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Why the Hebrew letter "Mem"?

Like the sages of Israel, we believe that because the Bible was written by God, it holds meanings at many levels: the story level, the application level, the symbolic level, and the hidden level. Sometimes there are incredible lessons to be learned by simply studying the usage of Hebrew letters in the text or the structure of Hebrew words. Of course, we believe this deeper meaning is worthless if one does not believe what the text actually says, so emphasis is always placed accordingly.

In ancient Hebrew thought, the letter Mem symbolizes water. In fact, its name is derived from the Hebrew word for water, mayim. The connection of Mem to water is very significant given the other concepts with which the letter is interconnected.

The Number 40
Each Hebrew letter has a numerical value. The value of Mem is 40. This is significant in several ways:

1. The number 40 appears numerous times in both the Old and New Testaments connected to the concepts cleansing or refining. Two such examples are the flood of Noah and the temptation of Jesus. Furthermore, many of these accounts that mention 40 are closely associated with water. Noah's flood was a massive cleansing by water, and Jesus' temptation took place immediately after he was baptized in the Jordan river.

2. The Mikvah, or Hebrew ritual immersion must contain at least 40 sa'ahs of water (about 200 gallons) to be a mikvah. Thus the number 40 and the concept of water again connect the idea of cleansing intimately to the letter Mem.

A Womb and a Tomb
Mem is already associated with water and cleansing, but the depth of symbolism goes even further. In both Jewish and Christian understanding, immersion/baptism is a place of death and rebirth. Our old self dies, and our we are born again, clean and renewed. As if this simple symbolism were not enough, the letter Mem literally illustrates this concept.

There are two forms of the letter Mem, one used at the beginning or middle of words (open), and one only used to end a word (closed).

Jewish tradition regarding these letters indicates that the open Mem is a womb, open so that life can come forth, and that the closed Mem is a closed womb or a tomb, a place where there is no life.

We can see the idea of life and death even more evidently in the Hebrew word for truth, emet, which is made up of the first, middle and last letter of the Hebrew alphabet - Mem being the middle letter. In this word, Mem is the mediator between life and death, since the first two letters of the word spell em (mother - the beginning of life), and the last two letters spell met (death). Mem is the tie that figuratively mediates between the two and allows us to pass from life to death peacefully and vice versa.

The Mediator
This concept of mediation is very important because in the end, the letter Mem is a symbol of Jesus, the mediator between God and man who had to die to bring us life. Like water, it is He who cleanses us, tests us, and will judge us, like the flood of Noah both cleansed and judged.

Maranatha Evangelistic Ministries
In many ways, Maranatha Evangelistic Ministries stands in a role of mediator. In teaching the importance of the Old Testament Law even to New Covenant believers and also examining the depth of Jewish wisdom, we stand in a position to inform believers of the richness of their Hebraic roots and the blessings of the Torah. On the other hand, because we have the understanding that Jesus is our prophesied redeemer, we also stand in a position to share with the Jewish people the richness of their inheritance should they accept their Messiah.