The Messianic Rule Breaker Where The Hebrew letter, Pronounced As Mem, Changes From Its Normal Shape in the Middle of a Word

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The Messianic Rule Breaker Where The Hebrew letter, Pronounced As Mem, Changes From Its Normal Shape in the Middle of a Word

First Temple and Second Temple Biblical Script
With an Emphasis on the letter Mem. The chart I downloaded from and added arrows to it.


According to two out of three views mentioned by the Talmud and according to archaeology, there was a difference in shape of the Hebrew letters of the Biblical text between the first Temple period and the second Temple period. It is important to stress that the 2nd Temple period script was initiated at a time when Divine Inspiration was still present in the nation of Israel.

For an explanation of how this came to be go  to which provides links to a lecture by Rabbi Manning who explains why this took place.

In the Biblical Hebrew of the first Temple period, I was told the letter Mem (according to 2 out of the 3 views brought by the Talmud) seem to have the same appearance regardless of whether placed in the middle, beginning or end of a word.

But in 2nd Temple Hebrew script, which continues to be written to this very day, we have a rule that if the Mem appears at the beginning of a word or in the middle of a word it looks like this:


But if it is at the end of a word the shape changes to


There is a rule breaker for this principle. The first word of Yishayahu (Isaiah) 9:6 has the letter Mem appearing like this


in the middle of the word.

This is the translation of that verse in Yishayahu (Isaiah) chapter 9 ( partly based on ) in which the rule breaking letter Mem appears:

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, on David’s throne and on his kingdom, to establish it and to support it with justice and with righteousness; from now and to eternity, the zeal of the L-rd of Hosts shall accomplish this.

The Talmud in tractate Sanhedrin 94a takes note of this rule breaker and comments that we are being informed by this rule breaker that King Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah) who survived the massive invasion of Israel by the Assyrian Empire of Sancheriv (Sennacherib) through a miracle was nearly assigned the task of being Messiah if not for one flaw.

This is the translation as provided by

Of the increase 5 of his government and peace there shall be no end. 6 R. Tanhum said: Bar Kappara expounded in Sepphoris, Why is every mem in the middle of a word open, whilst this is closed?7
The Holy One, blessed be He, wished to appoint Hezekiah as the Messiah, and Sennacherib as Gog and Magog;8 whereupon the Attribute of Justice 9 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. 10



(5) לםרבה
(6) Isa. IX, 6.
(7) There are two forms of mem: medial, which is open (מ) and final, which is closed (ם). In this sentence, however,
the closed form occurs in the middle of a word (למרבה).
(8) Gog and Magog are, in Jewish eschatology, the tribes who shall lead all nations in a tremendous attack upon Israel;
their final defeat ushers in the halcyon days of the Messiah, (Ezek. XXXVIII, XXXIX). It is not clear whom the prophet had in mind, the whole passage having the mystic form of apocalyptic prediction. The present passage is remarkable in that it shews that in the opinion of its author no particular nation was intended, but any great heathen power whose destruction, by the will of G-d, is to precede the millenium.
(9) [The attributes of Justice and Mercy are often hypostasized and represented as interceding with the Almighty.] (10) Shewing that G-d’s original intention was ‘closed’, i.e., revoked. Other interpretations: G-d wished to ‘close’ i.e., end the troubles of Israel by making Hezekiah the Messiah; or Hezekiah’s mouth was closed, i.e., he sang no psalms to the Almighty.’


Rashi in his commentary to  Yishayahu (Isaiah) 9:6 brings an alternative flaw that stopped Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah) from being the Messiah. He states:

And our Rabbis said: The Holy One, blessed be He, wished to make Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah) the Messiah and Sancheriv (Sennacherib), Gog and Magog. Said the ministering angels before the Holy One, blessed be He, Should the one who stripped the doors of the Temple and sent them to the king of Assyria, be made Messiah? Immediately, Scripture closed it up. {Comment: Closed it up is a reference to the Mem being closed up as a rule breaker in the middle of a word}

To sum things up the Talmud understands, the lack of reciting a song of praise to G-d over his miracles prevented Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah) from being the Messiah. Rashi understands that trying to buy a peace treaty with Assyria by sacrificing the Temple doors was the flaw that held back Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah) from becoming the Messiah.

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