One of the numerous complexities of written Hebrew is that each phonetic and numerated letter also bears a hieroglyphic ideogram, or symbol. This added dimension enhances the communicative possibility of any message written in Hebrew. In the case of the “Timotheus” encryption, this symbolic wrinkle introduces much more nuanced interrelations when composed in a chiastic array.
The conjunctions are easily identifiable. The snake coils around the staff. The labor of the hand is repaid with the betrayal of the spike. Chaos is reconciled by order. The hand is spiked again. Conclusively, centrally, the amassed allusions are coordinated by the sign. This associative symbolic grouping encapsulates both Old Testament prophecy and New Testament testimony. They positively identify and define the function of the Redeemer.
The intertwined snake and staff jointly represent the unmistakable signature of God’s supreme power, as Aaron’s staff transforms into a serpent which then devours the competing serpents. Accordingly, Jesus speaks the following:
“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” [John 3:14-15]
The chaos of water, mem, is reconciled by the authoritative order of God, aleph. In the Torah, God repeatedly repurposes water as a means of reclaiming order. Though the flood is a response to unprecedented wickedness, God preserves Noah – a blameless man living in a corrupt time. Moses’s life is saved by way of the Nile in response to Pharaoh’s infanticide. In John’s Revelation, the serpent that “spewed water like a river” and other destructive entities are eventually countered by the seven bowls of water, God’s wrath. Wickedness, or moral chaos, can be cleansed. A notion reiterated by the ritual of baptism. Jesus answered:
“Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” [John 3:5-6]
From a Torah context, the doubly-spiked hand could refer to the interchange of betrayal between Jacob and Laban: Laban cheats Jacob. And then Jacob cheats Laban. This interpretation is especially apt when taking into consideration the other connotation of the tent spike. Laban cheated Jacob in order to restrain Jacob, to keep him pinned down. Additionally, the prophet Isaiah duplicates the image of the peg, first – driven, second – giving way and sheared off:
“I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I will drive him like a peg into a firm place; he will become a seat of honor for the house of his father. All the glory of his family will hang on him: its offspring and offshoots—all its lesser vessels, from the bowls to all the jars. ‘In that day,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘the peg driven into the firm place will give way; it will be sheared off and will fall, and the load hanging on it will be cut down.’ The Lord has spoken.” [Isaiah 22:22-25]
The New Testament rendering of the twice-spiked hand produces a difficult-to-deny portent of the crucifixion:
“The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” [John 3:35-36]
The sign resides in the center of the Timotheus chiasmus. The center of the Vayetze chiasmus is Rachel’s redemption in the form of giving birth to Joseph, a sign that God listened to Rachel and remembered her – that God was with her. In the Gospel of John, Nicodemus, speaking to Jesus, states, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” [John 3:2]. The most vital significance of the sign, though, harkens back to God’s covenant with Noah. God promises to rescue life from his wrath and from their moral self-destruction. Jesus’s birth signifies a renewal of this covenant: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” [Luke 2:11-12]
The spiritual decline of Israel detailed by Jeremiah dramatizes the urgent need for a Messiah; an incarnate manifestation emerging from a semantic template – of snake and staff, chaos and order, betrayal and redemption, and sign. These are collectively recognizable as the superlative symmetry of Jesus, sinless, dying to provide eternal life for a sinful community. Old and New Testament references and imagery complement the information conveyed by the Timotheus chiasmus so blatantly, and in a similar chiastic demeanor, that it suggests that someone at the time of Christ was aware of the Timotheus encryption itself.
“Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” [John 4:48]