The 72 letters name of God is encoded in the following three verses, as taught in tradition:
|וַיִּסַּע מַלְאַךְ הָאֱלֹהִים הַהֹלֵךְ לִפְנֵי מַחֲנֵה יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיֵּלֶךְ מֵאַחֲרֵיהֶם וַיִּסַּע עַמּוּד הֶֽעָנָן מִפְּנֵיהֶם וַיַּֽעֲמֹד מֵאַחֲרֵיהֶֽם׃||And the angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud removed from before them, and stood behind them (Ex14:19)|
|וַיָּבֹא בֵּין מַחֲנֵה מִצְרַיִם וּבֵין מַחֲנֵה יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיְהִי הֶֽעָנָן וְהַחֹשֶׁךְ וַיָּאֶר אֶת־הַלָּיְלָה וְלֹא־קָרַב זֶה אֶל־זֶה כָּל־הַלָּֽיְלָה׃||and it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel; and there was the cloud and the darkness here, yet gave it light by night there; and the one came not near the other all the night. (Ex 14:20)|
|וַיֵּט מֹשֶׁה אֶת־יָדֹו עַל־הַיָּם וַיֹּולֶךְ יְהוָה אֶת־הַיָּם בְּרוּחַ קָדִים עַזָּה כָּל־הַלַּיְלָה וַיָּשֶׂם אֶת־הַיָּם לֶחָרָבָה וַיִּבָּקְעוּ הַמָּֽיִם׃||And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all the night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. (Ex 14:21)|
According to tradition, the method to derive the 72 letters is to take the first letter from the first verse, the last letter from the second verse, and the first letter from the third verse to form the first triplet והו, and when the same step is repeated 72 times, the following chart is developed:
The pattern is: 1) right order; 2) reverse order; 3) right order, corresponding to right, left and center.
Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge
At the intellectual level, this is the progression of wisdom, understanding, and knowledge.
Wisdom is light which is personified by the angle of God with the pillar of cloud acting as the shield to temper the light so that it can be received by the vessel. This is the direct light אוֹר יָשָׁר.
Understanding is the vessel, which is represented by darkness in the second verse that receives and reflects the light, which is called the reflected light אוֹר חוֹזֵר.
Knowledge is the union of wisdom and understanding in producing fruit, which is light revealed at a higher level called the new light אוֹר חָדָשׁ.
When the “reflected light” is clarified by the “direct light”, the gematria of the former is subtracted from the latter:
|Direct light||אוֹר יָשָׁר||717|
|Reflected light||אוֹר חוֹזֵר||(428)|
The result is 289, which is exactly the gematria of וַיִּבָּקְעוּ הַמָּֽיִם, the final two words of Ex 14:21, the third verse, meaning “and the waters were divided”, which is the new light revealed at a higher level.
The gematria of “white light” אוֹר לָבָן is exactly 289, which is 17 squared, and 17 is the gematria of “tov” טוֹב good.
This can also be understood as the model of Torah study, where the first phase is for man to receive the concentrated “direct light” from the Torah; the second phase is to break down the details and see contradictions, i.e. differences, where one can be confused as if in darkness, this is the “reflected light”, if one continues he will eventually be merited to the third phase of “new light” which is higher revelation of the secrets of Torah.
The essence of wisdom is to see generality from particularities, i.e. the unification of differences and inter-inclusion, as the light unifies seven colors.
The essence of understanding is to see the particularities from the generality, i.e. the clarification of details.
The essence of knowledge is the application of wisdom and understanding in practice.
The secret of Torah is called Kabbalah קַבָּלָה, which in gematria is 137, the union of wisdom and prophecy, as follows:
When 137 is spelled in Hebrew, the gematria of the phrase (when Mem sofit = 600) is 1664, which is exactly the gematria of “direct light, reflected light, new light”, as follows:
|One hundred thirty and seven||מֵאָה שְׁלֹשִׁים וָשֶׁבַע||1664|
|Direct light, reflected light, new light||אוֹר יָשָׁר אוֹר חוֹזֵר אוֹר חָדָשׁ||1664|
According to tradition, the level of prophecy (new light) can be attained through the meditation on the 72 letters.
At a deeper level this process can be understood as the secret of redemption.
The first verse alludes to Mashiach at his first coming, as symbolized by the angle of God and the pillar of cloud מַלְאַךְ הָאֱלֹהִים הֶֽעָנָן, which is gematria plus 1 is 358, the gematria of Mashiach מָּשִׁיחַ, this is the “direct light” that shines to all men, without differentiating the righteous from the evil.
The second verse alludes to darkness after the death of Mashiach, as if all hopes are lost. This is the period of waiting during which Mashiach remains to be light to Israel but darkness to the Egyptians, this is what is meant in Ex 19:21 that “the darkness lights the night”, which does not make sense at the simple level, but this darkness is indeed light so bright to the point of blindness so it is as if it is darkness. Only when this darkness is clarified can new light be attained, this is what is meant in Isaiah 45:3 as the “treasure of darkness”, their gematria is the same:
|The darkness lights the night||הַחֹשֶׁךְ וַיָּאֶר אֶת־הַלָּיְלָה||1031|
|Treasure of darkness||אוֹצְרוֹת חֹשֶׁךְ||1031|
The third verse alludes to the final redemption, in that the waters are divided. The concept of sea is concealment in that all living beings in the sea are invisible to the eyes, and the concept of land is revelation in that all the living beings in the land is visible to the eyes. The gematria of sea יָּם is 50, which is the secret of the 50 gates of understanding, the level of knowledge man can only attain in the next world, for there is no more sea in the new heaven and new earth (Rev 21:1), when God dwells with man on earth in the new light.
The gematria of “the sea” הַיָּם is 55, when this level of knowledge of God (26) is attained: 55 x 26 = 1430, which is exactly the gematria of the next verse, as follows:
|And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground (Ex 14:22)||וַיָּבאֹוּ בְנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּתוֹךְ הַיָּם, בַּיַּבָּשָׁה||1430|