Hebrew Numbers and Letters
Numbers in Hebrew
Each Hebrew letter has a number associated with it. Traditionally, Hebrew numbers were written using the letters, so if you look at a biblical passage in Hebrew, such as Psalms chapter 1 verse 3, it would be marked chapter א, verse ג. Most modern texts now use Arabic numerals (0,1,2,3,4, etc), however calendars and religious texts may still use the letters.
The number associated with each letter is considered intrinsic to the meaning of that letter, so, for example, א indicates the Creator, as God is the One source of everything. See below each letter, number, and basic meaning.
Kabbalists say that each letter actually contains deep spiritual meaning, which you can learn more about here. And if you want to dive deeper, explore Walking Kabbalah here. Or click on each letter to learn more about its meaning.
Hebrew Letter Numbers and Meanings
The Creator (The One)
|House, Container||Camel||Door, Resistance||The Breath||Hook, Connector||Weapon||Fence||Basket, Nest|
|QOF||RAYSH||SHEEN||TAV||KHAF (Final)||MEM (Final)||NUUN (Final)||PEH (Final)||TSADDE (Final)|
|Back of the Head, Eye of Needle||Head, Face||Tooth, Fire||Mark, Completion|
Because the Hebrew letters have numbers, each Hebrew word has a numerical value. In the Talmudic tradition, this means that words with the same numerical value have a common root, or association, and also that various calculations can be performed to understand more deeply the meanings of words and phrases. For example, in the Hebrew word for love אהבה and one, אחד both come to 13, which could be interpreted that love is a state of being one with everything, or that the Creator, who is one, is the source of all love in the world, and that the only true state of love is being close to God.
Historically, ת at 400 was the last number in the series, however later the final letters were assigned values of 500-900 to complete the series. Because of this, you will generally see counting such as תש =700 instead of with ן.
Geresh for Thousands and Millions
So how do we get to thousands and millions? A mark called a geresh ׳ is used along with the letters. So for example:
1,000,000 א׳ א׳
Respecting the Holy Name and Avoiding Negative Words
Because the letters yod, hei, and vav are included in the holy name that refers to the Creator, yod-hei (15) and yod-vav (16) are substituted with teit-vav (9+6=15) or teit-zayin (9+7=16). Orders of letters will also be changed if a letter sequence denotes something negative.
The Invisible Stairway: Meditations on the Hebrew Letters
The Hebrew Letters and Their Meanings