Bible Study, Biblical Hebrew, Book of Isaiah, Christian Life, Hebrew Letters, Holy Spirit, Indwelling Spirit, Isaiah 45:7, Languages of the Bible, Mem, Peace, Peace of Christ
Hello, Readers! Welcome to Renaissance Woman and the post that almost didn’t happen.
I did spend last week focusing on my study of Isaiah 45:7 and began looking at the last letter of shalom, the Mem. I found it fascinating but did not feel I was gaining understanding as there are so many different aspects to the Mem. I learn a great deal from the Hebrew letters and I find there are times where it is easy to feel cast adrift in a sea of information, treading water-as it were-and searching for an anchor from which to write a post. This analogy is apropos as the closest word to the spelling of Mem (מם) is the word mim (מים) which is the word for water.
The Mem is a bit different than the other letters I’ve looked at so far in that Hebrew letters are words themselves and yet Mem is not. It is spelled with two Mems: the open Mem at the beginning and the closed Mem at the end and, according to Robert Haralick, is not vocalized anywhere in the Pentateuch or, for that matter; anywhere in scripture. The closest word is, again, water which is spelled with the open Mem, the Yod, and the closed Mem. Chaim Bentorah writes, “From this we learn that water is the carrier of the Yod. The Yod is a messenger from heaven, a message of heaven” (Bentorah, 120).
It is in this idea of a messenger and message from heaven that I find my anchor. The Mem is not only associated with water but with the Hebrew word for mother (ahm or em אם) and the word for womb (rechem רחם). The opening at the lower left hand corner of the Mem is a picture of the opening in the womb through which the mother gives birth. But, the final form of the Mem is closed. Robert Haralick says that, since the Mem is the balancing point of all manifestation, the open Mem is the female aspect and the closed Mem is the male aspect. They are married by the Yod.” (Haralick, 199) Reading this reminded me of Genesis 5:2: “He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them Mankind in the day they were created.”
It also reminded me of a book I recently finished reading which I have mentioned in a previous post. The book is Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Deibler Rose and, in it, she recounts how her husband heads into the jungle to share the gospel with the Kapauku people. Darlene is left behind in the city of Macassar as the trail is considered to be too difficult for women. Darlene’s husband Russell is speaking with the Kapauku chieftain who finally says the gospel is all well and good for Russell, who is obviously a spirit person who comes from the spirit world beyond the mountains, but means nothing to a mere man like him. Russell Deibler protests and insists he too is a mere man but the chieftain doesn’t believe him because neither he nor any of the other missionaries who came with him have a wife or children. Russell Deibler tells the chieftain he does too have a wife and the chieftain demands to know where she is. The story is both humorous and fascinating and I don’t have space to share it all. The upshot is, Darlene is sent for and it isn’t until she arrives in the village and the Kapauku people see her that the gospel begins to be believed. I was struck how this story shows the importance of both men and women. None is more important or of more worth than the other: both are necessary.
Fascinating as the story is, since this is not a post on gender equality, I move on to an article I found titled “The Mystery of the Closed Mem” by Daniel Botkin. The open Mem is the form that appears at the beginning or middle of Hebrew words while the final form, the closed Mem, appears at the end of words with one exception. That exception is in Isaiah 9:7 and is the word l’marbeh which is translated “of the increase”. Mr. Botkin points out the word marbeh appears in other places in the Hebrew bible and is always spelled with the open Mem at the beginning. The only place where the word appears with the closed Mem is in this passage where Isaiah is prophesying the birth of the Messiah. Like Mr. Bentorah and Mr. Haralick, Mr. Botkin also describes the closed Mem as a closed womb and the open Mem as an open womb. His conclusion is this instance of a closed Mem where it ought to be an open Mem tells us that this child will be concealed within the closed womb of the Virgin Mary. The Epistle to the Hebrews opens with: “God who at various times and in various ways, spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son…” (Verses 1-2a) and, in this study, I see a picture of the water of the womb of Mary carrying the best message from heaven: the Word made flesh, God from God.
Both Mr. Bentorah and Mr. Haralick say the Mem represents knowledge of God. Mr. Bentorah uses water as his analogy and says the open Mem is like the surface of the water that can be seen from a boat and is the revealed knowledge of God. The closed Mem is like the world hidden in the depths of the sea which cannot be readily seen and is like the hidden knowledge of God. Mr. Haralick writes, “…the beginning Mem has an opening at the bottom. This alludes to the fact that from below we can perceive God through the functioning of the universe. The final Mem is closed. This alludes to the fact that although we perceive God, the king (melek מלך), through the functioning of the universe, ultimately God remains unknowable and hidden” (Haralick, 203).
I cannot deny the truth of this. I am finite and cannot begin to comprehend the Infinite Person, the One who created all that is and was and ever shall be. I would not be able to know Him were it not for Jesus. He is the interface-if I can use that word. He is the One in whom the fullness of the Godhead dwells (Colossians 1:19, 2:9-10). He is the place where heaven and earth meet (John 1:51). In Him we are One with The Father (John 17:20-26). Because we are in Him we can know God because, although “No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known]” (John 1:18, Amplified).
The seventh chapter of John’s Gospel records Jesus saying, “’He who believes in Me [who cleaves to and trust in and relies on Me] as the Scripture has said, From his innermost being shall flow [continuously] springs and rivers of living water.’ But He was speaking here of the Spirit, Whom those who believed (trusted, had faith) in Him were afterward to receive” (7:38-39a, Amplified). The Holy Spirit is this living water and He carries the reality of the message from heaven that is the risen and ascended Jesus to us today in that He bears witness of Jesus and leads us into all truth (John 15:26, 16:13). The Mem is the first letter of the Hebrew word meleah (מלאה) which means “something fulfilled, abundance”. The living water of the Spirit fills us to overflowing, we know Jesus as our very life, and our peace is made complete.
Unless noted otherwise, all Scriptures are quoted from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 1982
Microsoft Word – THE MYSTERY OF THE CLOSED MEM-2.docx (jewishroots.net)
Bentorah, Chaim, Hebrew Word Study: Beyond the Lexicon, Trafford Publishing, USA, 2014, Pages 119-122
Diebler Rose, Darlene, Evidence Not Seen: A Woman’s Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of World War II, HarperSanFrancisco, Harper Collins Publishers, San Francisco, California, 1988, Pages 22-33
Haralick, Robert M., The Inner Meaning of the Hebrew Letters, Jason Aronson Inc., Northvale, New Jersey, 1995, Pages 193-204
Strong, James, LL.D., S.T.D., The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 1990
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