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.

See also:
Desperately Seeking YHWH: Finding God in Esther's "Acrostics" by Laurence A Turner for an in-depth analysis.


Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Angelic Misunderstanding

By Jonathan Lipnick

Angels are found hundreds of times throughout the Bible, and yet there is a great deal of confusion surrounding them. The typical angelic image that many of us have consists of a beautiful creature adorned with wings and a halo of light. But this celestial being is really the creation of Renaissance artists and is quite removed from the Bible’s image of an angel. So what does the Bible really say about angels?

The Hebrew Bible uses the word malakh מלאך to refer to an angel. The root of this word is לאך which means “going back and forth”. Implied is the fact that this is hard work; giving rise to another Hebrew word, melacha מלאכה, meaning “physical labor”. An angel is a messenger who tirelessly goes back and forth delivering information. The God of Israel frequently employs angels as intermediaries who shuttle between heaven and earth.

Related blog entry:
Who was the Interceding Angel?


Monday, March 07, 2016

The Hebrew Name of Eve

Adam named his wife Eve, because she was to become the mother of everyone living.
Genesis 3:20

By Yakov Rosenberg

The sound of “e” in “Eve” obscures the true meaning of Eve’s Hebrew given name. The Hebrew name חַוָּה (chava) has a root connection to the verb לחיות (lichyot) “to live” and to words such as חַי (chai) and חַיִּים (chayim) communicating the idea of “life”. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to call Adam’s woman חַוָּה (chava), because one day she will become the mother of “all the living” כָּל־חָי (kol chai).

Eve’s original name, אִשָּׁה (isha) (Gen. 2:23), means “woman” in Hebrew. Generally, it is considered to be the feminine form of the Hebrew word for “man”, אִיש (ish). However, the real root which אִשָּׁה (isha) derives from is different from its male counterpart. The root comes from A.N.SH. (א.נ.ש) and means fragileness and delicacy. [In Hebrew, “a mortal man” is אנוש (enohsh), as seen in the NWT.] Interestingly, the word “fire”, אֵשׁ (esh) also resonates in this beautifully complex name for “woman” in the Bible.

See also:
How Adam got his name

Paradise Pets by Margaret Keane.