Reading Hebrew words as numbers

In the following sections the terms characteristic value (CV) and place value (PV) are used to describe the numbers obtained in relation to a word or portion of text by summing, (a) the letter values or, (b) their alphabetic positions, respectively.


The Hebrew/Aramaic scheme of alphabetic numeration

This scheme dates from c200BC. Of the 22 letters, 5 are observed to have alternative end-forms. The first Bible verse to display a numerical structure of interest is Genesis 1:1 - comprising the first 7 of the Torah's 68,504 Hebrew words. Here are the details (which include those relating to the first word of the 2nd verse):

The CVs of the first 8 words of the Bible

Reading from right to left we find the 33 individual letter-values inscribed above the words of the text, and their respective sums (the CVs) below. Observe that the untranslatable 4th word indicates that the following noun is the definite and direct object of the transitive verb. This appears again in the latter part of word 6. The verse total (sum of the first 7 CVs) is 2701. With word 8 included, this becomes 3003.

The PVs of the first 8 words of the Bible

In this case it is the letter positions within the alphabet (which appear above the letters) that are summed - the word totals appearing below. The verse total in this case (sum of the 7 PVs) is 298. With word 8 included, this becomes 348.

Vernon Jenkins MSc