Bethsheba Ashe
Biblical Gematria was a system of formal mathematics.

#12 The Letters of the Lord: the letter Yod

"Shabbat", by Alexander Roitburd (2014). Shared under Fair Use license from WikiArt.
"Shabbat", by Alexander Roitburd (2014). Shared under Fair Use license from WikiArt.

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.

I intended to post this to coincide with the Shabbat, but got waylaid with a problem with the game I’m developing (Brigadoon). It’s not a big problem, and I continue to progress with it nicely. It’s just that I couldn’t get my player to go through a particular door and it was a real poser as to why this was happening. Eventually, I left the problem and went to bed to rest and dream of the solution.

Sometimes just getting your rest while you let your subconscious work is an essential part of problem solving. Our minds operate on another level of existence in dreams. Even while you’re sleeping, the mind will continue to work; reorganizing your ideas and making new connections. The topics of work and rest from work are represented by the letter Yod. Appropriately enough, since most work is done with the arms and hands, the paleohebrew Yod is a picture of an arm and a hand. The name of the letter יד (Yod) means “hand” and is comprised of the Yod and a Daleth. These two letters are symbolic partners, because as we rest and dream our minds were thought to journey through the doors (Daleth) between the heavens and the earth.

The paleohebrew letter looks stick-figure identical to the hieroglyph D36 so we have no problem determining the origin of the letter:

D36, the hieroglyphic origin of the letter Yod (cc wikipedia commons).

The verses of Genesis 1-2 which describe the Yod are verses 1-3 of chapter 2. Many scholars have noted that the name of God YHVH is not written until verse 1:4, and because they weren’t able to see that the verses were assigned to the alphabet in this particular configuration, and because they hadn’t seen the letter correspondences of Merkabah, they’ve suggest that the chapters were written by two different scribes at different period and from two earlier sources. However, we can now see that the Name was not written until all of its letters have been described and are ‘out’, because as soon as the Yod has been written about the Name appears, so we can go back to the traditional belief that both chapters were written by one scribe who was describing God’s use of the entire alphabet to make all the categories of creation.

The Yod is in the tenth position in the alphabet and it describes the last seventh day of creation. Before we analyze the gematria calculation for the verses of the Yod, let’s pause a moment to consider how chapter two of Genesis relates to chapter one. After the Yod, all the rest of the letters of the chapter are paired with earlier letters, because in every day (as Genesis reminds us) there is the evening and the morning, or in other words a day and a night side to creation. To keep things simple and alphabetical, Genesis describes the letters of the night side first, and then goes back and describes the letters of the day side. We can show this in a diagram but to do this we must remember that in position three it already has two letters (Gimel and Shin), and the same is true for position four (Daleth and Tav), so the arrangement is as follows:

The alphabet of Genesis 1-2 divided by the days and nights of the days of the week.
Author: Bethsheba Ashe.
[This image may be used under the creative commons license.]
As we can see, all the letters of the holy Name are ones that come out during the night period, which may be why Moses and Solomon and others said that it was the nature of God to dwell בערפל which is a word that seems to be half a reference to evening (with ער) and half to sundown/gloom/cloud and is generally translated as “thick darkness” but there’s actually a bit more to it that doesn’t translate directly and exactly on a one to one basis. There may actually be a direct reference to the Name (שם) in Exodus 20:21 but it could also be that means simply “there” because שם is a homonym:

ויעמד העם מרחק ומשה נגש אל הערפל אשר שם האלהים
And stood the people from a distance and Moses drew near to the thick darkness that name [or “there”] the Elohim.
– Exodus 20:21.   

אז אמר שלמה יהוה אמר לשכן בערפל
Then spoke Solomon “YHVH said to stay in thick darkness”.
– 1 Kings 8:12.

