Archive for category Ancient Hebrew
As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I have been teaching a discipleship class at our church (different from the Hebrews Bible Study that some of you are following). It is a four-part series on Genesis 1:1, among other things. The class is a study of the supernatural nature of the Hebrew language and the ancient Hebrew pictographs making up Genesis 1:1 and other Biblical names and passages.
I have tried to upload the Power Point files, but none of the services that I am aware of allow for the Hebrew fonts I have used, so I have taken screen captures of the slides and included them as images. I hope it makes sense. Also, there are many slides, so I will publish the teachings in multiple parts.
The first class was entitled “Why do you believe the Bible?” We looked at at three key places in scripture where the same event is graphically depicted in the ancient Hebrew pictographs. I will publish the first teaching in three parts.
We began, appropriately enough, “In the beginning,” by looking at the pictographs that make up the Hebrew word “Barasheet,” most frequently translated, “In the beginning.”
In the original Hebrew alphabet, each pictograph represented a letter of the alphabet, a number, and had a symbolic meaning. By looking at those pictographs, a richer, deeper understanding of the text is gained.
Barasheet is spelled in Hebrew BET (the equivalent of our letter B, depicted in the ancient Hebrew pictographs as a house or tent, symbolically meaning “house” as in a lineage; RESH (R), depicted as a man’s head, meaning the first or highest person; ALEPH (A), depicted as an ox head, meaning strength or God, as in, “the Lord is my strength;” SHIN (S or Sh), depicted as two teeth, meaning to consume or destroy; YOD (Y), depicted as an arm from the elbow to the fist, meaning “my” or efforts or works; and TAV (T), depicted as two crossed sticks, meaning mark or covenant.
The first two letters of Barasheet BET and RESH together form the Hebrew/Aramaic word “bar” or “son.” So, when we look at the ancient Hebrew pictographs, we see that “In the beginning” is actually a graphic depiction of the SON of GOD being CONSUMED/DESTROYED with his HANDS on a CROSS. The slides show the modern Hebrew letter, the name of the letter, the symbolic meaning, what is pictured in the pictograph (in parentheses), and the pictograph itself.
That’s quite a remarkable beginning. For a slightly different look at this, you can read my earlier post In the beginning.
During the class, I taught that the traditional belief that the first prophecy in scripture is in Genesis 3 is actually incorrect, and that it is, “In the beginning.” I believe the most powerful and creative force in the universe is the spoken word of God. If so, by its very nature, it must be prophetic especially in view of God’s creativity. God not only created the universe, but in speaking, He created language, an alphabet, math and science, and everything else.
This week, however, I was humbled by the Lord who showed me something else quite remarkable. In Genesis 3, the “first prophecy” is God cursing the serpent saying,
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.
“In the beginning,” the very nature of the Son’s destruction on the cross is accomplished by the pictograph depicting two teeth, the very manner in which a serpent would “strike.” So, the first prophecy in scripture is both “In the beginning” and in Genesis 3.
There was obviously a lot more, it was an hour-long class. I will try to put as much as I can in parts 2 and 3 which will follow soon. Enjoy.
It has been in the planning stages since about the first of the year, but I was pleasantly (and amusingly) surprised to find a postcard in the mail from our church publicizing the class.
The class will run for four weeks on Sunday evenings. I will probably post about the classes just for fun, although a lot of what I’m going to cover is already here somewhere (see links below). It’s going to be a blast.
Note the text:
Come experience the Word of God with teacher Peter Lopez and explore treasures from the Scripture God placed there for you to find!
I have taught several classes as an adjunct faculty member at a local college, but this makes it seem more official. Didn’t they call Jesus “Teacher?” Well, henceforth, just call me “teacher,” too. ;) [Note the distinction in titles-I will forego the capitalization in reverence to my Teacher.]
The class was named after, you guessed it, this blog and will be “an exploration of the beauty of the Word of God.” Ringing any bells? Specifically, we will look at Genesis 1:1 in the ancient Hebrew pictographs and a whole slew of other cool stuff.
Each of the four weeks there will be a theme or purpose that ties in to the teaching. The plan is also to conclude with prayer for specific needs related to the themes. For example (a very rough draft):
- Week 1 – Faith: Why you can trust God’s Word. Related Teachings: In the beginning, My Covenant, and The Language of God.
- Week 2 – Knowing Jesus as Your Shepherd. Related Teachings: The Lord is My Shepherd, On Creation, and What’s in a Name.
- Week 3 – Encountering Heaven. Related Teachings: Oh, My Heavens Part 1 and Part 2 and The Salvation of “the earth”.
