The systematic cross-section of 1 Timothy continues with Tet.
For a much more in-depth reference on numerical themes and how they correspond to the twenty-two Hebrew letters and are expressed on every level throughout Scripture (even in the books written in Greek), please see the original Bible Wheel book and site. Note that not every verse will thematically carry its numerical theme, but overall, the patterns are clear. If a verse doesn’t thematically carry it, and sometimes even if it does, it tends to have a secondary numerical characteristic that connects, which will also be noted.
Tet – Ninth letter of the Hebrew Alef-bet. Symbolizes good (vs evil), fruit, taste, twisting, the serpent, deceit/lies, falling short.
In 1 Timothy, there are six tet verses: the ninth verse of each chapter.
1:9 – Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
This verse begins the short passage that illustrates the negative side of the ten commandments, particularly the first nine of them, unpacked in much more detail in this post. This was the passage that began this entire dive into the relationships between number themes in 1 Timothy. It also illustrates somewhat the inverse of the nine aspects of the fruit of the Spirit described in Galatians 5:22-23. All these types of people described here display the tet theme by falling short of keeping the commandments.
2:9 – In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;
This is one of the four lists examined previously in the discussion of Fifteen in 1 Timothy, as an illustration of one way that women support the congregation. There’s a subtle link to tet with the unique phrase “broided hair”, which is just an archaic spelling of “braided” hair, involving twisting the hair into pleasing patterns. More generally, the practice of excessive adornment is a form of deceit in the sense that beautiful clothes outwardly do not necessarily reflect the inward beauty of a modest heart. This is similar to the way the Messiah graphically rebuked the Pharisees for appearing righteous on the outside but having wrong motives inside, saying “…ye are like unto whited sepulchres…” (Matt 23:27) or whitewashed tombs, beautiful on the outside, but containing only death inside.
3:9 – Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.
The concept of “pure” is the tet connection here. In Greek the word here is katharos, but the equivalent Hebrew word is tahor, which begins with tet. This verse also links back to 1 Timothy 1:5 and 1:19 through the connection between faith and a pure conscience. The Hebrew tahor is the same word used to describe “clean” animals, those that are acceptable for food, and the pure gold of the tabernacle construction. It implies being unmixed or undivided. One who has faith will have an undivided, undoubting mind, like the opposite of “wavering” from James 1:6.
It may seem counter-intuitive that the themes of tet encompass both negative ideas of the serpent/lies/falling short and positive ideas of good/pure/fruit. Tet is like a Mobius strip, where a loop of paper is joined with a single twist. At any given point, the paper has two sides, but the object as a whole only has one side because those two sides meet due to the twist. The shape of the Hebrew letter is even a bit reminiscent of a Mobius strip in the process of being joined together.
4:9 – This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.
This verse contains the exact words as the beginning of 1 Timothy 1:15, but whereas that one went on to describe the Messiah’s leadership in salvation, the next verse after this one focuses on our own action of trusting in God, which is an aspect of being faithful. More on this next time for its connections to yod.
5:9 – Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man,
This is an important verse for numeric understanding of 1 Timothy, and as such it is marked with a factor of 9 itself, which none of the other tet verses have. The verse gives the threshold age for the church to support a widow, which means that it defines 60 as the threshold of support, as described in the examination of Fifteen previously. This is similar to how thirty is the threshold of maturity for priests, defined seven times in Numbers 4.
6:9 – But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
This section focuses on the love of money being a major stumbling point, causing people to fall in or fall short. The shape of the letter tet also can be thought of like an open container, like a swimming pool, that someone could stumble over and fall into. Because they’re set into the ground, swimming pools generally have fences or covers, as well as rules about accompanying young children, so that people don’t accidentally fall in and drown. God’s law in general is the fence against spiritual danger (see the examination of chet previously). One major numerical theme of 1 Timothy is the juxtaposition of nine and ten, where the tenth commandment is the fence against covetousness and the love of money, which will be reiterated in the next verse.
The value of the tet verses in chapters 2 and 6 are unique, while the values for the other chapters match at most 5 verses.