The Hebrew Alphabet that is employed in the oldest extant Biblical texts has its origins in the proto-Canaanite alphabet which appeared (as far as linguistic scholars can detect) to the time of the Biblical patriarch Abraham in the 19th century BC. After about 1050 BC this same writing system is referred to as the Phoenician alphabet. This 22 letter phonetic alphabet was considered an remarkable advancement and adaptation of much earlier writing systems that represented words , phrases, numbers, or concepts as small pictures or hieroglyphs. Joel Hoffman Ph.D. provides a fascinating overview of this subject in his book, “In the Beginning: A Short History of the Hebrew Language.”
It is important to remember that each of the 22 “letters” in the both the Hebrew alphabet and its Phoenician predecessor are merely pictures or glyphs, simplified stylistically for ease of scribal transmission. Hebrew words are formed by combining two and three letter-symbol ‘roots’ which are in turn composed of the concepts expressed by the individual letter glyphs. Linguists can discern the original hieroglyphic meaning of each of the letter symbols by analyzing their contextual usage across a broad sampling of early texts and inscriptions.
The system of employing Hebrew letters as number values was inherited from Phoenician scripts and also employed in ancient Greek. One of the earliest extant examples of paleo- Hebrew letters used to represent numbers is the famous “Samaria Ostraca”, currently held in the collection of the Istanbul Archaeology Museum. These “ostraca” (broken pottery pieces) are examples of accounting ledgers dated to about 850 BC. Of course the earliest Hebrew Biblical manuscripts use letters to express all numeric ideas, including specific dates. There is no evidence to suggest that the original Torah of Moses varied from this system.
The advantage of a alphabetic system that gives each letter triple duty (phonetic, numeric, and hieroglyphic), as does Biblical Hebrew, is that such a system provides the potential to compact information and communicate on multiple levels simultaneously. A Torah scroll is a portable device just like a modern flash-drive or CD disk. The Chamberlain Key presents a perfect proof of concept model to demonstrate that this potential is not merely a theoretical possibility but rather an empirical fact. The earliest Biblical texts have been treasured as the literal words of God by billions of people for over three thousand years. If this is true then the notion that these records would be designed and composed in any sort of constrained and limited fashion makes little common sense. As we observe all of God’s created work around us, life in all of its marvel and complexity, multi-layered and faceted, why would we expect His word to be any less marvelous?
God’s written language for all living things is the multi-faceted sequence code we call DNA. It is a code that functions on a quantum level. Each quantum bit, or qubit, is the simplest unit of quantum information. Massive amounts of information (bits) are compacted into every living cell and provide the precise instructions (The Law… The Rules…The Torah) to enable the endless regeneration of all life; that all orders and species could be fruitful and multiple after their own kind. We understand that the words of God are the words of life unto humankind. Each Hebrew letter in The Torah “is the simplest unit of quantum information” and provides the same communication potential.
Is information (intelligent communication from God) really ‘hidden’ below the surface of the open text of the ancient Hebrew texts? Is our own DNA code really “hidden” within our cells? Just because something cannot be seen with our naked eye or perceived by our limited understanding….does it mean that God has “hidden” it? God’s marvelous and infinite creation is not limited to our cramped and finite perception of it.
It’s exciting to know there is yet much more all around us in creation to “discover”…and so too in the words of God.
|Hebrew Letter||Letter Name & Numeric Value||Meaning of the Letter|
|Aleph = 1||Order / Strength / Leader / Ox / Adonai|
|Bet = 2||House / Tent/ Family/ Household/ Within|
|Gimel = 3||Lifting Up / Pride / Self Will|
|Dalet = 4||A Door / A Path / Movement / Way of Life|
|Hey = 5||Behold / To Show / Reveal|
|Vaw = 6||Nailed / Nailed To / Hook / Peg / Secure|
|Zayin = 7||Sword /Axe / Weapon / To Cut /To Pierce|
|Cheth = 8||A Chamber / Inner Room / To Protect / Fenced Off|
|Tet = 9||A Snake / Coiling / Twisting / Surrounding|
|Yod = 10||In The Hand / A Finished Work / A Deed Done|
|Kaph = 20||A Wing / Open Hand / To Allow / To Supress|
|Lamed = 30||To Control / A Goad / Urge Forward|
|Mem = 40||Chaos / The Deep / Water / Massive|
|Nun = 50||Offspring / Descendant / Heir / To Sprout / Fish|
|Samekh = 60||A Staff / A Support / Aid / Assistance|
|Ayin = 70||The Eye / Look / Appearance / Fountain / To Understand|
|Phe = 80||A Mouth / Speak / An Opening / An Entrance / Beginning/Here|
|Tsadhe= 90||A Hook / To Pull Toward / Harvest / To Hunt|
|Koph = 100||Behind / Back of the Head / Final/ The Least|
|Resh = 200||A Head / A Person / Most Important / Chief|
|Shin = 300||Teeth / Ivory / Point / A Rock / A Point / Sharp|
|Tava = 400||The Mark / The Cross / The Sign / Seal / Covenant|