The Mystery in Minchah and Mattanah: The Hebrew Words for Gift

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Why is there more than one word for gift in Hebrew? What would make them different? Are there any mysteries in the Hebrew pictographs that would provide clues to understand the words Minchah and Mattanah better? Will either of these words point to Messiah? You’re about to find out. 

Let’s first look at the word Minchah which is by far the most common word for gift. In the conventional Hebrew, this can be translated as a gift or a present and can be used as well for tribute or an offering to God. It is from a root which means to apportion or bestow and is nearly always voluntary. When used as an offering to God, it refers to a sacrifice without blood. 

Minchah is first found in Genesis, the first book of the Torah. In Chapter 4 verse 3 we read:

And in the process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.

Here we have a gift, a Minchah, offered to Jehovah from Cain that comes from tilling the ground. The very next two verses compare the Minchah that his brother Abel brought to Yehovah.  

And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering; but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect.   

Will the ancient pictographs contained in the letters of Minchah let us understand more of what we read here? Minchah is spelled Mem Noon Chet Hey.


Mem is pictured as waters and carries the idea of liquid, or massive, or chaos and can be either something bringing life like a stream or a well or something like a tsunami bringing destruction.


Noon is the picture of the fish and portrays life and activity. 


Chet is the picture of the fence and means to separate, something private like a sanctuary,  a secluded garden, or a place of protection.


Hey is the picture of uplifted arms and means to look or behold and can refer to the Holy Spirit. 

The context of this passage is very helpful here. Just a few verses earlier, in the last verse of Genesis Chapter 3 we are told:

So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.   

The pictographs tell us Cain and Abel have been cut off from the Garden of Eden and the Tree of Life. Even though they are bringing a Minchah and coming to the gate to meet with Yehovah they instead behold the massive, terrifying Cherubim blocking the entrance. 

But why was one Minchah accepted while the other was not since no laws had yet been given concerning giving gifts to Yehovah? The numbers these letters represent will show us. Mem is the number 40 and stands for a period of probation that will result in renewal. Noon is the number 50 and indicates deliverance followed by rest. Chet is the number 8 and points to a new beginning. Hey is the number 5 and means grace or unmerited favor. 

So each Minchah was intended to bring a new beginning with Yehovah counting on His grace and resulting in deliverance and rest. But they are under probation; one gift will result in renewal and the other will not. The writer of the Book of Hebrews explains why this is in Chapter 11 verse 4:

By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

The test of the probation was faith. Abel offered his Minchah in faith and passed the test resulting in renewal and righteousness. Cain failed his probation not because he didn’t have an acceptable gift but because he didn’t give it in faith as Yehovah desired. 

But what about Mattanah? What makes this gift different? This word first appears in the Torah in Genesis Chapter 25 verse 6:

But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country. 

The word gifts used here is the word Mattanah and carries the conventional meaning when used in a good sense of a gift or a present. In a bad sense can mean a gift used as a bribe. 

The writer of Ecclesiastes Chapter 7 verse 7 gives the results of Mattanah used in a bad sense:

Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad; and a gift destroys the heart. 

The gift or Mattanah used here as a bribe destroys the heart.

What will the pictographs of Mattanah tell us? Mattanah is spelled Mem Tav Noon Hey.

Three of these letters are contained in Minchah so let’s just consider the Tav.



The Tav is the picture of crossed wooden sticks and means to seal, to covenant, or can mean a sign. 

Remember a covenant is a promise. Also, remember that in the Gospel of the beloved apostle John in Chapter 4 verse 10 Yeshua says this:

If thou knewest the gift of God, and who is is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water

Adding the pictographic meaning of the Tav to the other three letters we just described we can conclude this. In Mattanah there is a promise to bring the mighty, living waters of life to those who look to Him. Yeshua is the living water which comes to us as John says as a gift or a Mattanah from Yehovah.

Just as Abraham wanted to give good gifts to all his sons, Yehovah wants to give the perfect Mattanah to His children. And what is that perfect Mattanah?

James writes in Chapter 1 verse 17 that:

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness neither shadow of turning. 

The good and perfect Mattanah coming down from the Father of lights was His only Son, Yeshua Ha-Mashiach, Jesus the Christ, the living water in whom we have life eternal. 

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