Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Divine Symbolism of the Hebrew Alphabet (part 2)

In my earlier blogs, Hidden Origin of the Alphabet and Divine Symbolism of the Hebrew Alphabet (part 1) and I traced the origin of the alphabet to a Semitic people who migrated to Canaan from Egypt - and this occurred at the time of the collapse of the Old Kingdom of Egypt, which recent research is indicating was the true historical period when the Exodus occurred. I have also gathered evidence that the order of the alphabet probably originated from the revelation of the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mt. Sinai. So far, I have covered the first six letters, which correspond to the first three commandments.

That the Hebrew letters, in addition to the actual words of scripture, are actually sacred and have a symbolic meaning has been a long standing Jewish tradition. This was also seen in the visions of Emanuel Swedenborg, who saw that the original text of the Old Testament has been preserved in the Masoretic version:
"I once had a paper sent me from heaven written in the Hebrew alphabet, but as in the most ancient texts, where the letters, which today are to some extent composed of straight lines, were then curved with serifs pointing upwards. An angel who was with me said that he knew whole meanings simply from the letters, and each letter has its own particular meaning. They knew this from the curves of the lines in each letter, in addition to the subject which they knew separately from the letter as a whole. He then explained to me the meaning of yod, aleph and he, the two letters separately and when put together. He said that he, which is in [YHWH], and which was added to the names of Abraham and Sarah [Gen. 17:5, 15] meant what is infinite and eternal. He said that in many places the Word is so written; and when it is read in the Hebrew text by a Jew or a Christian, the meaning of the individual letters is known in the third heaven. For the angels of the third heaven have the Word written in such letters, and they read it letter by letter. They said that in the sense to be drawn from the letters the Word deals only with the Lord. The reason is that the curves in the letters derive from the flow of heaven, which influences especially the angels of the third heaven. Those angels therefore have an innate knowledge of this script, because they are subject to the order of heaven and live altogether in accordance with it. ....These facts may establish what is the meaning of the Lord's saying that not a jot or a tittle or a serif will pass away from the Law (Matt. 5: 18; Luke 16: 17); and it is also clear from these facts that the Lord's Divine Providence ensured that all the letters in the Hebrew text of the Word were counted by the Massoretes." (De Verbo, n. 4)
Two points here: first, in his vision Swedenborg saw that the Hebrew letter HE is associated with the name of Jehovah, as it signifies what is eternal. In my previous blog, I showed that HE and VAV are probably mnemonic letters for the name of Jehovah, corresponding to the third commandment. Swedenborg did not recognize this correspondence, as he had numbered the commandments according to Lutheran tradition, rather than according to Jewish tradition. Second, he provides additional testimony that the words of scripture have been preserved intact. I see a lot of blather on the internet, and from so-called scholars, stating that the Bible has been corrupted. They are simply ignoring manuscript evidence. The scriptures of the Dead Sea scrolls show that the Masoretic version has not changed one bit in over 1000 years. For certain Greek texts they have a point, but the western world has been ignoring the manuscript of the Peshitta for the New Testament.

With that behind us, we can continue examining the Hebrew alphabet. The next two letters, ZAYIN and CHETH, correspond to the fourth command, which regards the day of the Sabbath. The Sabbath is the seventh day, as ZAYIN ("weapon") is the seventh letter of the alphabet. The proto-Canaanite script called this letter "ziqq" meaning "manacle" - as that is the actual hieroglyph that was used for this letter. In Hebrew this is ZANAK, which means to draw the feet together, or to leap. This letter is most probably a mnemonic for the word ZAKAR, meaning "to remember". Which is the first word of the fourth commandment:

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. (Ex. 20:8)

The next letter is CHETH, meaning "thread". The original hieroglyph was a court, so the original letter name was probably CHATSAR, meaning "court". This is probably refering to the tent tabernacle that was built to house the ark of the covenant:

And thou shalt make the court of the tabernacle: for the south side southward there shall be hangings for the court of fine twined linen of an hundred cubits long for one side: (Ex. 27:9)

All the hangings of the court round about were of fine twined linen. (Ex. 38:16)

Why would a symbol for a court be used as a mnemonic for the Sabbath? Because three times a year on the high Sabbaths, all the males were ordered to present themselves before the court of the tabernacle. And the word for "male" in Hebrew is the same for "remember" - ZAKAR. Coincidence?

