ARAMAIC WORD STUDY – SON OF PEACE – BAR SHALOMA באר שלוםא
Luke 10:5-6: “and into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house, and if the son of peace be there your peace shall rest upon it; if not, it shall turn to you again.”
Who would this son of peace be and why does he determine if there is peace in the house? The phrase “son of peace” is an Aramaic idiom which does not exist in English. To translate it literally, as do most of our translations, leaves us scratching our heads saying: “Huh?” Your paraphrases often render this phrase as “lover of peace.” That helps but it misses something very important.
Classical Hebrew as the Aramaic has very few adjectives. One adjective in the Hebrew is the word ben often rendered as son. In Aramaic, it is the word bar. There is a wide range of meanings for these words and son is just one possible meaning. It is basically a relationship word or a word to show a relationship. You have a “son of death” meaning one who deserves to die. “Son of eating” means something that is fit to eat. “Son of a house” is one who is a close member of the family, but not blood-related. Even in English, we tend to use the word son idiomatically. We say someone is the son of a gun to compliment them. “You son of a gun, you did it” or as just an expression of surprise “Well, I’ll be a son of a gun.” This word, however, has its origin with the Royal Navy in the 18th Century when wives would accompany their husbands on board ship and if they happened to be pregnant they would give birth between the broadside guns so as to keep the gangways and crew decks clear. Thus, the phrase did not literally mean the son of a cannon but was meant to indicate the relationship that the child had with the artillery.
In the Aramaic, son of peace does not necessarily mean a peace-loving person but is actually denoting something supernatural. The word peace shalom is the same in Hebrew and Aramaic but in this case, it has an Aleph suffix which would indicate a definite pronoun, hence son of the peace. Shalom has many shades of meaning that are not found in the English word peace but peace is the best we have in English so let’s go with that. However, shalom also carries the idea of safety, security and good health.
To understand the context of this verse you must realize that the Jews put a very heavy weight upon a blessing. When someone gave a blessing they were actually imparting what they were offering. If you walk into a household that is chaotic and you say: “Peace be to this house.” Peace will actually descend. To offer a blessing is to impart a gift and to offer a blessing from God is to allow God to impart a gift through you. Of course, we don’t teach this because how often are you able to impart peace simply by saying so? Yet, this is exactly what this verse is saying we are capable of doing. Sort of makes us like God’s Santa Claus. Note, Jesus instructed the seventy who were to go out as his messengers that when they entered a home their first duty was to offer a blessing. “Whatsoever house you enter, first say. Peace be to this house.” Jesus is not just talking about a friendly greeting. To a Jew hearing this he understands that this blessing they were to give were not empty words, but were, in fact, real and tangible. He is actually introducing a Spiritual Presence in that house will bring safety, security and good health. Logically if we carry the very presence of Jesus in our bodies as taught in II Corinthians 7, then we too should be able to bring peace to a home. John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid”. That word peace is identical to the one in Luke. We actually bear the peace of God so who is this son of peace?
“…if the son of peace be there your peace shall rest upon it.” Note the Greek uses a neuter pronoun it. Although there is no neuter in the Aramaic grammatically the direct object is the house and if there is the presence of God’s peace in that house your peace will rest upon it. If not you will know that this is not a house where God is worshipped.
For instance, today on my disability bus I had a person get on that I had never met before. Before anyone gets on my bus I bless the bus with God’s peace. When this person got on I felt that peace return to me, she also bore the son of peace or the peace of God. I did not have to ask, I knew she was a Christian and she knew I was because she also received the son of peace and the conversation almost immediately turned to spiritual things, without either of us feeling ill at ease to mention the name of Jesus. Most of the time, however, that peace returns to me and even if I mention Jesus, the person shows little to no interest. But when my son of peace encounters another son of peace, now that becomes a thrilling bus ride.