Sunday, March 20, 2016

Esther's Acrostic Secret

By Malka Kotzer
This week Jews around the world celebrate the festival of Purim. This holiday commemorates the deliverance of the Jews from the genocidal edict of Haman, the grand Persian vizier, as recorded in the biblical Book of Esther. Esther must hide her religion in order to gradually rise up through the royal hierarchy, getting closer to the king so that she may save her people from Haman. This Biblical book is particularly unusual because there is no explicit mention of God anywhere.

When Queen Esther found out that Haman wanted to kill all the Jews in the Persian Empire, she began her plan by saying: “let the king and Haman come today to a banquet that I have prepared for the king.” (Esther 5:4). Now, look carefully at the original Hebrew text:

"יָבוֹא הַמֶּלֶךְ וְהָמָן הַיּוֹם, אֶל-הַמִּשְׁתֶּה אֲשֶׁר-עָשִׂיתִי לו"

The first four letters of the first four words form together the Hebrew name of God: י-ה-ו-ה (Y-H-W-H). We see that in the most critical moment of Esther’s plan, God is present after all.

The above Tetragrammaton acrostic is one of four, together with a fifth on the divine identification at Exodus 3:14. As the “All Scripture Is Inspired of God and Beneficial” book says on page 91:

While it is true that God is not directly mentioned, in the Hebrew text there appear to be four separate instances of an acrostic of the Tetragrammaton, the initial letters of four successive words, spelling out YHWH (Hebrew, יהוה), or Jehovah. These initials are made especially prominent in at least three ancient Hebrew manuscripts and are also marked in the Masora by red letters. Also, at Esther 7:5 there is apparently an acrostic on the divine pronouncement “I shall prove to be.”—See [NWT-Ref] footnotes on Esther 1:20; 5:4, 13; 7:7, as well as Esther 7:5.
Aside from the example in Esther 5:4, these acrostics appear to be randomly implemented on the text (that is, the texts by themselves do not seem to be special). Also, there is another Tetragrammaton acrostic found at Psalm 96:11, as noted in the NWT-Ref footnote, and at 1 Chronicles 16:31.

Titular Tetragrammaton acrostic?
Some have claimed that the inscription on the “Titulus Crucis,” the “sign on the crux,” as recorded in John 19:19-20 has a seventh Tetragrammaton acrostic. This was written in Hebrew: “Jesus the Nazarene the King of the Jews.” For this to work, it would have to have been written as “Yeshua HaNazarei WMelech HaYehudim.” However, the word “and” (W) was not there but “the” (H for ha), breaking the supposed Tetragrammaton acrostic.