Jesus God of the Old Testament
The First and the Last – (Part 1)
in Genesis 1:1 and Zech 12:10
I have a book called an interlinear Bible. It’s a study tool that shows English Bible text alongside the original Hebrew and Greek words.
Years ago a friend showed me a strange placement of a couple of letters in the Hebrew that are not translated into the English.
The first verse of the Bible in English says:
“In the Beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth.”
The Hebrew word for GOD in this verse is Elohim – (this is actually a plural noun).
The Aleph and the Tav at creation:
In the Hebrew interlinear, you can see clearly that immediately after the word Elohim there is the letter Aleph followed by the letter Tav. These are not translated in the English because they technically do not form a word.
Aleph and Tav are the first and last letters of the Hebrew Alphabet. When a Christian discovers this, if he is familiar with the New Testament, he will likely think of Jesus’ words in Revelation:
Revelation 1:8, “I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.”
Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek Alphabet. If it had been written in Hebrew, it would have said “I am the Aleph and Tav.”
Just as Jesus claimed to be I AM, He also associated Himself with the Aleph and Tav. Christians know that Jesus is given the title “the Word of God” and is called the “Word Made Flesh” – the very expression of God’s thought.
As the Aleph and Tav, He is the first and last of God’s alphabet, and every letter in between. I’ve learned over the years that this is literally and figuratively true. He is the subject of the Bible from cover to cover, and every detail points to Him.
- Aleph and Tav in Salvation
This un-translated pair of letters occurs in a few other places in the Hebrew scriptures. The one I want to focus on is one of my favorite prophecies from Zechariah:
ZECH 12:10 Then I will pour out a spirit of grace and prayer upon the house of David and on the people of Jerusalem. And they will LOOK UPON ME <ALEPH TAV> WHOM THEY HAVE PIERCED, and mourn for HIM as for an only son. They will grieve for him bitterly as for a firstborn son who has died.”
The un-translated ALEPH and TAV appear right between Me and Whom: And they will look upon ME <ALEPH TAV> Whom they have pierced.
To catch the significance of this verse we need to understand its context. Through the prophets in the Old Testament, God says that at the end of days the Jewish people will have been re-gathered into the land after dispersion into the nations (for unbelief and disobedience). They will be re gathered but still in a state of unbelief. (Essentially a secular state.)
However at that time, all the nations of the world will turn against Jerusalem. it will be a very terrifying situation for the Jewish people. God says that He will use that situation to reveal Himself to them as a nation. Ultimately He will climax history by saving reconciling His estranged people to Himself, delivering them from their enemies, and establishing His Kingom through the saved nation of Israel.
In Zechariah especially, these things are spelled out in great detail with focus on God’s final salvation of the Jewish People. In this verse specifically God reveals WHO HE IS as their savior. He is the one that they have pierced! And underneath the text, we see that He is the Aleph and the Tav.
And they will LOOK UPON ME <Aleph Tav> WHOM THEY HAVE PIERCED, and mourn for HIM as for an only son.
A few other very interesting things about this verse:
- 1) God speaks of Himself first in the first person, and then in second. “They shall look upon ME”. Then “they shall mourn for Him.” This happens quite a few times in the Old Testament, one of many types of allusions to the “christian” concept of plurality in the Godhead (the triune God, or the trinity).
- 2) He is prophetically identifying Himself as the one that Israel will realize that they have pierced. When they realize who He is, they will mourn. If you read the verses that follow it you’ll see that the entire nation will be in mourning and wailing with realization. This will be the greatest and probably most bittersweet family reunion in human history. It is prefigured in the story of Joseph when he is reunited with his brothers. This is only one of many OT references of the sacrificial death of Messiah for His people.
So much revelation in just two verses!
The Aleph and TAV show up in a few places other places, but from only two verses – Genesis 1:1 and Zech 12:10 we can see much about the identity of the God of the Old Testament. In Genesis 1:1 we see that He is God, and in Zechariah 12:10 we see that He is man.
- 1) As God, He is the creator of the heavens and earth.
- 2) He is the Aleph and the Tav, the first and the last.
- 3) And of course He is the Son of the House of David – He is both God and Man.
- 4) He will be pierced by His peple.
- 5) This is the one that will be salvation to His people, Israel