“The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples;” Deu 7:7
When I first began looking into the Hebrew of this verse, I assumed that “to set His love upon” would include ahab, Strong’s H157, the strong love which reveals the heart of the father, of which agape is the Greek equivalent. Ahab is used in the next verse, vs. 8, when Moses says, “but because YHVH loves you;” but to my surprise, the word “love,” ahab, is not in the phrase, “set His love upon.”
In Hebrew, this is a single word, chashaq, q?j, Strong’s H2836, chet shin quph. In the ancient Hebrew pictographs, the chet is the fence, thus outside, also divide or half. The shin is the two front teeth, so sharp, eat, or press; also two, again, second, both. The quph is the sun on the horizon, so circle, cycle, revolution, time, even condense, as light is condensed in the sun when it is at the horizon.
The primitive root chashaq is itself from the two letter root, chash, ?j, chet shin, which means to bind. As I was thinking about how chash could mean to bind from the pictographs, I wondered if originally it had been a chet sin or samech, the fence of thorns, as fences in those days were made of bundles of thorns joined together. It would not be the first time the sin had transposed to a shin because of their similar sounds, and vice versa.
So taking the root, chash, being bound together or joined together, and adding the quph and its meaning of condensed light, leads us to being bound together by a concentrated emotion. The meaning of the verb form is to attach or adhere; the meaning of the concrete form is unknown; and the meaning of the abstract form is desire.
Gesenius’ Lexicon says of chashaq: “to adhere, to join together, to cleave; to be attached with a very great love, to burn with desire.”
YHVH cleaved to us (chashaq) and chose us (bachar), not because we were great, for we were least of all; but because He strongly loves us (ahab), and because He is faithful to His word that He promised to our fathers, He delivered us mightily, and redeemed us from the house of bondage!