Isn’t that amazing? The Bible keeps blowing me away. There’s always some more to learn and discover. Let’s skip on with our analysis of Genesis 2:1-3 now. There’s nothing particularly difficult about 2:1. It’s short and to the point. The word צבאם has the set value of the Tsade, and it comes to 490 which is 7 x 70, because this day is the first Sabbath.

ויכלו השמים והארץ וכל צבאם׃
Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts.
השמים והארץ צ = 490 (b.g)

Rava said, and some say it was Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi who said: Even an individual who prays on Shabbat evening must recite the passage: “And the heavens and the earth were finished [vaykhullu]” (Genesis 2:1–3), as Rav Hamnuna said: Anyone who prays on Shabbat evening and recites the passage of vaykhullu, the verse ascribed him credit as if he became a partner with the Holy One, Blessed be He, in the act of Creation. – Shabbat 119b:2

The next calculation is also quite straightforward. The words “day” and “his work” are middot and so aren’t counted. We also don’t count the verb “rested” because usually only the nouns are valid counting words, and we count the value of any number as is so “seventh” is 7, and so the calculation is quite short and simple.

ויכל אלהים ביום השביעי מלאכתו אשר עשה וישבת ביום השביעי מכל מלאכתו אשר עשה׃
And all Elohim in the day the seventh his labour that made, and rested in the day seventh from all his labours that made.
אלהים ז ז = 100 (b.g)
10 x 10.

Now the Talmud says this about the verse:

The categories of work are 39.” From where that the categories of work are from the Torah? Rebbi Samuel bar Naḥman in the name of Rebbi Jonathan: Corresponding to the thirty-nine occurrences of מלאכה in the Torah. They asked before Rebbi Aḥa, everywhere where מלאכות is written it should count for two! Rebbi Ashian said, Rebbi Aḥa checked by eye the entire Torah and did not find this word written. The following is necessary: He came into the house to do his work is with them. God completed on the Seventh Day His work which He did, is with them.

The next verse requires a little more comment because it features the word “ברך” (blessed) and this indicates multiplication by 2, but while it generally refers to the word which follows, in Daniel it refers to the word previous to it, and earlier in Genesis in combination with the אתם it acted like the אתם and refers to the direct object of the blessing rather than having a set pointing to the next or previous word.

ויברך אלהים את יום השביעי ויקדש אתו כי בו שבת מכל מלאכתו אשר ברא אלהים לעשות׃
And he blessed Elohim the day the seventh and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all his labours that created Elohim had made.

אלהים זז זז אלהים = 200 (b.g)
And this is very interesting, because this is the number of the Resh, which is the number of the seventh day, by daylight, and it is double the sum of the previous verse which is 100, which is an echo of the wisdom that there is a double portion of grace given by God on the Shabbat.

All three verses would be: 490 + 100 + 200 = 790.
When we add the value of the Yod this verse is written for we have 800, and so we end the values of the nightside of creation with the same initial value we began with in Genesis 1:1 (the verses of the House (Beth)) through notariqon:
800 = ב + ב + א + א + ה + ו + ה

Far more recently, the Trump of the Major Arcana which is attributed to the Yod is the Hermit. The Hermit represents the “withdrawal from events and relationships to introspect and gather strength”.

The Hermit from the Rider–Waite tarot deck illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith. Public Domain.

For those that are interested in the attributions of the Tarot to Genesis 1-2, I have a PDF of the Correspondences on my site: Shematria Gematria Calculator and you can click here for a direct link

That is it for now. In our next article we’ll be analyzing the qualities of the Kaph and verses of Genesis 2:4-6, so stay tuned for more numerical honey that poured from the quill of Moses and a brilliant unknown scribe in King Solomon’s Temple.


Author News – Behold! The Art and Practice of Gematria will be published at the end of October. It’s a crucial book to have if you need to read the bible using the same methodologies as biblical writers, such as gematria, notariqon, temurah, iteration, and acrostic features. Use the discount code – BE20 – which will give 20% off for pre-ordering from Aeon Books, and they tell me they’re offering free shipping to the USA too.

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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