Tamarajo is an avid Bible Studier who loves nothing more than to seek out the treasures in God's Word and share them with others.
A Brief Background of Ancient Hebrew Pictographs
Hebrew, the original language of the Old Testament, is a fascinating language where each letter of its alphabet is iconized with a pictograph. The pictographs can then help define and add dimension to the words they spell.
There are a total of 22 letters in the Hebrew Aleph-Bet. This article will study the last four letters in their pictograph form. These are "qoof", "resh", "sheen" and "tav". Each one will reveal a particular characteristic of God.
Before we continue, please note that the words with Hebrew fonts are to be read from right to left. Knowing Hebrew won't be necessary, but it is helpful to know the directional aspect when describing the letter's position within the word. When I mention the first letter, it will be the letter beginning on the right, and the last letter will be on the left.
It is also important to note that the fonts I am using in this article are modern Hebrew ones developed during the Babylonian captivity and are used in Israel today. In their most ancient form, these letters were actual images of the pictographs we will be studying.
Additionally, at the end of each section, a video will further the lesson about each letter. These videos were produced by Jewish Jewels Ministries and hosted by Dr. Danny Ben-Gigi, former professor of Hebrew at Arizona State University.
The Letter Qoof—a Rising Sun
The nineteenth letter of the Hebrew Aleph-Bet is "Qoof" (ק). One of the pictures representing the letter "Qoof" (ק) is an image of the sun coming up on the horizon, giving us the idea of something arising. It is also the first letter of the Hebrew word for "arise."
Arise (קוּם) for our help, and redeem us for thy mercies' sake.
— Psalm 44:26
Stephen's stoning in the book of Acts chapter seven contains an interesting observation that has to do with the Lord standing up or arising from a seated position.
Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!
— Acts 7:56
The book of Hebrews informs us that Jesus is seated at the Father's right hand, denoting a position of authority.
But this Man (Jesus), after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God.
— Hebrews 10:12
Why did Jesus stand in the case of Stephen while his persecutors were furiously gnashing their teeth at him? The Old Testament prophet Isaiah provides us with an explanation.
The Lord arises to contend, and stands to judge the people.
— Isaiah 3:13
We can see the depiction of a courtroom setting where Jesus is arising to judge and plead Stephen's cause.
Let God arise, Let His enemies be scattered
— Psalm 68:1
Stephen amazingly intercedes on his persecutor's behalf when he asks the Lord not to lay this to their account while being stoned to death.
Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep
— Acts 7:60
We also see this concept of arising in the resurrection of Christ and defeating our enemies.
. . . Christ is risen from the dead . . . He has put all enemies under His feet . . .
— I Corinthians 15
The Letter Qoof Is About Proximity
The letter "qoof" also speaks of proximity. Hebrew words that express near and far contain the letter "qoof" (קָ). The following verse uses "qoof" (קָ) as the first letter of the word, translated as "near."
The Lord is near (קָרוֹב) to all who call upon Him,To all who call upon Him in truth.
— Psalm 145
The next verse uses it in the last letter position in the word translated as "afar."
Why do You stand afar off (רָחוֹק), O LORD?
Why do You hide in times of trouble?
— Psalm 10:1
The invitational part of this letter is for us to draw near to Him.
He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
— Hebrews 7:25
The Letter Qoof Is About Holiness
"Qoof" is also the first letter of the word "holy."
Let them praise Your great and awesome name— He is holy (קָדוֹשׁ). . . Exalt (lift up) the Lord our God, And worship at His footstool— He is holy (קָדוֹשׁ) . . . Exalt (lift up) the Lord our God, And worship at His holy (קָדוֹשׁ) hill; For the Lord our God is holy (קָדוֹשׁ).
— Psalm 99:3,5,9
The concept of holiness is in agreement with the idea of proximity. Holiness is about drawing near to God and away from the world. It is described as a separation from the world and unto the Lord.
“Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you.
— II Corinthians 6:17
The Letter Resh—the Top of the Head
"Resh"(ר), the twentieth letter of the Hebrew Aleph-Bet, is a picture of a man's head signifying the top and most important. A New Testament image of this is given in Paul's letter to the Ephesians concerning Christ's preeminence.
Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.
— Ephesians 5:23
"Resh"(ר) is, additionally, the first letter in the Hebrew word for a "prince." The prophet Isaiah reveals the Messiah as a prince in discussing God's governing properties.
His name will be called . . . Prince of Peace.
— Isaiah 9:6
"Resh" also can represent the conscious mind. The mind of the Lord is acknowledged as the Supreme Intelligence by Paul in his letter to the Roman church.
“For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor?”
— Romans 11:34
The Letter Sheen—Teeth
"Sheen" (ש), the twenty-first letter of the Hebrew Aleph-Bet, is an image of teeth communicating the idea of chewing, consuming, devouring, and digesting.
The Hebrew word for "fire" is "esh." It is spelled with an "aleph" and "sheen" (אש). The "aleph" indicates something strong, and the "sheen" represents the idea of devouring, so we can see that fire is a strong devourer. The book of Deuteronomy uses this imagery to express a similar quality of God.
Take heed to yourselves, lest you forget the covenant of the Lord your God which He made with you, and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of anything which the Lord your God has forbidden you. For the LORD your God is a consuming fire (אש).
— Deuteronomy 4:23-24
The above verse is about God being jealous for us—not wishing to share us with anything else that would ultimately destroy and separate us from Him forever. The consuming fire gives us a view of God's intense love and passion for us.
"Sheen" is also the first letter of the word "shalom," In combination with the letter above, Jesus is our Prince (שַׂר-sheen and resh) of Peace (שָׁלֹֽום). (Isaiah 9:6)
Shalom itself comes with a thought-provoking pictograph revelation relative to what our Prince of Peace has done for us.
Shalom is spelled "Sheen", "lamed", "vav", and "mem".
"Sheen" means to consume, as was just noted.
"Lamed" is illustrated with shepherd staff and symbolizes teaching and authority.
. . . the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority..
— Matthew 7:28-29
The third letter of shalom is a "vav," showing us a nail and communicating the idea of connecting.
And the final letter "mem" is a picture of water and can include the idea of chaos and turbulence like a raging sea.
You rule the raging of the sea;
When its waves rise, You still them.
— Psalm 89:9
If we put the concepts together, we can see that our Prince of Peace destroyed and consumed the authority that connected us to chaos.
. . . the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil
— I John 3:8
The Letter Tav Is a Cross
"Tav" (ת) is the final letter of the Hebrew Aleph-Bet and is a picture of a cross. A cross pictographically symbolizes a covenant. It is appropriate and significant for "tav" to be the last letter of the Hebrew Aleph-Bet.
“It is finished!”
— John 19:30
Christ finished and fulfilled all required to bring us back into fellowship with the Father at the cross. This letter brings us full circle considering Aleph-Bet begins with the letter "aleph," representing the Father.
Concerning the final letter bringing us full circle, "tav" is the Hebrew Aleph-Bet's 22nd letter. Pi, the ratio of the circumference of a circle, is 22 divided by 7.
The early Hebrew pictographs were being used long before the cross had been invented as a form of corporal punishment. Crucifixion most likely began with the Persians in the 7th century B.C and was later adopted by the Romans. They had no idea that what they designed for a brutal, torturous death would be the instrument prophesied that our Lord and Savior would be crucified on and become the covenant sacrifice on our behalf.
I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done.
— Isaiah 46:9,10
The letter Tav and the Gospel
In the symbol of the cross, we can see that Jesus is the embodiment of the meaning of covenant.
Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant.
— Hebrews 7:22
When we look at the Word of God in its entirety, it is a revelation of the God of covenants. The covenants all pointed to and culminated at the cross.
The story of life begins with God in a relationship (covenant) with humankind. Man is unfaithful to his terms of that relationship with God and the life that sustained him. The rest of the book entails God's attempt to draw humankind back into fellowship with Him, which could only be accomplished by sacrificing His one and only son.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
— John 3:16
The word covenant is used 315 times in the Bible, so we can conclude that it is a fundamental and relevant concept. A relationship with God is impossible without one.
. . . at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
— Ephesians 2:12
To sum up this final letter, it seems appropriate to conclude with the invitation to be in fellowship (covenant) with the God of all creation. But to be in a relationship with Him, we must be cleansed from our sin. How do we get from here to there?
