Saturday, October 31, 2009

Jesus the Aleph-Tav? (Genesis 1:1, Revelation 21:6)

A few people asked me about the nature of the errors in this video (mentioned in my last post and also viewable as a youtube video). The content of the video can also be found (more or less) in posts here and here. The basic thrust of this bizarre claim: Jesus is the logos (John 1:1), which must mean written word; Jesus is the Alpha and Omega (Rev 21:6), which is a translation from Hebrew of Jesus the Aleph and Tav; the Hebrew word et (את, aleph tav) is an untranslatable word found in Genesis 1:1; therefore Jesus' claim that he is the logos and the Alpha and Omega is actually a claim that his name is את and is written in Genesis 1:1.

Here is a sampling of the linguistic errors in the video:

1) Logos (λόγος) and rhema (ῥῆμα) no longer have the distinct meanings of "word as idea" and "spoken word" - they are mostly synonymous by the time of the NT (see BDAG or another reputable Greek dictionary).

2) The speaker claims that logos must mean "written word" - simply not true. Using BDAG or finding the occurrences of logos in the NT and LXX is a quick way to disprove this mistake.

3) Jesus likely spoke all three languages (Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek), although there is some debate on this (see Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, s.v. "Languages of Palestine" by M.O. Wise).

4) There is no evidence that Revelation is "spoken in Hebrew and written in Greek." If you are very familiar with both languages, you can recognize Greek that has been translated from Hebrew, as in the LXX or in the quotations of the OT in the NT. Those marks of "translation Greek" are not found in most of Revelation, except in the quotes and allusions to the OT.

5) The worst error: the Hebrew word et (את, aleph tav) is not at all "mysterious" or "untranslatable;" in fact, I remember learning its meaning during the second week of introductory Hebrew. It is a very common word used to identify the direct object (as well as a few other less common functions). English identifies the direct object by the noun's position in the sentence; languages like Greek, Latin and German identify the direct object by changing the ending of the noun; and Hebrew marks the direct object with the word את.
6) אֵת works roughly like our word "to" in the sense that it is very common (11,000 occurrences in the OT) and serves more of a grammatical function than a meaning function. If אֵת refers to the Messiah, then there are thousands of meaningless statements in the OT, like Gen 2:6 "a mist used to rise from the ground to water אֵת the whole surface of the ground" or Gen 10:8 "Cush fathered אֵת Nimrod..."

25 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting your very helpful refutation of the alef-tav video. Obviously, I'm on the same page as you in interpreting the video.

    On the other hand, I'm still trying to decide how to respond to this kind of thing (the video, not your blog!) and have started a discussion over at my blog. Let me know your thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Karyn has some useful questions/thoughts on whether and how we should respond to such things over on her blog, and I have added some comments to her post (see hyperlink in her comment above).

    BTW, in case it's not clear - my phrase "sniping at vat-bound ichthyoids" is not intended to be an insult at the gentleman on the video. I was about to write "shooting fish in a barrel" and then decided that was overused, so replaced it with a synonymous, but less hackneyed, phrase.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for this explication. I have some friends whose love for the word is extreme. Somehow they expect magical results with gematria - but they do not need them at all.

    Somewhat off the subject - but not exactly - you might enjoy some of the stories I wrote years ago about Eutychus - a few are published on my blog here. He is definitely a good fellow.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for your comments on the Hebrew word et and the Hebrew letters Alef and Tav. You are correct. There are a lot of misunderstandings about Hebrew on the Internet, and it's good that you have debunked some of them.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Your obvious arrogance has blinded you to the truth. I would not state that the individual in the youtube video expounded his case as accurately as he could. However, that does not disguise your obvious bias. Just as there is no evidence that revelation "is spoken in Hebrew and written in Greek", there is also no evidence to the contrary. I notice that you are a fan of the New testament, but not of the old testament? I love to see how so called "scholarly" indivduals will carve up the bible, emphasising one part over another, ignoring the part that makes the so called "new" part, make sense. It would be foolish to start a book 4 chapters from the end, so would reading the new testament, and then going back and interpreting the old testament, or as most people do ignoring it altogether.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Rabbi Akiva would disagree with you.

    http://motspluriels.arts.uwa.edu.au/MP1901dpAkiva.html

    ReplyDelete
  7. To anonymous #1 above: hmm... it would be interesting to list the sorts of words that identify a blog entry or post as "arrogant." Don't accusations like "obvious bias" "so-called scholarly" and "blinded to the truth" say more about the accuser than the accused? But whether I am arrogant or not is unimportant for this discussion. You might take a look at some of my other posts and notice that the use of the OT in the NT is one of my great interests and specialties. My point is that the aleph-tav claims are incorrect uses of the OT. There are many other correct evaluations of the use of the OT in the NT, including in John 1:1.

    to Anonymous #2: I have read Rabbi Akiva's words, but I think you have not read them carefully enough. Akiva's point, arguing against Rabbi Nahum, is that the aleph-tav cannot refer to God in Gen 1:1 - in which case I agree with Akiva.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hiya, I heard about the aleph-tav idea from a friend who had heard Joseph Prince speaking. I've had a little look around on the web and found this unit:
    http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Grammar/Unit_One/Jesus_and_the_Aleph-Bet/jesus_and_the_aleph-bet.html

    Can you make a comment on it?

