Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bet and gimel

The summer is not yet over but my thoughts return to the next letters of the alef-bet. That is bet ב and gimel ג.

Who will be at the next Sunday school lesson, I wonder?

ב is of course for In the beginning. ב occurs twice in the first two words of the Bible. Here is a good verse to memorize - why? Just for fun. It feels and sounds like a memorable verse (Genesis 1:1).

בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ
[b'reshyt bara elohym et ha-shemaym v'et ha-eretz]

The ending of the first word ית is rare - at least to me! The bet in the first word stands for the preposition 'in'. The רֵאשִׁ is a word meaning 'head'. Is there something more to the form of this word? (Curious that Paul writes of God as the head of Christ.)

The second bet occurs in the second word - created - the word בָּרָא occurs several more times in this first great poem (Genesis 1:1 to 2:4).

We know the poem ends at chapter 2 verse 4 since the words of chapter 1 verse 1 are repeated in reverse order. Notice too the change from אֱלֹהִים the word used for God in Genesis 1:1 to יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים in Genesis 2:4.

בְּיוֹם עֲשׂוֹת יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים אֶרֶץ וְשָׁמָיִם
[beyom asot (adonai) elohym eretz vshamaym]

Bet also begins the word bless. We see this word in Psalm 34:2 - I will bless יְהוָה at all times: אֲבָרְכָה אֶת-יְהוָה בְּכָל-עֵת
['avarcah (adonai) becol-`et]

But you may notice that the word begins with alef! That is a secret that you will learn - the root word is בָרְכָ.The alef signifies an action that continues - so we translate in this case, I will bless.

As for gimel - I will take that from Psalm 119 part 3 (Psalm 119:17).

גְּמֹל עַל-עַבְדְּךָ אֶחְיֶה - [gmol al-avdeka eheyeh] Deal bountifully with your servant that I may live. Eight verses in this psalm beginning with this verse begin with the letter gimel. To translate this one so it begins with our letter g - we could write - grow your servant. For another word beginning with gimel, we could use Psalm 34:3 again: גַּדְּלוּ לַיהוָה אִתִּי [gadolu la'adonai 'iti]magnify - make great - יְהוָה with me.

I will make up some games with these letters for September and also use that time to review our first lessons.