Word Study: Avon – “Iniquity”


Most people assume the Bible has a lot to say about how messed up humans are, and that is true. It is also true that the Bible’s vocabulary about this topic sounds odd to modern people, using words like “sin”, “iniquity”, or “transgression”. And so, the Bible’s perspective on the human condition is often ignored or treated as ancient and backwards. This is really unfortunate. Because through these words, the biblical authors are offering us a deeply profound diagnosis of human nature. Sin refers to moral failure. And transgression describes how we break trust with others. And iniquity… no one even uses that word anymore. So, what is it all about? In Bible translations, “iniquity” is one way the Hebrew word “avon” gets translated. It is also rendered by words like “wickedness,” “guilt,” or “sin”. So what does “avon” actually mean? The word “avon” is related to a Hebrew verb “avah” which means to be bent or crooked. The poet of Psalm 36 says his back is “avah’d.” That is, bent over in pain. Or, in Lamentations chapter 3, a road that isn’t straight is one that avahs. That is, it is twisty and crooked. This image of being crooked offered biblical poets a powerful metaphor to talk about people’s behavior. Like Jeremiah, who said that Israel had “avah’d” their way by violating their covenant with God and giving allegiance to idols. Or, in the book of Job, a person who morally fails is someone who “avah’s” what is right. In both cases, something that is supposed to be level or even, your choices or your conscience, has been bent out of shape, distorted. In the Bible, “avon” refers to all kinds of crooked behavior, Ten Commandments’ kind of stuff:
lying, murder, adultery… In Isaiah chapter 59 “avon” describes the corruption among Israel’s leaders who are ignoring the injustice done to the poor. The Prophet cleverly adapts the metaphor saying, “We have so much ‘avon,’ that is, crookedness, that uprightness can’t even enter our city.” Things were so morally distorted in Jerusalem that crooked was the new straight. Another fascinating thing about the word “avon” is that it refers not only to distorted behavior, but also to the crooked consequences: the hurt people, the broken relationships, the cycles of retaliation. You find this idea in the biblical phrase “to punish” which in biblical Hebrew is to visit someone’s “avon” upon them. That is, to let them sit in the consequences of their crooked choices. This is what the Prophet Jeremiah said about the Babylonians who were destroying other nations. One day those nations would destroy them in return, and so Babylon’s divine punishment would be having to live in a disfigured world of its own making. This is actually the main way biblical authors talk about God’s response to human “avon”: letting people experience the crooked consequences of their choices. This is the meaning of the common biblical phrase to “bear your iniquity” or, in Hebrew, to carry your “avon”. God gives people the dignity of carrying the consequences of their bad decision But that is not the only way God responds to “avon” in the Bible. He also offers to carry the “avon” of corrupt people as an act of sheer generosity. In fact, “carrying avon” is the most common Hebrew phrase for God’s forgiveness. Like Psalm 32 where the poet says: “I didn’t hide my ‘avon’ but confessed it and you carried the ‘avon’ of my sin.” This is actually shocking if you stop and think about it. God forgives people by taking responsibility for their “avon”. This idea reaches its high point in the Book of Isaiah where God appoints a figure called “the servant”. He will embody God’s forgiving love by carrying the “avon” of many and allowing it to crush him. This servant will absorb humanity’s crookedness, letting it overwhelm and destroy him. But that is not the end of the story. The servant will emerge out the other side of death alive and well so he can offer his life to others. When you get to the New Testament, the apostles carry these ideas forward using the Greek word “anomia”, which has a similar meaning. Like Paul the Apostle, he identified the servant as Jesus. And he said, “Our great God and Savior, Jesus the Messiah, gave his life on our behalf in order to redeem us from all of our ‘anomia’, our crooked behavior’s consequences. And so, the whole biblical story is about God’s desire to take crooked people and the twisted world that we have created and to make everything right. Through Jesus, God invites us to become whole humans once again, people who can walk upright with God and with each other. That is the story behind the biblical words for iniquity.

55 Comments

  1. The Bible Project

    September 7, 2018 at 9:01 pm

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  2. Sam Rowe

    March 5, 2019 at 2:43 am

    Absolutely riveting phenomenal graphics

  3. Sabrina Fernandez

    March 5, 2019 at 11:00 am

    May you guys do a word study on rebuke??

