Cassuto's Numerical Harmony


(Michael Peterson) #1

Alas, I missed out on the Numerology discussion by 3 days, but I wanted to add that the practice of numerology was very widespread throughout the Ancient Near East. One of the foremost scholars who studied numerology (he called the discipline numerical harmony) was the Italian Rabbi Umberto Cassuto. As it happens, I teach a university-level class on the Genesis creation accounts, and Cassuto’s findings constitute one whole class and they are fascinating, but…

… he would be the first to tell you that there is NOTHING mystical about numerology in the Bible, if only because the representation of numbers and letters in biblical Hebrew (BH) are identical (e.g., the number 1 and the letter aleph are one and the same). In this way, numerology is relatively straightforward in BH.

The Bible’s authors incorporated numerology into their narratives purposefully to add emphasis to their writings or to express deeper meaning(s). For example, the first creation story is written according to a numerology of sevens (emphasing completeness and finality). The point I would like to emphasize is just this: when the author of Genesis I sat down and put the story to pen, he consciously chose words, phrases, and form such that he could express a numerology corresponding to the higher meanings he meant to convey - in this case the completeness and finality of God’s creative work in Genesis I.

You can read more this fascinating subject at this link.


(Randy) #2

Thanks for that link. What do you think about the gematriya theory that the mark of the Beast (“616” and “666” as translated to Latin and Hebrew congregations) meant Nero Caesare in Revelation? Lamoureux wrote about that. I’m sure you can teach more about other things too. Just curious. Revelation is so confusing to me.

Moderators feel free to take this down if it’s not appropriate.

This is very helpful, and sheds light on Genesis’ meaning as in your other posts yesterday. Thanks.


(Phil) #3

Fascinating stuff. It adds meaning to know these things, and points out how learning more adds another dimension to our understanding of the Bible.
Randy’s link, not so much😉, but it too brings out how we can go astray without meaning to do so. I’m sure we have all had the experience of being in a bible study and someone throws out something that is totally off. In fact, I hesitate to guess how often I have done it myself.
I appreciate how it is presented that the numbers are not mystical, but are a literary device.


(Michael Peterson) #4

I am very skeptical about the mystical form of gematria and, as far as I can tell, this form is largely restricted to the kabbalistic traditions. The other form, the so-called revealed form, is a hermeneutic method used to deciper deeper meanings in the text. It’s the form studied by Cassuto and others. Its numbers convey no mystical content. For example, the number 666 means nothing in the revealed form.

I love the Babylon Bee and am a subscriber.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #5

So I was wrong about 70 AD. But was there really 70 years of Babylonian captivity? This would be interesting, and either way, I see the seventy years of Jeremiah as being linked to Deuteronomy 32:8, with Israel being given over to the seventy foreign gods.


(system) #6

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