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What is a “jot”?


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. (Matthew 5:18)

Have you ever been reading the Bible and noticed the word “jot” before? What is a “jot”? When was one of the last times you used “jot” in everyday conversation with a friend or heard anyone else use it? I would guess that a whole lot of the people who see the word “jot” in their Bibles do not know what it means.  

There is an English word “jot” that is used this way – Take time to jot it down. But Yeshua wasn’t speaking English, so I don’t think that is what he meant in the verse above.

There is also an app you can get for smartphones and iPads called “Jot,” but I am very sure that wasn’t what Yeshua meant.

Discovering the meaning of “jot” reveals much more than just helping us understand what Yeshua said – it also reveals what language he taught in and the language of those hearing him. In order to find out what it means, we have to work our way back from our English to Yeshua’s language.

The word "jot" began as a transliteration of the name of a letter of the Greek alphabet – (Iota)." On its trip from Greek to English, the Greek ending “-a” was dropped and the “I” was replaced by a “J”.  So what began as “Iota” became “iot” and finally “jot.”

But, Yeshua wasn’t speaking Greek and he didn’t use the word “iota” as an example in his message. Yeshua used the Hebrew word “yod” that day. A yod is the 10th letter of the Hebrew alphabet and it is the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet (see below) --  
י
Yod

The transition from yod to jot began when an ancient Greek translator translated the Hebrew words of Yeshua from Hebrew into Greek. He chose the closest equivalent Greek letter and replaced yod with iota. Iota is the 9th letter in the Greek alphabet and it is also the smallest Greek letter. Now, let’s update what Yeshua taught that day:

“For verily I say unto you, `Till heaven and earth pass, one Yod or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.’”

Would Yeshua use a letter from an alphabet his audience would not have understood? I don’t think so. This provides an important piece of evidence that indicates -- Yeshua spoke Hebrew to an audience that understood Hebrew.

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