  4. Ma Mi

    March 16, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    Why can't there just be happy accidents?

  5. Electric Boogie

    March 25, 2019 at 1:42 am

    When AVON comes calling, don't answer.

  6. Lebohang Machaba

    March 25, 2019 at 10:23 am

    Carrying the karma 😁

  7. Joseph Rauti

    March 26, 2019 at 5:13 am

    You never fail to make sure people see the big picture, the true way. Jesus Christ.

  8. Alphanso D'Souza

    March 26, 2019 at 7:31 pm

    :Could you please do a word study on 'griefs' and 'sorrows' – Isaiah 53:4, Matt 8:17? Thanks and blessings!

  9. John Jordan Jr

    March 27, 2019 at 4:26 am

    Can you guys do the word "realm"

  10. Dave’s Here ! Yay!

    April 11, 2019 at 5:31 pm

    Y’all have The best videos !

  11. Aviwe Toli

    April 13, 2019 at 6:44 am

    My brothers i love your work.. keep up the good work .. God bless you

  12. Brenande Mossita

    April 13, 2019 at 11:39 am

    Lauryn hill- mystery of iniquity

  13. Deondre Loving

    April 14, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    Could you guys do the word fear

  14. Jordyn Elliott

    April 17, 2019 at 7:37 pm

    The town I’m from is called “Avon Park”…this makes a lot of sense

  15. Lee Harvener

    April 26, 2019 at 1:05 pm

    Great video! Very informative!

  16. KevyReady

    May 4, 2019 at 1:31 pm

    So… In other words it's a lot of sins that it's a part of your behaviour– A grossly behaviour?

  17. Ven D.

    May 17, 2019 at 6:30 am

    I nearly cried watching this at work. lol

  18. Christopher Clarke

    May 21, 2019 at 12:03 am

    Oh my god

  19. Avon Loraine

    May 22, 2019 at 6:38 am

    My name is actually Avon and i feel very sad when i watch this video. Lord please change my name too like what you did on Jacob :(((

  20. Neil Rivera

    May 28, 2019 at 1:49 pm

    I learned so much from your contents. God bless you all.

  21. DoritoNinja

    May 29, 2019 at 1:00 am

    Thanks guys I love the animation gives a good look at the meanings behind God's word

  22. ket

    May 31, 2019 at 12:55 am

    The way these all truly revolve around and spiral back to Lord Jesus — that’s my favorite part.

  23. kszaf

    June 6, 2019 at 3:53 pm

    Most of the products in today's world are littered with fallen terminology.

  24. P Harrison

    June 16, 2019 at 1:20 pm

    The twisting serpent 🐉 the liar from The beginning 🐍 turning Gods Truth into doubt🕳

  25. AMPARO GIMENEZ AVALOS

    June 16, 2019 at 7:05 pm

    Me gustaría saber inglés, para entender correctamente. Gracias por enseñarme a comprender la Biblia. El Padre os bendiga a todos.

  26. Lucky Jenn

    June 21, 2019 at 4:27 am

    Thank you!

  27. Joshua Munn

    June 23, 2019 at 1:20 am

    I pray Avon and all the like as well in the mighty and matchless name of Jesus the Messiah amen.

  28. Beena P

    June 23, 2019 at 3:45 pm

    Thank God for Bible project, which helps me to understand the Bible better

  29. mechelledesigns

    June 28, 2019 at 2:25 pm

    Oh no! I used to have an uncle named Avon.

  30. TonytheCapeGuy

    June 29, 2019 at 2:56 pm

    Wait, so the hair salon called Avon…

  31. jesusstudentbrett

    July 7, 2019 at 6:28 pm

    Thanks for this. I don't know Hebrew but I do know Koine Greek. The word anomia ανομία means "lawlessness". I can see metaphorically it being as you said, but it is important to see the NT warning against lawlessness, i.e. not obeying the new legislation Jesus preached, i.e. his commandments in his sermons.

  32. Henzo Henzi

    July 9, 2019 at 10:34 pm

    Can you guys please do a word study on humility? 🥺

  33. Estevão Silva

    July 14, 2019 at 6:49 pm

    I remembered a certain preacher which said that Anomia (from Greek "A" for absence and "NOMIA" for law) means rejection for God's law.

