One word that the Old Testament uses for repentance is the word נחם. One way to transliterate it into English is nacham. It sort of sounds like nah-CHAM, with the ch pronounced as a guttural like the ch in chanukkah. Lexical sources posit that nacham was originally an onomatopoetic word, carrying the sense of breathing deeply. This is certainly supported by Hebrew phonology, as nacham almost sounds like one is sighing. This is also consistent with the semantic range of nacham in the Old Testament, whose meanings include to have compassion, to comfort, to be sorry or sorrowful, and to repent. One can imagine someone sighing in compassion and in order to comfort someone, or because he is sorrowful about something.
Put most simply, nacham shows us the place of the emotions in repentance. It teaches that those who repent will be genuinely sorry and remorseful over their deeds. For example, it describes the mourning one does at the funeral of a family member: Now after a considerable time Shua's daughter, the wife of
Further, after being severely rebuked by Yahweh for his complaining and arrogant words, Job expresses his deep sorrow by declaring his repentance as he sits on the ash heap in a landfill: “Therefore I retract, and I repent [nacham] in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6). This godly sorrow is also said to be accompanied by shame and humiliation. In Jeremiah 31:19, this is evidenced by Ephraim (a name representing the people
Nacham, then, underscores the emotional component of repentance. It includes remorse and sorrow, and in some cases shame and humiliation. And at times it experiences these emotions to such a degree that it moves one to demonstrate his sorrow in action.
However, as insightful as nacham is into the nature of Biblical repentance, it's not the whole story. In order to discover that true repentance from sin goes beyond the emotional response of sorrow and regret and into the realm of affections and actions as well, we must look to another Hebrew word, which we'll get to next time.
1.1. Nacham: Biblical Repentance Involves the Emotions
1.2. Shuv: The Heart's Obedient Turn from Sin to God
1.3. Metanoeo: A Fundamental Change of the Whole Man
2.1. Summary and Discussion: Intellectual, Emotional, Volitional
2.2. Repentance for the Christian
3.1. Repentance vs. Penance
3.2. Counsel to a Sinning Brother
3.3. Homework for Sinning Brother
3.4. The Effect on My Personal Walk with Christ