I wrote this short story and hid my own coded message within as well. After you read how Danny solves his mystery go back and look for my message. Comment below with your solution.
Grabbing his pencil Danny set to work again practicing the letters from the workbook his friend, Arnie, had lent him. It was so strange to make the weird symbols and to go from right to left across the page, but he had watched Arnie do it with ease and, though he knew his friend had been in Hebrew school for years, Danny felt that mastering the twenty-two letters within the month was a reasonable goal for himself. Arnie’s bar mitzvah was Danny’s target date and he was the type of kid whose competitiveness would keep him focused. He wasn’t trying to actually learn the difficult ancient language; he just wanted to be able to recognize the letters and maybe a few words.
Old Mrs. Ronketto, his Sunday School teacher, had two posters of the ten commandments on the wall, one in English with all the “thou shalt not’s”, and one in Hebrew, actually just ten words. How could that be, he wondered; how could a whole sentence in English come from only one word? He had asked Arnie who had told him a little bit. He explained that single letters had certain functions when added to the beginning or end of a word. His example had been about the tiniest little letter, the “yod”, which meant hand. Arnie said that if you put it at the end of a word it was like putting your hand on the word and possessing it – so it had the meaning of “my” or “mine”.
Danny put his pencil down and thumbed through the workbook. Ah, here was what he was looking for. He found a chart of the letters with how to pronounce them, their ancient pictographic symbols and their literal and symbolic meanings. He loved puzzles and Arnie had hinted that there were tons of codes, anagrams, acrostics and mysteries in the Old Testament.
If only he could find one, decipher it . . . how cool would that be!
Solving the ten commandment poster was just a little too much. Instead Danny decided to concentrate on just one significant word. He closed his eyes and let his mind wander. The most important word in his church was “Jesus”, but he was pretty sure he wasn’t going to find that in Arnie’s Jewish Bible. Arnie had told him that they didn’t believe Jesus was the Messiah. Then he remembered how Arnie wouldn’t even write God’s name out, he always wrote G-d. Mrs. Ronketto had told his class that the Jewish people never said God’s name aloud and so nobody was sure how to pronounce it. It could be Yahweh or Jehovah, based on the four Hebrew consonants that made up the name. His eyes flew open.
Leafing quickly through the workbook he came to the glossary and scanned the pages for God’s name. There it was. There were four letters but no pronunciation guide, instead there was a footnote telling the student to always say “Adonai” or “Ha Shem” when they came upon God’s name. Danny wrote out the four letters anyway then flipped back to the page with the chart.
Out of curiosity and a sudden impulse he began listing vertically the literal meaning under each letter. First there was the “yod” which he already knew meant “hand”. Then there was the “hey”, which was kind of funny because its literal meaning was “Behold”. He thought about using that word now to get somebody’s attention. It would make more sense to just say “hey”!
Vav was the next letter and stood for “nail”. Danny thought about that for a second and got a funny feeling that he was on to something. His mother carried a nail in her change purse, a reminder, she said of Jesus’ crucifixion. His dad always had one in his pocket. The last letter was another "hey".
Everything came together now. Danny couldn’t wait to show Arnie. Jesus was in the Old Testament. Plain as day, right in God’s name, even yelling for attention: Hand. Hey! Nail. Hey!
Jesus is in the Old Testament - in God's ancient name.
Copyright 2011 by Debra Chapoton