Pidyon: The Hebrew Word for Redemption

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The word for redemption in Hebrew is Pidyon. But what is it and why would anyone need redemption? Does redemption cost anything, and if so who has to pay? You’re about to find out. 

Korah was a tribal leader in Israel that led a rebellion against Moses while the nation of Israel was in the wilderness on route from Egypt to the Promised Land. With his status as a member of the Levites, he was able to minister in the tabernacle. Being jealous of Aaron, the brother of Moses who had been appointed High Priest, Korah demanded that he instead be the one to serve as High Priest.

The Book of Numbers records his grim fate.  He, his followers, and their families and possessions were swallowed by the ground in a judgment by God. But in a marvelous picture of grace, a few of his surviving descendants nearly 400 years later wrote some of the Psalms. 

Psalm 49 is one of the Psalms attributed to the sons of Korah. They knew full well the consequences of sin. In verses 6 through 9 they wrote of redemption and its price:

They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; 
None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him;  
(For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever:)  
That he should still live for ever, and not see corruption. ​ 

The word Redemption is the word Pidyon and in conventional Hebrew it refers to a price that must be paid to redeem, to rescue, or to deliver someone. Its root is a legal term that concerns the substitution required for a person to be delivered from bondage.

In this passage, a clear picture emerges demonstrating the fact that while many trust in their riches and even boast in them, there is at least one thing that their riches cannot purchase. They cannot secure redemption and rescue from corruption. The word corruption is the word pit and refers to the ultimate destiny of those who have rejected God. 

What can the Ancient Hebrew pictographs tell us about the word Pidyon?  Pidyon, as used here, is spelled Pey Dalet Yood Vav Noon

Pey is the picture of the open mouth and means to speak. 

Dalet is the picture of the door and refers to a doorway, a place of decision, or an entrance to life or death.

Yood is the picture of the hand or arm and points us to a mighty work or deed.


Vav is the picture of the wooden peg or the iron nail and means to fasten or to secure two things that are separated from one another.

Noon is the picture of the fish and describes activity or life. 

The message found in God’s Ancient Pictographs is very clear.  He is declaring an entrance or a pathway that will require a mighty deed to secure life. No amount of money will perform this mighty deed, something else will be required. 

Each of these five letters are also numbers that hold a certain meaning that is determined by how these numbers are used in the rest of the Scriptures. This added information will reveal even more about this mighty deed that money can’t buy.

Pey is the number 80 and means a new beginning and a new birth. 

Dalet is the number 4 and refers to creation.

Yood is the number 10 and stands for ordinal perfection.

Vav is the number 6 and reveals man’s enmity with God.

Noon is the number 50 and describes deliverance followed by rest. 

This explains something else found in Pidyon that brings great hope. This redemption will bring a new birth or a new beginning for all creation.  It has been ordained in heaven, will solve man’s enmity with God, and will result in deliverance followed by rest.  

But the Sons of Korah had announced to us that no one is able to pay the price of redemption. Then how will anyone ever be delivered from bondage? Is there someone who is able to perform the mighty deed that will be sufficient to rescue precious souls from the pit?

The writer of the Book of Hebrews describes such a man and his mighty deed in chapter 10 verse 12:

But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.   

Here we read of a man who was able to pay the price necessary for mankind to be delivered from the bondage of sin. But just who was this man?

In the Gospel of Mark chapter 10 verse 45, this man is identified more fully, and the mighty deed he performed is also revealed:

For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. 

We can read that the Sons of Korah knew God would someday provide for Himself a way for us to be redeemed. They continued in verse 15 of Psalm 49 with this:

But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me.   

Rabbi Paul completes this mystery for us in his first letter to Timothy. In chapter 2 verses 5 and 6, he tells us the name of the One who was able to pay the Pidyon:

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

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  1. Judy Leo says:

    Thank you for all of these little teachings! It is loaded with gold nuggets! Blessings, Judy L.

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