While I am not a big fan of biblical numerology, I do believe that numerological patterns still play an important role in the sacred texts and spiritual imagination of a people; the mind instinctively looks for patterns in the strangest places. Such thinking is not unique to Jewish biblical interpreters or mystics; it is common with all people of all faiths–whether it be seeing the face of Jesus or Mohammad in a cloud formation, or in some other peculiar place–as people, we impose our mental images and conceptions about order on the world and universe around us.
In this short posting, I thought it would be fun to show my readers some examples of how the rabbis sometimes utilize a “gematria,” to prove a point; of course, one could prove anything using this interpretive device. The great medieval commentator Abraham ibn Ezra warned us against what he considered, “bogus,” interpretations that say more about the mind of the interpreter than it does the actual text one is commenting upon.
Nevertheless, some of the numerological patterns are, if nothing else, interesting and even suggestive–especially when people talk about its significance. Continue reading “Hebrew Numerology: A Primer on Gematria — Part 1”