The Long Nose of God?

“The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Exodus 34:6

Did you know that God has a long nose? Really! I’m not making this up. God says so Himself. In Exodus 34:6 God tells Moses that He has a long nose. What typically gets translated as “slow to anger” in most English translations is the Hebrew expression “erek apayim” which is literally “long of nose.” The expression can mean slow to anger, patient or longsuffering. The Hebrew idiom “long of nose” was used to describe someone who was patient or slow to anger {see Proverbs 14:29}. Conversely, a person “short of nose” {see Proverbs 14:17} was considered to be impatient or quick-tempered, much like our English idioms “hothead” or “short fuse.”

But there is more to this than God just having a long nose. The theology of this Hebrew idiom is what must impress us: God is patient with His people. We do not perish or get what we deserve precisely because God is patient!

The psalmist said it this way:

The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger {long of nose} and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities. Psalm 103:8-10

Because of what God the Father has done for us in His Son Jesus Christ, He does not deal with us according to our sins. That’s the hope of the Gospel! May God grant us the ability, by His Spirit, to plumb the depths of His mercy, grace, faithfulness, steadfast love and… unending patience.

Often short of nose,


About Benji Magness

Known in many circles as 'Rabbi', Ben-jamin is an artist and pastor who can often be seen with a scruffy beard, drinking Starbucks, listening to reggae, wearing black, changing a diaper or reading backwards. His name in Hebrew means "son of the right hand"- which ironically is the hand he would use to paint, draw or even type for this blog if he ever found the time to do so.


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