students must be careful not to jump to conclusions, but rather to discern the author’s intended meaning based on the context.
For example, consider Hosea 11:10 – “They shall walk after the Lord. He will roar like a lion. When He roars, Then His sons shall come trembling from the west.” At first glance, “lion” here seems only metaphorical, referring to God roaring. But knowing the Hebrew word “aryeh” literally means “lion” tells us this verse may contain a double meaning – God both roars verbally and is also frightening and fierce like a real lion.
Knowing the original Biblical languages opens up deeper insights into passages containing words like “aria.” We must take care to look at context and perform thoughtful analysis when encountering terms that are not straightforward to translate into English.
Key Bible Verses Using “Aria”
Below are some other important verses using the term “aria,” along with analysis of what “aria” likely means based on context:
Judges 14:8 – “After some time, when he returned to get her, he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion [“aryeh”]. And behold, a swarm of bees and honey were in the carcass of the lion [“aryeh”].” – In this story of Samson, “aryeh” is used literally to mean an actual lion.
1 Samuel 17:34 – “But David said to Saul, ‘Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion [“aryeh”] or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock”‘ – Again the term “aryeh” here clearly refers to a literal lion.
Revelation 10:3 – “And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion [“aria”] roars.” – The Greek “araios” is used metaphorically in this simile to compare the heavenly messenger’s voice to the roar of a lion.
Hebrews 11:33 – “Who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions [“aria”],” – This likely references Daniel in the lions’ den, meaning literal lions.
Isaiah 38:13 – “I have considered until morning—As a lion [“aryeh”], So He breaks all my bones; From day until night You make an end of me.” – Here “aryeh” is used symbolically to depict God as fierce and ferocious like a lion.
This small sample illustrates the importance of examining each context to determine if “aria” refers literally to lions, metaphorically to lion-like attributes, or as meaning an altar in the New Testament. We must dig deep into the text to ascertain the intended significance.
While we cannot be absolutely certain about the meaning of “aria” in every case, this overview provides some helpful guidelines for interpreting this word when we come across it in our Bible reading:
- In the Old Testament, the Hebrew “aryeh” literally means “lion” but may be used metaphorically to depict strength, royalty, ferocity or judgment
- In the New Testament, the Greek “araios” generally refers literally to an altar or place of sacrifice
- Jesus as the “Lion of Judah” emphasizes his kingly honor and fierce authority as the promised Messiah
- Look carefully at grammar, context, and original language to discern whether literal or figurative meaning is intended
By going beyond surface level readings, we can dig into the Word more deeply. Keeping these insights in mind equips us to better grasp the significance of important terms like “aria” as we study the Bible. With sound analysis and the Spirit’s guidance, we uncover riches that transform our understanding of God’s Word.