  34. OchroTube

    July 15, 2019 at 4:39 am

    Thank You Jesus For Everything

  35. Natalie Jorden

    July 16, 2019 at 4:47 am

    Who is the Diety Sin that many people worshipped in antiquity and still do? No one ever speaks of that…

  36. Dan the man 21

    July 17, 2019 at 3:17 pm

    It's a good thing Jess took away our sins so that we don't have to live in iniquity.

  37. The Incarnation

    July 20, 2019 at 8:10 am

    Lord, have mercy and please forgive me for my sins, transgressions, iniquities and folly in thoughts, words and deeds for I'm a sinner.
    Thank you for sharing this.
    ❤️✌️❤️

  38. Anikah

    July 26, 2019 at 8:14 pm

    Lord and Saviour not God and Saviour

  39. Bob Rumsford

    July 27, 2019 at 6:52 pm

    Iniquity = lawlessness

    To borrow a phrase I see often these days…and water is wet, who knew?!?!?

    There was a time when I was afraid to remove the lenses of "churchianity's" doctrine and tradition. So very afraid that I would discover that it is all a lie, there is no god or truth and the world really is all there is, and we really are just random acts of chance.

    Ha! The scales had been removed from my eyes, my hearing healed and my stony heart replaced with a fleshy one, ready to receive and know and guard (keep) YHWH's Torah (Instructions). The instruction manual for a life set apart from the world.

    Man's own myopic nature is what has allowed ALL of this sliding scale of righteousness.
    How far we have fallen since the 1st Century. Measuring ourselves against the generation (or two) before us, because we think THAT is the way "churchianity" should be. Slide that scale all the way back to around 30 AD and THEN you can see Whom you SHOULD measure yourself against.

    There is only one author of the definition for living a righteous life and it is the Word of YHWH, written in the Tanak (Hebrew Bible). Our saviour, Yahshuah (Jesus), came to clean up the mess that the religious professionals had created with their Talmudic teachings. Yahshuah clarified, filled up with meaning that which the Pharisees had lowered to a letter of the law doctrine.

    I find it sadly humorous that "the church" loves to quote that "we can do all things with God", well, "except keep the law". Wow, not much of a god they worship. My Elohim, El Shaddai even, says differently (Deut 30:11). "The Law" has nothing to do with salvation and everything to do with walking in righteousness and being worthy of the calling of which we are called (2 Tim 3:16-17). YHWH and Yahshuah used the words diligently/strive in regards to guarding Torah.

    The most beloved men of YHWH did not walk perfectly. They were chastened, punished and stirred the anger of YHWH. But, as is His perfect loving, merciful and gracious way, restoration was always at the end of the chastening. YHWH chastens/corrects those whom He loves (He must love me a LOT).

    The haughtiness of those who call themselves "the church" or "the body of christ", and think that they have it all figured out and will not see any tribulation. I am afraid that the prophets are against you, and as Ecc 1:9/3:15 lets us know, history is cyclic and the shepherds who have taught against the everlasting, unchanging and perfect Word of YHWH, will pay the price in blood (Jeremiah 23:1-4; 50:6, Ezekiel 16).

    If I had not removed myself from the doctrinal errors of "churchianity", I would not know of the coming Greater/2nd Exodus, or that the Mother of harlots is Jerusalem (most likely, still working through this) and there is NO rapture (per say) as taught in various sects of "the church".

    May our glorious creator, bless and keep you and yours.

    All glory, honour, power, praise and blessings be to Him, YHWH and His son, Yahshuah, forever. Amen!

