WORD STUDY: TITTLE
Luke 16:17; “And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle to the law to fall.”
Greek: Keras – Tittle, stroke
Most of our modern translations translate the word “tittle” as either “stroke of the pen,” “a comma” “a pronunciation mark (which it is not),” “the smallest letter (which it is not),””or the “smallest detail.”
It is generally accept by orthodox rabbis that the “tittle” is the letter “vav.” This is not the smallest letter as that would be the “yod.” It is neither an insignificant letter as it has more use than all the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. It is definitely not a pronunciation mark (American King James Version) as that did not come about until a couple hundred years after Jesus spoke these words.
The “vav” is found in most of your Semitic languages including Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, Phoenician, and Arabic. It is derived from the Hieroglyph depicting a hook. In Classical Hebrew it is drawn as a straight line with a little notch at the top, sort of like a tent peg. In fact the Hebrew Text uses the word “vav” for the tent pegs or hooks used on the tabernacle. The vav is used to for the letter “v” or “w” and also represents the number “6.”
In the Torah Scroll the vav in Leviticus 11:42 is enlarged to show that this is the very center of the Torah. In Numbers 25:12 you have “broken vav” where there is a separation in the middle of the vav in the word “shalom.” It depicts that zeal of Phinias the grandson of Aaron, who killed a man who had sexual relations with a Moabite woman and thus allowing God to stop a plague and the destruction of Israel. Both can have a very strong Messianic message.
The above two accounts, however, violate the soferut (laws concerning the scribal art). Yet, the ancient rabbis made an exception here. There is another violation where an exception is made and that appears curious. In Genesis 2:4 we learn that God created the “generations” of the heavens and the earth. The word for generation is “toldot.” However, after the fall of man the “vav” is deleted from the word “toldot.” The sages refer to this as the “lost vav.” The word that is translated as “law” in Luke 16:17 is the word “torah.” Hence is it easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one “vav” to the Torah. Could Jesus have been referring to the “lost vav” in the Book of Genesis? What would that mean?
The ancients believed the “vav” represented a connection between earth and heaven. At the fall of man that connection was broken. As a rabbi who may speak many things while speaking just one thing, could Jesus have been referring to the fact that His fulfillment of the law or Torah would be reestablishing a connection between heaven and earth that can never again be broken. Heaven and earth may pass but the connection Jesus will make between heaven and earth will not pass.
Where the original vav was lost through Adam and Eve, Jesus is declaring in Luke 16:17 that he will restore the vav. Drilling down a little further we find that grammatically when you put a “vav” in front of a verb it changes the tense from past to future or from future to past. Maybe Jesus was also saying that within the connection that he is re-establishing between earth and heaven, he is inverting time, connecting and transmuting the past and future so that we will actually return to the time and state prior to the fall of man. Or maybe He is saying that heaven and earth have a beginning and an end, but the connection that I am establishing is infinite, it is as if the fall never happened, there is no beginning or end.
I wonder if Jesus was sending a message to the disciples, Pharisees and us: “Hey guys, I’m the missing vav. What was lost in the Garden of Eden, I have come to re-establish and restore.
WORD STUDY: TITTLE