Hidden Treasures: Ancient Hebrew
6 May 2018
7 years ago I asked this question: “Can a perfect God speak imperfect words?”. I wanted to know if the Bible has flaws?
There are multiple ways to prove the authenticity of the Scriptures. Just google it and you’ll find thousands of sermons and videos. There are multiple ways to logically prove that God is perfect and so His Word must be perfect. There are tools to find translation errors. And there are experiences and testimonies like the one I shared last week, which all add weight to finding the answer to these questions.
But the strongest answer I ever found is the evidence of a supernatural intelligence in the Bible. This evidence is hidden in plain-sight throughout the pages of the Old and New Testaments, evidence that points to the fact that no human mind could have ever written this text in its original form.
Some of this evidence I am going to present to you today.
But like with any evidence, one must have the proper tools to inspect it. So before I begin, I’m going to give you a tool from the scholar’s toolbox.
And the first tool in the toolbox is the Ancient Hebrew alphabet.
Why Hebrew? Because Hebrew is the main language God chose for the writing of the OT.
Now keep in mind that there is modern Hebrew today. It is the Hebrew that I grew up speaking, and even though it is based on the ancient Hebrew, it has slight differences. This is similar to the difference between Middle English used by John Wycliffe in the 14th century and Modern English used in the NIV.
On the screen, you can see an example. @ These are the first three verses as they appear in the Wycliffe Bible of the 14th century.
Okay I’m going to read this, and make a fool out of my self. Nonetheless, I must do it, in order to make an important point. @
“1 In the bigynnyng was the word, and the word was at God, and God was the word. 2 This was in the bigynnyg at God. 3 All things weren maad bi hym, and withouten hym was maad no thing. That thing that was maad.”
I believe we have a few Church members from Ireland and Scotland, watching this live right now who would have done a much better job at reading this than me.
But now the point is this, someone speaking Modern English would have thought the text is about someone who has gone mad. What sounds and looks like the same word, in fact, has a different meaning in the Middle English. It is the same way that Ancient Hebrew compares to the Modern. With a few extra grammatical differences.
So how do the translators know what is the meaning of certain Hebrew words that have been lost over millenniums? Context.
Can you imagine the responsibility and the difficulty of a Bible translation job?
So without any further ado, please pay your attention to the screen. @ This is the ancient Hebrew Alphabet.
Look at it very well. I’m going to show you some really awesome stuff. And by the end of this presentation, you will be one step closer to becoming an expert in Ancient Biblical Hebrew! Or at the least, you’ll be able to impress some of your Hebrew friends, or maybe even Charlie when he comes back!
Let’s begin. @
Hebrew is read from Right to Left.
So these @ would be the first letters.
And just like we live in a four-dimensional world, so also the Hebrew alphabet has four dimensions that apply to each letter. @ Let me explain.
@ the first dimension is The Phonetic Sound – Just like in English, each Hebrew letter produces a phonetic sound. @ ⟨a⟩, @ ⟨b⟩, @ ⟨g⟩. This one is quite easy to understand because we have the same in English. However, this is the only dimension the English language has. Hebrew, on the other hand, has three more. So let’s take a look at them.
- @ the second dimension is the Name of the letter, which also gives it a meaning – That’s right, each letter is an actual word that has a meaning. For example – @ the first letter is El and it means strength. Does that ring a bell? Elohim is the plural of El and that is the Hebrew word for God. So if we were to literally translate the word ‘Elohim’ it would mean Strengths).
The second letter is @ Bet and it means a house. The third is @ Gam and that means “to walk”, and so forth.
- @ the third dimension is the Numerical Value – the numbers as we know them today were not invented until 500 AD. Back then the Hebrews used letters instead of numbers. @ El – 1, @ Bet – 2, @ Gam – 3, and so forth.
Now, this leaves us with the last and the most interesting dimension. Take another look at these letters. What do you see? Can you guess the last dimension?
- @ the fourth and the last dimension is the Pictograph – each letter is an actual drawing, an ancient picture, if you may. @ El is an Ox Head. Do you see it? It’s really cool. The second letter Bet is a drawing of a @ Tent Floor-plan. Can you try to guess what the third letter looks like?
