Thursday, March 3, 2011
A Little Snippet, part 6
Does that look like a pitchfork? What is that? A similar symbol is glowing yellow on the dashboard of my car, telling me the air in my spare tire is low. I love a mystery, puzzles, codes. This symbol is actually a letter and, no, it’s not some fancy “E” lying on its back, legs up.
Shin is the 21st Hebrew letter and symbolically means tooth since the Hebrew word for tooth is shen. Its ancient script form looked more like the jagged teeth of a grinning pumpkin. At first I thought that tooth was a strange word to be linked to a Hebrew letter, but as I did a search I was astonished to find “tooth” or “teeth” appearing 51 times in the Old and New Testaments combined. Teeth appear as symbols of things that bite or crush or consume.
In the acrostic (or alphabetic) verses where each line or verse starts with the next consecutive Hebrew letter we can expect to find the symbolic meaning popping up in at least one of them. Here is verse 10 of Psalm 112 where the last three Hebrew letters – resh, shin, tav – start each line, shin is the middle one:
10 The wicked will see and be vexed,
they will gnash their teeth and waste away;
the longings of the wicked will come to nothing.
Of course, in English the line doesn’t start with teeth. You can’t even see the beauty of the original – how it flows from r to s to t.
In the longest acrostic chapter, Psalm 119, we get groupings of 8 verses in a row, each starting with the next Hebrew letter. The symbolic meaning of each letter often appears one or more times, but not always. We discover other key words that God has woven into His masterpiece and that link to other scriptures. In an examination of the shin verses in Psalm 119 I didn’t find any teeth, but there was definitely some bite. Each verse started with an amazing word which begins with the letter shin: prince (sarim), peace (shalom), rejoice (soos) and hope (sabar). Interesting. It’s almost like a little story for us, isn’t it? Prince. Peace. Rejoice. Hope.