    Doug

    ReplyDelete
  9. Can you even possibly consider that there is more to the purpose of the alephtav in the Old Testament than it being merely an object marker?

    Can you even believe that the alephtav might indeed be the Word Himself concealed in plain sight to those with scales on their eyes, who have no revelation of Him, or who have yet to accept Him as Messiah?

    Why be so quick to scoff?

    ReplyDelete
  10. To anonymous: The OT has enough clear references to the Messiah, so there is no need to make up more. There are three significant problems with claiming that אֵת(aleph-tav) has a deeper meaning.
    1) אֵת is roughly equivalent to our word "to" in the sense that it is very common (11,000 occurrences in the OT) and serves more of a grammatical function than a meaning function. 2) If אֵת refers to the Messiah, then there are thousands of meaningless statements in the OT, like Gen 2:6 "a mist used to rise from the ground to water אֵת the whole surface of the ground" or Gen 10:8 "Cush fathered אֵת Nimrod..."
    3) If אֵת refers to the Messiah in Gen 1:1, then the Messiah is a created being - certainly inconsistent with NT teachings about Jesus.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you make a great point here. I was looking at the book of Zechariah with the Aleph-Tav highlighted and it didn't make sense in many cases unless it is exactly what you are stating. If the claim is that the Aleph-Tav is the 'mark of Jesus' then how would that apply to Nimrod or any number of physical inanimate objects?
      -Greg

      Delete
  11. A very common word yet it is left out everywhere. Pretty much making it much more on target with the other explanation that is being called an error. It is a reasonable doubt and therefore more likely to be considered innocent or true rather than false for me.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Peter,
    Actually, it is never left out - it is the item that indicates which word is the direct object in a sentence. We "translate" it by correctly placing the following word as the direct object in English translations. It's kind of like the word "do" and "did" in English. Most other languages have no equivalent, so when English is translated into other languages, "do" is not translated. That is not evidence that "do" is an incredibly significant word (quite the opposite). "Do" has a grammatical function in English sentences, not a meaning function. Every language has words like this, words that are not normally translated as words. In fact, there are other fairly insignificant words in Greek and Hebrew that are in general not translated.

    ReplyDelete
  13. A pastor I know introduced the Aleph Tav to me last year. It is interesting to note that when Esau gave up his birthright the Aleph Tav was removed from his name. When Ruth, a Moabitess joined herself with Naomi, the Aleph Tav preceded her name after that. It is clearly and irrefutably the mark of YHWH upon His chosen people, actions and places.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Actually, the name of Ruth follows the grammatical pattern I describe above. The name "Ruth" is the grammatical subject or object of a preposition in every occurrence of the name for the first three chapters, so her name never has אֵת. As soon as her name is the direct object (4:5, 10, 13), her name has the אֵת. In the story of Esau, both before and after he gave up his birthright, the name Esau can be found with or without אֵת depending on whether it is the subject or direct object.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Just a reminder: anyone is welcome to post and welcome to disagree - but I won't publish posts that are just name-calling. I have not published the last two posts because their whole point was to insult. Just argue the facts!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I believe that the Hebrew aleph bet is the first step in understanding any of what we know of our creator. The explanation of each letter attests to the Holiness of the creator and gives us an insight into the heavenly realm and its creation before even getting into our creation and the duality principle. We are introduced to the angelic connection to every letter and the numeric values assigned as well. The elementary understanding that is needed before ever entering the WORD of scripture is so important, but we miss from the start so much of the meaning and never consider that Aleph-Tav in itself is a marker! The Word given by the creator in the language that is Holy and unconfused! This is the only original form that has remained unchanged and given in a way that confirms that no mortal man conveyed the instruction by which we can live, and know we have a creator that is so far above our understanding that forward and backward it balances out. There is no doubt that the Torah is in its construction, a unique work. The Gematria itself is a marvel! The lack of vowels giving the understanding of the meaning of the unspoken word of god,the unbroken letter chain that need be rightfully divided,the bible code that when run as a computer program unlocks to us the fact that it records the events of the past and the present and asks of events in the making the question will we change them? making it most evident that it is the living word! We are most fortunate to have a verifiable communication with built in checks and balances that has remains unchanged by the hand of man. The western scriptures are changing and have changed since the time of Alexander with more expected changes on the horizon. The Aleph or the only one (likened) to the one true G-d,and the Tav or the Spirit of Truth which man will try to bury in denial of the very existence of the creator is attested to in the understanding of this aleph Tav or (WORD). I am thankful that the word has remained with the people chosen to guard it and treasure it as the very Holy communication that it is!

