Hebrew Alphabet and Psalm 119 – Aleph

U+2135I’m working this week in Israel and trying to use the immersion to pick up a few scraps of Hebrew– not very successfully. For the last several days, I have been learning a new Hebrew letter each day and while that will never teach me the language (or even let me sound out words) it does help to pass the time. One of these years, I’ll do it correctly.

The bible loves the alphabet. Christians know this most plainly in the book of Revelations which makes several references to God as the “Alpha and Omega” (Revelation 1:8, et. al.), referring to the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet which the book is written in. In the Jewish Tanakh (the Old Testament), Hebrew is the language of choice and several books include word games invisible in translation. For example, a set of lines may each begin with the next letter of the alphabet. In the original Hebrew, writing key verses that way must have provided a sense of completeness, from A to Z. Psalm 119 takes this idea and blows it to epic proportions: each letter of the Hebrew alphabet is given EIGHT lines. It’s an amazing work. More after the break.

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