    Shabbat Shalom

  40. abra8605

    July 29, 2019 at 2:43 am

    “Anomia” actually means “lawlessness” or “Torah-less ness.” “Nomos” means “law” or “Torah.” An “antinomian” is one who does not believe the Torah is still profitable for correction (it is in fact, 2 Timothy 3:16).
    Messiah saved us from all the times we will break the rules outlined in the Torah. It is His sacrifice alone that provides us with atonement for sin, or “transgression of the law,” as defined by 1 John 3:4 and Romans 7:7. The law does not save us, and never has. Even from Egypt, God saved Israel without them having done anything to deserve it. It was only the Pharisees (and those like them) who thought that works saved them. The law provides “instructions” for us, which is a better translation of “Torah” (also “to aim at a target”). Jesus alone, saves us. Messiah only taught against things that have been “heard,” the oral law, also known as the “Talmud.” This doctrine pushed a works-based salvation, and is the instruction of men and not the instruction of God. It takes God’s doctrine and adds to it. Jesus often said, “it is written” when describing the Torah (word). When He stated, you’ve “heard it said,” he was describing the traditions of men, which added to the Torah. You’ve “heard” it said, an “eye for an eye:” This in the Torah, but He is speaking to the Pharisees twisting of scripture. Just like today, people twist scripture to justify their actions. If the Pharisees wanted to seek revenge, instead of allowing vengeance to be the Lord’s (Deuteronomy 32:35), they would twist scriptures to allow them to do so by taking an eye for an eye (which only means to repay what you’ve harmed…not vengeance as the Pharisees were using it). Keep this in mind when reading. Blessings!!

  41. E T

    July 30, 2019 at 11:07 am

    There was a Crooked Man
    He walked a crooked mile
    He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile
    He bought a crooked cat which caught a crooked mouse
    And they all lived together in a small crooked house

  42. Clarke Flippo

    August 8, 2019 at 4:25 pm

    Would love to see a behind-the-scenes into the creative process of these! Keep up the great work!

  43. Kennedy Abreu

    August 9, 2019 at 3:20 pm

    Does the word AVAH has any link with the "bent woman" that Jesus heal in Luke 13:11 ?

  44. grant farah

    August 16, 2019 at 2:13 pm

    The animation is just awsome it truly enhances engagement and understanding

  45. Philippians 4:8 RekaFaye

    August 26, 2019 at 5:33 pm

    Ty so much for this teaching

  46. CURSO ALEF

    August 26, 2019 at 8:25 pm

    E vamos estudar Hebraico נפלא

  47. 박우재

    September 2, 2019 at 11:12 am

    악 한글자막 없다..ㅠㅜ

  48. Charmain Williams-Farrar

    September 4, 2019 at 11:37 pm

    Wow! So amazing! I love you guys! The way you guys break it down it's so simple but still keeps the complexity and deepness that allows the Holy Spirit to speak to each of us individually. Thank you for another great video!

  49. alan canyon

    September 5, 2019 at 4:25 am

    I have always felt, through study, that iniquity was, in addition to the consequence of sin, but also the propensity for sin as passed through the generations. David said, "In sin and iniquity did my mother conceive me." His great grandmother was Rahab the harlot. Ruth, tho a sweet girl, was a Moabite, descended from Lot and his daughter (incest.) David sinned sexually with Bathsheba then saw that Uriah was killed. Later David's son, Amnon, raped his half sister Tamar (incest). Absalom killed Amnon (iniquity from Uriah's death) and Solomon capped the whole sexual thing off with 700 wives and 300 concubines. 
    Also: Abram said, "She isn't my wife but my sister." Decades later Isaac did the same stupid thing. Propensity passed down.
    So, I kinda think that iniquity is BOTH the propensity for sin as it is passed through the generations as well as the consequence of sin. 
    No?

  50. Lucidツ

    September 9, 2019 at 11:07 pm

    Lord forgive me, leave me not in Avon. 😔

  51. Amy W

    September 10, 2019 at 11:25 am

    Wow what a great video! Thank you for all the hard work you put into making these! I learn so much! Amazed that God would carry our "Avon". What mercy.

  52. samuel togun

    September 15, 2019 at 12:20 am

    4:02 our GREAT GOD and SAVIOUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.

  53. Tobias hmm

    September 15, 2019 at 7:16 pm

    2:20 you say whaaaattt

  54. Vickram Sammy

    September 17, 2019 at 7:37 pm

    Thank you so much,now I understand what iniquity means…..I will not break anyone's heart or make them feel bad anymore in the name of jesus amen.

  55. someone

    September 21, 2019 at 10:51 am

    I would really love it if you guys made a video for "repentance".

    I know it's probably not an easy one, but would be really great

  56. TamiL EntertainmenT TV

    September 23, 2019 at 3:45 pm

    Immediately thought of character ‘avon’ in GTA online doomsday heist missions…

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