The Mark of Tav


I’ve been taking a Hebrew Aleph-Bet Class lately (did you know the word “alphabet” derives from Hebrew?), and it’s been really fun. I’ve learned about six letters now and wanted to pass on a story about the letter tav from last week’s lesson:

Tav is the /t/ sound* and means “mark”, “check mark” or “owner’s mark”. Each Hebrew character comes from the drawing of a physical object that uses the given sound, so that’s why /t/ is represented with a tav, which besides being a letter is also a separate noun.

To the Phoneticians the check mark used to look something like this: x

Over time, it changed to something like this: +

And in Hebrew the letter has continued to change. A tav now looks like: ?

Back to the +, you may recognize that the English t is also very similar to this, as is the symbol of the cross. Our t did evolve from this letter (having come first through other languages like Greek and Latin) and has the same sound.

In the Bible, there are only two instances where the word tav (which, remember, means “mark”) is used**. They are both in Ezekiel 9 and it just so happens that at this time, the letter would have looked like: +. In Ezekiel 8, people are doing some really really detestable things, and God has decided to destroy them. But, God is just and He decides to put a mark (a tav) on the people who do not like the evil in their midst. These people are saved by the tav on their foreheads:

Then the glory of the God of Israel went up from the cherub on which it had been, to the threshold of the temple. And He called to the man clothed in linen at whose loins was the writing case. The Lord said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, even through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst.” But to the others He said in my hearing, “Go through the city after him and strike; do not let your eye have pity and do not spare. Utterly slay old men, young men, maidens, little children, and women, but do not touch any man on whom is the mark; and you shall start from My sanctuary.” So they started with the elders who were before the temple. (Ezekiel 9:3-6)

How cool is it that the symbol used to mark those found righteous in this passage happens to look like a cross?! I’d say it’s very cool! 🙂

*it can also be a /?/ or /s/ sound

**Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance only lists two usages of this word (#8420). There are several other places where the English word “mark” is used, although they have different meanings and usages.


Review of Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent


Genre: Christian Life/Inspirational


This a really sweet story of an almost four year old’s near death experience: seeing heaven, meeting a grandfather he never knew and meeting the sister his mother miscarried whom he was also never told about. He didn’t tell his parents about the experience all at once, and so his dad wrote the book in real time, describing the events that were taking place in their lives, and how young Colton shared his adventure with them piece by piece. This style of storytelling made it much more genuine, but I did find the timeline of Colton’s experience a bit confusing since it was broken into short moments. I would be curious if Colton could (now that he’s older) share his story fluidly, telling the order of events of what happened.

There are a lot of things Colton describes that the Bible doesn’t specifically talk about. I found myself wondering about some of these things even after I had finished reading the account; a couple things I’m still thinking about. There is nothing, however, that blatantly contradicts scripture, and so I personally find the account more or less believable.

Regardless of whether people believe the story or not, it is an encouraging story of God’s love for us, an interesting experience to read, and a great way to get ourselves thinking, reading the Bible, and asking ourselves about heaven and the things to come.

I received a complimentary copy of this book as a part of the Thomas Nelson Book Review Blogging Program through


Review of The Tehran Initiative by Joel C. Rosenberg


Genre: Apocalyptic Fiction/Action & Adventure

Series: Book Two of the Twelfth Imam Series


I love eschatology and the Middle East, so this fictitious rendition of end time events was especially fun for me to read. The Tehran Initiative is the second in a series of three (I recommend reading them in order as The Twelfth Imam really sets up the story and characters).

The story begins as the Twelfth Imam (the Islamic Messiah) is coming into power and setting up his caliphate, and each nation must decide how to respond. Meanwhile, CIA agent David Shirazi, is working undercover in Iran to find Iran’s nuclear warheads so they can be destroyed before the next Holocaust begins.

The Tehran Initiative has more Christianity, more romance, and an even stronger emphasis on world politics than the first book. It keeps the momentum from The Twelfth Imam, but feels slower because it focuses on character development and introspection more than physical action and suspense (but don’t worry: it is still plenty suspenseful!). Although I enjoyed reading it just as much or more than the first book, it may not be as enticing to non-Christians or those expecting intense action plots. There is also a lot of supernatural action and emphasis, which I personally love (and experience) but which may also be a turn off for some readers.

For those who enjoy thinking about the end times, the political conflicts in the Middle East, or how Christian and Muslim eschatology fit together, I’d highly recommend this series. I love how Rosenberg realistically develops and captures one possible end time scenario, while staying true to scripture, and giving his audience so much (politically, spiritually, introspectively) to consider. I was personally encouraged and strengthened in my faith to go on this adventure with the characters. I look forward to the final book in the series: The Damascus Countdown, to be released in fall of 2012.

For more on this book and the author, check out Joel Rosenberg’s blog and the Joshua Fund, which was founded by him and his wife to “mobilize Christians and bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus”. I’d also encourage you to watch this short video of the author introducing the book:

I received a complimentary copy of this book through the Tyndale Blog Network.