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Sukkat Shalom B'nei Noach




Pay Attention!

The Text of Isaiah 9:6

ם רבה) [לְמַרְבֵּ֨ה] הַמִּשְׂרָ֜ה וּלְשָׁל֣וֹם אֵֽין־קֵ֗ץ עַל־כִּסֵּ֤א דָוִד֙ וְעַל־מַמְלַכְתּ֔וֹ לְהָכִ֤ין אֹתָהּ֙ וּֽלְסַעֲדָ֔הּ בְּמִשְׁפָּ֖ט וּבִצְדָקָ֑ה מֵעַתָּה֙ וְעַד־עוֹלָ֔ם קִנְאַ֛ת יְהֹוָ֥ה צְבָא֖וֹת תַּעֲשֶׂה־זֹּֽאת׃ 

To him who increases the authority, and for peace without end, on David’s throne and on his kingdom, to establish it and to support it with justice and with righteousness; from now and to eternity, the zeal of the Lord of Hosts shall accomplish this.

In a Torah scroll, לְמַרְבֵּ֨ה is written as לםרבה. The presence of this final/closed mem (known as mem sofit in Hebrew) in the middle of the word, instead of the regular open mem (מ) typically found at the end of words, raises an intriguing question. Deviating from the norm, this inclusion stands out, prompting an interesting inquiry — after all, that which stands out requires explanation. By seeking an explanation, the text becomes more memorable, suggesting that the initial significance of incorporating a final/closed mem here is to convey a subtle message: ‘Pay attention! What follows is important.’

This leads to the question: why does the word contain a final/closed mem? Another inquiry that comes to mind is whether this closing mem has any connection to the child mentioned in verse 5.

כִּי־יֶ֣לֶד יֻלַּד־לָ֗נוּ בֵּ֚ן נִתַּן־לָ֔נוּ וַתְּהִ֥י הַמִּשְׂרָ֖ה עַל־שִׁכְמ֑וֹ וַיִּקְרָ֨א שְׁמ֜וֹ פֶּ֠לֶא יוֹעֵץ֙ אֵ֣ל גִּבּ֔וֹר אֲבִי־עַ֖ד שַׂר־שָׁלֽוֹם׃

For a child has been born to us,
A son has been given us.
And authority has settled on his shoulders.
He has been named
“The Mighty G-d is planning grace;
The Eternal Father, a peaceable ruler”—

Delving into the meaning of the mem, we turn to Midrash and Kabbalah, where the two mems represent two aspects of G-d:

His מלכות (malchut) – Kingship, and ממשלה (memshalah) – Dominion. The open mem points to the obvious, openly revealed glory of G-d’s actions. On the other hand, the final/closed mem alludes to that part of celestial rule concealed from man, to which man instinctively submits with perfect, innocent faith.

One of the names of G-d is “Makom” מקום. We observe the regular open mem מ at the start of this word and the final/closed mem ם at the conclusion. The open mem alludes to the fact that He is perceived through the wondrous functioning of the universe, which is full of His Glory (Isaiah 6:3 and Habakuk 2:14). Yet, in the final analysis, He remains unknowable, invisible, and hidden – as indicated by the final/closed mem, beyond the grasp of our limited human intelligence. Just as G-d revealed Himself to us while remaining concealed, so is His Torah.

The Torah includes both disclosed knowledge, as handed down to us by Moses, and concealed knowledge, as represented by the final/closed mem, which will be revealed by the Messiah.[1] As described in Habakuk 2:14, Moses started by making G-d known through His Torah, and the Messiah will fulfill this revelation.

כִּ֚י תִּמָּלֵ֣א הָאָ֔רֶץ לָדַ֖עַת אֶת־כְּב֣וֹד ד’ כַּמַּ֖יִם יְכַסּ֥וּ עַל־יָֽם׃ 

For the earth shall be filled
With awe for G-d’s glory
As water covers the sea.

You may have already noticed in the above text that both “Moses” and “Messiah” begin with the letter mem. Moses was the redeemer who began and led the people out of Egypt and into the promised land, and Messiah will be the final/closing redeemer who returns the people from the nations to the land of the forefathers. The answer to why the word has a final/closed mem is that it wants to direct our attention directly to the Messiah.

It states  “L’marbei hamisra u’leshalom,” which means, “His rule (i.e., the kingship of Mashiach) will increase and be blessed with peace without end He will bring closure to the exile.”[2]

As a result, the remainder of this passage makes key observations regarding the Messiah and the Messianic age. This will be a time of endless peace, righteousness, and justice. The Messiah will sit on King David’s throne, which means he must be a direct descendant of King David[3]. And all of this will occur as G-d has decreed.

