“He counteth the number of the stars; He giveth them all their names.” Psalms 147:4 (The Israel Bible™)
Gematria, one of the most widely-used Biblical study tools in Judaism, is the exploration of the deeper meaning of Hebrew words based on an ancient system of Biblical numerology. Each Hebrew letter has a numerical equivalent. When two completely different Hebrew words or phrases share the same numerical value, deep Torah insights are gleaned.
“Gematria is both a fun and challenging way to reveal Biblical secrets and understandings,” Roni Segal, the academic adviser for eTeacher, an online language academy, told Breaking Israel News. “Hidden within the literal Hebrew Bible text is a mathematical structure which reveals its Godly origins and the messages that God wanted to share with those who study the Bible.”
Use of Gematria for Bible study has been recorded as far back 200 CE. Talmudic scholars included gematria in their discourses to enhance a cogent idea and mystics have used it to demonstrate the oneness of God and the interconnectedness of all of reality. It is a way to “connect the dots” between Torah and human existence.
“Today, we are using computer technology to advance the study of Hebrew as well as helping to find complex Gematrias,” continued Segal to Breaking Israel News. “As people begin to master the Hebrew alphabet and language, they also start to appreciate the depth of the Hebrew language and can even find their own Gematria connections.”
Here are 5 interesting Gematrias to get you thinking like a Bible scholar:
1. Chai– חי (khai) “Alive” = 18.
When giving gifts or donations, Jewish people often give in increments of 18 as a symbol for blessing people with a long life.
2. Shira – שירה (shee-rah) “Song” = 515
Tefillah – תפילה (teh-fee-lah) “Prayer” = 515
The essence of prayer is that it is a song to God and the ideal song is that it is a prayer to God.
3. Gilgul – גלגול (geel-gool) “Reincarnation” = 72
Chesed – חסד (kheh-sed) “Kindness” = 72
When God sends us back in a reincarnation, He is showing us kindness by giving us a chance to repent for our mistakes.
4. Ahava – אהבה (ah-ha-vah) “Love” = 13
Echad -אחד (eh-khad) “One” = 13
The essence of oneness is love. And, when you add Ahava and Echad together, they equal God’s four letter name ה-ו-ה-’ the ultimate of love and oneness.
5. Yayin – יַיִן (ya-yin) “Wine” = 70
Sod – סוֹד (sode) “Secret” = 70
The sages teach that when the wine goes in the secrets come out!
It is ancient Jewish tradition that the Hebrew letters were the building blocks on which God created the world, similar to how physicists and chemists rely on math as their foundation for understanding the environment. Although the language of science and Torah differ, their study enhances our understanding of what is true and real.
“Through the study of Hebrew and the practice of Gematria, one can discover infinite connections of ideas and world events as well as develop a new level of understanding ourselves and the world around us,” noted Segal.
Thank you to Rabbi Avraham Arieh Trugman for his assistance with the article.