- Week 4 – Revelation: God and His Word. Related Teachings: God’s Signature.
If anyone out there in cyberspace needs or wants prayer for an increase of faith, to know Jesus as your shepherd, to encounter heaven, or for revelation from and about God and His Word, please let me know. We will pray specifically for those wants and needs, and we will pray for you individually. Let me know in the comment section below, or, if you prefer a little more privacy, use the “Contact” for above.
I am working on a post (and have been for some time now) wherein I will compile all of my posts on Genesis 1:1 and its ancient Hebrew pictographs.
I think I will initially publish it as a post and then make it a permanent page when it slips off the bottom of the the front page, but I’m still kicking this idea around. The length is the only reason I would publish it as a page only.
Anyway, for the time being, I will simply say, “Coming Soon.” In the mean time, these are the Genesis 1:1 links which I will reformat into the new post/page, if you want a preview:
Genesis 1:1 Posts:
- In the beginning
- God (The Lord is My Shepherd)
- Created (On Creation)
- The Heavens (Part 1 and Part 2)
- And the Earth
- God’s Signature
Other Related Posts:
So, I will do my best to avoid stepping on any land mines. I do, however, want to share a little of what I was asked to share yesterday during our church’s offering time.
First, the scripture to make it official:
9 And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham.
10 For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him. (KJV)
Abraham and his crew, having just returned from battle, are met by Melchisedec (to use the King James spelling), King of Salem, who blesses Abraham. In response, Abraham gives Melchisedec a tenth of all.
It’s been a while, but many of you know that a primary focus of this blog is the ancient Hebrew alphabet and the stories told thereby within Biblical words. For example, see Hebrew-The Divine Language. The story told by the ancient Hebrew pictographs that make up the word “tithe” is equally remarkable.
A quick recap, the ancient Hebrew alphabet was made up of pictographs, each representing a letter, a number, and a symbolic meaning (I just recently heard that each represented a color as well, but it was news to me, and I can’t say much more about that).
The Hebrew word for “tithe” is ma’ asser, and please forgive my transliteration. In Hebrew, ma’ asser is spelled by the Hebrew letters MEM (the equivalent of our letter “M”), which is pictured as waves of water and symbolically means nations or waters; AYIN (perhaps our letter “O” or “E”), pictured as an eye and meaning to see; SHIN/SIN (“Sh” or “S”), pictured as two teeth, meaning to consume or destroy; and RESH (“R”), pictured as a man’s head, meaning the first or highest person.
God promised Abraham he would make of him a great nation. He then asks Abraham to sacrifice his son. Thus, “tithe” is the picture of Abraham, the great NATION, SEEing the DESTRUCTION of the FIRST son (Isaac was the son of promise as far as God was concerned). However, “tithe” also represents the act reciprocated by God, in part, because of Abraham’s obedience. We now know that the NATIONS have SEEN the DESTRUCTION of God’s FIRST SON.
Regardless of your theology regarding the tithe, Abraham tithed to Melchisedec after being blessed by him, and his great-grandson got credit for it; and his descendants received tithes from the rest of the nation. I can’t think of a better reason to tithe than simply because we have been blessed by God in his tithe to us: the sacrifice of His son. How better to leave a lasting legacy for your great-grandchildren’s descendants.
Here is the visual of “tithe” (recall, Hebrew is read right to left):
In the shameless self-promotion category…
One of my very first posts ever (The Lord Is My Shepherd) got stumbled upon by (apparently) the right stumbler recently with pleasant results. Within a matter of a few hours, it received over 300 hits and, after a few days, it is about to cross the 1500 hit mark. I have had posts stumbled before with considerably less dramatic results, but I suppose the stars aligned for one of my favorite posts even if it was 15 months late.
I realize that to real bloggers, 1500 hits for a single post in a short period of time probably doesn’t register as anything abnormal, but from my little area of the blogosphere, it’s something to write home about (rather, to write you about).
I am particularly partial to that post because it was my first “discovery” (for lack of a better word) of the extra-textual content contained in the ancient Hebrew alphabetic pictographs. In it, I showed Elohim, Hebrew for “God,” as depicting Psalm 23.
To summarize, the word Elohim is comprised of the Hebrew letters ALEPH (similar to our letter “A,” and pictured in the ancient Hebrew as an ox head, signifying strength or God – as in the Lord is my strength); LAMED (“L,” pictured as a shepherd’s staff, meaning to shepherd or lead); HEY (“H,” pictured as a man with outstretched arms, meaning God’s grace or to behold); YOD (“Y,” pictured as the arm from the fist to the elbow, meaning my or my hand or works); and MEM (“M,” pictured as waves of water, meaning water or peoples/nations).
