The word for looking at something in the Hebrew language is typically ראה (rah). After Lot separates from Abram and goes down into the valley to reside among the Sodomites, God has Abram lift up his eyes and look (rah) at the land, showing him all that his descendants will receive, Genesis 13:14. To gaze up on a person is expressed by שׁור (sor), Job 7:8. Those who see (rah) Job will no longer glance (sor) upon him. נבט (nabat) then relates to seeing in a way that gives regard to something; therefore, it is not specifically referring to the physical appearance, but of consideration or concern.
The distinctions in different words for how we see, are important to understand because by their use we are expressing specific meaning. When Lot’s wife turned and looked at Sodom after they had been rescued from its destruction by the Lord, she did not turn and physically glance at the city, or in fleeing decide to turn around and go back to Sodom. She turned her regard back to this extremely wicked place, and as a result God included her in the judgment by turning her to a pillar of salt, Genesis 19:26.
When Abraham is told to look towards the heaven and count the stars, God is not focusing on their appearance but on giving regard to all the stars in the heavens, Genesis 15:5. After God speaks to Moses through the burning bush, Moses hides his face so as to not look intensely or give regard to what he was seeing, Exodus 3:6. Later, the people of Israel give regard to Moses every time he goes out to the tent of meeting. When Moses entered the tent the […]