Power All the Way to the End

Have you ever found that once you’re in the midst of a project, you lose some of the enthusiasm and excitement that motivated you at its beginning? It’s just plain harder to keep going on an existing enterprise than it was to launch it in the first place.

As children, we were particularly susceptible to this permanent principle of how the world REALLY works. We’d jump enthusiastically into whatever undertaking had grabbed hold of our imagination, being reluctantly dragged away for dinner or baths. Yet, left to ourselves, we often abandoned a project to move on to a new one. Raising children reminds us of how regularly this syndrome strikes.

We see this phenomenon at work in war too. The leaders of England found it easier to win popular approval for their declarations of war both in 1914 and in 1939 than they found it to maintain civilian morale halfway through the wars, during the battle of the Somme in 1916 or during the Allied invasion of Italy in 1943.

It was easier for Israel to launch a large-scale invasion of Gaza on October 27th, 2023, than it is to sustain the assault today, and yet to achieve its objectives, this is exactly what it must do. Whether in war or peace, whether in family matters or business, this is a generally applicable principle. Whether due to flagging internal will or increasing external resistance, it is harder for us all to keep going than it is to begin the action in the first place.

Whether as project leader, parent, or entrepreneur, it can be helpful to know of this and prepare for it. Just as it is easier to motivate ourselves, it is also easier to motivate others at the launch phase of a job. It takes considerably more energy and drive to do the same during the midway lull.

Let’s see how Joshua identified the challenge during the conquest of the Land of Israel.

And Joshua said to the Children of Israel, ‘Until when will you be weak in coming to inherit the land which the Lord, God of your fathers has given to you?’
(Joshua 18:3)*

You see, five of the twelve tribes had already been allocated their portions, and the people paused. Joshua deems the pause a weakness.

That Hebrew word for weak is RaP/FeH (Note: the middle letter can be read as having a P sound or an F sound). Some translations call it ‘remiss’ or ‘slack’ but let’s understand it the best way—by looking to see where else the word is used.

Instructing the spies on what to investigate during their foray into Israel, Moses says:

And you shall see the land, what it is; and the nation who dwells on it, is it strong or is it weak [RaP/FeH] …
(Numbers 13:18)*

Or as the prophet Isaiah says:

Strengthen the weak [RaP/FeH] hands…
(Isaiah 35:3) *

The Lord’s language is truly remarkable. This word for ‘weak’ comprises three letters with the sounds of the R, the P/F, and the H. The final letter, the Heh, is a silent letter with grammatical implications.

Interestingly enough, if we take the main two letter and reverse them, we get P/F—R, two letters that signify strength and power. P/F-R is the word meaning bull, a universal symbol of strength and potency. And since in Hebrew* the P and F are the same letter, as language developed from the Hebrew it is not surprising that in English the consonants of ‘power’ are P-W-R. Like many important concepts in Hebrew, reading the word in the reverse provides the reverse meaning. Weakness is the opposite of power.

Joshua helps us understand that the universal tendency not to complete the job is a weakness. Rather than falling into the trap of believing it an unavoidable thing, we are told that it does lie in our power. We must recognize it as a lamentable weakness and then summon up our reserves of willpower and strength to overcome it and complete the job. In the following verses, Joshua does just that by giving the people new tasks that renew their enthusiasm.

***In our recommended Bible: Look for the R -F/P root: ר פ
1) Joshua 18:3 – p. 706, 11 lines from the top, 2nd word from the left.
2) Numbers 13:18 – p. 450, 4th line from the top, 7th word from the right.
3) Isaiah 35:3 – p. 1286, 8 lines from the bottom, 4th word from the right.
4) Hebrew – to understand more about the unique qualities of the Hebrew language, see Buried Treasure: Secrets for Living from the Lord’s Language.

This Thought Tool is dedicated in memory of Ayala Hetzroni, 73, and her twin great-niece and nephew, Yannai and Liel Hezroni, age 12, who were murdered at Kibbutz Be’eri on October 7, 2023. The twins’ grandfather, Aviya Hetzroni was slaughtered as well.

And with prayers for the safe release of all the hostages, among them Bipin Joshi, a Nepalese agricultural student who had come as part of a group to work in citrus orchards. He deflected a grenade thrown into a room where he, his friends, and Thai workers were hiding, but other grenades exploded, killing and injuring most of them. His body was not identified, and his phone was traced to Gaza, so it is assumed that he was taken hostage by Hamas.

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