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Biblical Gematria was a system of formal mathematics.

# #6 The Letters of the Lord: The letter Tav

"Time", by Enea Vico, Italian (ca. 1545–50). Public Domain from the Elisha Whittelsey Collection.

In this special series of blog articles at the Times of Israel we’re analyzing the gematria of Bereshith (Genesis) 1-2. I’ve published all the calculations for the first two chapters on Shematria (click here), but in these articles we’re going to go through them letter by letter and we’re going to look more deeply at how the math was constructed with the ancient system.

The verses which describe the letter Tav are Genesis 1:14-16. In the ancient Paleo-Hebrew writing script, the letter Tav is a simple cross; four lines square to a central point like the X. It carries the value of 4 with the biblical gematria cipher, and occupies the same position as the Daleth in the priestly order of the alphabet, although there’s no way a linear list can show this. However, as was demonstrated by Judith Dillon – it is readily identifiable by adding up the alphabet by its natural order like so:

1 + 2 + 3 + 3 + 4 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 8 + 9 + 10 + 11 + 12 + 13 + 14 + 15 + 16 + 17 + 18 + 19 + 20 = 217.

217 = 7 × 31, and it is the value of the section corresponding to the 1st Heh of the Holy Name on the Merkabah.

With the Standard cipher, the value of the Tav is 400, and it appears at the end of the alphabet after the Shin (300), which is a give away about their unnatural origins in the alphabet order. Natural order ciphers in original writing scripts reflect the amount of digits (10 or 20) or finger bones (12 or 24) they were counted with before receiving written notation. No naturally evolving number set assigns 22 values for the simple reason that (except in cases of mutation) human beings do not have 22 fingers and toes.

The theme of the Tav is time, and the measurement of time.

Screenshot taken by Bethsheba Ashe, of Jerusalem Talmud Berakhot 9:2:15 with inline references from Sefaria.com. (2023)

The Talmud delineated what is meant by “signs” in 1:14 because otherwise it would be understood to mean the signs of the alphabet. However the sages say that “signs” is used here in the same sense as it is in Exodus 31:13 to show the Sabbath is a called a sign.

I had a bit of trouble calculating Genesis 1:14-16, and it has only recently been fully resolved to my satisfaction after realizing that the words מארת (lights) had the set value of an aleph, with המאור הגדל (the light greater) referring to the large aleph with the value of 1000, and המאור הקטן (the light lesser) referring to the small aleph with the value of 1. For a word to have a set value or be known as an indicator there must be a consistent rule attached to it, but I have investigated the use of המאור in Ezekiel 32:8, Exodus 35:14 and Exodus 39:37 and it passes the threshold for significance. However, note that without the mem; אור is calculated as 207 as usual, and this was why I had trouble crediting it initially.

The word ברקיע (in the expanse) from 1:14-15, carries the value of 3 (and see my prior article on the Gimel for this). And the word הכוכבים (the stars) at the end of 1:16 carries the set value of 5 for the letter Heh.

There are two general calculating words in the sum of 1:14: בין (between) which instructs the reader to divide the next word by 2, and על (upon) which indicates the subtraction of the previous word from the next, but only על is used here because the next words after בין are middot (measures) which are not counted. לאתת ולמועדים ולימים ושנים (the signs, the seasons, the days and the years) and the words הַיּ֖וֹם (the day) and הַלָּ֑יְלָה (the night) are also middot and are excluded from the sum.

All the sums below have been calculated with the reversal cipher.

Genesis 1:14:
ויאמר אלהים יהי מארת ברקיע השמים להבדיל בין היום ובין הלילה
והיו לאתת ולמועדים ולימים ושנים׃
“And said Elohim “Let there be luminaries in the expanse the heavens, to divide between the day and between the night, and let them be for signs and seasons and for days and years.

The Calculation:
593 = אלהים א ג השמים (r.c)

Genesis 1:15:
והיו למאורת ברקיע השמים להאיר על־הארץ ויהי־כן׃
And let them be for luminaries in the expanse of the heavens for the light upon the earth, and it was so.”

The Calculation:
א ג השמים – להאיר + הארץ = 360 (r.c)

Genesis 1:16:
ויעש אלהים את־שני המארת הגדלים את־המאור הגדל לממשלת היום ואת־המאור הקטן לממשלת הלילה ואת הכוכבים׃
“And made Elohim two the luminaries the great, the luminary greater to rule the day, and the luminary lesser to rule the night and the stars.

The Calculation(s):
597 = אלהים ב ררררר ררררר א ה (r.c)
אלהים ב א א א ה = 777 (r.c.)
593 + 360 + 597 = 1550.
Multiply this by two because there are two lights: 3100 = 31 × 100.

That’s all for this week. In our next article we’ll be looking at the Heh above and the Heh below, bring the light of the stars to earth. So, stayed tuned for more numerical honey poured straight from the notes of Moses and the scribes of the first Temple.

Author News –  I recently noticed a degree of scribal interpolation in Exodus 7 which changed the Holy Name from YHW to its more familiar four lettered version. The story also appears to have been expanded by a later writer, probably during the time of the first Temple. In any case, I’ve prepared an early draft paper about the matter which you can read on Academia.edu HERE.