From the above, we’ve seen ways to identify the Messiah:

  • Descendant of King David
  • Bringer of eternal peace and justice
  • Restorer of the Jewish people from among the nations/ending the exile
  • Possessor of knowledge of G-d[4].

The Closed Mem is not the Womb for Jesus

It should be mentioned that the above points do not refer to Jesus. In short, for more information read the blog series “Redemption” or check out the counter-missionary books on our website.

  • It is not provable that Jesus was a descendant of King David.
  • There is certainly no world peace and justice today, or at the time that Jesus lived.
  • The prophets promised that in the time of the Messiah, the people of Israel would be brought back from exile to their own land. In the time of Jesus, the opposite happened, and the people actually went into exile.
  • There is no knowledge of G-d around the world among all people today.
  • All of this demonstrates that the child mentioned in verse 5 is someone other than who the church claims.[5]

The child of verse 5 refers firstly to Hezekiah and secondly to the Messiah who will come. It was G-d’s intention that Hezekiah should be the messiah. But this did not happen at that time. The Talmud states in Sanhedrin 94a:

The Holy One, Blessed be He, sought to designate King Hezekiah as the Messiah and to designate Sennacherib and Assyria, respectively, as Gog and Magog, all from the prophecy of Ezekiel with regard to the end of days (Ezekiel, chapter 38), and the confrontation between them would culminate in the final redemption. The attribute of justice said before the Holy One, Blessed be He: Master of the Universe, and if with regard to David, king of Israel, who recited several songs and praises before You, You did not designate him as the Messiah, then with regard to Hezekiah, for whom You performed all these miracles, delivering him from Sennacherib and healing his illness, and he did not recite praise before You, will You designate him as the Messiah? It is for that reason that the mem was closed, because there was an opportunity for redemption that was thwarted.

Christians sometimes suggest that the closed mem in the word relates to the virgin Mary. They claim that the mem signifies that the child mentioned in verse 5 will be hidden within her closed womb. They cite Sefer Yetzira 3, among other sources, as a proof text for their claim. An average Christian may not know where to find this source and might accept it as true.

However, the mentioned text actually speaks about a completely different subject. A small excerpt from the text:

The three mothers – Aleph, Mem, Shin – a mighty mystery, most occult and most marvelous, sealed as with six rings, and from them proceed Fire, Water, [and Air]; these are subsequently differentiated into male and female. Three mothers – Aleph, Mem, Shin, their foundation. And from them were born fathers and all was created from them.

If you use this scripture to assert that the closed mem refers to the womb of Mary, you encounter a practical problem. Does that mean there are three virgins and three messiahs? Even the church could not sustain such a claim.

While it is correct that the mem can represent the womb, as seen in the Hebrew word for the womb, רחם – rechem, which ends with a closed mem, symbolizing the nine months when the womb is closed. The open mem represents the period of childbirth when the womb is open. [6] A closed womb of the “church” does not bring forth a messiah. It’s also important to note that while the mem can symbolize the womb, not every occurrence of a mem signifies a womb.

For completeness, it is worth pointing out that the Hebrew letter tet ט can also represent the womb. The design of the tet is like a pot, a vessel with an inverted rim, representing hidden or inverted good. Another interpretation of the tet is that it represents a man bending his head to G-d in prayer and thanks. How are the two connected? We just explained the letter tet as representing the concept of marriage. After the union between husband and wife, then, G-d willing, there’s a conception. The tet represents the hidden good that resides within the womb (the vessel) of the mother. This hidden good is actualized through a person’s prayers to G-d, asking Him for a healthy child. [7].

By Angelique Sijbolts


[1] ArtScroll The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet – p. 143-146
[2] Chabad Article: Mem
[3] וְנֶאְמַ֨ן בֵּיתְךָ֧ וּמַֽמְלַכְתְּךָ֛ עַד־עוֹלָ֖ם לְפָנֶ֑יךָ כִּֽסְאֲךָ֔ יִהְיֶ֥ה נָכ֖וֹן עַד־עוֹלָֽם

2 Samuell 7: 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be confirmed forever before you; your throne shall be established forever.

[4] For more info, see the blog series: Redemption
[5] For a Child Shall be Born to Us? Rabbi Tovia Singer: Church Corrupted Isaiah 9 to Make Jesus Divine!

[6] Chabad Article: Mem
[7] Chabad Article: Tet

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