Like most of the twenty-two letters in the Hebrew alef-bet, the fourteenth letter nun is emblematic of many interesting concepts far too numerous to discuss completely here. The most prominent of these concepts, and the one we will discuss in this installment of our Hebrew Treasures series, is how the nun reminds us of the Kingdom, specifically the Messianic Kingdom.
Like mem and kaf before it, the letter nun possesses both a common and final (sofit) form. One tradition says that the common form portrays God seated upon His throne, while the final form or nun sofit portrays the angels who stand before Him. In short, nun is to remind us of the throne of the Kingdom and the One who sits upon the throne. Yet, the most compelling explanation for these two distinct forms is that of a faithful servant. The common and “bent-over” form reminds us of one who relates to the world and is bent over in servitude, hence “the bent-over faithful one.” The final form, nun sofit, is that same servant who, in the end, no longer has to bow but stands upright and thus becomes the “unbounded servant.” In this form he now relates to the divine and ascends the Throne of the Kingdom. Notice that both are the same and yet are uniquely different.
The word “faithful” in Hebrew is ne’eman. Associated with this word are two other Hebrew words, emunah “faith” and amen “true.” In fact, int amen is derived directly from emunah. Now, notice that the Hebrew spelling of ne’eman “faithful” begins with the common form of nun and ends with nun sofit, as does the full spelling of the word nun. It has been pointed out by rabbinic sources that if the vav from nun is placed between the alef and mem of ne’eman, the secret Divine name ome is formed. My only reason for bringing this out is this: the name out is related to the coming of the Mashiach. In other words, the “faithful servant” is none other than the Messiah Y’shua. It is He who humbled Himself as a servant, and remained “faithful” unto death that we may live. It is He who alone is “true” (upright) and worthy to ascend the Throne of the Kingdom. As Scripture notes:
“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True.” (Rev. 19:11)
The King is not a king if there is no kingdom and so, we understand that the Messiah rules a kingdom of those who are His. In other words, they must also humble themselves and yet walk upright. We see this principle in the meaning of the word iub nun. In Hebrew, nun means “to increase, to propagate,” inferring perpetuity. In Aramaic, which is a sister language to Hebrew, nun means “a fish.” So it seems that the word nun is intended to speak of posterity and reproduction. This is hinted at by the fact that nun is the only letter whose full spelling is a repetition of itself with a vav (which in Hebrew serves as the conjunction “and”) joining the two nuns. In others, its full spelling hints at “fish and (more) fish.” Recall that fish were created on the fifth day of Creation and were the first creatures blessed by the Creator (Gen. 1:22). He told them to “be fruitful and multiply.” The sea, represented by the previous letter n mem, is the environment of the fish. The sea is used throughout Scripture to personify the nations or peoples and so it is people from among the nations that will comprise this Kingdom – a kingdom of “fish” constantly reproducing.
I am of the opinion that the crucifixion of the Messiah was on Thursday, which is the fifth day of the week. His death, remember, is compared to the sign of the prophet Yonah (a.k.a. Jonah) who was the first Hebrew prophet to be sent to the nations. Reluctant to see Gentiles saved from God’s wrath, Yonah steals away, ironically on a Phonecian ship, and sets sail across the seas only to be thrown overboard and be swallowed by a “great fish.” (In Hebrew the phrase “great fish” is dag gadol. Interestingly, the numerical value of this Hebrew phrase is 50 which is also the numerical value of the letter nun.) He did eventually preach to those gentiles and they did repent, but it took Yonah’s death – he lay dead for three days in the belly of the fish - and subsequent resurrection to accomplish this. My point is the Messiah’s death and resurrection – the sign of the prophet Yonah – is what was required to consummate the call for His followers to become “fishers of men.” Those fish, it was understood, were to be found in the seas – the nations.
Messiah ben David
Because it is the fourteenth letter in the alef-bet nun is, for reasons too lengthy to exhaust in this publication, tied to King David. Nevertheless, the true emphasis of David’s throne points to the one beyond David, that is, his heir Solomon. Psalm 72, written by Solomon, calls for God to give “Your righteousness to the king’s Son.” It is, in effect, a psalm dedicated to David’s heir who is, in reality, Mashiach ben David of whom it is said:
“His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed.” (Ps. 72:17)
border=1 v:shapes="_x0000_i1028">The phrase “his name shall be continued” is written in Hebrew as sh’mo (“his name”) yinon (“shall be continued). This particular verse has led some rabbinic sources to conclude that a cryptic name for the Messiah is Yinon – (“his name” is yinon). In fact, according to the Talmud, the Messiah (Heb. jhan Mashiach) has four such names: Menachem “comforter,”
Shiloh “peace,” Yinon and Chaninah “graceful.” Please notice that the first letters of each of these Hebrew names form an acronym for Mashiach. More importantly, notice that the name Yinon is actually the word nun preceded by the letter yud. In other words, a prominent name for the Messiah is tied to nun and all the concepts that the letter alludes to. According to the rabbinic work Pirkei deR’ Eliezer, Yinon most specifically alludes to rejuvenation (remember the fish). Perhaps a more appropriate word to define Yinon would be resurrection!
Thus, we understand that ultimately, the Messiah and His Kingdom speak of life being restored to that which was dead – resurrection. Y’shua said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live” (Jn. 11:25). It is through the Messiah that we who were dead might be born again and be granted life eternal (Jn. 3:3, 15-16). With this resurrection comes responsibility and that is, to go and make more disciples of all the nations – or if you will – make more and more fish (Mt. 28:19). This miraculous perpetuity is descriptive of the
Kingdom of God.
From the beginning, the task of revealing God’s kingdom to the nations has been entrusted to His people and their leaders. At times, certain aspects of this unfolding revelation have taken turns that many did not anticipate. For instance, Moses was one of these leaders, drawn like a fish from the water. He led the people of God unto the very border of the Promised Land only to die before entering in. Consequently, the task of leading the people across the
was left to his successor, Joshua (Heb. Y’hoshua), the “son of nun.” Rabbinically, it is believed that “son of nun” implies that Moses is considered Joshua’s spiritual father - Moses is the “great fish” (dag gadol). Yet, it is the one who comes from the “great fish” who is the greater sign. Where Moses successfully pointed the people in the right direction, it took the one who personifies life from the dead (Y’hoshua) in order to bring the people into the promise. The ultimate personification of this concept is the Messiah. He says, “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore” (Rev. 1:18). It is He, the faithful King, who will soon reign over all the nations as it is written: Jordan
“And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.” (Zech. 14:9)