We live in an increasingly secular culture. This should challenge...
Some of the mysteries of Biblical Hebrew.
But these are God’s Words, the precious Words of our Creator; can’t we take His Word seriously? The only mitigating circumstance could be that we are not totally sure that the words of the Bible we read today are, for whatever reason, the words that were originally written. This concern is going to be addressed as we continue our story in this book.
One may argue that the rabbis of old who pondered over such things as these tablets of stone were not believers in Jesus and so should be ignored. Yet they never doubted that God indeed was the Author of the Ten Commandments, unlike Julius Wellhausen, formulator of the “documentary hypothesis”, who was a Lutheran, so would claim to be a believer, yet had no doubts that God wasn’t the author of the Ten Commandments.
Now answer this, who did more for the Glory of God? We should not be quick to judge according to our prejudices or inclinations and we should assess teachings by their consequences, as long as these teachings do not contradict the revelation given to us by the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.
One of the words carved out by the finger of God would have been His very name, as announced right at the start of the Ten Commandments.
“I AM the LORD your God” (Exodus 20:2a).
We will revisit this simple statement a few times in this book and we’ll see it as a sign of our developing understanding of God’s communication to man. The Hebrew words for this phrase are:
Reading from right to left, the first letter of this key Biblical phrase, the first letter written by God to mankind, is this one:
It’s the aleph, the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The Bible is full of such significances, as we shall see as we go deeper. There is a danger, though, of going overboard on significances because there is a mystical tradition attached to the Hebrew alphabet that may be very enticing and interesting. We must not allow ourselves to be tickled by anything outside of God’s revealed Word.
“For there will be a time when sound teaching will not be listened to but they will heap up teachings according to their own desires in themselves, what their ears are itching to hear.” (2 Timothy 4:3)
So we must not scratch our itching ears with any of the utterances from the Zohar, the chief sourcebook for the Kabbalah. Other things, such as Gematria, giving significance to numerical equivalents of the Hebrew letters, are borderline, and you should tread warily, as the devil has a counterfeit called numerology, which could take you into areas best left alone. Then there are ideas circulating about the so-called Bible Codes. Oy! Very enticing, very interesting and I don’t wish to pass judgement on this except to say that it has certainly been abused by some, giving apparent licence for what is basically fortune telling. My gut instinct is to stick by the assertion that the Word of God in the Bible should be in plain sight, even though truths must sometimes be coaxed out of them. Bible “codes” are hidden, even esoteric, not easily accessible to anyone except the few. This smacks of gnosticism, a very pervasive heresy, that claims that some people have special knowledge, that gives them a hold over others. This ain’t kosher!
When you see a representative picture of the two slabs of the Ten Words (Ten Commandments), the first letter seen is always the a. Actually this is not historically accurate as, at the time of Moses, the earlier form of Hebrew, Phoenician – Old Hebrew, was the language du jour. Interestingly, Hollywood got it right on this one - almost. In the movie, The Ten Commandments, Charlton Heston (Moses) holds up the tablets with Phoenician – Old Hebrew writing on them. The problem is that the words seem to be gobbledegook and every publicity picture I have seen has different words on the tablets, depending on which way Mr Heston is facing! The gods of Hollywood operate by their own rules!
The aleph on Mr Heston’s tablet would be this one:
And this would have evolved from the Proto-Canaanite letter picture.
This is a picture of an ox’s head and it signified the ideas of leadership or strength. So the aleph (a) too signifies the idea of leadership and strength.
Here are a few examples to illustrate this:
This is the strong leader of the house. This becomes:
= aleph bet = av = the father, the leader of the house.
This is the strong nail, being nailed to what you allow yourself to desire. This becomes:
= aleph vav hey= avah = lust, desire.
This is the strong fence or protector of the house. This becomes:
= aleph chet = ach = the brother, the protector of the house.
Finally, we have:
The strong water, or nourisher, or lifegiver.
= aleph mem = em = the mother, the nourisher.
So you’ve now got some basic Hebrew words under your belt.
For the previous article in this series, click here.
For the next article in this series, click here.
To find out what is my favourite book of the Bible, click here.
You can reach Steve with any comments or questions at the Saltshakers Web Community website.