Every so often I go through phases of Scripture study, using various rabbinic methods of exegesis to pull out the full meaning of the Hebrew. I tend to get bored fairly easily just reading the text straight from Hebrew, so I need to stimulate my mind with something challenging and unconventional, or I quickly move on.
A few months ago I decided to try my brain at gematria. I am not so great at math, and numbers are not my favorite things to work with, but that provided a good stimulation. I had something to overcome and prove to myself that I could handle the challenge.
While I do not believe gematria to be the be-all-and-end-all to Scripture study, nor am I looking to trust solely on whatever the numbers hold, I do believe that it adds another level and dimension to the depths of Scripture. It can serve as proof that HaShem indeed orchestrated every word and that within even the most seemingly simple or insignificant parts of Scripture there is a lesson embedded. Not everyone is comfortable with this form of scriptural analysis, and that is okay. It will not always say anything important, but sometimes it reveals something quite profound.
In my adventure with numbers I must have tried thousands of combinations. As I would go to sleep I would think of a name or a word that I wanted to calculate. Once, I just had to know the numerical value of the words like blood, water, flower, and names like Judah, Cohen, and Levi.
Then something cool popped up.
The word “love” in Hebrew (ahavah) is so beautiful, and the love of God is so profound. I was rereading Paul Philip Levertoff’s Love and the Messianic Age, and reading about God’s love, which, according to Levertoff, is conveyed and personified only through Yeshua. Now that I was on my gematria kick, I needed to know the sum of the word “love.” I added it up in a second: 13.
Interesting. Does this mean anything? Well, I quickly remembered that the sum of HaShem’s holy name (the Tetragrammaton) is 26 (10 + 5 + 6 + 5), and of course 13 x 2 = 26. HaShem’s name is a double portion of love, which is perhaps where we derive the concept of the holy, ineffable name as representative of HaShem’s compassion.
Also, I decided to look into 1 Corinthians, into the “chapter of love,” which, lo and behold, is in chapter 13! Not only that, but the chapter contains thirteen verses. Also, Paul’s description of what love is can be counted as thirteen attributes. Judaism informs us that HaShem has thirteen attributes, which he made known to Moses (Exodus 34:6-7). While the chapter and verse divisions may be later developments, it is still incredible and something that I choose to believe HaShem had a hand in.
For whatever reason, Moses (מ-ש-ה) was on my list of names that I just had to know the value of. I added it up and it came to 345 [ ה = 5 / ש = 300 / מ = 40 ] . When I came up with this sum I got a little excited, because I recalled that the numerical value of “Messiah” (mashiach) was similar if not the same as that of Moses—or Mosheh.
I added up mashiach (מ-ש-י-ח) and it came to 358. Well, the wind was taken out of my sails. I thought that it would be amazing if Messiah and Moses had the same value, showing that they were inextricably intertwined and connected. But it wasn’t so. Oh well.
Then I decided to see what the difference between the two names is. Interestingly enough, 358 - 345 = 13! So the difference between Messiah and Moses is love! This is a very small, minuscule revelation, but one that seemed important to me.
Moses was great; he was the greatest Jew. There is no doubt. And yet, there was one Jew who was greater still. They are not equal; Moses himself even tells us that one greater than he would come. Moses brought us the Torah, and Yeshua brought us grace, compassion, and love. Yeshua came in the wisdom of Moses, with the Torah of Moses, and yet with the profound love of God that was personified in his own flesh and in his own existence. He came with the thirteen attributes of God concealed and revealed in him. Moses was thirteen shy of Messiah, he was missing the Divine Logos indwelling him. Yeshua came and made up the difference.
I loved discovering this small detail. Perhaps I am not the first to discover it. However, it made me realize that without love, and without the attributes of HaShem, we have no Messiah. In the same manner, without Moses, and the Torah that HaShem handed down through him, we also have no Messiah. It is when these two components come together in absolute union that we get the most beautiful sum of 358: Mashiach.