There-is-no love greater than this: That a man will set his soul in-exchange-for his FAMILY. You-are my family if you will do all that I am commanding to you....I call you 'My Family' because all that I heard from my Father I make-known to you. (John 15:13-15 ARTB)
A note from A. Frances Werner:
Many of us have memorized this very famous verse as "lay down his life for his FRIENDS." The Aramaic text gives us a few important insights.
In the Hebrew OT, there is a word RAHAM, which is the verb associated with the noun RAHAM, which is almost always translated as the English word, WOMB. I believe the correct definition of that verb is NURTURING. The Hebrew word root NURTURE/WOMB occurs over 125 times in the Old Testament. The word NURTURE is distinct from the word LOVE and the word FAMILY in Hebrew.
It is interesting that in New Testament Aramaic, this same word NURTURING is the verb associated with the noun FAMILY, not with the word WOMB. Aramaic uses a different word for WOMB, but keeps the same word RAHAM to mean FAMILY. The word NURTURING occurs 178 times in the Aramaic, but is completely lost in Greek. Sometimes it is associated with the Greek PHILIOS, usually translated as LOVE, but most times it is simply lost.
The word FAMILY is also lost in the Greek New Testament. There are only a few occurrences in NIV and NASB, and only one in the KJV, whereas there are 27 occurrences in the Aramaic New Testament. (Yes you can correctly argue that most of the New Testament was based in Greek, but the point is that Jesus was a Jew who understood Hebrew/Aramaic point of view, which was far stronger in NURTURING and FAMILY than the Greek view.)
Most importantly, as pointed out in earlier notes, the word NURTURED includes all people in our lives that Yahweh has asked us to care for. That makes a lot of sense to me, since all of us know we probably have many more opportunities to set our souls in-exchange-for our children and family than our friends.
The use of the word SOUL instead of LIFE is also interesting. Very few of us have the opportunity to lay down our LIVES for anyone. But we have the chance to offer all of who we are, our SOUL, every single day in prayer for our family. Yeshua (Jesus) laid down his life for us, but he also stands as the high priest offering intercession for us every day.
Finally, there is a marvelous word, IN-EXCHANGE-FOR (HELEP, Strong's 2500) which only occurs a few times in the Old Testament. It occurs over 100 times in the New Testament, but is usually shortened and rendered as the word FOR in other translations. This word is the essence of what a sacrifice is all about--it is offered IN-EXCHANGE-FOR us.