כבד אלהים הסתר דבר וכבד מלכים חקר דבר
“It is the glory of Elohim to conceal a word, and the glory of Kings to research a word.” – Proverbs 25:2.
A friend asked me today: “what are some good places to look into the historical sources for the specifics of ktav ivri gematria?” (i.e. Biblical gematria).
I had to explain the reason why this was difficult, and I’m going to share my answer to that here:
Biblical gematria belongs to the Merkabah and Jewish people are prohibited from speaking (or writing) about the Merkabah with one another.
The study of Kabbalah can be considered the enciphered study of the Merkabah and there is much that is instructive in the Zohar and the Bahir – however what you won’t find is an open treatise on biblical gematria in the Talmud or the Mishnah, or even an academic study of it (outside of my own efforts) because it was kept so secret.
The Jewish desire to reclaim the land of Israel is over 1,000 years old and the Merkabah threatened that ambition with the inconvenient truth that the land was not ‘god-given’ to them. In addition, the Merkabah itself may have easily outraged strict monotheists (both Christian and Jew) in earlier times to violence!(1)
I can recommend a rather good paper by Stephen J. Lieberman that looks into the Mesopotamian origins of gematria and other Hermeneutics, but it doesn’t address Biblical Gematria specifically nor make a distinction between that and ‘Standard’. https://www.jstor.org/stable/23508256
Essentially I’m leading the pack when it comes to this specific area of research, rather than doing as other writers do and rely on other people to do the research work and then simply sit back to cite their sources – so of course I’m going to say that you should read my book Chariot to discover more.
In the defense of other epigraphers in the field I’d like to say; there was little chance of them finding the Seven Palaces or the values for biblical gematria because most researchers working in ANE studies don’t concern themselves with the study the Zohar or other Kabbalistic works from the middle ages. It also takes someone with a skill set in cryptography (and I have a strong background in this) to rectify the Seven Palaces from the Tree.
When it comes to researching biblical gematria; the proof of the pudding really is in the eating! But that is also part of the problem and why work of this kind is usually neglected; epigraphers tend to come to the field with backgrounds that are heavy in semantics, and they have about the same liking for numerical epigraphy as a hydrophobic rabies victim has for water!
Personally, I find the study of the numerical epigraphy of the Torah to be spiritually uplifting. For instance:
29 “But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. – Deuteronomy 4:29
ובקשתם משם את־יהוה אלהיך ומצאת כי תדרשנו בכל־לבבך ובכל־נפשך
לְבָבְךָ֖ = Your Heart = 54
נַפְשֶֽׁךָ = Your Soul = 153
54 + 153 = 207.
207 is always mandean type חושבנא ‘calculation’ for אֽוֹר ‘light’.
Isn’t that lovely? That your heart and your soul is light; wherein you will find God? And all the mystics of the world agree on this point; that the golden light is the hallmark of enlightenment and the finding of God.
It’s probably true however, that if you’re not the sort of person who enjoys cryptic crossword puzzles then you probably won’t enjoy the study of biblical gematria. Yet, given just how many sums there are in the Tanakh, there are an awful lot of professional people that are wasting time and university money trying to pull semantic meaning out of text that is intended to be read as a mathematical sum. It could be argued that until epigraphers get to work uncovering the numbers of biblical texts then their efforts are going to prove woefully inadequate and misdirected.
- The letters of the name YHVH represent all 4 sections of the Wheel – which would be in line with monotheistic theology, however the name of the Elohim ‘Hadad’ can be clearly seen on the lower 3 palaces, and the wife of God ‘Elat’ has a strong association with the path or crossbeam of Teth. Texts from Ras Sharma (Ugarit) write that the God ‘El’ hid from the Goddess ‘Anat’ in Seven Palaces and Eight Enclosures, and that his son ‘Hadad’ lived with him in his Palaces. This suggests a very ancient origin and providence for the Seven palaces at a time when Monotheism was not yet established, and yet we can see it foreshadowed by the assignation of YHVH to all things in the cosmos of the Seven palaces.