Revista Studii Teologice


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Gematria ebraică – paradigmă ermineutică a Sfintei Scripturi. Studiu de caz: cifrele 1-7 în Cartea Facere (בראשית )

Autor(i): Alexandru Prelipcean
Figures have always fascinated man. They have always been close to man, whether he ascribed them symbolic significance, or considered they encyphered mysteries. Economic needs taught man to „play” with figures. From ordinary people to the intellectuals of past and present cultures, all have attributed various values and symbols to them.
The present study aims to capitalize on Hebrew gematria, providing examples from the first book of the Pentateuch – Genesis (בראשית ). We also sought to establish whether one can find any connection between Hebrew numerology and New Testament texts – more specifically, whether numerology could foreshadow the soteriological events and whether it could provide a hermeneutic paradigm of the Holy Scripture.
Gematria has a long history. We certainly can speak of gematria (a branch of numerologic study, beside themura and notarikon, intended to reveal the relationship between words and concepts) starting with the 13th century, when Hebrew Kabbalah first attempted to elucidate Bible’s „encoding”. History, however, informs us that the Jews had imported this method from Babylonians and Egyptians, just as the Greek were to take it over from Jews.
To Judaic culture, figures had a certain value. Moreover, the respect Jews showed to the tetragrammaton YHWH, made them alter the original deriving of numbers 15 and 16, which contained letters of the divine name. The various gematria methods (of which we mention: mispar shemi, mispar haperati, valorii ordinale, athbash etc.), reveal the importance attached by Jews to the numbers. Obviously, gematria’s basic system is the standard one, which has been either elaborated upon, or simplified, throughout the times. Two questions, however, can be raised. To what extent can be these gematria systems employed with the Biblic account? Which system is the closest to/the most widely used with the Biblical texts? The answer can be provided only by interpreting the figure-letter relationship, as well as gematria’s various contexts. A correct interpretation will bring the figures closer to language, and moreover will illuminate the figure-language, language-figure relationship.
The second part of the present study attempts to capitalize on the symbolism of 1-7 sequence, both with respect to lay culture and to Patristic writings and thought. The figures 3 and 7 are especially important to Orthodoxy: 3 stands for the Holy Trinity, while 7 refers to perfection. The case study attempts at a Biblical exegesis (for the texts of Genesis 4:15, 5:21-23, 6:15-16a, 7:24, 14:14), based on the gematria methods and the writings of the Holy Fathers.
On the other hand, we might consider the study of gematria as relevant only for Old Testament texts, which is wrong. Echoes of Judaic gematria may be found with the New Testament as well. Thus, the Prologue of the Gospel according to Matthew is centered on the number 14, and the name of David. The latter, if unvowelled, amounts to 14 (!), which prompted certain biblicists to consider the number 14 as referring – by extension – to Jesus Christ, Who belongs to David’s lineage. Others saw in the number 14, the half of a synodic month; thus, after the first 14 generations, the equivalent of a full moon is reached with David, then the moon is no longer visible – with the Babylonian exile, to reach full moon again with Christ.
What the study of gematria should demonstrate is its capacity of being a hermeneutic paradigm for the Biblical texts. While Biblical exegesis often analyzes the texts, starting from the chiastic devices of hysteron-proteron type, it completely ignores gematria’s manner of looking at the text in itself. This was the very purpose of the present study: an attempt at a genuine comprehension of gematria’s contribution to Biblical study. However, we should not think that any verse can be interpreted in gematria’s key. Only insofar the reference to figures has a spiritual load, the aim and purpose of gematria makes sense. Otherwise, it becomes mere speculation, a „game” of figures with a single stake: reducing body and soul to unthinking ration!

Pagini: 177-213