Thus, the LORD is my SHEPHERD by GRACE MY needs are provided for (I SHALL NOT WANT), he takes me by MY HAND and LEADS me by still WATERS. Here is the visual:
I have spent a lot of time lately contemplating the Hebrew language (even more than usual). I simply cannot escape the conclusion that the language is supernaturally composed. It almost makes me wish I was a statistician so that I could calculate the odds of a human or group of humans developing a pictographic language such as that of the Hebrews.
I hope I never become one to recycle posts (because one of my very first posts was on The Language of God), but I do want to share this again now that all (for now) of the posts on Genesis 1:1 are finished. I will compile them in a single post soon for easy reference. But, more fundamental that that…
The word “Hebrew,” or Ibrit (pronounced ee’vreet, please forgive my phonetic spelling), is derived from the word Ibri (pronounced ee’vree, which is also “Hebrew” in English). Ibri means to pass over or sojourn. Abraham was first called the Hebrew (Ibri) in Genesis 14:13 because he was a sojourner in the land, or he was one who “passed over” the land. It’s certainly no coincidence that one of the chief Jewish holidays is Passover, perhaps just a great foreshadowing.
In many ways, all believers are called to be “Hebrews,” sojourners in this world. So, what of this word, “Hebrew,” that would ultimately become the name of the language spoken by the descendants of Abraham? Ibrit is spelled using the Hebrew letters AYIN, depicted in the ancient Hebrew pictographs as an eye and meaning to see, as by revelation; BET, pictured as a house or tent and meaning a house or lineage; RESH, pictured as a man’s head, meaning the first or highest person; YOD, pictured as a hand or arm from the elbow to the fist, meaning my or my hand/works; and TAV, pictured as two crossed sticks and meaning a mark or covenant.
Before I get to the breakdown of the individual letters that make up Ibrit, I want to point out that brit is the Hebrew word for covenant. Thus, Ibrit can be fairly seen as TO SEE or a REVELATION of the COVENANT. The conclusion that I have reached is that we will SEE, or the REVELATION of, God’s COVENANT will be in and within HEBREW. Both within the word “Hebrew” itself and generally though the Hebrew language.
Now, “Hebrew.” Recall from earlier posts that the Hebrew letters BET and RESH form the Hebrew/Aramaic word bar, or son, so in Ibrit we SEE the SON with his HANDS/ARMS on a CROSS. Here’s the visual (remember, Hebrew is read right to left):
Here is some more really cool Bible stuff. If you spend very much time at all searching Bible stuff online, you probably already know about these, but, if not, enjoy.
Codex Sinaiticus – A fourth century Greek Christian Bible with a complete New Testament. The Codex Sinaiticus Project is an effort to digitize the entire Codex and make it viewable online. The website which was recently launched has several complete books of the Bible already available for viewing and is scheduled to have the entire Bible online by July 2009.
Hebrew for Christians – Just about everything you needed to know about the Hebrew language.
AmazingBible.org – An interesting site which treats virtually every major issue in Christianity. It is essentially one large index of Christian doctrine and theology. The site is the product of a Baptist person or organization, although I haven’t figured out who or what specifically, so file that info away for what it’s worth. Candidly, my wife and I were members of a spirit-filled Baptist Church for a while, although we attend a non-denominational church now, and I have no idea whether or not I endorse everything in the site because there’s simply so much information I haven’t even come close to seeing it all.
Biblioblogs.com – A fairly thorough list of biblioblogs, so if you are a regular reader of this or other Bible blogs and you just can’t get enough, check out Biblioblogs.com and discover other great Bible blogs.
Previous Cool Bible Stuff Posts:
I have spent the last few weeks in Genesis 11 reading about what might have been one of the greatest construction projects in world history. Out of the blue one day I was overwhelmed with the need to go back (or forward – since most of my time is spent in Genesis 1) to the account of Babel.
I wasn’t really sure what I would find or even whether there was anything new to be found in this familiar account. As always, there is some pretty great stuff there, there is some pretty challenging stuff, and then there is just some stuff that needs to be worked out theologically. So, who knows where this is going.
Also, this will have to be a series because I have absolutely no idea when or how it will all play out, and it probably won’t be continuous – for those that know me, you know that Part XII may appear some time next year. For now, this first post is just a quick look at the ancient Hebrew pictographs that make up the word “Babel.”
