Nun


Nun is the fourteenth letter in the Hebrew alphabet. Nun (also written as “Noon”) has the same sound as “n” as in “nut”. Every line in Psalm 119:105–112 starts with this letter. Nun looks like this:

nun

“Nun” means “life” and is associated with a picture of a fish swimming in the water. Rabbis teach that “Nun” represents all movement and growth in life, like a fish darting in the water, but also as a new seed sprouting or a branch bearing fruit. It carries with it the idea of multiplying, continuing, perpetuating.

Last week, we learned that the letter Mem meant “water”, representing the waters of baptism for a new believer.  The energy of that new life in Christ is found in the letter Nun. It’s no wonder that the early church used the sign of a fish as a secret symbol of being a follower of Jesus.

When threatened by Rome in the first century, Christians used the fish to mark meeting places and to distinguish friends from foes. If a believer met a stranger in the road, he sometimes drew one arc of the simple fish outline in the dirt. If the stranger drew the other arc, both believers were assured of safe company. They knew they were both followers of the One who said, “I will make you fishers of men.” The early disciples understood the importance of multiplying in order to keep the gospel alive.

fish

The first mention of the word “Nun” in the Bible is in Exodus 33:11, in reference to Joshua, the “son of Nun.” Joshua was the one who led the Israelites into the Promised Land. Joshua was, literally,  the “Son of Life” — and a foreshadowed figure of Jesus, the coming Messiah, who will lead us into the promised land of eternity.

The Hebrew word for son is “ben.” The first letter is ב bet with a letter sound of “B” and a word picture of a house. The second letter is a nun נ with a word picture of life and a letter sound of “N”. These two letters together are a word picture of “life in the house.” In other words, the son perpetuates the life of the family; through the son, generations will continue.

“I will be a Father to you,
    and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”
2 Cor. 6:18

We are the life in the house.

The life of faith is revealed in the second half of the Hebrew alphabet. First we are taught (Lamed) and then we take a step of obedience by going into the waters (Mem) of baptism. Nun shows us that the next step is to grow in the new life we have in Christ.

nun1

Next: My favorite word in the Bible that starts with “O”.

2 thoughts on “Nun

  1. So interesting. This letter is another letter that is on a dreidel, but when the dreidel lands on Nun,
    it is a time when you don’t take anything or give anything. I wonder why if it means life. I always taught my kindergartners that if the dreidel lands on nun, you do nothing. Doesn’t sound like life to me. 🙂

    • Huh. That’s interesting! I looked around a bit and found that “Nun” means “nothing” in Yiddish. “While Hebrew is a Semitic language like Arabic and Amharic, Yiddish is a German dialect which uses many Hebrew words but with a very distinctive Ashkenazic pronunciation.” Always something to learn!

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