Edible Rubies, Liquid Diamonds, and an Ox

BFB140210 The Silver ChairIn The Silver Chair, the fourth book of his fantasy epic, The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis introduces us to the Underland beneath Narnia.  That dreary, dark world is under the power of a witch who has proclaimed herself queen and enchanted both Prince Rillian, Crown Prince of Narnia, and Underland’s somber residents, the Earthmen.  Rillian is unaware of his enchantment and believes the witch is his savior.  The Earthmen also have no memory of their enchantment; they trudge about day after joyless day doing the queen’s bidding.  Then a miracle happens:  Lewis’ heroes, Eustace, Jill, and Puddleglum free the prince, who kills the queen and puts an end to her enchantment.  This frees all the Earthmen and opens a chasm in Underland leading down to their true home, the Really Deep Land which they call Bism.  As the Earthmen make their way to the chasm and home, one of them invites the heroes to join him:

“Your honours, why don’t you come down to Bism?  You’d be happier there than in that cold, unprotected, naked country out on top.  Or at least come down for a short visit. . . Down there, I could show you real gold, real silver, real diamonds. . . I have heard of those little scratches in the crust that you Topdwellers call mines.  But that’s where you get dead gold, dead silver, dead gems.  Down in Bism we have them alive and growing.  There I’ll pick you bunches of rubies that you can eat and squeeze you a cup full of diamond-juice.  You won’t care much about fingering the cold, dead treasures of your shallow mines after you have tasted the live ones of Bism.”[1]

BFB140210 Lewis

C.S. Lewis

The Earthman understands the difference between what is alive and satisfying, and the cold shadows of the living things available to those who live on the surface.  The heroes have no clue.  They were not even aware that a land existed far under the ground, and had no frame of reference for living jewels.  Yet because they had brought him freedom, the Earthman wanted to share the full experience with them so that they, too, might be fulfilled.

We do not know what may have happened had the heroes journeyed to Bism.  Lewis chose instead to return everyone to their proper place:  the Earthmen to the Really Deep Land, and Prince Rillian and his companions to Narnia.  Yet the description of living jewels is instructive in the context of the Hebrew roots of the Christian faith.  The Apostle Paul puts it this way:

And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches.  But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.  (Romans 11:17-18 NKJV, emphasis added)

The point is this:  we Christians enjoy the blessings of salvation in Messiah Yeshua, but for about 1700 years we have missed out on the fullness of the blessings available in the whole Word of God.  Because we have cut ourselves off from the Hebrew context of our faith, we are like the Narnians who must be content with the cold treasures of shallow mines, not even aware that the living treasures are available to us if we would but dig them out.

As an example, consider what the Apostle John said about our Messiah:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.  (John 1:1-5 NKJV)

This is a passage all Christians should know.  We are taught that Jesus is the Word, but are we taught what that Word really is?  Where do we find out?  And what do we gain by such knowledge?

The Word appears in the first verse of the Bible:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1 NKJV)

The Word is not apparent in translation.  It takes some knowledge of Hebrew to see it.  Genesis 1:1 in Hebrew looks like this, with transliteration and English translation underneath.  (Remember that Hebrew reads right to left.)

הָאָרֶץ

וְאֵת

הַשָּׁמַיִם

אֵת

אֱלֹהִים

בָּרָא

בְּרֵאשִׁית

ha’aretz

v’et

ha-shamayim

et

Elohim

bera’a

Beresheet

the earth

and

the heavens

God

created

In the beginning

Notice that there are seven words in Hebrew, but only six are translated.  The middle word, אֵת (et), is never translated because it is too difficult to render in English.  Et is an indicator that what follows is a definite direct object receiving the action of the subject.  More specifically, et indicates that God is doing the action through the agency of God.  In other words, God, through God, created the heavens and the earth.  If that sounds confusing, consider again what John wrote:

All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.  (John 1:3 NKJV)

This word, et, consists of the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet, Aleph (א) and Tav (ת).  The Aleph-Tav is the First and Last, the Beginning and the End.  This is another concept familiar to Christians, once again presented to us through the Apostle John, quoting Messiah Yeshua:

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” (Revelation 22:13 NKJV)

Alpha-Omega is the Greek equivalent to Aleph-Tav.  The meaning is essentially the same in both languages, but let us think about this a moment.  Would Yeshua, the Jewish Messiah, be speaking to John, the Jewish Apostle, in Greek?  Probably not; the conversation likely was in Hebrew, which means that Yeshua referred to Himself as the Aleph-Tav.  And what exactly does that mean?  He explained it to us through the prophet Isaiah:

“Who has performed and done it, calling the generations from the beginning?  ‘I, the Lord, am the first; and with the last I am He.’”  (Isaiah 41:4 NKJV, emphasis added)

“Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God.‘”  (Isaiah 44:6 NKJV, emphasis added)

“Listen to Me, O Jacob, and Israel, My called:  I am He, I am the First, I am also the Last.“  (Isaiah 48:12 NKJV, emphasis added)

Yeshua is God, the One Who was present at the beginning and the end.  He appears as such at the beginning of the Bible (Genesis 1:1), in the middle (Isaiah 41:4, 44:6, 48:12), and at the end (Revelations 22:13).  He is the means by which He, God, created everything and gave it meaning.  It is by Him, for Him, and through Him, that all creation is redeemed and restored.  That is the Word, the Aleph-Tav.

But there is one more thing.  Each Hebrew letter has a meaning, and this gives us the greatest lesson of the Aleph-Tav.  In ancient Hebrew, the Aleph was a pictograph of the strongest thing the Hebrews knew:  an ox.  Thus Aleph (א) means “strength”.  The Tav (ת) was a picture of a crossroads, a simple cross like the English letter “t”.  Thus we arrive at the meaning of אֵת:

The Aleph-Tav is the Strength of the Cross.

References

1.  Hebrew for Christians provides a simple explanation of the Aleph-Tav in “Jesus and the Aleph-Bet” at http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Grammar/Unit_One/Jesus_and_the_Aleph-Bet/jesus_and_the_aleph-bet.html.  Lessons on the letters Aleph and Tav are available at http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Grammar/Unit_One/Aleph-Bet/Aleph/aleph.html and http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Grammar/Unit_One/Aleph-Bet/Tav/tav.html.

2,  Monte Judah covers the Aleph Tav in the context of teaching on the study of Torah and of end times prophecies in the following articles:

3.  119 Ministries presents a brief teaching on the Aleph-Tav at http://www.119ministries.com/contentpages.aspx?parentnavigationid=0&viewcontentpageguid=fe6495f1-ea29-4ce5-9987-142d179e5f58.

4.  Teachings by Mark Biltz, El Shaddai Ministries, on the Hebrew letters are available at http://www.elshaddaiministries.us/messages/aleph_beit_series.html.


[1] C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair, chap. 14, “The Bottom of the World”.  Extracted from www.bestlibrary.net at www.bestlibrary.net/fantasticfiction/2010/145/6024.html.


© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2014.  Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Barking Fox Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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About The Barking Fox

I am . . . - A lifelong disciple of Jesus (Yeshua) of Nazareth. - An avid student of the Bible. - A devoted husband and father. - A 29-year veteran of the United States Army. - A historian who connects people with their own stories.

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