I see, rather regularly, people associating the Aleph-Tav (את) with Messiah Yeshua. If you are already familiar with what I am talking about, you may want to skip the next paragraph. If you're not familiar, here is a brief explanation.
In the Hebrew Aleph-Bet (alphabet), the first letter is Aleph (א) and the last is Tav (ת). This letter combination is pronounced et, as in "et cetera." People take the statement from Revelation where Yeshua says He is the "Alpha and the Omega" and they say, "Well Yeshua didn't speak Greek, so what He actually said was 'I am the Aleph and the Tav' since those are the Hebrew/Aramaic letters." They then take note of the number of places the et symbol (word) is used, and state that this symbol is actually a placeholder, or some sort of "hidden code" for Yeshua. Their favorite verse is Genesis 1:1, where we read (in English), "In the beginning, Elohim created the heavens and the earth." However, they say, in Hebrew, the untranslated et actually appears between the words ha'shamayim (heavens) and ha'arets (earth). Thus, since this symbol is a stand-in for Yeshua, we see how Yeshua "connects" heaven and earth. Fascinating, right? Yet there are some issues.
I will say that I cannot deny the original words may very well have been "I am the Aleph and the Tav." I wasn't there, and I didn't hear them. However, whatever alphabet He chose, it doesn't matter, He was simply using it as a parallel idiom to what else He said: "I am the First and the Last." So does the et symbol really stand in for Yeshua? Look it up in any lexicon or grammar textbook, and they will tell you this "word" is a direct object pointer. That is, it identifies and precedes the direct object. It also serves as a preposition meaning "with" and as a feminine pronoun. So in our Gen. 1 example, the direct objects are "heaven" and "earth" because those are the "objects" that are being affected by the "verb" (created). Thus the "action" is something being created, the subject is who is creating (Elohim), and the object is what is being created (heaven and earth). So of course we expect a direct object indicator in one form or another, to show what is receiving the action. Opponents of this explanation, and supporters of the "Yeshua is the Aleph-Tav" point of view, however, say that there are many times when the word et is NOT used to indicate an object at all. And this is true. But that is because it has multiple uses.
In some cases, it can stand in for the Hebrew preposition עם (eem) which means "with." It is also used to express the second person feminine singular ("you" if "you" are one single female). This word, which appears more than 10,000 times in the Tanakh, is used a number of ways.
Now, you may read this and still be convinced that not only did Yeshua say "Aleph and Tav" but He also truly IS the et, no matter what I say, and it IS a hidden sign for Him. Well if that's true, is it true EVERY TIME the symbol appears? Most people that believe the theory say yes. So let's look at a few times where, if the et truly does mean "Messiah" that it would cause some major problems…
Genesis 9:22 – "Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside." (NASB). In Hebrew, the words for "Canaan" and "nakedness" are כנען and ערות respectively. Right between these two words in Hebrew is the Aleph-Tav, et. So if this means "Messiah" then our verse here would read, "…Canaan saw Messiah the nakedness of his father…" Seems a bit absurd (and blasphemous) to me. Next example.
Exodus 8:26 – "But Moses said, "It is not right to do so, for we will sacrifice to YHWH our Elohim what is an abomination to the Egyptians. If we sacrifice what is an abomination to the Egyptians before their eyes, will they not then stone us?" In this sentence, the words for "sacrifice" and "abomination" are נזבח and תועבת respectively. In between these words is the Aleph-Tav. So if the et stands for "Messiah" then this verse would read as, "…If we sacrifice Messiah an abomination to the Egyptians…" Again, absurd. Next.
Leviticus 26:40 – "If they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their forefathers, in their unfaithfulness which they committed against Me, and also in their acting with hostility against Me;" (NASB). Here the word for "iniquity" is repeated (once applied to the Israelites, once applied to their ancestors), and the word is עון. Between the two uses of it we have the Aleph-Tav. Thus it could be written as, "If they confess their iniquity Messiah and the iniquity of their forefathers…"
But wait, there's more…
Exodus 32:19 – "It came about, as soon as Moses came near the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing; and Moses' anger burned, and he threw the tablets from his hands and shattered them at the foot of the mountain." (NASB). Here we the word "saw" (as in, "he saw") and the word "calf" which are וירא and העגל, respectively. In between these two words is the Aleph-Tav. So it would read as, "…as soon as Moses came near the camp, that he saw Messiah the calf…" This also appears the same way in the next verse, which says that Moses, "took et the calf that they had made…" so if the et means "Messiah" then Moses took Messiah the golden calf, and burned him, and ground him into dust.
Genesis 34:3 – "He was deeply attracted to Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the girl and spoke tenderly to her." (NASB). Here the words "loved" and "girl" are ויאהב and הנער respectively. In between these two is the et, so if it means "Messiah" we would read, "and he loved Messiah the girl…"
Deuteronomy 22:24 – "Then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city and you shall stone them to death; the girl, because she did not cry out in the city, and the man, because he has violated his neighbor's wife. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you." (NASB). Here the words for "you shall bring them" and "both" are והוצאתם and שניהם, respectively. Between these two is the Aleph-Tav. So it would read, "then you shall bring them Messiah both out to the gate of that city and stone them to death…"
Note there are many more examples of how not only absurd it would be to place Messiah Yeshua where the et is, but also blasphemous.
Now all that is not to say that Yeshua isn't saying that He is the Aleph-Tav, just that I do not believe He is saying that every place the Aleph-Tav is written, that's where He is "hidden." I think it is more along the lines of Aleph-Tav being first and last, and encompassing the whole "word" since it contains every letter. The same goes for Alpha and Omega, and A and Z, and so on. The Aleph-Tav is also the word that occurs more frequently than any other in the entire Tanakh. There are hardly any verses without it, and many contain multiple.
Though as I said, we must understand that if it is true and "Messiah Yeshua" can directly replace the et in cases where it appears, then it must be able to do so every time. Not only times when it is convenient to come up with a "cool new theology."
I also realize there is a very popular Bible out there today that's sole purpose is to identify every time the et occurs. An interesting purpose, but not one very valuable for study. I will reserve my comments on this Bible for a future article in the How We Got Our Scriptures series, when I will be addressing many different English translations.
Please recognize I am not attacking anyone, or bashing them. There is an honest attempt to see Yeshua in the Aleph-Tav, and I honor that. However, Truth is always more important than opinion. Yeshua is all over the Tanakh as it is, we do not need to invent ways to place Him there. As with many of my writings, I do not believe anyone will be completely convinced if they have believed this for a while, but please, test the information presented here for yourself. Nothing I have pointed out requires anything beyond a simple Interlinear, which you can find at biblehub.com. My purpose for writing this is to encourage people to seek TRUTH, not simply what sounds good. Always be wary of these "new" teachings and doctrines. One must wonder why it has been "previously unknown" to all generations of the past, and why we have no historical record of it being believed by anyone in antiquity, Jew or Christian.
Be Berean. Shalom.