. . . without shedding of blood there is no remission
— Hebrews 9:22
Sin requires a payment we can't afford. A covenant with God is a life and death matter.
For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
— Romans 6:23
Through the humility of admitting one's spiritual condition of sinfulness apart from God and taking by faith, what Christ has done on our behalf by giving up His own life in exchange for ours is the first step to a new eternal life of relationship with God.
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
— II Corinthians 5:21
The Gospel narratives for salvation always extend the invitation as such.
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
— Matthew 3:2
In other words, turn from your sins and turn to God.
. . . Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved . . .
— Acts 16:31
The Aleph and the Tav Is the Apha and the Omega
There is one final revelation with the Hebrew Aleph-Bet.
We began with "aleph," a picture of our strong Father with whom it all began. We end with the letter "tav," representing the established covenant through Christ.
. . . no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son.
— Matthew 11:27
The "aleph" and the "tav" are the first and last letters of the Hebrew Aleph-Bet.
“Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, And his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God.
— Isaiah 44:6
What a way to sum it all up!
Christ is all and in all.
— Colossians 3:11
He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.
— Colossians 1:17
No matter how we look at it, He is the beginning and the end, and everything in between.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
— Revelation 1:8
Jesus brought us back into a right relationship with the Father (aleph) through His finished work on the cross (tav)
At the very center of the very first sentence of the Bible (Genesis chapter one) is a word pronounced "et" and consists of "aleph" and a "tav" this word is untranslated. Could this symbolize the one and only "aleph and tav," the "alpha and omega" at the center of it all who is untranslatable and His work indescribable?.
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
— II Corinthians 9:15
© 2012 Tamarajo
Tamarajo (author) on May 19, 2018:
Hello Sham Kumar. I am glad that you found the revelation useful.
I appreciate your visit and comment!
Tamarajo (author) on January 14, 2013:
You are so right FriendofTruth that our Father is so incredible in so many multi faceted ways we will probably spend eternity discovering His goodness. I'm glad that you enjoyed the series and that God is glorified in these revelations.
Thank you for your visit and encouragement
FriendofTruth from Michigan on January 14, 2013:
This was awesome Tamarjo, I'll have to print out all of these studies that you've done on the Aleph-Bet. Not only can you learn so much from it, but it so encouraging and inspiring. It creates an excitement to know how even more awesome our Father is - there are so many facets of Him, it is indescribable! Thanks again for all of the work you put into this series!
Tamarajo (author) on November 30, 2012:
Thank you James. I find it all quite fascinating myself. God is so stunning in His wisdom, revelation, and consistency. He never ceases to amaze me in so many ways.
Love it that your church worship does the Revelation song. What a great song to worship Him by.
God bless you too James! Always blessed by your visit.
James A Watkins from Chicago on November 29, 2012:
This is fascinating stuff! I enjoyed your Hub very much. I have learned quite a bit from your series. By the way, last Sunday I played the drums in my local church to the song you provided a link to, "Revelation Song." :D
God Bless You!
Tamarajo (author) on November 20, 2012:
Hello Shelpeare, Yes I understand that Tau and Tav are the same it is a variation of pronunciation and spelling. The vav can make either the "w" or the "v" sound. and Agreed that it does indeed symbolize the cross. Thank you for the additional insight and reference to Psalm 22.
Thank you for all your feed back on this series. It has been both useful and helpful.
shelpeare on November 16, 2012:
Tau is the 22nd letter and it means "cross." That is why Psa. 22 starts off with the words of Jesus on the cross: "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me."
Tamarajo (author) on August 28, 2012:
lifegate, glad that you like the series on how even the letters of His Word testify of reveal, and glorify Him. I am finding this to be so in all that He has created as well I think that is why all will be without excuse because everything around us says that He is and pictures His plan of salvation if we really look for it.
Thank you much for sticking with the series and all your encouraging comments.
William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on August 28, 2012:
A Powerful Hub - a powerful series. Enjoyed it much. I love the detail that God includes down to the jots and tittles. Thanks for sharing, and making Scripture even more alive.