American Civics Research Library
Bible Reference Page
Strength and Power
By: David Deschesne
Fort Fairfield Journal, March 12, 2008, p. 9
There are thirty-five different Hebrew words in the Old Testament that the King James translators rendered as “strength.”
Of those thirty-five words for strength, seven are synonyms for “power.”
The Hebrew word Kôach is the one most often translated as both “strength” and “power” in the KJV Bible.1
It appears in the Hebrew texts both with a koph followed by a single het (כּח), which can also mean “small reptile” - like a lizard, and a double het (כּחח) which would specifically mean powerful, to be strong, to be firm, or vigor.
In most occurrences, Kôach is rendered as “strength” as an abstract noun referring to the physical strength of a man, or person. When rendered as “power” it is generally in reference to God’s mighty power, God’s omnipotence or the power God instills in His creation.
The only cognate language where the root Kôach appears is Arabic, where it has the verbal idea “to batter down.”
“In a static sense Kôach suggests the capacity to endure, as of a stone (Job 6:12), but more commonly it expresses potency, capacity to produce. This may be expressed in sexual terms (Job 40:16; Gen. 49:3), or it may express the product of the earth’s potency (Gen 4:12; Job 31:39; etc.), but usually physical strength is intended, as in the references to Samson (Jud 16:5; etc.). By extension the word comes to connote general ability to cope with situations. When applied to God, this term suggests that He is indeed omnipotent. His power is seen in creation (Jer 10:12; 32:17; etc.), in the Exodus events, in His capacity to subdue His enemies and deliver His people. As compared to His power, human strength is nothing (II Chr 20:6; Job 37:23; Ps 33:16; Amos 2:14). The folly of relying upon human strength alone is seen both in Job and in the story of Samson. He is strongest who has discovered the finite limitations of his own capacities in the light of the limitless resources of God through His spirit.”2
God indicates His omnipotence in the phrase; “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.”3 “This signifies that He governs all things from first [principles] by means of ultimates, and in this manner governs all things in heaven to eternity.”4
The concept of Kôach also being a word for “serpent” is most intriguing. The double-helix formation of the DNA strands of all living things resembles a pair of intertwined serpents. Using divine assistance, Moses turned a his staff into a serpent before Pharaoh5 and made a brass serpent to cure snakebites6, The Egyptian god Toth, known as Hermes to the Greeks, had a staff that bore the emblem of the Entwined Serpents.7 Even Satan, the great adversary, came in the form of a serpent with the power to deceive God’s glorious achievement - man.8 It is important to note here that in the Biblical cites just mentioned, the more common Hebrew word, naw-khawsh is used to render “serpent,” not Kôach.
In their base forms, “strength” and “power” are at best arbitrary forms of measurement based upon some one or other frame of reference in the physical realm.
Kôach captures the essence of Divine omnipotence as the First Source and Center of all creation, the Lord God possesses all power to both create destroy and re-create again. With Him lies the fundamental law of Thermodynamics; The Conservation of Matter and Energy, where all matter is converted into energy and from energy back into matter again. As the source well for all energy in the universe, the power everything else has to exist, to create, to move or to be comes from Him originally and moves at His behest, His guidance, His Providence.
1. Strong’s #3581, rendered 54 times as “strength” and 47 times as “power.”
2 Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ©1980 Moody Bible Institute, Vol. 1, pp. 436-437.
3. see Rev. 1:8; 1:11; 21:6; and 22:13
4. Compendium of Immanuel Swedenborg’s Theological Writings, ©1974 Samuel L. Warren, p. 72
5. Exodus 7
6. Numbers 21
7. Divine Encounters, ©1995 Zechariah Sitchin, p. 14
8. Gen. 3