In Hebrew, Babel is spelled BET, BET, LAMED. The Hebrew letter BET is the equivalent of our letter B, and it is pictured in the ancient Hebrew pictographs as a house or a tent. The letter BET also symbolically represents a house or lineage, as in “the house of David.” The letter LAMED is the equivalent of our letter L, and is pictured as a shepherd’s staff or ox goad. LAMED symbolically means to shepherd, lead, teach and/or prod.
What does that give us? Something quite remarkable really. The story of the Tower of Babel is of a unified, homogeneous group, perhaps an extremely large family, the descendants of Noah, sharing one language and coming together for one purpose: to make a name for themselves by building a great city with a tower that reached to the heavens. God puts a halt to this by confusing their language and scattering the people, presumably into different tribes or people groups with different languages (one “house” being transformed into multiple “houses”). So, the picture painted by Babel is of God, the great shepherd, taking His staff and scattering His flock into different families or houses over the earth.
Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth. Gen. 11:9.
More of the theological stuff later, but, for now, yet one more example of the divine nature of the language of God.
I chose the title “Beauty of the Bible” for this blog because I believe there is beauty in God’s Word beyond the mere words on the page (as beautiful as those are). I realize that even non-believers recognize the Bible’s poetry, prose, symbolism and literary value as being among the most beautiful in all of literature. I would suggest that we have barely scratched the surface.
I have written before that I believe every word, letter, or jot in scripture is divinely inspired and divinely placed. To evidence this, I have shown examples of individual Hebrew words and names that, when broken down into the individual ancient Hebrew pictographs, themselves are related scriptural references (see Isaac & Ishmael, Noah, Moses, and God/Elohim). If this phenomenon occured only occasionally, it would be remarkable, but for this to occur as frequently as it does in the Bible’s first book is nothing short of divine.
I’m convinced this complexity and elegance extends throughout the Torah and probably the entire Old Testament. In other words, I think the examples of storylines being retold and/or elaborated upon in the tales told by the Hebrew pictographs are endless. It took me several months to work through Genesis 1:1, so my ambition to work through the book of Genesis was perhaps a bit naive.
Nevertheless, while I realize that systematically working through every verse of Genesis would take me several lifetimes, I love doing this enough that I can’t imagine it ever getting tiresome. That said, any plans to continue with Genesis 1:2 are on hold because I want to apply this same method to other topics that interest me or that others might request.
I have answered requests before from friends and family, but I have only published one of those even though it was one of my own personal favorites (see God’s Blessing). I think the challenge of researching and answering these and the excitement generated by the results is too much to pass up. This is not to say that I will be doing this exclusively, by any means, but I will write about them more.
Several months ago I was asked to look at Genesis 3:15, the results were pretty cool. I actually arrived at this backward. Because of how individual words frequently open up and reveal the broader context in which they are contained, I chose to begin reviewing Genesis 3:15 by studying the context. So, I began by studying the word “serpent” (plus I thought it would be pretty interesting). Well, I was either really lucky, or God was very gracious in not having me spend several months in Genesis 3:15. Either way, “serpent” was the scriptural reference for Genesis 3:15.
Okay, here goes. In Hebrew, “serpent” is the Hebrew word nachash, and is spelled with the Hebrew letters NUN (the equivalent of our letter N) which is pictured as the “seed of life” or a fish and means seed of life or life. CHET (J or Ch) which is pictured as a wall or fence and which means to cut off or to exclude, separating those inside from those outside. And SHIN (Sh) which is pictured as two teeth, meaning to destroy or consume.
Genesis 3:15: I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel. (NASB/HCSB combo).
The letter NUN is the seed, CHET is the wall or fence separating the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent (the enmity between), and SHIN (two teeth) is the serpent biting at the heel with his two fangs. It is really a pretty cool picture of “you will strike his heel,” but the result is the ultimate destruction of the serpent. Here’s the visual:
Most believe that the alphabet as we know it is a human invention. I do not. I have come to the sincere belief that every single word (or jot) in the Bible is divinely placed and meaningful. Additionally, I believe that the language in which the Old Testament was originally written is also divinely created and given by God (see God Speaks: The Origin of the Alphabet).
I think some of the best evidence for this belief can be found in Biblical names. I have previously shown the vivid pictures painted in the names Noah and Moses by the ancient Hebrew pictographs. I believe equally vivid stories can be told for most, if not all, names in scripture.