    ReplyDelete
  17. It is interesting to note that when the Syriac peshitu was translated into Aramaic by the Rabbis that only one aleph tav was retained by the translators. In the Aramaic dictionary you will find that the meaning given to it is not direct object marker but rather the relative pronoun "himself".

    ReplyDelete
  18. Also interesting to note is that regardless of what language Revelation is written in, the ideas within it are entirely Hebrew and a proper understanding of Hebrew (biblical) word usage is necessary in order to understand the meaning. John was "in the spirit" on the "lord's day", so the Greek says, but if one runs references in the Old Testament on some terms like "Lord's day' or "day of the Lord" or "in that day" or "at that time", a body of information appears that directly relates to Revelation itself. So, gramatical arguements notwithstanding, perhaps John said "by the Spirit" and "on the Lord's day". I think aleph tav serves a function other than just marking the direct object. Given the meaning of the letters, at least for me, it signifies the bull of heaven always moving toward the mark, and demonstrated at least symbolically the active participation of God in His story as it moves toward His goal.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I have a question. Aleph Tav is said to be the direct object marker in written hebrew, which makes some sense, but when spoken, how is the direct object known if aleph tav is not spoken?

    ReplyDelete
  20. If the sole function of the Aleph-Tav is to point out the direct object of a sentence, then why is it not used on all direct objects?

    ReplyDelete
  21. Eutychus, I don't understand too much about Hebrew. But I've heard about this from people who I trust worthy of credit.
    And talking to a jewish friend, he confirmed the information that there are indeed some unexpected appearences of alef-tav, where this word have no functional purpose. Places where if you would get it out, it would make no difference. Even though in other places it does have the meaning you've explained.
    I also read many Jesus believing jews talking about this subject.
    In many cases, this revelation of Jesus being the alef-tav makes sense. In others, like you said, it doesn't.
    I see this as an extra information, wich I find interesting and curious. This could be a complementary revelation of God's word.
    I don't see it as something crucial as many here seem to think. If alef-tav isn't Jesus' signature as I've heard it was, this won't change the fact that He is God, he is the Messiah, the one who created all things and in whom all things subsist. This won't change the fact that he is my Savior, my Righteousness, that I'm loved and secure in Him.
    And I didn't need to crack some kind of code to discover this. It's plain and clear for everyone to see.
    God bless!

    ReplyDelete
  22. I Totally agree with the above comment. Hebrew is a special language, and to compare it to other languages would be a mistake. The book Cosmic Codes by the brilliant Chuck Missler goes into detail about the uniqueness of the Hebrew aleph-bet. In reference to the aleph-tav, In theBook of Revelation, Jesus said he is "alpha/omega - the begining and the end, the first and the last". This has far deeper meaning when it is read from a Hebraic mindset. Before the aleph-bet was created, pictures(pictographs) were used to represent each letter in the Hebrew language, and is still used by Jews today to help teach young children. The pictograph that was used to represent aleph was an ox, the pictograph that was used to represent tav is a cross. In this phrase, Jesus is declaring he is GOD, who in the begining required animal sacrifice(aleph-ox), but in the end requires the cross(tav-cross). Also to be noted, when John sees Jesus in Revelation, he is standing IN THE MIDDLE of the candlestick (Menorah). The middle, or fourth, branch on the candlestick is called the shamash,which means "the servant branch". It is this middle branch, being the first to be lit, that all other branches must be lit. The first sentence in Genesis," In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" is 7 Hebrew words, a Menorah desing. The fourth word is et, the aleph-tav, which rabbi's teach, is the word that holds all things together. John knew Jesus was the Word of GOD, he also understood the connection with the aleph-tav, and it shows in John 1:1 - " In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Paul knew it as well in Heb 1:3 "Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, AND UPHOLDING ALL THINGS BY THE WORD of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.". Coincidence? There are no coincidences with GOD. Remember Prov. 25:2 "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings is to search out a matter."

