Tamarajo is an avid Bible scholar who loves nothing more than seeking out the treasures in God's Word and sharing them with others.
My favorite Biblical studies center around the ancient Hebraic roots of the Christian faith. Hebrew word studies, and the pictographs they contain, can sometimes give us a more detailed and in-depth view of Biblical concepts.
There are a total of 22 letters in the Hebrew Aleph-Bet. This article will study the third set of three letters in their pictograph form. They are "zayin", "chet", and "tet". These also present a unified lesson as it concerns the character of God.
Before we continue, please note that the words with Hebrew fonts should read from right to left. Knowing Hebrew won't be necessary, but it is helpful to know the directional aspect when describing the letter's position within the word. When the first letter is mentioned, it will be the letter beginning on the right, and the last letter will be on the left.
It is also important to note that the fonts I am using in this article are modern Hebrew ones developed during the Babylonian captivity and are used in Israel today. In their most ancient form, these letters were actual images of the pictographs we will be studying.
Additionally, at the end of each section, there will be a video that furthers the lesson about each letter. The videos are produced by Jewish Jewels Ministries and hosted by Dr. Danny Ben-Gigi, a former Hebrew professor at Arizona State University.
The seventh letter of the Hebrew Aleph-Bet is "zayin" (ז) and is a picture of a tool or inscribing instrument. It is closely connected with the idea of memory.
Our memories form through chemical tools that inscribe information and experiences into our hearts and minds, much like an engraving tool does with stone.
This idea of inscribing is an intriguing connection related to the tablets of stone on which God wrote His instructions and His commands for us to remember.
Remember His covenant forever,
The word which He commanded, for a thousand generations . . .
— I Chronicles 16:15
The very first letter of the Hebrew word for "remember" (zakar-זָכַר) is "zayin" (ז).
This letter reminds us that not only are we to remember His covenant but that He is a God who remembers and is faithful to His covenant.
“Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget,Yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me.
— Isaiah 49:15-16
God remembering His covenant is mentioned about ten times in the Bible.
He remembers His covenant forever,The word which He commanded, for a thousand generations . . .
— Psalm 105:8
At times, how easily we forget, but God always remembers and is faithful to His promises.
Memory and Music
"Zayin" is also, interestingly, the first letter of a word most frequently translated "sing" which is "zamar" (זָמַר). It is, more accurately, defined as a musical instrument with the idea of striking or plucking.
Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praise (זָמַר-pluck) upon the harp unto our God:
— Psalm 147:7
In terms of our experience, music is an excellent tool for memorization. Most of us learned to memorize the alphabet by singing it. These highly repetitive tunes create neuropathways that assist in embedding these words into our hearts and minds.
It is a tool that can also assist us in remembering God and His goodness, as the Psalmists frequently do in the book of Psalms. The word "remember" is given almost 50 mentions in this book, and the word "sing" is noted nearly 60 times.
Psalm 119 is alphabetic, meaning each section is titled with a letter of the Hebrew Aleph-Bet, and each line of that section begins with that particular letter. I will end this section with the "zayin' section of this Psalm that pulls these concepts together nicely. Both God's remembering and ours are noted, as well as the use of the word "song."
Remember the word to Your servant,
Upon which You have caused me to hope.
This is my comfort in my affliction,
For Your word has given me life.
The proud have me in great derision,
Yet I do not turn aside from Your law.
I remembered Your judgments of old, O Lord,
And have comforted myself.
Indignation has taken hold of me
Because of the wicked, who forsake Your law.
Your statutes have been my songs
In the house of my pilgrimage.
I remember Your name in the night, O Lord,
And I keep Your law.
This has become mine,
Because I kept Your precepts.
— Psalm 119:49-56
"Chet" (חָ) is represented by the image of a fence, Hedge, or wall and carries the idea of surrounding and protecting. The Hebrew word translated "encamps" in the Scripture verse below begins with a "chet" (חָ).
The angel of the Lord encamps (chanah-חָנָה) all around those who fear Him, And delivers them.
— Psalm 34:7
"Chet "(חָ) also includes the concept of embracing. This next biblical reference is from the Song of Solomon. This Biblical book has been noted by scholars to depict the lover of our souls. And again, the word "embrace" begins with a "chet" (חָ).
His left hand is under my head,And his right hand embraces (חָבַק) me.
— Song of Solomon 2:6
"Chet " can express friendship in terms of an exclusive relationship, which we see in the idea of a fence as well. A fence keeps one's property exclusive.
You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.
— John 15:14
In Jesus's prayer for His disciples, he does not include the world. He prays for those with whom He is in an exclusive relationship.
“I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.
