Hello, Shalom and 93,
I’m Bethsheba Ashe, and I’m the author of ‘Behold. The Art and Practice of Gematria. I’m also the creator of the popular online Gematria Calculator ‘Shematria.com and the Shematria Gematria Bible. In the last few years I’ve been working on understanding the way that gematria was used in a formal system of mathematics in both the Tanakh and the Christian cannon. Today, I’d like to reflect upon how my research is being received in societies.
It’s interesting to me because the knowledge that a great deal of mathematics was written into the bible forces a paradigm shift, and the effect of any paradigm shift upon humanity is always fascinating. It throws up a myriad of reflections that tend to be more about the self-image of societies rather than the quality and value of the new paradigm. A paradigm shift therefore, is a sort of mirror, at least while it is shifting. After a shift has occurred this mirror goes away, and it is what it is, and we think – obviously things have always been this way but in earlier times we just failed to recognize it for what it is.
This gives the illusion that society advances in knowledge over time, but that ignores the fact that, no matter how good our educators and historians are, there are always bits of pieces of knowledge that are being lost in society. We have written things in the past in dead languages and writing scripts that we cannot decipher at this time. There were practices, both common and rare, that were done in the past that are currently redundant and we just don’t know how they were done. We’re left guessing. The best we can do is try to reverse engineer these things – discovering the systematic principles which govern them by analysis of them.
Gematria is a special case in point; no-one does rhetoric mathematics anymore. The most recent writer of gematria texts was Aleister Crowley. He started writing with it over a hundred and eighteen years ago in Liber Al vel Legis, using a transliterated version of the main biblical gematria cipher. His ability to analyze the biblical practice of gematria was (however) limited by the technology of his day. But its 2022 now, and because we have the ability to create gematria calculators, and keep databases, and to bring up an interlinear Bible in seconds, I’ve been able to firm up our knowledge of gematria as a practice of ancient mathematics. If there was ever an opportune time to rediscover all the calculations made by biblical writers, this is it. We get to make an attempt to interpret biblical works by it, and integrate the almonds of the orchard into a holistic understanding (PaRDeS).
Knowledge (da’ath) is one thing, but it is useless without understanding (binah), and only from knowledge and understanding may there be wisdom (chokmah) so that we may foster a space for the kether of divine consciousness, by which we intuit the presence of God within our being, and everywhere, at every time in our experience of life.
Naturally, the mysticism that was inherent to the study of the alphabet in biblical times, can still be a potent tool for modern day mystics, and it has a cloak of privacy about it. One may understand, but that is not to say we might write like the sages or be capable of a grand public exegesis. One may understand a matter, yet find it difficult to describe in words, or be completely disinclined to express your understanding in public, for whatever reason of habit and personal preference.
So… what is the state of the art today?
Apart from the distraction of the numerologists, there is a growing number of true gematraists out there. I’m no snoop, but when I look through the Shematria server logs I can see there are plenty of people working on the ancient system with the calculator. Eventually, some among them may use their understanding to exegete the Bible, or maybe even to write a new book or a new story using it. Eventually the garden will flower once more. Perhaps a paradigm shift is just the birth pangs of the new green shoot from the seed which reaches toward the Sun?