(Shalom means “hello — peace to you”.)
Gimel (also written as Gimmel) is the third letter in the Hebrew alphabet. It sounds like our letter “G” as in “God is good”. Every line in Psalm 119:17-24 starts with this letter. Gimel looks like this:
The Hebrew language is read from right to left across the page, which seems backward to us. There is a general rule in Judaism that the right side gets precedence because it represents strength. “The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things.” (Ps. 118:15) Even today, a father gives his children a blessing by putting his right hand on their heads.
So, the first four letters of the Aleph-Bet look like this:
That’s important because it helps us see the story the Aleph-Bet is telling. God, in the form of Jesus (Aleph) is the God-Man reaching up to heaven and down to earth. The Son was sent to be master of the house (Bet).
Gimel means “giver” and the letter is a picture of a person with his foot stretched out in motion; the person is running toward Dalet to give it gifts. The Hebrew word for Redeemer starts with gimel, so Jews believed the Messiah would be the One who runs from the house to bestow redemption, chasing after poor sinners with lovingkindness. The Messiah came to give His life for the life of the world.
Another definition of gimel is “to lift up” and the animal associated with this letter is a camel, which was a beast of burden that carried goods across the known world. “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.” (Isa. 53:4) As a camel must bow down to let people get on, so Jesus made Himself low. (“He made himself nothing.” Phil. 2:7) But when the camel gets up, it lifts its rider, as Jesus was lifted up on the cross to bring us redemption. (“The Son of Man must be lifted up.” John 3:14)
In fact, the Hebrew word for Golgotha also starts with gimel, which is followed by a letter that means “shepherd”, followed by a letter that means “cross”. Golgotha = where the shepherd was lifted up on the cross. *shiver*
Gimel’s motion serves as a reminder that we should keep running after the truth of God’s Word and to be givers of lovingkindness to those around us. We should always be quickly going toward those who are in need of help and lifting up. In this way, the third letter is identified with the third person of the Trinity: the Holy Spirit. As Jesus said, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things.” (John 14:26)
Jesus told a parable of a prodigal son who left home after demanding his inheritance. After living it up and losing everything, he decided to go back home and offer to be a servant in his father’s house.
“But while he was still a long way off,
his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him;
he ran to his son,
threw his arms around him and kissed him.”
We have a Father who runs to us.
You can see Him right there in the third letter of the Aleph-Bet.
(Shalom also means “good-bye — peace to you”.)
Next: My favorite word in the Bible that starts with C.