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Bethsheba Ashe
Biblical Gematria was a system of formal mathematics.

#11 The Letters of the Lord: the letter Teth

Six Braided Jewish Challah with sesame. Author: Aviv Hod. Used under wiki creative commons license.
Six Braided Jewish Challah with sesame. Author: Aviv Hod. Used under wiki creative commons license.

In this special series of blog articles at the Times of Israel we’re analyzing the gematria of Bereishit (Genesis) 1-2. I’ve published all the calculations for the first two chapters on Shematria (click here). The second chapter is currently under review. In these articles we’re going through the alphabet letter by letter in respect of the verses, and we’re looking more deeply at how the math was constructed within the ancient formal system.

My analysis of these verses concerning the letter Teth round up my work on the verses for chapter One, and I want to pause a little to talk about how it’s been for me doing this work of analysis. When I began this work I could see that Genesis 1-2 made a cohesive whole numerical story, but in my beginning working it all out appeared to be a monumental task, and I wasn’t sure I was the right person to attempt it. I’m not an inspiring artist like Victoria Hanna, or a Tik Tok sensation like Miriam Anzovin (two of my heroines). I still had much to discover about the origins of the alphabet and I needed to do much more analysis to confirm many of the words which had a set value. Working with the book of Bereishit has been both an incredible honor and a pleasure, but I have also felt some degree of self-imposed pressure to continue on with the work until I could present all the calculations as the scribe intended and unveil his work to the world (as he wanted). But I’m no Rabbi. I’m not even Jewish. I don’t even speak Hebrew! All I am is an autistic woman, with a touch of aphasia, and I’ve taken advantage of the pattern recognition skills of my neurotype to to decipher the formal system of mathematics employed by biblical scribes. And yet,  I’ve done it while being plagued with doubt about my fitness for this particular work, and I still believe that any good exegesis of Genesis 1-2 using the calculations I’ve presented is the work of someone else… perhaps someone who is reading this blog today. I know that my work will not really be finished until you take up your calling, so I’m speaking to just one person now, and I’d like to tell you, gentle reader, just a little of an incredible dream I had many years ago which inspired this work. Or, just skip to the analysis below if its tldr.

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Some things are private, including the circumstances under which I was given this dream. Dream? I use this word but it fails to describe the experience by several orders of magnitude. I slept for eighteen hours, and during that time I was taken and shown history first hand from the eyes of generations of ancient scribes from long ago. Some details of their stories are private too. I feel I owe them that. I saw an ancient Ugaritic scribe who travelled and worked for 20 years in Egypt and who knew and taught Moses his mathematics as a young man. I saw his memories of his homeland, of his grief at seeing the Queen put to sea in a raft which prompted him to leave Ugarit. I was witness to his second grief when it was finally revealed to him, many years after it happened, that the city of his birth had been destroyed. I also saw his fascination with the alphabet and his hope that it would be taken up and used by common people for writing. To this end, on the very night that the Jewish tribe who had lived for years at the edge of town left Egypt during a period of much turmoil, the scribe visited the tribe and gave Moses tablets and writings and money so that he might continue his studies. Then he calmly went back to his quarters at the Temple where he was murdered by the Vizier that night… just as he’d expected.

I was shown boys who chanted the creation story by firelight during a rite of manhood and who used the alphabet to help them remember it. I was shown the life of the young man who wrote Genesis at the first Temple, and I saw his Father (also a scribe) show him the Merkabah one night when he was just a boy, in the hope that he might find work in the profession. His Father drew it on papyrus and made his son memorize it and work with it all night, then he burnt it as the first rays of the morning light graced the sky. After his Father died he got work at the first Temple and he wrote Genesis using the notes made by Moses which were held at the first Temple. The scrolls were very old and badly decaying by that time, but he incorporated as much as he could into the final work. I can recall him laboring over the task late into many nights, and his exhaustion as he reached this point in the narrative. He took a break from writing it for a few weeks, but when he saw the task of writing the rest was being given to another scribe, he begged to complete the task himself. He saw Solomon himself, and one day he came perilously close to being executed after stumbling into the inner sanctum, but was let off when he told Solomon and the High Priest that all he saw was darkness. This was a lie to save his life, because in reality he was terrified by a huge and fierce golden face in saw the gloom (probably one of the cherubim). He often thought about his experience and thought about that face.

