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The Secret of the Closed MEM and the Virgin Birth

The Secret of the Closed MEM and the Virgin Birth
James Scott Trimm

We read in Isaiah:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:
and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor,
The mighty God, The everlasting Father,
The Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall
be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom,
to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with
justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD
of hosts will perform this.
(Is. 9:6-7 KJV)

In his Let's Get Biblical tape set Anti-Missionary Tovia Singer insists this passage must refer to Hezikiah.  

Singer argues that the passage is in the perfect verb form and must refer to events which had already occurred.  In my recent article "Unto Us a Child is Born- Isaiah 9:6-7 and the Prophetic Perfect" ( I demonstrated that the passage is a Messianic prophecy, that Singer's argument is false, and that the passage refers to the future.

Singer's argument that the figure described in Isaiah 9:6-7 is Hezikiah actually contradicts the Rabbinic posistion as stated in the Talmud.

Before going further there are two things the reader needs to know.  

First off the Hebrew letter MEM is always written as a closed mem when it is written at the end of a word, but as an open mem when it is written at the beginning of the word.  

Secondly there is a traditional anomaly which is preserved in the Massoretic Text.  

The letter MEM in the word L'MAR'BEH ("of the increase") is written as a closed final MEM when it should be written with an open MEM.  

The Talmud discusses the use of the abnormal closed final MEM in this passage as follows:

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end (Is. 9:6). R. Tanhum said: Bar Kappara expounded in Sepphoris, Why is every mem in the middle of a word open, whilst this is closed? — The Holy One, blessed be He, wished to appoint Hezekiah as the Messiah, and Sennacherib as Gog and Magog; whereupon the Attribute of
Justice said before the Holy One, blessed be He: ‘Sovereign of the Universe! If Thou didst not make David the Messiah, who uttered so many hymns and psalms before Thee, wilt Thou appoint Hezekiah as such, who did not hymn Thee in spite of all these miracles which Thou wroughtest for him?’ Therefore it [sc. the mem] was closed. Straightway the earth exclaimed: ‘Sovereign of the Universe! Let me utter song before Thee instead of this righteous man [Hezekiah], and make him the Messiah.’ So it broke into song before Him, as it is written, From the uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs, even glory to the righteous. Then the Prince of the Universe said to Him: ‘Sovereign of the Universe! It [the earth] hath fulfilled Thy desire [for songs of praise] on behalf of this righteous man.’ But a heavenly Voice cried out, ‘It is my secret, it is my secret.’ To which the prophet rejoined, ‘Woe is me, woe is me: how long [must we wait]?’ The heavenly Voice [again] cried out, ‘The treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously; yea, the treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously: which Raba — others say, R. Isaac — interpreted: until there come
spoilers, and spoilers of the spoilers.
(b.San. 94a)

Here the Talmud specifically tells us that Hezikiah was not the Messianic figure mentioned in Isaiah 9:6-7 because of the closed final mem and because of a secret of Elohim which is revealed by the use of a final MEM in this word.  

Now it is important to understand that in Rabbinic thought, the MEM is associated with the womb.  As we read in the Sefer Yetzirah:

"Three Mothers Alef, Mem, Shin are in the body of male and female: Fire and Water and Air. Head was created from Fire, and Womb was created from Water, and Chest was created from Air, balancing the scales between them."
(Sefer Yetzirah 3:6)

Furthermore the Zohar teaches that the final MEM in ADAM represents the female side which was taken from Adam to make woman:

Further, the words “let us make man” may be taken to signify that Elohim imparted to the  lower beings who came from the side of the upper world the secret of forming the divine name “Adam”, which embraces the upper and the lower in virtue of its three letters, aleph, daleth, and final MEM. When these three letters descended below, together in their complete form, the name Adam was found to comprise male and female. The female was attached to the side of the male until Elohim cast him into a deep slumber, during which he lay on the site of the Temple. God then sawed her off from him and adorned her like a bride and brought her to him, as it is written, “And he took one of his sides and closed up the place with flesh.” (Gen. 2:21).
(Zohar 1:34b)

The Bahir elaborates that not only does a MEM represent a womb, but an open MEM represents an open womb amd a closed MEM represents a closed womb:

"The open Mem. What is the open Mem ? It includes both male and female. What is the closed Mem ? It is made like a womb from above. But Rabbi Rahumai said that the womb is like the letter Teth . He said it is like a Teth on the inside, while I say that it is like a Mem on the outside.

