Gematria Workout

The peg memory system has been used for centuries for memorizing and check-summing Scripture, and this application is still a favorite. If you’ve been following along, then you will find that memorizing the ten plagues of Egypt (עשרת המכות), in order, to be a triviality. I will leave the exercise to you of matching them to visualizations of your permanent peg words (suggestion: use the original 1-10), and, in case you don’t have the list handy or already memorized, here they are: blood דם, frogs צפרדע, lice כינים, swarm of beasts ערוב, pestilence דבר, boils שחין, hail ברד, locusts ארבה, darkness חושך, death of the firstborn מכת בכורות. For extra spice, try memorizing the gematria and the traditional chapter & verse numbers. The Hebrew gematria are 44, 444, 130, 278, 206, 368, 206 (again), 208, 334, 1094, found by adding up the numerical values of each Hebrew letter in each word from the following table

א ב ג ד ה ו ז ח ט י כ,ך
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 20
ל מ,ם נ,ן ס ע פ,ף צ,ץ ק ר ש ת
30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 200 300 400

It’s a good exercise in symbol-matching and mental arithmetic to add these up. You don’t actually need to read, pronounce, or interpret the Hebrew: just match up the letter symbols in the words in the list to the numbers in the table and do some mental addition!

Memorizing the gematria is overkill if you know the Hebrew since you can recalculate them from the words. On the other hand, if your spelling isn’t great, then the memorized gematria acts as a checksum and can remind of you of the correct spelling. That’s the way scribes have used the system for centuries.

Some suggestions (via Furst) for visualizables for the gematria are (only the first three consonant sounds count, and h w y wh and all vowels are free)

(blood) 44: aurora, harrier, horror, orrery, warrior, worrier

(frogs) 444: rare-earth, rarer, rearhorse, rearward, rewirer, roarer

(lice) 130: atmosphere, atomic, atomizer, damask, damsel, domicile, teamster, Thames, theme-song, Thomas

(swarm) 278: knock-off, no-caffeine

(pestilence, hail) 206: incision, ionization, nose-job, sensation, unsociable

(boils) 368: home-chef, midge-fly, semishift

(locusts) 208:     ionosphere, news-vendor,   uncivil, UNICEF, unsafe

(darkness) 334: memoir, memorandum, memorial, memory, mimer, mummer

(firstborn) 1094: any combination of 10 and 94 from

10: dais, daisy, deuce, dice, dizzy, does (female deer), dose, doze, hideous

94: apiary, bar, bare, bear, beer, berry, bier, boar, Boer, borough, brew, brow, bureau, Hebrew, hopper, opera, pair, par, pear, pier, poor, pore, prey, prow, pyre


~ by rebcabin on January 4, 2011.

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