@ a Foot. I challenge you to go through the rest of these at home. Simply rewind a few minutes back to the time when I showed the entire alphabet and try to figure out what they mean. After you’re done guessing, you can see if you were right by googling Ancient Hebrew alphabet.
Now in these four dimensions of the Hebrew alphabet are hidden great mysteries and marvelous treasures. And now that we know how to read it, we can take a look at some of those mysteries.
@ The first mystery we’ll look at is in Ezekiel 9:4-6
This chapter deals with the judgment day. In these verses, Ezekiel sees a vision where the Lord instructs His angels to execute judgment upon the disobedient people. But these verses conceal one of the coolest mysteries of the OT. @ Let’s read it together,
“and the Lord said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it. To the others He said in my hearing, “Go after him through the city and kill; do not let your eye spare, nor have any pity. Utterly slay old and young men, maidens and little children and women; but do not come near anyone on whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary.” So they began with the elders who were before the temple.”
A very scary passage, unless you have @ the mark! What is this mark? And why does it protected them from death? Let’s check this verse out in it’s Hebrew form: @
עַל־כָּל־אִ֨ישׁ אֲשֶׁר־עָלָ֤יו הַתָּו֙ אַל־תִּגַּ֔שׁוּ
This very verse had been read and sung in the synagogues for thousands of years. Yet it hides a magnificent mystery.
You see, in Hebrew, the word for “the mark”, in this verse is Tav @
This Tav, whatever this mark looks like, if it appears on the forehead of those people mentioned in this verse, it would protect them from God’s wrath. So the question is – “What is this mark; what is this Tav?”
What is interesting is that this is not the regular word for “a mark”. @ Hebrew has much better words to describe a mark on a forehead, like Siman or Ot. So why did Ezekiel use this particular rare word? And do you know how rare it is? @ it appears only three times in the entire Old Testament. @ Two appearances are in the verses we just read, and the other one is in Job @ when he yearns for salvation from God’s punishment. @ Take a look:
“Oh, that I had one to hear me!
Here is my mark.
Oh, that the Almighty would answer me,
That my Prosecutor had written a book!”
Isn’t that interesting? The only three times this word was used, it is used in the context of protection from God’s wrath. Fascinating!
So what is the meaning of this word – Tav? To understand that, we’ll reach out to our toolbox and pull the Ancient Hebrew Alphabet. @
As you remember, the first letter of the Hebrew Alphabet is Alpeh. @ Which means Strength, it represents the El Elyon, the God in the Highest, the Father. But now let’s go to the end of the Hebrew alphabet. @ I’m not ready to reveal what this letter looks like just yet. You see, it is the last letter of the alphabet. @ Its number is 400 and it’s phonetic sound @ is /T/.
And it happens to be that the name of this letter @ is Tav.
## This is the same word that Ezekiel uses to describe the Mark on the foreheads. But there are other words to say “a Mark”, which are much more common, why use this rare, yet significant word “Tav” which also happens to be the name of the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The answer lies in the pictograph. Take a look at the screen.
Does that look like something you know?
This letter is a cross! Isn’t that incredible?? Do you remember the first letter? It was Aleph, OX Head, Strength. While the last letter is a cross? Does that remind you of anything?
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, I am the beginning and the End” said the Lord. He is Elohim, the Ox Head, the Strength, the Beginning and He is the End, Jesus Christ, who died on the Cross, and rose from the dead on the third day.
## Ezekiel was seeing a cross on the foreheads of the people who were spared from utter destruction!
At the time of Ezekiel, the cross did not bear the symbolism that it does today. Back then, if he saw this symbol on the foreheads of the people, it is very likely that what he saw was what he knew looked like that – the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
This, together with the verse from Job, is fascinating.
@ Job is crying out “Oh, that I had one to hear me! Here is my mark.” @ Here is my cross.
How can there be any other explanation than a divine inspiration of the Scriptures?
## No man on earth can come up with these “coincidences”. One, sure; two, maybe; three, okay. But when 7 years ago I was set to find all the flaws of the Bible, instead I found hundreds of these supernatural ‘coincidences’. Take this is in addition to the harmonious unity in the narrative of the entire Bible, despite the fact that it was written by over 40 different authors over a period of 2,000 years. This book is so rich in detail, and yet has a simple message of salvation to all mankind; to you and me! wow!
