Truth: Glimpses of Christ in the Hebrew word “truth”

Within Scripture there are gems that point to Christ. One of them is the Hebrew word translated into English as “truth” or “faithfulness.” In the New Testament, Jesus presents Himself as “the Truth” (John 14:6). That is one of His names when He returns (Revelation 19:11).

The Hebrew word for “truth” (emet) is composed of three Hebrew letters (we use 4 English letters to transliterate the three Hebrew letters). The first letter in “emet” is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet (aleph). The last letter in “emet” is the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet (tav). The middle letter in “emet” is the 13th letter (mem) of the 22 letter Hebrew alphabet. Interestingly, however, it is precisely the middle sound of the 25 sounds in the Hebrew alphabet according to the Brown, Drivers, and Briggs lexicon, because three letters, all after the letter “mem” have two sounds each (“pey” has either a “p” or a “ph” sound, “shin” has either an “s” or a “sh” sound, and “tav” has either a “t” or a “th” sound). Several Jewish sites also note that “mem” in “emet” represents the middle letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

Now for Christians, one of the names for Jesus is the “Alpha and the Omega” (Revelation 1:8; 22:13); that is, He is the first letter and the last letter of the Greek alphabet. If we were to translate this name back to Hebrew, we would say that He is the “Aleph and Tav,” which happen to be the first and last letters of our word “emet,” the Hebrew word for “truth.” He is the first and the last, the beginning and the end of the alphabet and of all things. The word “amet” (truth) incorporates this all-encompassing aspect of Jesus for us.

But what about the middle letter of “emet, “mem”? “Mem” is the first letter of the Hebrew word we know as “Messiah.” Even some Jewish writers have seen the letter “mem” as representing the Messiah, although not all Jewish sources agree on this.

So, what we have in the Hebrew word meaning “truth” is “the Alpha and the Omega” with the Messiah in the middle, an amazing correlation to Jesus. He is the first and the last of all speech. He spoke the worlds into existence and He will speak their end. But between the beginning and the end, He comes to be our Messiah. And He is the truth which the Hebrew word “emet” describes.

And there is more. The first word in the Hebrew Bible that begins with the letter “aleph” is the Hebrew word “Elohim” in Genesis 1:1, the word meaning “God.”

The first word in the Hebrew Bible that begins with “tav” is the Hebrew word “tohu” in Genesis 1:2 that we translate as “formless.” This word is translated into Greek in the Septuagint with the Greek word “aoratos,” a word we translate in Colossians 1:15 and in 1 Timothy 1:7 as “invisible” in reference to God. Jesus is the image of the invisible God. He is the invisible King of Kings and Lord of Lords (1 Timothy 6:16), who took on Himself the form of a slave in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:7). As Irenaeus states in the 2nd century, Christ is “the invisible becoming visible” (Against Heresies, Bk 3, Ch 16).

The first word in the Hebrew Bible that begins with “mem” is the Hebrew word “m’rachephet” found in Genesis 1:2 that we translate as “hovered” or “moved.” This word is found only once more in the entire Old Testament, but this time without the “mem” prefix (Deuteronomy 32:11). Here it appears in the great Song of Moses. This song leads us directly to the Messiah (Compare the climatic verse of this song, Deuteronomy 32:43 with Romans 15:10, Hebrews 1:6, Revelation 16:5-6, 2 Thessalonians 1:8, Romans 3:25, 1 John 2:2). The word here in this song carries forth the idea of the protecting, guarding, and loving care of God for Israel.

Each of these three words in Genesis 1:1-2 has Messianic overtones. Jesus is God. Jesus is the invisible One who became visible for us, the formless God who took on form, the One who is everywhere present in the universe through all time and space and yet appeared incarnate in a physical body restricted by both time and space. Jesus is the One who desires to tenderly care for us. The image of hovering over, for Christians, cannot help but remind us of Jesus’s words when He came to Jerusalem, longing to brood over His people, but they would not have Him (Matthew 23:37).

And there is more. The first three words in the Hebrew Bible in Genesis 1:1, the words we translate “In the beginning God,” end respectively in the Hebrew letters; “tav,” “aleph,” and “mem.” The last three Hebrew words of the creation account in Genesis 2:3 end respectively with the letters “aleph,” “mem,” and “tav.” Thus, the three letters that spell “truth” open and close the creation account.

The Scripture’s opening account is bookended by truth, and for believers in Jesus that truth is Jesus. Jesus is the creator of all things. He is not only the speaker of the word, but he is the word that was spoken. He is the truth through whom all things were made.

Normally, I am not one to focus on obscurities in the Biblical text because the coming judgment will be based on what is plainly revealed: whether we have faith in God, whether we love one another, whether we keep ourselves unspotted from the world. We need nothing obscure to please our God. I often say that our problem is not with the obscure truths, but with the ones we know and do not do.

Further, I think a focus on ever searching for hidden truths in Scripture can become a tool of the devil to keep us from practicing the truths that we all know we should be doing; namely loving God and loving each other in deed and truth. Yet, at the risk of sending someone off in some mad hunt to uncover hidden messages in Scripture, I wanted to share this tidbit from Scripture, as being a beautiful picture in one word of Jesus, our Alpha and Omega, our Messiah, the Creator, the Truth.

2 thoughts on “Truth: Glimpses of Christ in the Hebrew word “truth””

  1. thanks for this blessing this morning!
    Pro 25:2 It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.
    Rom 16:25 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,

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