In the Bible we find Matthew 5:18 where Jesus said,
“For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” KJV VersionMatthew 5:18
Well that is all very well but that verse is hard to understand for any normal person. What is a jot and what is a tittle?
As I encourage people to do in Deeper Bible, used the various versions of the Bible to help you understand the Bible. Let’s try some other versions.
- “because I tell you with certainty that until heaven and earth disappear, not one letter or one stroke of a letter will disappear from the Law until everything has been accomplished.” (ISV)
- “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved.” (NLT)
- For verily I say unto you, Until heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or one tittle shall pass from the law until all is fulfilled. (Jerusalem Bible)
- Yes indeed! I tell you that until heaven and earth pass away, not so much as a yud ( י ) or a stroke will pass from the Torah—not until everything that must happen has happened. (Complete Jewish Bible)
Notice how using various translations will allow you to gain a more complete understanding of the intent of what Jesus said.
The י (Yodh) is the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet. You can see when you compare the size of the Yodh it is like an apostrophe mark above the line in comparison with the other letters.
The word “Jot” is the English equivalent or transliteration of “Yodh”. Not only will a single letter not be lost but not even the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet will be lost. A letter which either represents the consonant (y) or the vowel (i). Technically y is one of the semi vowels. It can double as a consonant and as a vowel in that shady area of grey between the two.
The tittle represents the smallest distinguishing mark between two letters. If you look at the pairs of letters above:- Beth and Caph along with Daleth and Resh you can see between the Hebrew pairs there is only a very subtle difference between each letter of the pairing. There is a little tail on the Beth while there is nothing on the Kaph. There is a little tail on the Daleth while there is nothing on the Resh. This tail is what is referred to as the tittle. It is the least stroke of the pen which distinguishes one Hebrew letter from another.
Jesus is saying the text of the Torah (The Law) and by inference the Tanakh -the Law, The Prophets and the Writings (the whole Old Testament) will be preserved. Not even the smallest letter ( י Yodh) will disappear from the text nor will the least stroke of the pen which distinguishes one Hebrew letter from another be lost. The text will be preserved.
In subsequent Nuggets we will investigate Jesus’ promise.