The next letter is TETH which means "wheel" in Phoenician. It comes from the Egyptian hieroglyph for NEFER, which means "good". NEFER was used as a baseline marker where to lay stones - in Egyptian mathematics it signified the number zero. The base line would be called nefer, and lines would be drawn above or below that to show workers where to lay stones. It is for this reason I believe that TETH is a market signifying the end of the first tablet, which contained four commandments dealing with love towards God. TETH is similar in appearance to TAU ("marker"), the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, which I believe was used to mark the end of the second tablet.

As NEFER in Egyptian means "good", the original name for this letter in Hebrew was probably TAB, also meaning "good". It is this word which is used where God sees that all that he made was "good" before resting on the Sabbath. Another possible name for this letter is TABBATH meaning "signet ring". The oldest form of this letter was that of a sun-cross, which is one of the most ancient religious symbols.

Up until now, pairs of letters marked each commandment. After TETH, this pattern continues. The next two letters are YOD ("hand") and KAPH ("palm of hand"). The two letters share a similar meaning showing that they are a pair. As a hand has five fingers, so these letters are a symbol for the fifth commandment, which concerns honor to one's parents. There is a phrase in Hebrew that appears in this commandment: "that thy days be long". This is YOWM ("days") ARAK ("long") - which phrase begins and ends with YOD and KAPH.

The next two letters are LAMED and MEM, corresponding to the sixth commandment. All the following commandments now begin with "Thou shalt not" - which in Hebrew begins with the negative LO, thus beginning with LAMED. The sixth commandment states that one should not murder ("kill" is a mistranslation). LAMED is an ox goad, which comes from a hieroglyph for a stick, probably signifying a weapon used to kill. MEM means water, but that is probably a mnemonic for the Hebrew word MAMOWTH meaning death. The water of the sea was often used by the Hebrews as a symbol for the underworld of the dead.

The next two letters are NUN ("fish") and SAMEK ("pillar"), which correspond to the seventh commandment, concerning adultery. The original name for the letter NUN was probably NACHASH meaning serpent, related to the word for diviner. Adultery in Hebrew is NAPH. As for SAMEK, that is most probably a phallic symbol. In Arabic SAMAK also means "fish" showing that these letters form a pair. I suspect the original name for this letter was SAMEL meaning "idol", as idolatry was considered a form of adultery against God.

The next two letters are AYIN ("eye") and PE ("mouth"), which correspond to the eighth commandment, you shall not steal. I suspect this was a mnemonic for the phrase "an eye for an eye, and tooth for tooth" as retribution for stealing.

The next two letters are TSADE ("fish hook") and QOPH ("monkey"?) which corresponds to the ninth commandment, you shall not bear false witness. In this case the letter names make no sense. The original mnemonic was probably TSADAQ meaning "righteousness". In the Hebrew sense, "righteousness" is opposed to what is false, and is used in that manner throughout scripture.

The last two letters are RESH ("head") and SHIN ("tooth"), which correspond to the tenth and last commandment, you shall not covet what your neighbor owns. Neighbor in Hebrew is REA, beginning with RESH. One of the items that one should not covet is an ox, which in Hebrew is SHOWR - containing the letters SHIN and RESH. As the last commandment ends with the statement that one should not covet a neighbor's house or ox, the commandments end with the same symbols where it began: an ox and a house.

TAU is the last letter, and simply means marker. It is a marker in this case to signify the end of the second tablet.

In summary, the order of the Hebrew alphabet is a mnemonic device for the 10 commandments, as follows:

ALEPH and BET = first commandment
GIMEL and  DALETH = second commandment
HE and  VAV = third commandment
ZAYIN and  CHETH = fourth commandment
TETH = "end marker" marking the end of the first tablet
YOD and  KAPH = fifth commandment
LAMED and  MEM = sixth commandment
NUN and  SAMEK = seventh commandment
AYIN and  PE = eighth commandment
TSADE and  QOPH = ninth commandment
RESH and  SHIN = tenth commandment
TAU = end marker, marking the end of the second tablet.

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