Facets of God Displayed in the Hebrew Aleph-Bet: Yod, Caph, and Lamed
This is the fourth part of a series viewing the ancient Hebrew letter pictographs in context of how they reveal facets of God's character. There is nothing in God's Word that is without significance even the letters of His Words confirm and reiterate the truths shown to us in the Scriptures.
"Dalet", "hey", and "vav" declared Jesus as the way (dalet-door), the light of our World (hey-window) and our eternal security (vav-nail) that secured our salvation through His death on the cross. These three show us the home
"Zayin", "chet", and "tet" revealed God as one who remembers (zayin-inscribing tool) His covenant and embraces and surrounds us within the fence (chet-fence) of His mercy and grace and who is our righteous judge (tet-snake). These present God as our government of commitment, love, and justice.
It appears that all of these revelations are invitational and reciprocal should we desire and choose to be in a relationship with Him.
This is the fourth installment in this series that will examine the letters "yod", "caph", and "lamed" along with their pictograph meanings as they apply to God's character.
"Yod" is a Working Hand
God's Works are Great
"Yod" (י") is a picture of a hand and forearm indicating God's power as evidenced by His Works. Hand muscles are indeed powerful.
"The muscles which power the fingers are strong - strong enough for some people to climb vertical surfaces supporting their entire weight at times by a few fingertips."
These make hands a great metaphor for God's powerful works.
For You, Lord, have made me glad through Your work; I will triumph in the works of Your hands. O Lord, how great are Your works!
— Psalm 92:4-5
His Works are Skillful
Hands are not only known to do powerful work but they are also noted for works of intricate detail tasks as well.
‘Your hands have made me and fashioned me, An intricate unity...
— Job 10:8a
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
— Psalm 139:14-15
"Yod" can also denote possession. We seize and possess things with our hands
Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, The power and the glory, The victory and the majesty; For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, And You are exalted as head over all...In Your hand is Power and might
— I Chronicles 29:11,12
What does this mean to us personally and practically?
His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue
— II Peter 1:3
He Shares His Power With Us
That same power that created all things, that same outstretched arm that delivered the children of Israel from bondage, that same power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at the right hand of God (position of power) is toward us
...and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenlyplaces
— Ephesians 1:19-22
Paul prays that we would be strengthened by His Power.
strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy
— Colossians 1:11
"The divine power is the power God used in raising Christ from the dead and that same power is available to the church"
— Nelson Study Bible Notes
Paul prays that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power that is at work in us
Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
— Hebrews 13: 20-21
"Caph" is a Cupped Hand or Palm
God is Well Able and Sufficient
"Caph" (כ) is the picture of a cupped palm or hand and speaks of God being, capable and containing all that we need. The hands in the cupped position illustrate giving and receiving.
You open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing
— Psalm 145
In terms of God's ability and all sufficiency, both Hebrew words for "capable" and "all" begin with the letter "caph" (כֹּ) and as we will see are used together frequently in the scriptures.
“Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, worship, magnify, and glorify the king of heaven. All (כֹּל ) his works are truth, all (כֹּל ) his paths are justice, and he is able (caph) to humble all who walk in pride.”
— Daniel 4:37
"Yod" and "Caph" Work Together
In this next verse, we can see how God's ability that is connected with the concept of "caph", is also linked with His power (yod) which we looked at with the previous letter pictograph.
Now to Him who is able (caph) to do exceedingly abundantly above all (caph) that we ask or think, according to the power (Yod) that works in us
— Ephesians 3:20
This letter speaks of God's ability and sufficiency. El Shaddai, the God who is enough, is well able to provide everything we need.
And God is able (caph) to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency (caph) in all (caph) things, may have an abundance for every good work (yod).
— II Corinthians 9:8
"Caph" also has been noted to come with the concept of a wing with the idea of something that covers.
He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
— Psalm 91:4
In apalms faced down position "caph" shows us that we can take refuge and be covered by the One who is capable and all sufficient.
Deliver me from mine enemies, O Jehovah, Near Thee I am covered
— Psalm 143:9
"Lamed" is a Shepherd Staff
God is our Shepherd Leader
"Lamed" (ל) is the twelfth letter of the Hebrew Aleph-Bet and is represented by a shepherds staff and shows us God as our leader, teacher, and instructor. "Lamed" is actually the Hebrew word for teaching as well.
The humble He guides in justice, And the humble He teaches (lamed) His way.
— Psalm 25:9
Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, The Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, Who teaches (lamed) you to profit, Who leads you by the way you should go
— Isaiah 48:17
I will instruct you and teach (lamed) you in the way you should go;I will guide you with My eye
— Psalm 32:8
In the gospel accounts we frequently see Jesus being referred to as a teacher and is often translated rabbi or rabboni. The Bible also references Him as the Good, Great, and Chief Shepherd.
A shepherd staff is also known as a symbol of authority that is also connected with the concept of teaching,
the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority
— Matthew 7:28,29
It is also interesting that the letter "lamed" is the twelfth letter of the Hebrew aleph-bet. The number twelve in Scripture represents divine government and authority on the earth carrying the concept of kingdom. There were...
- twelve patriarchs from Noah to Jacob,
- twelve tribes of Israel,
- twelve disciples and apostles,
- twelve legions of angels (Matthew 26:53) and finally the
- twelve foundations in the New Jerusalem structure shown in Revelation chapter 22 representing the final and eternal rule and reign of God over all who are His. All these are representative and showing the progression of God establishing His Kingdom.
The familiar Psalm 23 gives us an excellent picture of the Lord our Shepherd using the illustration of rod and staff in its depiction God's guidance through life. I encourage you to Recite it to yourself, read it or meditate on it.
There also is an excellent book I highly recommend that can be obtained free online titled "A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23" by W. Phillip Keller that parallels the attributes of God with interesting methods used by shepherds. The author relates them with the scriptural examples of the Lord our Shepherd. Just type the title in your preferred browser.
Our response to the Shepherd is to respond to His call to follow and obey His voice.
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
— John 10:27
In conclusion, we see in these three letters representing Gods (yod-ability), (caph-power), and (lamed-authority) are obviously related concepts. Without power and or ability there is no authority.
Jesus' reveals His authority in His prelude to the great commission.
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All (caph) authority (lamed) has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
— Matthew 28:18
Putting all of these letters together we can conclude that He has all power, ability, and therefore authority.
Jesus once again invites us to participate in who He is, partake of what He has, and share it with whomever He would have us.
Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
— Luke 10:19
We have been given His authority (lamed) which is backed by His power (yod) and ability (caph) working in us to do His will.
Stay tuned for part five of this series which will examine the Hebrew letters and their pictograph concepts as they concern the qualities and characteristics of God. These are "mem" (water), "noon" (fish or seed), and "Samech" (crutch).
© 2012 Tamarajo