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Greek Word Study - Don't Care

The stonemason’s sons were thieves. When one of them was caught in the king’s trap, his headless body was hung on the town wall. The brother, his partner in crime, went into hiding. But their mother could not bear the sight of that body hung on the wall and sought out the living son. “If you don’t care about this,” she said, “I will turn you over to the king myself. Now rescue your brother’s body!”

The historian Herodotus’s word for “don't care” (ame/eo, ah meh LEH oh) is also found in the New Testament. It begins with a negative prefix “a-” attached to the stem meaning “I care.” Let’s start by looking at the positive uses of the word stem, before the negative prefix is added. It describes the kind of care we have come to expect from God. “Teacher, we’re going to drown—don’t you care?” (Mark 4:38). “Master, my sister has left me to do all the work—don’t you care?” (Luke 10:40) “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

But then, sometimes people don’t care. Hirelings don’t care about their sheep (John 11: 13); Judas didn’t care about the poor (John 12:6). When a king invited people to a wedding banquet for his son, they didn’t come because they “didn’t care” (Matt 22:5).

The really scary use of this word is in Hebrews 8: 9. God had taken his people by the hand to lead them out of Egypt and had made a covenant with them, only to see them rebel and refuse to keep his covenant. So what did God do? He stopped caring! (See the CEV, NASB, or NRSV; the NIV is weak here.) When the people abandoned God, they were doomed to die in the desert. How could God let that happen? Believe it or not, they were no longer his concern. God just stopped caring.