What is a Mem? Do not read Mem, but Mayim (water). Just like water is wet, so is the womb always wet. Why does the open Mem include both male and female, while the closed Mem is male? This teaches us that the Mem is primarily male. The opening was then added to it for the sake of the female. Just like the male cannot give birth, so the closed MEM cannot give birth. And just like the female has an opening with which to give birth, so can the open MEM give birth. The MEM is therefore open and closed."
(Bahir 84-85)

While Singer claims that Hezikiah was the figure described in Isaiah 9:6-7 the Talmud states that Hezikiah was not this figure because of the "secret" of the closed final MEM.  What is the secret of the closed final MEM?  the MEM represents the WOMB and the the closed MEM points the birth of Messiah to a woman with a closed rather than an open womb!  This points us to the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 "Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son..." (see my recent article by that name at )

Messiah would be born to the closed womb of a virgin.  The closed MEM (closed womb) birth described in Isaiah 9:6-7 points us back to the virgin birth described in Isaiah 7:14.  Hezikiah could not have been the figure born in Isaiah 9:6-7 because he was not born of a virgin.  

Some of you may be wondering why Tom Mitchel was standing in for me for this weeks Truth Talk Live.  The reason is that I was dealing with an emergency plumbing situation.

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James Trimm
Worldwide Nazarene Assembly of Elohim

Views: 1367

Comment by Erik Adoniqam on March 29, 2012 at 12:43pm
Wouldn't a "closed womb" imply sterility as, for instance, in the case of Sarah? This of course would be a miraculous birth should a closed womb give birth, but a virgin womb from what I know is never called a "closed womb" throughout the corpus of Jewish Writ.

Care to elaborate?

Comment by James Trimm on March 29, 2012 at 1:10pm

A virgin womb is sterile until it is "opened" 

With the himen in place it is closed and with the himen broken it is opened....

Comment by Erik Adoniqam on March 29, 2012 at 2:59pm
I understand your reasoning (I have kids too;) and I agree. But for exegetical purposes and for the purpose of indisputable objective evidence, do you know of any instance in the TN"K or Chazal where the phrase "closed womb" refers to a virgin, other than of course the foregoing?

Comment by James Trimm on March 29, 2012 at 4:59pm

So at some point after the Dead Sea Scrolls and before the time of the Talmud the MEM in this word came to be written with a closed MEM instead of an open MEM so as to represent a secret the sages of old knew, that this figure would be born from a closed womb (virgin).

Comment by Erik Adoniqam on March 29, 2012 at 5:25pm
I've researched this phrase in the Tanach in it's various combinations (רחם/בטן+סגר/עצר etc.) and, from what I can see, it consistently refers to a non-virgin whose womb is barren or simply won't conceive. Perhaps James is correct in his post, but don't use the ם-closed womb argument in a debate with an Orthodox Jew that knows his stuff -- most likely you'll end up looking dumb.
Comment by James Trimm on March 29, 2012 at 5:31pm

Can a virgin womb conceive?  Seems to fit the bill for me. 

Either way Singer argues for Hezikiah while the Talmud argues against him.

Comment by James Trimm on March 29, 2012 at 7:01pm

Its in the Masoretic Text... last I checked that was one of the major versions of something called the "Bible" yes.

Comment by James Trimm on March 29, 2012 at 7:26pm

Actually some forms of Paleo MAY have sofit letters (The Los Lunas inscription shows possible evidence of this) however as a rule you are correct.  I have presented this as a tradition that was embedded in the traditional Hebrew text sometime after the Dead Sea Scrolls and before the compiling of the Talmud.

Comment by Levi Azcarreta on April 27, 2012 at 3:08pm

I personally belive that Scripture was written in ktav ashuri. But concernint the Mem, and Mem sofit (closed one), phonetically, when you pronounce the Mem, you have to open your mouth, for example, Moshe, but, when the Mem is found at the end of the word, a closed Mem, then you have to close your mouth, for example, Shalom. So, it is obvious that in hebrew it always have existed an open and closed Mem.


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