The 21st Hebrew letter is “shin” which looks a bit like our English alphabet “W”
Shin (also spelled Šin (šīn) or Sheen) literally means “teeth”, “press”, and “sharp”
Shin – Shaddai
In Judaism Shin also stands for the word Shaddai, a primary name for God. El Shaddai is conventionally translated as God Almighty according to Exodus 6:2-3. Shaddai is the name by which God was known to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
There are two words in Hebrew that could be the origin of Shaddai: “shada” and “shadad” meaning to nurture and destroy respectively.
Shin – Priestly Blessing
Because Shin also stands for the word Shaddai, a kohen (priest) forms the letter Shin with his hands as he recites the Priestly Blessing. Of all the Jewish hand signs, the most famous is that of the priestly blessing, the Birchat Kohanim.
The priestly blessing
May the LORD (YHWH) bless you and guard you
May the LORD make His face shed light upon you and be gracious unto you
May the LORD lift up His face unto you and give you peace
Shin – Houses
Jews place a symbol Shin outside their house on the doorpost of the main door in a Mazzuzah it stands for “El Shaddai protects the family”.
The letter Shin is often inscribed on the case containing a mezuzah, a scroll of parchment with Biblical text written on it. The text contained in the mezuzah is the Shema Yisrael prayer, which calls the Israelites to love their God with all their heart, soul and strength.
Sometimes the whole word Shaddai will be written but apparently shin means Shaddai so it’s the same meaning.
Shin – Hearts
The Shema Yisrael prayer also commands the Israelites to write God’s commandments on their hearts (Deut. 6:6); the shape of the letter Shin mimics the structure of the human heart:
Judges 12:6 they said, “All right, say ‘Shibboleth.’” If he said, “Sibboleth,” because he could not pronounce the word correctly, they seized him and killed him at the fords of the Jordan. Forty-two thousand Ephraimites were killed at that time.
Shin – Ephraim
According to Judges 12:6 the tribe of Ephraim who did not have the sound of the letter shin in their dialect of Hebrew. Thus they could not pronounce the sound /sh/ represented by the Hebrew letter shin and the sound /s/ of the Hebrew letter sin.
Once upon a time these Ephraimites were at war with the neighboring Gileadites. The Gileadites did have the sound /sh/ in their Hebrew words. Both tribes were of similar appearance, so the Gileadites devised a way to check for spies and intruders. They asked everyone they suspected of being an enemy or enemy spy to pronounce the Hebrew word shibolet. Those of Gilead picked the word because it has a shin at the beginning of the word and was very difficult for the Ephraimites to say properly.
They might have selected any Hebrew word beginning with “sh.” Sibolet happens to mean ‘ear of com, seed head of any grain plant, etcetera.”
An Ephraimite would say “sibolet° instead of the correct “shibolet” and thus get caught and perhaps put to the sword.
Shin – Other Usages
- The Shin-Bet was an old acronym for the Israeli Department of Internal General Security.
- A Shin-Shin Clash is Israeli military parlance for a battle between two tank divisions (“armour” in Hebrew is shiryon).
- Sh’at haShin (The Shin Hour) is the last possible moment for any action, usually military. Corresponds to the English expression the eleventh hour.
Shin – Jerusalem
A religious significance has been applied to the fact that there are three valleys which comprise the city of Jerusalem’s geography:
- the Valley of Ben Hinnom,
- Tyropoeon Valley, and
- Kidron Valley
and that these valleys converge to also form the shape of the letter shin
That intrigues me.
Perhaps God really has left a sign that this city has His Name on it?
May the God who has caused his name to dwell - Ezra 6:12
So… I made a very rough combination of the shin symbol and overlaid it on top of this Wikipedia map (which I rotated around) and yes it overlays remarkably closely!
I did a LOT more investigation into these valleys and I wrote it down in this post: Valleys of Jerusalem. Enjoy!
Shin – in the home
According to this Jewish teaching the sign of shin is made by the father over his kids as he blesses them.
Shin – Over me, Mark Wilson
My really curious and really devoted readers who downloaded my journal in PDF will have seen my entry on 4 May 2011. (NOTE: That post tells what happened two weeks and two days earlie – in April 2011.)
The next night I had a vivid dream. I wrote it publicly in my Facebook. In it I was lying down.
A Man walked up next to me on my left hand side. I was horizontal, on my bed, at about hip height to Him.
I knew He was a Jew. He seemed like He was going to pray for me. I winced, because in my experience many Jewish people have a muddled faith which is not Jesus Christ centered and is therefore not redeemed – and so I struggle with the results of their prayers.
But this man prayed for me. And the feeling was absolutely God. No question about it. Pure and clean and wonderful. Better than any experiences in a Christian church – which are also usually mixed at best. And of course, there is no way a human being can produce the cleanliness that God Himself has.
I felt and could see that I had pain in my stomach. The pain actually looked like a large protrusion under my skin, on my left hand side on the top side of my body… basically right in front of Him. I was amazed that He knew just where the hurt was and He moved His hand directly to the right location.
Again I was amazed because so few people – virtually none – have this
kind of discernment. He knew, He was sure, He was accurate. He prayed for the hurt and it went away immediately.
Then He did something remarkable. He made a hand sign with both hands directly over me, pointing down to me, with His arms in front of Him. As He held His hands out over me, palms down towards me, He looked out towards someone or somewhere. His palms were down towards me, but His eyes were far away in the distance. I had no desire to look at what He was looking at, I only kept looking at Him.
After that the vivid experience ended.
All the next day I kept thinking about this experience and I kept seeing that double handed sign. So I looked it up on the internet. I found absolutely no hand signs that approximated it.
Apparently very few people are capable of moving their fingers into that position. Funnily enough I have been able to do that since I was a boy. I can do it simultaneously with both hands. I don’t remember Who showed it to me as a child.
So I kept looking and found Dr Spock from Star Trek doing a one handed vertical sign. I read up about that and the origins of that. Turns out… get ready for this… that the sign means “shin” which signifies Almighty
But the movement of a person standing and raising both hands to form the sign of shin and placing his hands out in front of Himself horizontal to the ground, is what a Kohen/High Priest does when He is blessing the people. This sign and the movement is considered so holy that no one can look at the High Priest while He is doing it.
And Jesus Christ is a Jew, Who is also a Christian, and He is our High Priest.
Cool huh? :)
Below is a comparison of the “Vulcan salute” and the “Priestly Blessing”