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The 22nd letter of the Hebrew alphabet is TAV.
The numeric value of TAV is 400.
The pictogram, or symbol, behind the shape of the letter TAV is a mark or seal. There is some evidence that in its earliest written form, it was more in the shape of an X or a cross.
TAV is the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Jesus said that He is the first and the last, the beginning and the end.
The numeric value of individual letters in the Hebrew alphabet go up to 400. TAV is the last letter. The numeric value is 400.
The numeric value of individual letters of the Greek alphabet (the language of the New Testament) go up to 800. Omega is the last letter of the Greek alphabet. It has a numeric value of 800. 800 is 2 x 400.
With the New Convenant, God made way for a second group – the Gentiles, the non-Jews – to be joined with His people of faith in the first group of chosen people, the Jewish people.
400 – the numeric value of the Hebrew letter TAV – is an interesting number. 400 can be broken down to 40 x 10. 40 represents a period of testing – a period predetermined by God. 10 (in Jewish thought) is the full manifestation of something. 40 x 10 – the final outworking (for the Jewish people) of God's plan and purposes for them, we might say.
400 is also 5 x 8 x 10. 5 is the number for the grace of God. 8 is the number for the new birth, or resurrection life. And 10 is the full manifestation of these.
400 can also be expressed as 8 x 50. 8 represents new life – it signifies the new birth in Christ. 50 is the number for a Jubilee, when slaves were to be set free. We were slaves to sin. In Jesus, we have been set free.
Certain numbers occur in significant ways in Scripture.
7 for example, shows up in the days of creation, and in the feasts of the LORD in the Old Testament, and in many ways in the book of Revelation.
40 occurs frequently – 40 days or 40 years. Obviously, a literal period of time in the Bible stories but also, obviously, the number is reported because it is symbolic. We are meant to see that there is a symbolic application.
And so it is with the numeric value of TAV.
The Holy Spirit could have given a Hebrew alphabet with 24 letters, instead of 22, and the value of the last letter would then have been 600 – and we would not be seeing what we are seeing.
God is giving strong hints of His purposes for Israel in the 22 letter alphabet, and in the numeric value of the letters. He is indicating that He always intended to bring all things together in Jesus, the Messiah – the One who manifests the grace of God – the One who brings new life – the One who is the culmination of all God's periods of testing.
With all this in mind, it is no surprise to find that Israel was enslaved and oppressed for 400 years in Egypt. God foretold this when He said to Abraham: "Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed 400 years" (Genesis 15:13).
And it is no accident that in the New Testament, we are reminded of this history, specifically mentioning the literal and symbolic period of 400 years, when Stephen, the first martyr – a Jew – was confronting the Sanhedrin (Acts 7:6).
The word for the Hebrew letter TAV is spelled TAV VAV. It is often spelled TAV ALEF VAV but, in the book of Ezekiel, it occurs twice, spelled TAV VAV, and it means "a mark".
Ezekiel saw a vision where those who were found righteous in Jerusalem were given a mark on the forehead, and they were spared when destruction came (Ezekiel 9:4,6).
This idea of being "marked" by God is also found in the New Testament – in the last chapter of Revelation – chapter 22. In Revelation chapter 22 verses 3 and 4, we read that, "There will no longer be any curse ..." (God's servants) ".... will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads."
TAV means a mark – the mark of God.
The pictogram, or symbol, behind the shape of the letter TAV is a mark, and it is seen also as a seal. The Hebrew word for a seal is "chatam" (CHET TAV MEM).
The idea of a seal, and the idea of a pledge, is found in the Old Testament and in the New Testament.
In the Old Testament, we have an interesting story of Judah and Tamar, in Genesis chapter 38. The story almost seems out of place. We are reading about Joseph in chapter 37, and the story of Joseph continues from chapter 39 through to chapter 50, to the end of the book of Genesis. But the Bible account "breaks off" in Genesis 38, to learn how Judah conceived Perez, the forebear of King David and the Messiah, Jesus.
Judah was tricked by his widowed daughter-in-law, Tamar. She pretended to be a prostitute and, in order to be sure of payment, Judah had to give her a pledge. The Hebrew word for a pledge is "arravon" (AYIN RESH BET VAV NUN). A pledge is a guarantee that the person making the pledge will return. As his pledge, Judah gave Tamar his seal (Hebrew CHET TAV MEM) – a signet ring. It is not an accident that the story talks about a pledge (an "arravon" AYIN RESH BET VAV NUN) and a seal ("chatam" CHET TAV MEM).
In the New Testament, we learn that we have been given a pledge. Interestingly, the Greek word in the New Testament for a pledge is also "arravon". And the pledge that God has given us is the Holy Spirit (see Ephesians 1:13-14 and 2 Corinthians 1:22).
Receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit at salvation is God's guarantee that He will come back for us. And, in both of these New Testament Scripture passages, (Ephesians 1 and 2 Corinthians 1), we are told that the Holy Spirit is God's "seal" of promise.
The Hebrew letter TAV represents a mark. If you have placed your faith in Jesus – that He died for your sins ... He was buried ... but rose from the grave – then you belong to Him. He has placed His mark on you.
The Hebrew letter TAV also represents a seal. And God has given you His seal – the Holy Spirit. You have a guarantee through this seal that He will return for you.
A "seal" in Hebrew is "chatam" (CHET TAV MEM). TAV MEM ("tam" in Hebrew) means "blameless, innocent". The Hebrew word meaning "to sin" is "chatah" (CHET TET ALEF). A Hebrew word for fear, terror or dread, is "chat" (CHET TAV).
In the Hebrew word for a "seal" ("chatam" – CHET TAV MEM) we have a word that in sound is a play on words. Sin is finished ... now blameless, innocent. Fear is finished ... now blameless, innocent.
And that is our hope, and assurance, of what God has in store for us in the world to come.
He has bought us with His blood. He has marked us out for a heavenly future. In Him, all grief, pain and fear will be put away.
We have His guarantee of an endless life – in the home of righteousness.
With understanding of Hebraic thought, and awareness of design elements in the Scriptures, we take 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.