Word-Root Meaning of Bind
The English word “bind” has roots from the Old English ‘bindan’ and beyond that, the Proto-Indo-European ‘bhendh-’. Its Indian-European root bhendh means ‘to bind’ or ‘tie’. This root is closely related to an older root, ‘bhendh’, meaning ‘to wrap or envelop’ or ‘arrange’ which is why we get words like ‘bundle’ or ‘band’. In the Bible, ‘bind’ can mean many things: to tie, to constrict, to protect, to add order, to strengthen.
Biblical Definitions of Bind
In the Bible, the word ‘bind’ is used in at least four distinct ways. First, it can have a legal sense. In the Bible, binding often refers to a legal contract that is binding upon both parties, securing the terms of an agreement and their agreement to follow them. For example, in Genesis, Jacob binds himself to Laban and promises to work for him in return for Laban’s daughter.
Second, the word ‘bind’ often carries a physical sense in the Bible. It can refer to anything from binding up an animal’s foot to being bound up in chains and imprisoned. In the story of Joseph, for example, his brothers bind Joseph and leave him to be rescued by traders carrying him to Egypt. It serves as a practical remedy for anger, violence, and despair.
Third, ‘bind’ is used in a religious or spiritual sense. It often refers to making a covenant, or pledge, to God. When Moses binds the Ten Commandments on the stone tablets and then offers them to the people of Israel, he is entering into a covenant with God. It shows a binding together of the people to the laws of God.
Fourth, ‘bind’ can refer to a spiritual binding up of sin and guilt. Just as Joseph was literally bound up, so can we bind ourselves to the wrong we have done and seek to acknowledge it before God. In Psalm 32:3, the Psalmist acknowledges “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.” In this instance, the guilt and despair of the Psalmist is being ‘bound up’ within his own spirit.
Judaism, Christianity, and Bind
Judaism has embraced the idea of binding as a way of establishing covenant with God. The strong symbolic content of bind speaks to the ties of devotion, loyalty, and responsibility among the people of Israel. For example, in the famous story of God’s covenant with Abraham, the sign of the covenant is a binding of body parts. The binding of an animal’s body parts as a sign of covenant is a reminder to people of their obligations to God and of God’s obligations to them.
Christianity also uses binding as a sign of covenant. In John 13, Jesus demonstrates love through self-sacrifice. He washes the disciples’ feet and binds them with a towel, reminding them of the covenant he has made with them. He tells them to “Love one another, even as I have loved you” (John 13:34). The binding of the towel is a sign of his commitment to them and their commitment to him.
Overall, the symbolism of bind shows it as a powerful form of covenant or agreement, through which two parties are bound in loyalty, devotion and responsibility. This type of covenant is seen in the Bible and other religious practices, establishing connections between God and people, as well as people and other people.
Bind’s Relationship To Freedom
While the idea of bind often carries a sense of restriction and imposition, it also brings a sense of stability and assurance. There is comfort in knowing that someone we care about is bound to us, and in the same way, a covenant with God can bring comfort in knowing that God is bound to us. However, it is important to remember that the binding of a covenant is for the benefit of those who enter into it and must not become oppressive. Rather, it should provide us with a renewed sense of freedom and assurance.
Binding From Generation To Generation
The idea of binding is one that has been passed down through the generations, from Abraham to Jacob and from Jesus to his disciples. It is an enduring idea and is evidenced in many cultures and religions. It is a sign of hope for a better future and for better relationships.
When we bind ourselves to God, it serves as a reminder that our lives are inextricably bound up with the lives of others, and that the covenant we have with God is binding in this life and in the life to come. So, when we read in the Bible “Bind up the testimony; seal the teaching among my disciples” (Isaiah 8:16), it serves as a reminder to us of all that we have been given and all that we are still expected to do in order to keep our covenant with God.
The Spiritual Significance of Bind in the Bible
The word ‘bind’ in the Bible has many spiritual meanings. It speaks to the idea of a covenant with God, of loyalty and commitment, and of obligation and responsibility. When we bind ourselves to God, we are reminded of our lives as part of something larger and of our need to live with intention, thoughtfulness and love. We are reminded of our need to turn to God in times of joy and hardship and to live lives that reflect the values and grace of our Creator.
The Significance of Binding in Everyday Life
We live in a world that is becoming increasingly fractured and disconnected, both from God and from each other. The act of binding ourselves and others to us, to commitments and organizations can be an important reminder of our connectedness. It can help us to remember that we are part of something larger and that our actions have consequences. Our commitments to each other can help to create a sense of stability and assurance that can be difficult to find in our current world.
The Role of Faith in Binding
The act of binding is an act of faith. It requires a trust that the covenant made will be upheld, that the commitment made will be true and that both parties will work towards something better. This could be a marriage relationship or a relationship with God. In all cases, faith is the foundation of the act of binding and is necessary for the relationship to be upheld.
The word ‘bind’ used in the Bible has multiple meanings, from a legal and physical sense to a spiritual sense. Through these definitions, the Bible reveals the powerful symbolism of binding in both our relationship with God and with one another. It is an act of faith and trust between two parties, an act that is often fully embraced and respected by both sides. It is an act of courage, an affirmation of purpose, a reminder of bonds that strengthen and hold us together, and a source of hope in a world that too often seems disconnected and uncertain.