Why does the
AENT Bible feature the Hebrew Alef Tav on the front cover?
Most are familiar with
Omega in Revelation, however a
literal translation is: "I am Alap, also Taw," says the Master YHWH,
Elohim; who is, and was, and is to come, the omnipotent." To
the Hebrew mind Alef Tav takes us back to the very first verse in the book
Tav are the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet (in Aramaic vav is
pronounced with a "wuh" sound). In simple terms, Alap-Taw (ta)
is a direct object pointer. Its purpose is to show the
part of a Hebrew sentence that receives an action, as in the first part of
~yhla arb tyvarb
Beresheet bara Elohim et hashamayim v’et ha’aretz
(In the beginning Elohim
created the heavens and the earth)
characters the key phrase is
et hashamayim v’et
ha’aretz and could literally be thought of in total as “In the
beginning, Elohim sent creation to
the heavens and the earth”. Alef Tav is "the energy force" behind
Creation Who reveals Himself in the name of YHWH (Yahweh)!
simply one eccentricity of expression in the 5,000 year old development of
the Hebrew language. While it's true that Alap-Taw does not appear as a
functionary in any Aramaic dialect, there is one huge exception where this
rule is broken that speaks volumes on its deeper usages.
Deeper Message Begins
relevant fact about this word is also the most obvious: Alap and Taw are
the first and last letters of the Hebrew-Aramaic alphabet and, just like the
English phrase “from A to Z” suggests a full spectrum of thought, Alap-Taw
does the same thing in Hebrew and Aramaic. This must especially be borne in
the mind because it appears inside the creative act and affirms YHWH’s
authorship of creation as “the First and the Last, the Beginning and the
It is also
notable that the first time YHWH appears in the Torah, it is with the
Elohim title and the Alap-Taw appears right after that! We call
this in Hebraic study a remez or “deep hint” that extends
beyond the grammar of the sentence and into the mystical relationship of
YHWH and His Nature, that He is literally the Beginning and the End.
something that also hints at the deep linkages even more strongly, and it
comes from an unlikely place:
ahla arb tyvrb
bara Alaha eyt shamayim w’eyt
version of Genesis 1:1. Now, even though the word is spelled
this dialect rather than Alap-Taw, we find this surprising fact according to
the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon: http://cal1.cn.huc.edu/.
suff = refl pron -->
sign of dir obj.
Jewish scholars made an exception and adapted the Hebrew Alap-Taw into
Aramaic, but phonetically spelled in their dialect, which at that time had
no vowels. The only way they could approximate the way ET sounded
was to substitute the
with the letter
Aramaic has no “sign of the direct object” except here.
Such is also borne out by the fact that the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon
lists all the dialects a word is used in—and there are quite a few—and here
only lists “Syriac”, the dialect of the Peshitta Tanakh. What’s more,
this passage is the only place the word appears in Tanakh (Old Testament)!
should also observe here that the main reading CAL offers is “essence”, and
indeed this is one of the main meanings of miltha (see John
1:1)as well! As a result, even the alternate meaning reflects the normative
understanding of why to import Alap-Taw from Hebrew.
second meaning, a reflexive pronoun/preposition,
is also relevant here. Broadly speaking a reflexive pronoun is a pronoun
bound to its antecedent, or the subject that comes before it. In English
terms, a reflexive pronoun would be like either “himself” or “herself”, and
these would be bound to a him or her previously. In this case, that him/her
is YHWH Himself, called here Elohim. As a result, Alap-Taw is linked both
grammatically and spatially to the Source, rather than solely “the heavens
and the earth” as it would be in pure Hebrew. It is a depth of mystical
treasures that is literally only possible in Aramaic, though the word is of
course the most relevant meaning is #3, the sign of the direct object itself
that normally is never mentioned. The reason it is here is, I believe, to
do honor to the Hebrew original Tanakh that the Babylonian Jews venerated,
as well as a way to pass this esoteric depth on to future scholars.
In the end,
we adapted the Hebrew
justice to all these meanings, both prosaic and profound, both grammatical
and poetic, as well as to do justice to the linkage and linguistic
transference of these ideas from Hebrew and into Aramaic. Languages
cross-pollinate and cross-influence one another over the long distances in
place and time from which the Biblical record is drawn. As Israel went into
Captivity from a Hebrew speaking country to an Aramaic one, Babylonian and
Hebrew followers of YHWH took the best of the ideas from each camp and
emerged stronger. Then, as we also move forward in our study and faith
walks together, we come to the final and most important usage of this key
word in the Renewed Covenant:
"I am Alap, also Taw,” says the
Master YHWH, Elohim; who is, and was, and is to come, the omnipotent."
-Revelation 1:8 (AENT)
In the end,
the Aramaic here is evoking the greatest statement about YHWH ever told,
namely the He calls Himself Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh, I am Who I am,
I was Who I was, and I will be Who I will be as revealed in Sh'mot/Exodus
May we all
realize the full blessing and depth then that YHWH the Eternal has provided
for us in His Word, as well as the Word made flesh to manifest
(Miltha) in Mashiyach (Messiah) with us and for us.
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