Archive for November 5th, 2009

Hebrew Numerology: A Primer on Gematria — Part 1

While I am not a big fan of biblical numerology, I do believe that numerological patterns still play an important role in the sacred texts and spiritual imagination of a people; the mind instinctively looks for patterns in the strangest places. Such thinking is not unique to Jewish biblical interpreters or mystics; it is common with all people of all faiths–whether it be seeing the face of Jesus  or Mohammad in a cloud formation, or in some other peculiar place–as ...

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The Meaning of PaRDeS: The Four Levels of Scriptural Interpretation

One of the most important hermeneutical paradigms introduced by the early and medieval rabbis is a belief that the Scriptures contain more than one layer of exegetical meaning. This intertextual approach came to be known during the medieval era by the acronym  פַּרְדֵּס”PaRDeS,” standing for “Peshat,” “Remaz,” “Derash,” and “Sod.” Briefly defined, peshat is based on the literal and factual meaning of a verse[1] and roughly corresponds to the medieval concept of sensus literalis as developed by the medieval ...

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Genesis 1:2: Which rendering is more correct, “Spirit of God” or “Mighty Wind of God” ?qqqqqqqqq

What is the meaning of  וְרוּחַ אֱלֹהִים of Genesis 1:2?  Older translations[1] read, “Spirit of God”  (rûah °élöhîm) while newer translations seem to prefer “a wind of God,” or a “mighty wind . . . “

Both readings are plausible.[2] The term רוּח (rûah) connotes a moving power that is both mysteriously intangible and unseen; hence, “mighty wind” is an apt metaphor. When read in this context, °élöhîm is used not as a noun but ...

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