Thursday, January 1, 2015


[Reconstruction of a speech I gave to our church men's club in 2012. My hard drive crashed, and I didn’t save a paper copy of the text. I also made minor changes to take advantage of the printed word.]

Numbers are my friends. People make good friends too, but numbers you can count on…

Let me introduce you to my friend 26, a very interesting number. I picked 26 because God’s name is associated with it. His name is not associated with more popular numbers like seven or 12, but 26. Why 26? Proverbs 25:2 says It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.  Can we search out this matter?

First, let’s see why God’s name YHVH (יהוה) is associated with 26. In ancient Hebrew there are no separate symbols for numbers, they reused the letters. So every word in the Old Testament takes on a numerical meaning. It’s a simple substitution code - here are the first 10 letters.

א ב ג ד ה ו ז ח ט י
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

 Mapping letters to numbers is known as Gematria, the full table of letter/number mappings can be seen at wikipedia [1] or [2]. By the way, this also works in English for the word “God” – again a simple substitution A = 1, B = 2, C = 3, D = 4, … G = 7, …O = 15 makes GOD = 26. I won’t defend Gematria too hard, it has its uses and limits. For example, there are alternate letter/number mappings, are any of these mappings “sacred”? You can’t use Gematria to establish doctrine, that must come from the plain text, but I think it’s possible to unconver hidden connections in Scripture. Consider this – “Six hundred sixty-six is called the "number of the beast" in (most manuscripts of) chapter 13 of the Book of Revelation, of the New Testament, and thus also in popular culture.” Wikipedia 666 [3]. So there is at least one example of Gematria in the Bible. Incidentally, I learned that the fear of 666 is called hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia [4].

Anyway YHVH = 26 is well known. Let’s see where it leads. Is there anything special about 26? There is no number that’s not interesting, and there is a simple proof. Let N be the first uninteresting number. Isn’t that interesting? 

Here is an interesting mathematical fact about 26.

26 is the only integer that is one greater than a square (25 = 52) and one less than a cube (27 = 33). Full proof (not for the feint of heart) at [5].

Big deal. All that shows is that 26 actually is an interesting number. Some want to say that by being between a square and a cube, 26 is a bridge between physical and spiritual, I think that’s a stretch. But I do believe it shows God’s humility because 26 is not an obvious choice like 7. It invites us to dig a little deeper to get to know Him.

While everything in nature reflects God in some way, in His word He reveals Himself and His plan through 26. Consider these examples.

·        Gen 1:26 - Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; …”
·        Ps 136 is 26 verses, each verse has the phrase “for He is good, and His mercy endures forever”. “ki tov ki l’olam kasdo”
·        The Greek Strongs number G26 is Agape which means Love, an attribute of God
·        According to Jewish chronology, God gave the Torah to Moses in the 26th generation since Adam
·        You can read many more interesting facts about 26 at [6]

Let’s consider some more math, (maths to the Brits). A 3 x 3 x 3 cube, think Rubik’s cube, has 26 visible cubes, and one invisible cube in the center. We may not be able to see it, but we know where it is and how big it is. The invisible is known by the visible. Rom 1:20 “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

But wait, there’s more.

Iron Pyrite Crystals
We have seen that 26 and 27 are connected to cubes. I have only been able to find two cubes in nature – salt and iron pyrite a.k.a. fool’s gold, wombat scat [7] notwithstanding. God’s people are called the salt of the earth. He chose salt, not fool’s gold. Salt is essential for life, fool’s gold is shiny and would no doubt be most people’s choice, it has commercial uses, but is not valuable like real gold. 

Natural Salt Crystals from the Dead Sea
Salt is readily available nowadays, but in times past, it was precious. “It is commonly believed that Roman soldiers were at certain times paid with salt. (They say the soldiers who did their job well were "worth their salt.") The word 'salary' derives from the Latin word salārium, possibly referring to money given to soldiers so they could buy salt.” Wikipedia "History of Salt" [8].

The cube area in back is the Holy of Holies [9].
The only cubes found in the Bible are the Holy of Holies of both the tabernacle and later the temple, and the city of New Jerusalem, described in Rev 21, which some interpret it as a cube, a square, or a pyramid. Nonetheless, all three are places where God dwells. More precisely, the tabernacle and temple are where God placed his name YHVH, ie 26.

1 Kings 9:3 The Lord (YHVH) said to him, “I have heard your prayer and your supplication, which you have made before Me; I have consecrated this house which you have built by putting My name there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.

God dwells in cubes, we are salt, and God dwells in us.

1 Corinthians 3:16 Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

What a beautiful picture, and all of this is pictured by my friend, number 26.



1 comment:

  1. But there's a problem with the whole scheme and I'll bet not one in a million can tell you about it. YHWH was not the original spelling. HWH was originally a "lamed-yod" verb, not "lamed-he", and so the root was HWY, not HWH and the spelling of the masculine singular imperfect stem was YHWY, not YHWH. The spelling changed along with those of all the other "lamed-yod" verbs, long before our received Hebrew text was canonized.

    The original "numerical value" of the Tetragrammaton was 31, not 26, by the list you give above.