I was shown Bathsheba, who was particularly concerned that the most basic of the letter numbering – which I have called the Genesis Order – and which she had learned as a child, was included in the writing efforts of the scribes, and I can remember that she pestered and even argued with Solomon about it when he proved reluctant!

I saw through the eyes of Ezekiel as he penned his works, and had them copied by scribes and distributed. My! He was an interesting chap! He was a creator of puzzles and challenges and original thinking and he loved to debate with his peers once a week when they would gather at a public square and make speeches about God and Life and Politics! And I was shown the life of a man (I didn’t learn his name) who lived at the time Ezra when the court returned to the land. I remember him writing and composing gematria and hearing that his King wanted him to write in a foreign writing script instead of his beloved Paleohebrew. I remember the resentment he felt about this, and his disapproval when the men gossiped about a rich widow in the town who took up the practice of writing with gematria, although others were more generous and even proud of her.

Finally, I saw Greek Jews writing in both languages and writing scripts. I saw the disturbed mind of Paul of Patmos, and the man (little more than a boy actually) who wrote the Sefer Yetsirah, and was so surprised when it proved to be popular! I saw all these and more, and what they all had in common was this: they all wondered about the future, and whether their writings, and the mathematics of their writing which conveyed their wonder at the Merkabah would be remembered by the people of the future. It was very important to them all that we remember it. Some of them even spoke to the angels about it, and they passed their concerns along to me, when I needed something worthwhile to do. So… if you take up this work, that is whom you are really working for.
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Enough of this interlude! Back to the math of Genesis 1:29-30 and the origin of the letter Teth. The Teth has the numerical value of 9. The letter comes from the hieroglyphic F35 which meant “good” and which is supposed to be a heart and a trachea, however I disagree with this assessment because everyone knows the trachea is not connected to the heart but to the stomach and the theme of Genesis 1:29-30 is food and sustenance. It is likely that the most ancient conception of “good” evolved from having a full stomach and feeling satisfied.

The hieroglyphic sign Nefer (F35), which means good, perfect or beautiful.

Each of these calculations below are comprised of 31 letters. They involve no new words with set values other than those that we’ve seen in previous verses except for “green” ירק which has the same set value of the word for grass דשא which is the Daleth (4), and is sometimes translated as grass too. Let’s review the other words. The word for seed זרע has the set value of the Zayin (7), and the word for bird עוף has the set value of the Beth (2). There is also one instance of subtraction in verse 30 indicated by the word על in respect of the previous word.

Genesis 1:29:
ויאמר אלהים הנה נתתי לכם את כל עשב זרע זרע אשר על פני כל הארץ ואת כל העץ אשר בו פרי עץ זרע זרע לכם יהיה לאכלה׃
And said Elohim “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you.

The Calculation:
אלהים עשב ז ז פני הארץ העץ פרי עץ ז ז יהיה = 1200 (r.c)

Genesis 1:30:
ולכל חית הארץ ולכל עוף השמים ולכל רומש על הארץ אשר בו נפש חיה את כל ירק עשב לאכלה ויהי כן׃
And to every beast of the earth and to every fowl of the air and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth wherein there is life I have given every green herb for meat and it was so.

The Calculation:
חית הארץ ב השמים – רומש + הארץ נפש חיה ד עשב = 700 (b.g)

And that’s it! Next time we’ll be starting in on chapter 2 and the letter Yod. I shall tell you why the name YHWH is never written until this point, and we get to talk about Shabbat too! Exciting!! I hope you’re looking forward to it as much as I am. As always, stay tuned for more numerical honey from the first Temple.

About the Author
Bethsheba Ashe is a fifty two year old tea-drinking cryptographer who broke the gematria ciphers to the Bible and the Book of the Law. She is the author of two books on Biblical Hermeneutics; "Behold: The Art and Practice of Gematria" and "Chariot: An Essay on Bereshit and the Merkabah." She is the creator of the popular ‘Shematria’ online calculator, and inventor of the Galay writing script. Currently she lives in Pennsylvania and is creating an open-world VR Island adventure game with her boyfriend, two cats and a cockatoo, but she says she owes all her success to Tetley.
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