It has been said that Hebrew sages can spend their entire lives just studying the very first word in Scripture, because it carries so much depth.
Hebrew is a far more complex language than English. Every letter of the alphabet has a meaning and it has a numerical value. As a result, you can study a word by studying the meaning of each letter to make a phrase. You can also study the numerical value of the word and compare it to other words with the same total to gain deeper insight.
You can also study a word by dissecting the different parts of the word. This article will give you a sample of this with the first word in Scripture, Genesis 1:1, translated into English as "in the beginning". Written with English letters, it would be spelled b’rashyt, and pronounced something like “b-ra-sheet”. It is made up of the Hebrew letters bet, resh, aleph, shin, yod, tav.
The letter bet, which is the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet, means “house”. Since a house is something that you go in to, the letter bet, when used as a prefix to another Hebrew word, means “in”. The remainder of the word means “beginning”. It is also the word that is translated as “first fruits” in Leviticus 23:10. In the New Testament, we are told in 1 Corinthians 15:22 that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Firstfruits. Extrapolating, this word can mean “In Yeshua”.
The first two letters in the word, bet and resh, is the Hebrew word bar, which means son. You may be familiar with the use of this word in the Jewish phrase “bar mitzvah”, which is for boys, and “bat mitzvah” which is for girls. You see this word in verses like Daniel 3:25 and 7:13, in the phrases “Son of God”, and “Son of Man”.
The first three letters, bet, resh, and aleph spell the Hebrew word that is translated “create, shape, or form”. In fact, this word appears just a couple of words later than b’rshyt in Genesis 1:1. So just in those first three letters of this fascinating word, we have “son created”.
The last three letters, shin, yod, tav, spell out the word that is translated “appointed” (as in Genesis 4:25). The third and second to last letters, shin and yod, spell out the word “present” (as in gift) such as used in Psalm 68:29 and 76:11.
When putting all of this together, a recent newsletter from El Shaddai Ministries (El Shaddai is Hebrew for “God Almighty”), pastor Mark Biltz writes: So, from the very "beginning" we see God so loved the world He gave and "appointed" His only begotten "Son" the one who "created" all things to be a "gift" becoming the "first-fruits" of His creation!
All of that comes just from this first word, taking the letters in order, and looking at other words they contain. That doesn’t begin to break down the meaning of the word, as we haven’t looked at the individual letter meanings, or the numerical values. It is, however, all the room I have for this column, so I won’t be mining the word any further for you here.
What I do hope is that this tiny study, which barely scratches the surface, will whet your appetite to deeply study the Scriptures.
This article was inspired by a recent newsletter from www.elshaddaiministries.us.
To see another article looking at this same word from another perspective, click here.