Among the reasons I believe that the ancient Hebrew alphabet was created and given to man by God is the superhuman mix of simplicity and complexity. The simplicity of an alphabet based on child-like pictures (an ox head to mean a strong leader or God) is in stark contrast to the complexity of a name prophetically depicting verses in scripture written some 500 years later (see Elohim as Psalm 23). I can imagine an extremely gifted human developing a language with symbolic alphabetic characters, perhaps even where the symbols can be arranged to form words, possibly even tell stories. But, when someone does this in a manner that also prophecies something 500 years in advance, then I might reconsider my position.
I believe there are countless examples of words and names depicting scriptures, a divine double entendre, but without the ambiguity. In this post, I want to focus on just two of these examples: Ishmael and Isaac.
I believe this is actually possible with any name in the Bible, I have studied Adam, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Moses and others, and never have I been disappointed. I might write on others later, but the account of Ishmael and Isaac has always fascinated me because of its reflection of God’s grace vs our works.
You all know the story, Sarah becomes impatient with her inability to produce a child and persuades Abraham to impregnate Hagar. I’m sure we can all sympathize with Sarah’s impatience. I know I’ve tried to help God along on more than one occasion. But, the promise is fulfilled not through our works, but through God’s grace. So what of the works? They amount to nothing, usually cause problems, and are cut off like Ishmael.
Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” Gen. 22:2.
By this time Abraham had both sons, Isaac and Ishmael. But, what does God say, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac…” This is a harsh, but true reality. As far as God was concerned, Abraham had only one son, the son of promise. Now, God made provision for Ishmael, and promised Abraham that he would become a great nation too, but there were consequences. Here is how the Angel of the Lord explained it:
The angel of the LORD also said to her: “You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery. He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.” She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” Gen. 16:11-13.
First, more than a prophetic statement, this is now an historical fact. Second, this prophetic look into the future of Ishmael was decreed from the naming of Ishmael (You shall name him Ishmael). In Hebrew, Ishmael is spelled YOD, SHIN, MEM, AYIN, ALEPH and LAMED. In the ancient Hebrew pictographs, the YOD is pictured as a hand from the fist to the elbow meaning my, my hand, or my works. SHIN is pictured as two teeth meaning to destroy or consume. MEM is pictured as waves of water meaning waters, nations or peoples. AYIN is pictured as an eye meaning to see, or to see as God sees. ALEPH is an ox head meaning strong, leader or God. LAMED is pictured as a shepherd’s staff meaning to lead.
Recall from earlier posts that the combination of ALEPH and LAMED form the Hebrew name El or God. The name Ishmael means God hears me or my God hears because the YOD or “ee” sound is the letter or sound for my/me and “shama” (produced by SHIN, MEM and AYIN) is the Hebrew word for hear. So, Ishmael (or ee shama el) is my God hears or God hears me. But, when you look at the Hebrew pictographs what you see is Genesis 16:11-13, “his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers…” and “You are the God who sees me…”
Here it is in the ancient Hebrew pictographs:
As much as Ishmael is a vivid picture of future strife, Isaac (meaning laughter) vividly depicts the replacement of Ishmael and the sacrifice God asks Abraham to make with Isaac. The Bible says Ishmael was a hunter or bowman, a man of the bow. Ishmael is a man of the bow because the bow is a symbol of covenant (see my discussion of the bow as covenant), and, while God’s covenant with Abraham was to be through Isaac, we are reminded that God also promised to make Ishmael a great nation.
Nevertheless, the Abrahamic covenant was through Isaac, and Ishmael was completely cut off from it. We can see this is the name Isaac. In Hebrew, Isaac is spelled YOD, TSADE, CHET and QUPH. Again, the YOD is pictured as a hand, meaning my or my efforts. TSADE is pictured as a man lying on his side or a fish hook meaning to hunt or fish. CHET is pictured as a wall or fence meaning to cut off. QUPH is pictured as a horizon meaning some sort of time element. So Isaac is a depiction of the relationship between Abraham and Ishmael: MY HUNTER (Ishmael the hunter or bowman) will be CUT OFF for all TIME, or the product of MY EFFORTS, the HUNTER is CUT OFF for all TIME.
Moveover, in the ultimate test of one’s faith, God asks Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. It is quite an amazing test, one I’m not sure many would pass. But, Abraham does, and it is recorded in this way:
Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” Gen 22:9-12
You can almost picture Abraham taking his son by the hand and then in his arms and laying him down to cut him with the knife, but the angel intervenes in the nick of time. What is truly remarkable is that this picture was painted before Isaac’s birth, when the Lord told Abraham, “your wife Sarah will bear you a son and You will call him Isaac…” Gen. 17:19. Actually, now that I think about it, all of these word pictures were painted before time began. They were only revealed later. Quite astounding!
Here is Isaac:
…lest anyone doubt the significance of a name!