Now, if you already knew this beautiful mystery of the cross in Ezekiel, that’s awesome. But I’m ready to put my bets that you don’t know the next one.
“To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven”
Have you heard anyone quote that before?
These are very famous words.
## But how many people have said ‘let me look at the pictographic meaning of the ancient Hebrew letters in this verse’? I know I haven’t.
But my better half, Rhoda, did. And what she found is absolutely marvelous!
@ The Hebrew word used for time in this verse and the rest of the verses of this chapter, like you have already guessed, is not a regular word. The regular word is ‘Zman’. Solomon, who wrote this book, used the common word ‘Zman’ in the previous chapters. But here he uses the word Et. @ Et is sometimes translated as a moment rather than time. So why was Et used instead of the regular word Zman?
What you see now on the screen is actually the modern Hebrew letters. Let’s take a look at the ancient Hebrew, the pictographs:
The last letter we already know. @ It’s Tav.
But the first letter is Ayin, and in ancient biblical Hebrew, it looks like this @
Look at these two pictographs combined together. Does anyone want to take a shot at deciphering this riddle?
@ Fix your eyes on the cross!
So when you read the rest of Ecclesiastes chapter 3, think of Jesus: @
“A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;”
@ This is what Jesus had done!
## Isn’t that incredible?
Here’s another usage of this word:
@ Psalm 105:19:
“He sent a man before them—
Joseph—who was sold as a slave,
They hurt his feet with fetters,
He was laid in irons,
Until the time that his word came to pass,
The commandments of the Lord tested him.
The king sent and released him,
The ruler of the people let him go free.”
This Psalm speaks about Joseph, being tested before he was redeemed.
And here, the word @ time in Hebrew appears as Et.
Let’s read the verse again, but this time consider the cross: @ “until the eye sees the cross, that his word came to pass, the commandments of the Lord tested him. Then the king sent and released him… let him go free” – Reminds you of someone?
There are only 64 appearances of this word ET in the OT. If you go through each and one of them and consider the meaning of the letters, you will find marvelous things. ##
(btw… ordinal value of Alef and Tav (אלף ותו) sums up to 64…)
I’ve got one more hidden treasure to reveal to you today.
Does anyone remember John 14:6 by heart?
@ “Jesus answered, ‘I am the TRUTH and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’”
I bet you all remember these words. But there’s more to them than meets the eye.
Let’s reach out to our scholar’s toolbox one more time. Tool of choice? The Ancient Hebrew alphabet! But this time, let’s go to the drawing board.
I’d like to finish with a proverb 25:2 @
“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; But it is the glory of kings to search it out.”
And in Hebrew this proverb is even more significant. It goes like this: @
כְּבֹ֣ד אֱ֭לֹהִים הַסְתֵּ֣ר דָּבָ֑ר וּכְבֹ֥ד מְ֝לָכִ֗ים חֲקֹ֣ר דָּבָֽר׃
A word-to-word translation would sound like this:
@ “It is the Glory of God to conceal the Word. And it is the Glory of Kings to investigate the Word.”
Today I’ve shared with you just a few treasures that can be found with just one tool – the Ancient Hebrew alphabet. But there are so many other tools too. Poetry. Symbolisms. Prophecies. Numbers. Acrostics. Chiasms. The Bible is full of treasures. We just need to search them out.
## If there’s any chance that you do not know Jesus yet, or have not accepted Him as your Lord and Savior. Today is the day. Do not wait for tomorrow, because it might never come.
The God who is in heaven, who spoke this perfect Word, He loves us so much. In fact, while we were still sinners, He loved us so much that He sent His Son to die instead of us. This Son is Jesus Christ. He was nailed to the cross, died and sealed in a grave. But death could not hold Him, because it was not His sin but ours, and so He rose from the dead on the third day. The Bible tells us that everyone who believes this in his heart and confesses with his mouth Jesus Christ as Lord will be saved. It’s that simple.
And what’s after that?
Pick up the Bible,
and don’t stop.