Biynah-yada Part 1 of 3
In Esther 1:13, we read of a kingdom whose wise men and advisers “knew the times.” In 1 Chronicles 12:32, however, the Bible tells of another kingdom whose wise men and advisers “had understanding of the times.” One set “knew the times,” the other understood “the times.” Any difference? One set comprised secular or natural advisers, the others were spiritual in their operation; one set worked with their learned heads, the other set had much more, working from their inspired spirit. Each of them was crucial to their kingdom in their own way. We need both now.
The Hebrew word translated “knew” in Esther 1:13 is yada. Among other things, according to Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary, it means, “to know (properly, to ascertain by seeing), acquaintance(-ted with), comprehend, familiar friend, famous, +be learned, skilful, understand, have (understanding).” The word translated “understanding” in 1 Chronicles 12:32 is biynah combined with yada. According to the same Hebrew dictionary, biynah means knowledge, perfectly, understanding, wisdom. The root word is biyn, which means, “to separate mentally (or distinguish), be cunning, discern, have intelligence, know, perceive, skill(-full).” This, then, is a fuller picture of that passage:
And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding [biynah; yada] of the times, to know [yada] what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment (1 Chronicles 12:32).
The kingdom of Persia had men that knew [yada] THE TIMES; Israel had men that understood [biynah - yada] THE TIMES, knowing [yada] what everyone else should do. In their different ways, each category was interacting with “the times.” Every nation needs both kinds of men, no less now.
What the sons of Issachar understood by discernment they analysed by knowledge and advised accordingly for action; what they knew in their hearts they processed with their heads to be implemented by ready hands. The ready hands waited on the understanding hearts for proper guidance – like our days; “… the times…”
Times and Seasons
The Bibles speaks in the Old and New Testaments about times and seasons. They don’t mean the same thing, and we need know both. It says in Daniel 2:21 that God changes “the times and the seasons” and “removeth kings, and setteth up kings,” and that He not only gives “wisdom unto the wise” but also “knowledge to them that know understanding.” The verse distinguishes between times and seasons; it also distinguishes between wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. So much more to be said; for example, why would God give more wisdom to one that is already wise, who is called The Wise, or give knowledge to a person that already knows understanding? Could it be because He trusts that they will improve with ‘more’ of what they already have and are managing successfully? Is it a Matthew 13:12 principle? Wouldn’t He have given them that ‘more’ if they didn’t have that little, or had wasted what they had had? Well, we leave that for another day.
According to Jesus in Acts 1:7, there are certain times [chronos - Grk] and seasons [kairos - Grk] that “the Father hath put in his own power.” There is nothing we can do about knowing those; we cannot know them (Revelation 10:4; Daniel 12:9; 2 Corinthians 12:4); nevertheless some times and seasons are knowable, and should be so pursued. Paul takes that for granted in 1 Thessalonians 5:1 when he states, “ye have no need that I write unto you” – about times and seasons that they should know.
The word chrono in Greek is generally interpreted as meaning a space of time, an interval, a duration. The sense comes out in the following scriptures where the word is used, although translated into different English expressions:
And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long TIME [chronos], and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs. (Luke 8:27).
And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as [chronos] they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast (Mark 2:19).
And he asked his father, How long is it AGO [chronos] since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child (Mark 9:21).
Now Elisabeth's full TIME [chronos] came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son (Luke 1:57).
Then began he to speak to the people this parable; A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country for a long TIME [chronos] (Luke 20:9).
Whereas chronos designates a duration or a period, kairos means an opportune moment, an occasion, a set time, or proper time. Comparatively, this is not a long stretch of calendar-time or countable time; it is a short time, a due season, a moment of opportunity, a convenient time. Again, a few scriptures where the word occurs in scriptures will further clarify the meaning.
For an angel went down at A certain SEASON [kairos] into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had (John 5:4).
And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have A convenient SEASON [kairos], I will call for thee (Acts 24:25).
At that TIME [kairos] Jesus went on the sabbath day [specific day] through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat (Matthew 12:1).
Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the [specific] TIME [kairos] of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn (Matthew 13:30).
Every chronos comes with myriads of kairoses for individuals, families, churches, organizations, and nations. Summer and winter may be chronos; the rainy and dry seasons may be chronos, but a specific day during that period when an opportunity may be seized will be kairos. To miss kairos is to miss harvest, and the fruits of would-have-been opportunities thereafter rot away, because harvest time is past (Jeremiah 8:20). A school year could be chronos; a semester or school term could be chronos, but the day for an exam within that chronos would be kairos. To miss that kairos is to repeat a course, or fail out of school entirely. The year 2018 is chronos, but not the rare opportunities within the year. Being in hospital from January to March will be chronos, but to miss the best time when a surgery could have been performed or to miss the specific date of maternity delivery will be kairos lost. This applies no less to the destiny of nations as it does to individuals. Jesus lamented one such kairos forever lost by the city of Jerusalem, and the calamities that were therefor to follow; severe national calamities that could have been escaped if kairos had been seized.
41 And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,
42 Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in THIS thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.
43 For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side,
44 And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time [kairos] of thy visitation (Luke 19:41-44).
How does that affect Nigeria?
Continued in part 2 of 3