Facets of God Displayed in the Hebrew Aleph-Bet: Zayin, Chet, and Tet
This is the third part of a series looking at how the ancient Hebrew letter pictographs reveal facets of God's character. There is nothing in God's Word that is without significance even the letters of God's Words confirm and reiterate the truths shown to us in the Scriptures.
The first three letters "Aleph" (ox-strength), "bet" (house-family), and "gimel" (camel -bestower of benefits) showed us the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each of these representing the strong Father (aleph-ox), the builder Son (bet-home), and humble resurrecting Holy Spirit (gimel-camel) the bestower of benefits who fills the house.
The next three letters "dalet" (door-entrance), "hey" (window-revelation), and "vav" (nail-establish) are all part of a home, which was the main topic of the first three letters in building a home and family through a son. Jesus is shown 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
Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.
— Psalm 90:1
This installment will study the next three letters of the Hebrew aleph-bet, zayin, chet, and tet. These, also, present a unified lesson as it concerns the character of God.
The videos following each section are teachings that further the pictograph understanding of each letter. They are done by Jewish Jewels and hosted by Dr. Danny BenGigi, former professor of Hebrew at Arizona State University.
"Zayin" is a Tool
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 are formed through chemical tools that inscribe information and experiences into our hearts and minds much like an engraving tool does with stone.
This is an interesting connection in relation to the tablets of stone on which God's instructions were written and His command 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
How easily at times 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) but 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 a great tool of 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. "Remember" is given almost 50 mentions in this book and "sing" almost 60.
Psalm 119 is actually an alphabetic Psalm, meaning each section is headed 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" is a Fence
God is a Reliable Fence of Protection and Full of Grace and Compassion
"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 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 which has been noted 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 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 that...
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
I sincerely believe that it is His will that "All would come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). I do think, however, that these specific prayers were prayed for those who had chosen to respond to His call by coming into relationship with Him.
"Chet" also comes with a strong sense of covenant relationship in terms of this 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 that is contained in the image of this letter and its pictograph meaning is the graciousness and compassion of God which is so fitting 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 also agrees with the connectedness of another Hebrew word spelled exactly the same which is the word "womb". In another study "Mercy and the Womb" I described how a mothers womb is descriptive of Gods 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 own blood.
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace
— Ephesians 1:7
Stay in the Fence
The term transgression and or trespass implies that a boundary has been crossed. The boundaries are God's covenant will and law. If we set foot outside the protective walls or fence of the covenant and set foot in enemy territory it is consequential.
Job experiences this territorial reality when God lifts the fence from him at Satan's accusation and illustrates this concept for us.
Satan makes a claim 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.
"Tet" is a Snake that Distinguises Its Environment
God is Distinguishably Good
The Hebrew letter "tet" (ט) is represented by a snake or simply something coiled and can be 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. As described in another article titled "Give Thanks to YHWH For He is Good" 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
This is mainly 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 really 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 we live in. Jesus trusted the Father's judgment as we are called to 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. The Ten Commandments are "inscribed" on tablets of stone. "Zayin", which was about remembering. Deuteronomy is known as a book of remembrance with the word remember being used 14 times in it.
In the Book of Deuteronomy, the terms of the covenant relationship are set forth in these commandments by revealing 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 of it. Also, 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
may we not 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 He 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
Stay tuned for part four of this series that will include "yod" (working hand), "caph" (cupped palm of the hand), and "lamed" (shepherd staff)
© 2012 Tamarajo