Numbers in Hebrew

Hebrew numerals are a unique system that uses the Hebrew alphabet, dating back to 800 BCE. Let’s jump right in!

The Number Zero

Within the Hebrew numbering system, there is not a single notation for the number zero. However, there is a modern Hebrew word for it – “efes.” In the Bible, the number zero represents the divine nature of God. It is because you’d think you can substitute the word “no” to mean nothing, but the Hebrew letter for saying “no” is “lo”. What happens is “lo” needs to be spelled with the letters Lamed and Aleph. If you were to reverse them, the letters spell out “El”, which is another way to say God. Instead, zero is represented by the term unknowable.

Numeric Values Under the Hebrew System

Since Hebrew numbers correlate with their alphabet, each letter is added together with a numeric value. As a result, you get both letter and number symbolism. In terms of common numbers, the Hebrew language names all numbers from one to a million. Each number tells a different story, so let’s take a look at the first 10 Hebrew numbers. By looking through the numbers one through 10, we can figure out what each of them represents.

Hebrew Numbers #1-10

Let’s start with one, which is the first number. The associated Hebrew letter is Aleph, with a pictographic message of strength. You can refer to this number as Echad. It is a particularly important number, especially when you deliver prayers stating “God is One”.

The second number is two, with the Hebrew alphabet of Beht. Meanwhile, the pictographic script shows a house or tent, which showcases God intending to expand His house. Two is a reflection of one, akin to one’s eyes and ears. As a result, two is also a number of divisions.

Three is represented by the Hebrew alphabet Gimel and uses a pictograph of ripening or nourishment. Four uses the Hebrew letter Dalet, along with a pictograph of a door, signaling dominion or a gateway to heaven. Five has the Hebrew alphabet Hey, while its pictograph is represented by air, breath, and spirit.

Six correlates with connection and relationships. The letter it uses is vav, while the pictograph is a hook that keeps something connected. Seven is a holy number and represents such. It uses the letter Zayin with a pictograph of a weapon, typically a sword, to signal completeness. Eight literally means to make something fat. Rather than represent completeness like seven, eight means to be satiated. The eighth letter is Chet, while the pictograph is a wall that protects.

Nine is the last singular digit, but also the largest. It’s a representation of judgment, as well as the duality of good and evil. It uses the letter Tet, with a pictograph of a serpent-like creature. The snake itself refers to the story of Adam and Eve, given the importance of good and evil. Nine can also represent the cycle of birth. 10 is divine order, otherwise known as the complete measure of blessings or judgments. The Hebrew letter it uses is Yohd, with a pictograph of a hand.

Importance of Numbers Within Judaism

As you can see, Hebrew numbers use letters to great symbolic effect. Many stories within the Bible correlate with the significance of these numbers. For example, two can represent two of every animal in the Ark since the Hebrew letter also uses a house pictograph. Since Noah’s Ark was a house that protected the animals, Hebrew numbers are clever in this regard.

The reason for the storytelling aspect of Hebrew numbers is to understand the intentions of the divine fully. In fact, it led to the invention of the Tabernacle, which is a dwelling place for the Israelites during Exodus. The Tabernacle uses numbers to great effect in its rectangular design. The entire layout has specific measurements that need to be accounted for. Thanks to Hebrew numbers, this task is made easier.

Hebrew numbers showcase the relationship between man and God. It’s even used as evidence of Biblical code within the Torah itself. No matter how you approach Hebrew numbers, it represents divine intentions for humankind. Take the time to study the material and see if you can find significance within your own experiences.

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