Each letter in the Hebrew alphabet
has a numerical value. These values can be used to write numbers
, as the Romans
used some of their letters (I, V, X, L, C, M) to represent numbers. Alef through Yod have the values 1
. Yod through Qof have the values 10 through 100, counting by 10s. Qof through Tav have the values 100 through 400, counting by 100s.
Final letters have the same value as their non-final counterparts. The number 11 would be rendered Yod-Alef, the number 12 would be Yod-Bet, the number 21 would be Kaf-Alef, the word Torah
(Tav-Vav-Resh-He) has the numerical value 611, etc. The only significant oddity in this pattern is the number 15
, which if rendered as 10+5 would be a name of G-d
, so it is normally written Tet-Vav (9+6).
Because of this system
of assigning numerical values to letters, every word
has a numerical value. There is an entire discipline of Jewish mysticism
known as Gematria
that is devoted to finding hidden meanings in the numerical values of words. For example
, the number 18
is very significant, because it is the numerical value of the word Chai
, meaning life
It is interesting to note that the numerical value of Vav (often transliterated as W) is 6
, and therefore WWW
has the numerical value of 666
It's an amusing notion
, but Hebrew numbers just don't work that way. In Hebrew numerals, the position of the letter/digit is irrelevant; the letters are simply added up to determine the value. To say that Vav-Vav-Vav is six hundred and sixty-six would be like saying that the Roman numeral III is one hundred and eleven. The numerical value of Vav-Vav-Vav in Hebrew would be 6+6+6=18, so WWW is equivalent to life!
(It is also worth noting that the significance of the number 666
is a part of Christian numerology
, and has no basis that I know of in Jewish thought).