— John 17:9
I don't believe that this implies that God does not love the rest of the world because the Bible clearly, tells us otherwise.
God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
— John 3:16-17
It is God's will that "all would come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). However, I think that the above-described prayer was prayed for those who had chosen to respond to His call by coming into a relationship with Him and humbly receiving His grace.
"Chet" also links with a strong sense of covenant relationship in terms of exclusivity and our response to Him. He calls "His people" "to come out from among them and be separate" (2 Corinthians 6:17)
We see here the terms of covenant revealing mutual exclusivity.
I am my beloved’s, And my beloved is mine.
— Song of Solomon 6:3
Another concept in the image of this letter, and its pictograph meaning, is God's graciousness and compassion, which fits with the ideas of surrounding embracing and protecting.
. . . He is gracious, and full of compassion . . .
— Psalm 112:4
The word grace, which encompasses the concept of God's favor, also begins with the letter "chet" (חָ).
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord will give grace (חֵן) and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.
— Psalm 84:11
The Hebrew word many times translated "compassion" also contains the letter "chet" (חָ), only this time the "chet" is in the middle of the word.
But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion (רַחוּם), and gracious,
Longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.
— Psalm 86:15
Chet's position in the center, or heart of the word, symbolizes that being embraced and surrounded by God is at the heart of His compassion for us. This letter's position also agrees with the connectedness of another Hebrew word spelled the same, which is the word "womb." A mother's womb is descriptive of God's loving compassion towards us. Like God's love for us, the womb surrounds, protects, and embraces us.
The letter "chet" is God's gracious favor and friendship embracing and surrounding those who choose to enter into a covenant relationship with Jesus, the Savior of men's souls, through the forgiveness of sin. He made this possible with His blood.
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.
— Ephesians 1:7
Stay inside the Fence
The term transgression and or trespass implies that a boundary has been crossed. The limits are God's covenant will and law. It is consequential if we set foot outside the protective walls or fence of the covenant and set foot into the enemy territory.
Job experiences this territorial reality when God lifts the fence from him at Satan's accusation and illustrates this concept for us.
Satan claims that Job only loves God because God keeps him in the fence,
Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side?
— Job 1:10
The test is not because of Job's transgression but as a test to draw out Job's faith in an innocent suffering savior who would later redeem all who would come to Him by faith.
A snake represents the Hebrew letter "tet" (ט). It also refers to something coiled and associated with the concept of "good." Relatedly, "tet" is the first letter of the Hebrew word for good. You might be wondering what could, possibly, be "good" about a snake. The snake has the unique ability to distinguish its environment with its tongue.
Distinguishing, as a snake does, encompasses a characteristic of God in agreement with its ability to judge.
For God Himself is Judge
— Psalm 50
Distinguishing is predominantly what a judge does. He distinguishes between good and evil and issues the reward for good or bad.
. . . consider the goodness and severity of God . . .
— Romans 11:22
When we experience God's judgment, it is always in view of His mercy, as seen in the previous letter "chet." His intention is not to destroy us but to drive us back home to His goodness.
My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor detest His correction For whom the Lord loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights.
— Proverbs 3:11-12
We can always feel blessed in the judgment of God when it comes to the unfairness of this world in which we live. Jesus trusted the Father's judgment, and we follow His example.
When he was insulted, he did not reply with insults. When he suffered, he did not threaten revenge. Instead, he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.
— I Peter 2:23
"Tet" invites us to judge and discern God as well.
. . . taste (judge and discern) and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
— Psalm 34:8
The Hebrew word for "taste," as is used above, is "ta'am" (טָעַם) and it also begins with a "tet" (ט).
In Conclusion, I can't help but think of the book of Deuteronomy, which sums up these three letters. In the Book of Deuteronomy, the Ten Commandments are "inscribed" on stone tablets. "Zayin," the engraving tool, is about remembering. Deuteronomy is a book of remembrance with the word "remember" being used 14 times.
In the Book of Deuteronomy, the terms of the covenant relationship are outlined in the commandments. The commandments reveal what happens if the children of Israel choose to stay within the "fence" (chet) of the covenant relationship through obedience to the laws and terms. It also includes the consequence of setting foot outside of the covenantal fence through disobedience, as shown in the blessings and curses or "judgments" (tet) in Chapter 28, to which He calls us to "discern" (tet) for ourselves and choose.
I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.
— Deuteronomy 30:19
He has not forgotten (zayin) His covenant of mercy (chet) towards us in Christ and has judged (tet) us righteous in Him.
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
— II Corinthians 5:21
We are not to forget Him.
. . . do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today.
— Deuteronomy 8:11
. . . and what God has done for us.
“Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
— I Corinthians 11:24
© 2012 Tamarajo