    ReplyDelete
  23. More on the aleph-tav
    The Aleph and the Tav are the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
    The Hebrew
    alphabet comes to use from it
    s earliest form, pictographs. Words were constructed by
    putting pictures together illustrating
    a
    characteristic of a word
    . An example i
    s the word

    father

    . The Hebrew word for father is spelled

    ab

    in English. In Hebrew it consists of
    the letters aleph and bet. The aleph represents an ox for strength or leadership and the
    bet represents a family or house. From this we get the beautiful picture the Father Who is the strength and leader of His house and family.
    The Alef Tav appears
    in the first verse of the Bible:
    Genesis 1:1
    “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”
    (1)בראשׁית(H7225) ברא(H1254) אלהים(H430) את(H853) השׁמים(H8064) ואת(H853) הארץ׃(H776) Remember Hebrew reads from right to left.This Hebrew word
    (H853) is a word that appears hundreds of times in our Bibles. However this word is not a translatable word and therefore goes unnoticed. While I am far from an expert on Hebrew what little I have studied on the subject is fascinating. The Hebrew alphabet is very unique and quite amazing . It consists of twenty -two letters that are all consonants. A combination of dots and dashes placed either above or beneath the individual letters give further indication of how the words
    sound.
    According to Kabbalistic teaching the

    otiyot yeso
    d”
    (foundational letters–the Hebrew alphabet) was the
    vehicle of creation.
    In other words the Hebrew Alphabet was given
    prior to the creation of heaven and earth and subsequently used to create all things.
    In our English Bibles Genesis 1:1 reads like this, “
    In the beginning
    H7225
    God
    H430
    created
    H1254
    (H853)
    the heaven
    H8064
    and
    the earth
    .
    H776
    Notice that there is a word
    (H853)
    את
    'eth that is not translated. This is the Hebrew word
    th which is comprised of the two ebrew letters EP and.
    The Hebrew literally reads, “In the beginning God created (ALEPH/TAV) the heavens and the earth.”
    [1]
    iIn “Or orah”, Rabbi Dov Ber,, the Maggid of Mezritch, explained first words of Torah:
    Bereshit Bara Elohim Et

    “In the beginning God created et” (Gen 1:1). Note that et is an untranslatable word used to indicate that “a definite direct object is next” (thus there needs to be an et before the heavens and the earth). But Dov Ber points out that et is spelled–Aleph-Tav, an abbreviation for the Aleph-Bet. Aleph is the first letter letter of
    the Hebrew alphabet and Tav the last, so, he reasoned, in the beginning God created the Aleph-Bet. Since God did this before creating the heavens and the earth, the letters are considered to be the primordial “building blocks” of all of creation.Genesis goes on to tell us that the first man became a living soul. interestingly [2] Onkelos attaches the „vehicle of creation‟ (the Hebrew Alphabet) to the first man by his
    translation of Genesis 2:7...”and man became a speaking spirit” Targum Onkelos (ibid.) Genesis
    2:7) Then ADONAI, God, formed a person [Hebrew: adam] from the dust of the ground [Hebrew: adamah] and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, so that hebecame a living being.Does anyone doubt that man has been given creative power?

    ReplyDelete
  24. more from above statement:
    EARLY HEBREW PICTOGRAGH
    -
    ALEPH
    The original pictograph for this letter is a picture of an ox head-representing strength and power from the work performed by the animal. This pictograph also represents a chief or other leader. When two oxen are yoked together for pulling a wagon or plow, one is the older and more experienced one who leads the other. Within the clan, tribe or family the chief or father is seen as the elder who is yoked to the others as the leader and teacher.The numeric value of ALEPH is ONE! The ALEPH therefore represents first and
    foremost the oneness of God.In some Hebrew translations of the New Testament we find the Aleph and the Tav inserted: John 1:1 King James Version
    (1)In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John1:1 Hebrew New Testament
    בראשית היה הדבר והדבר היה
    את
    האלהים ואלהים היה הדבר׃
    Jesus is the Aleph
    Tav
    !
    Interestingly the ALEPH and the TAV reveal the Plan of Redemption right from the beginning! [3]
    -
    TAV
    The Ancient picture is a type of "mark", probably of two sticks crossed to mark a place similar to the Egyptian hieroglyph of , a picture of two crossed sticks. This letter has the meanings of mark, sign or signature. The Modern Hebrew, Arabic and Greek names for this letter is tav (or taw), a Hebrew word meaning, mark. Hebrew, Greek and Arabic agree that the sound for this letter is "t".JESUS STATEMENT IN REVELATION 22:13 now has even greater meaning:
    Jesus said "I am the Alpha and the Omega". In Hebrew he would have said "I am the Alef and the Tav".
    Isn‟t this just like our God , “declaring the end from the beginning”? Isaiah 46:10 A clear picture of God’s plan!
    The ALEPH (God robed in the flesh) dying on a CROSS (the TAV).
    .
    Psalm 119, the longest Psalm in the scripture, is divided into 22 sections.It title seach section by a letter of the Hebrew Alphabet from Alef to Tav. Psalm 119 is all about the Word of God. Jesus is the Living Torah! We see a perfect picture in Zechariah of Messiah, the Aleph Tav, being pierced and mourned.
    The King James Version inserts "Him‟ however it is not there in the Hebrew. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the
    spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon(H853) whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and
    shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. (Zechariah 12:10)

    ReplyDelete