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What is a “tittle”?


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. (Matthew 5:18)

In the last blog we learned that a “jot” was really “yod,” the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet. So, now let’s turn our attention to “tittle” and see what it means. It is another one of those words you never hear or use in everyday conversations.

First, let’s see look up tittle in an English dictionary and see if we can find a definition. There is a definition and it is: “a dot or other small mark in writing or printing, used as a diacritic, punctuation, etc.”

However, when we look at a yod we do not find any dots or small marks. Follow the arrow and look at the very upper left tip of the yod.
 י
 Do you see the small point? When we turn to the Jewish culture of Yeshua we find that the scribes had a name for it -- קוץ (QOTz). The translation of the word קוץ is “thorn.”[i] When Yeshua spoke he said, “Till heaven and earth pass, one yod or one qotz shall in no wise pass from the law. . .”  -- meaning that neither the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet, yod, nor even the smaller thorn on the tip of a yod would even disappear from the law. He used a well-known Hebrew expression:

lo yod v'lo kotzo shel yod

not a yod or a thorn of a yod [ii]

When Yeshua spoke those words to his Jewish audience they clearly understood exactly what he meant. But, I don’t that is the case when an English speaker says or hears – “not one jot or one tittle.” Yeshua and his followers weren't English speaking Americans – they were Hebrew speaking Jews – many probably understood Aramaic, Greek and Latin too.


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