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The eleventh letter of the Hebrew alphabet is KAF.
The numeric value of KAF is twenty.
The pictogram or symbol behind the shape of the letter KAF is a cover. A cover is there to protect what is under that covering.
The name of this letter, the Hebrew word “kaf”, is spelled KAF PEH. The word “kaf” means “a hand” – the palm of a hand.
The word “kaf”, spelled KAF PEH, has a numeric value of 100. 100 is 10 x 10. But 100 can also be expressed this way ... (3 x 7) + (3 x 7) + (3 x 7) + 37 equals 100. In other words, 21 + 21 + 21 + 37 equals 100. Note the recurring prime numbers, 3 and 7, and the prime number 37 (which points to Jesus, as the living Word).
The letter KAF ends the first sequence of eleven letters in the Hebrew alphabet (ALEF to KAF). And this first sequence of eleven letters speaks of “our rescue” ... that Jesus rescued us out of the world. The second sequence of eleven letters speaks of “our race” – the need to persevere to the end, in faith in Jesus.
KAF, as the letter of the Hebrew alphabet that comes after YUD, completes the picture of Jesus’ two hands, stretched out. YUD is a hand, and KAF is the open palm of a hand.
KAF – perhaps more than any other letter – speaks of the atonement that Jesus won for us on the cross, and the righteousness – His righteousness – that He imparts to us, because of our faith in Him.
The first reference in the Bible to “kaf” (meaning the palm of a hand), is found in Exodus chapter 4. God called Moses to return to Egypt, to rescue the Israelites from Pharaoh. Moses was fearful that he would not be received or believed, so God gave him a sign to carry with him. Moses was carrying a staff. A staff is a symbol of authority. But it only becomes effective as a symbol when God imparts power.
In Exodus chapter 4 verses 2 and 3, we read that when Moses threw down the staff – when he “laid down” authority – the staff became a serpent. But then, in verse 4 we read, “The LORD said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand and grasp it by its tail’. So he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand.”
The word “hand” occurs three times in this passage. The first two times, the Hebrew word is “yad”. The last time, it is the Hebrew word “kaf”. So we see that as Moses obeyed God his authority was empowered by God. It was now no longer the strength of his hand (YAD), but the supernatural power of God imparted through his open hand (KAF).
In Exodus chapter 33, we read about Moses interceding for God’s people Israel. Moses pleads, “Let me know your ways that I may know you” (verse 13). And Moses asks, “Show me Your glory” (verse 18). God says, “No one can see Me and live” (verse 20). But God tells Moses that He will put Moses in the cleft of the rock and He will cover Moses with His hand, until He has passed by (verse 22).
Note: God covers Moses with His hand. The Hebrew word for “hand” here is “kaf” ... an open palm.
The previous letter in the Hebrew alphabet is YUD, indicating a hand ... specifically the right hand of God. It speaks of Jesus, where He is now seated, having the power and authority of God. This letter KAF – also indicating a hand – speaks of the covering ... the atonement ... the imparted righteousness and authority of God.
The idea of impartation through the laying on of hands is found in the Old Testament, and the idea is carried into the New Testament. In Exodus chapter 29, we read that Aaron, the High Priest, and his sons, the priests, had to lay hands on the head of an innocent animal before it was sacrificed (verse 10 – also Exodus 29:15 and 29:19). Symbolically, they were imparting their sin to an “innocent other”. By the blood of that innocent other they were then consecrated, or set apart, for God.
Jesus laid hands on children to pray for them (Matthew 19:13,15), and He laid hands on people to heal them (Mark 5:23, 8:23, 10:16). The apostles and disciples of Jesus laid hands on people as they prayed for them. Their acts brought the power of God to receive the Holy Spirit, to have sight restored, and to impart spiritual gifts (see Acts 8:17; 9:12,17; 1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6).
In Hebrews chapter 6 verse 2, we learn that “laying on of hands” is an “elementary teaching” in the life of faith in God.
Now, let us look again at the pictogram – the symbol behind the shape of the letter KAF. It is a cover. But it is a cover that has been opened. It is also “bowl-shaped”.
In the book of Ezra, we read about the holy vessels that were returned to Jerusalem at the end of the Babylonian captivity. Among them were gold and silver bowls. The Hebrew word here for a bowl is “kefor” – KAF PEH with VAV RESH added. These were bowls for collecting the blood of the sacrifices.
That the pictogram for KAF – of a bowl – is on its side, indicates the blood “poured out”.
The word “kefah” – KAF PEH with a HEH added – means “to soothe” or to avert anger. God’s anger on sin was averted – it was appeased – when He accepted the blood of Jesus poured out. All who place their faith in Jesus receive forgiveness of their sins.
We first find these Hebrew root letters, KAF PEH, in the story of Noah’s ark. In Genesis chapter 6 verse 14, God said to Noah, “Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood ... and cover it inside and outside in pitch.”
In Hebrew, “... ve'chafartah ota mi'bayit ou'michoutz b'kofer”. This word here “ve'chafartah”, means “and cover it”. KAF PEH with RESH TAV added, means “cover” – “cover it”. And the word for “pitch” – the covering itself – is “kofer” (KAF PEH with RESH added).
The ark of Noah, we learn in the New Testament, is a picture of salvation in Jesus (see Hebrews 11:7 and 1 Peter 3:20-21). It was a “type and shadow”. It was a hint of salvation in Jesus. By faith in Him, we are “hidden in Him”. We are “covered” by His blood. Actually, more than covered, we are completely forgiven. We are kept safe in the time of judgment.
The cover on the ark of the testimony – the ark of the LORD in the Tabernacle in the wilderness – is “kaporet” in Hebrew. This is sometimes translated “mercy seat”; sometimes “atonement cover”. But the Hebrew word KAF PEH with RESH TAV added – “kaporet” – simply means “covering” or “lid”. Wherever you see the word “atone” or “atonement” in the Old Testament writings, and you read those words atone or atonement in the English translation of your Bible, you should stop and say “This does not mean ‘sins forgiven’,” because “It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4).
Under the Old Testament, people who had faith in God had their sins “covered”. When they died, they waited in Sheol (see 1 Samuel 2:6), on the good side of the chasm (see Luke 16:26), in Abraham’s bosom (see Luke 16:22) ... until Jesus preached to them, when He was in the grave. And then He led the captives free (see Ephesians 4:8-9).
Now, the covering on the ark has been opened. Now we can come, not only into the Holy of Holies, but right up to the throne of God ... boldly (Hebrews 4:16).
Jesus has offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice ... once, for all time. By faith in Him, your sins are forgiven. They are not just covered ... they are put away.
With understanding of Hebraic thought and awareness of design elements in the Scriptures, we take you on a journey of growth in Christ Jesus.
The seminar “Bringing sons to glory” starts with Session 1: “You are gods” What did Jesus mean? ... and continues through the Psalms of Ascent.
This series will increase your knowledge of biblical Hebrew.