In ancient tradition, scholars and sages sought to give a numerical value to the letters within their traditional alphabet. The letters constituting of any Greek word for example, can be converted into numbers, which can then be summed to give a numerical value for the word itself, a process which can be extended to phrases and passages of text or may also apply to the calendar year and the like.
In this way numerical connections between biblical and secular words and phrases have been discerned and studied for many generations, a practice known for Hebrew, as Gematria, and for Greek, Isopsephia.
Today a select few, feel guided to calculate a numerical pattern involving increments of six in the English alphabet. This practice is known as English Gematria. In addition to English Gematria this site will display many other forms of Gematria as well.
Gematria (gimatria, Hebrew gematriya) is considered to be a three thousand-year old system of applying numerical values to the letters of an alphabet for the purpose of finding identical numerical values to religious or secular words, names, and phrases.
It is speculated that the word Gematria derived from the order of the Greek alphabet, gamma being the third letter (gamma plus tria). Another possibility is that the word Gematria derived from the Greek word geometria (earth-measure or earth measurement) from which the English word “geometry” derives. According to S. L. MacGregor Mathers, an occult practitioner and one of the founders of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the word Gematria is a metathesis, or grammatical revision, of the Greek word ’Grammateia’ meaning tabulation as to denote in an organized fashion. Whatever the case, it is rather likely that both geometria, (geometry) and “gamma + tria” had an influence on the formation of the word.
SIGNIFICANCE OF NUMBERS
Popular among many ancient people was the use of reading letters of an alphabet as numbers also, specifically this practice is believed to have begun in the ancient world of Mesopotamia, later this practice would come into use by the Hebrews as well as the Greeks and Romans. While Gematria usage is considered a three thousand-year old system, one of the problems of dating its usage includes the lack of explicit chronological examples. To date theologians and scholars are still at debate over which form of Gematria came first and exactly when. A few theologians have suggested that Gematria usage is older than scholars can date, possibly as old as man, and may have included a lost form of Egyptian Gematria.
One of the earliest known usage of Gematria occurred during the reign of Sargon II (Isaiah 20:1) between 722-705 B.C.E. In the 8th century BC, Sargon II, an Assyrian king, whose name means “the king” (true king), ordered the construction of a palace in present day Khorsabad in northern Iraq.
According to a cuneiform inscription found at the palace, the length of Sargon’s grand palatial walls, of Dur-Sharukin (House of Sargon), were built 16,280 Assyrian units, which corresponded to the numerical value of Sargon’s name. The Mesopotamian scholars, or sages of Sargon‘s era, treated numbers as a sign of the divine interconnectivity between the natural world, which they thought to be guided by the manifestations of nature, and the supernatural world, which is unseen and mysterious.
These sages of the ancient world sought to determine the value created when adding the numeric designation of letters and words, thus creating the ‘true’ value or ‘quality’ of the spoken word or letter. In ancient Mesopotamia, for example, numbers came to identify the value of divinity that Sumerian and Babylonian gods held, each god given a numerical designation which defined their persona (true quality).
From the view of the ancients, so too in Judaism, for example, numbers are viewed as an integral part of understanding the divine. A visible token between the concrete and God is known as an OT, which is Hebrew for symbol or sign. Since numbers concern the concrete, the revelation of identical numerical values of words or phrases which bear relation to one another or to the significance of the numerical value reached when calculated is viewed as an Ot, or sign of the divine.
USAGE OF GEMATRIA
The ancient tradition of Gematria use, which assigns a numerological value to letters in an alphabet extends to all languages and has never been relegated to only one language. While Jewish Gematria is the most known of this discipline, scholars consider Greek and Babylonian Gematria to predate it by many centuries. Babylonian Gematria is considered to date back to the 8th century B.C, where sages of the time employed a method of calculation seemingly based on increments of six and ten units, or measures, represented by the Sumerian cuneiform script.
The ancient Greeks created a form of Gematriac dream interpretation and applied this method to discover the divine meaning behind visions or dreams of the nobility within Greece. The sages of the Mesopotamian world known as magi also utilized Gematria on a daily basis. This practice of magi Gematria extended to the interpretation of the ’true value’ or identity of the stars as well as to the encoded literature which this group produced.
The group of Gnostics, also known as early mystics, applied Gematria to their literature as well, including identifying the names Abraxas and Mithras connectivity to the number 365, as in the number of the days in a year.
From textual evidence the practice of scholarly Gematria (Mystery School Gematria) is dated to around 70-200 CE, known as the Tannaic period. This period of time saw the largest growth of Gematria usage.
For centuries Jewish scholars have used two forms of Gematria, the revealed form, a numeric form of hermeneutics which allows for the interpretation of the letters in a word according to their numerical value, and the mystic form, the search for the hidden meaning associated with every letter, word, and number. It is estimated that by the 10th century over 1 million persons possessed the knowledge of Gematria and were extensively applying this method of interpretation to 6 languages including Spanish and Greek.