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I've had as hard a time with the concept of the heart as I've had with the concept of the soul. Currently I am thinking the heart is a reference to what your goals are and what you direct your attention to. However, I am not sure.

What does the Bible mean when it refers to the word "heart"? Did they only use it in the sense of a four-chambered organ that circulates blood throughout the body, or did they use it in other ways? How do emotions relate to it? How do thoughts relate to it? What other insight does the scripture provide with respect to the heart?

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This is the start of a good question, but giving the context in which the heart is being mentioned would benefit it greatly. Obviously, we're not talking about the organ that pumps your blood here, but even within the idea of a heart - sometimes it is telos (the purpose for which you are made) other times the affections of your heart. This really needs context in order to be answerable. –  Affable Geek Mar 25 '13 at 1:37
@AffableGeek I always had a hard time understanding the Bible..it's getting easier as I grow older and experience more things, but every reference they give to heart or soul was pretty difficult for me to understand. –  leeand00 Mar 25 '13 at 1:41
btw - not my downvote! –  Affable Geek Mar 25 '13 at 1:49
Not mine either, but the question could definitely benefit from a re-wording. –  H3br3wHamm3r81 Mar 25 '13 at 2:01
I am trying to salvage your question before it get's closed as a fairly descent answer has already been posted. Hope you don't mind the edit. –  Mike Mar 25 '13 at 4:37

1 Answer 1

In ancient thought, at least with respect to the Hebrews, the "heart" (לב) was considered to be the locus of one's thoughts. Today, most might say that thoughts originate from the brain and/ or mind.

Nevertheless, the idea of "to think to one's self" is expressed by the phrase לאמור בלב, which means, "to say in the heart" (cp. Gen. 17:17). This proves the connection they gave between "thought" and "heart."

To circumcise the foreskin of one's heart is to remove all the excess and unnecessary thoughts from one's thoughts and life and to devote one's entire attention and self to serving God. The foreskin signified pleasure and excess.

Were there any specific verses you had in mind?

Wilhelm Gesenius covered the topic well in his entry on the word לב in his lexicon, pp. 507-508.

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Anything in Greek on this? –  leeand00 Mar 25 '13 at 2:42
The same idiom is expressed in Greek (cp. Matt. 24:48), but of course, this is not necessarily because the Greeks originated that idiom. Rather, it's because Jesus was a Jew and his words (likely spoken in Aramaic) were translated into Greek for the Gospel. However, the Greeks (and possibly other cultures) did view anatomical parts as locus of certain emotions, but I'd have to do more research on the specifics. –  H3br3wHamm3r81 Mar 25 '13 at 2:58
There's plenty of research to be had on the subject. Here's just an article I found doing a brief search on Google. wellcome.ac.uk/news/2004/features/wtx023667.htm –  H3br3wHamm3r81 Mar 25 '13 at 3:03
+1 good start. I think an example where it refers to the affections would also supplement. –  Mike Mar 25 '13 at 4:39
I was told once that to the ancient Jew the statement is more like 'the gut' rather than 'the heart.' This implied your flesh, instinct, etc., which defies any good that God may have in you. –  fredsbend Mar 25 '13 at 4:52

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