When someone is sick or needs healing, you have perhaps heard the phrase the Balm of Gilead used. What is the Balm of Gilead and what does it do? What makes it significant? Can Ancient Hebrew Pictographs provide any clues giving us more meaning? Does anything in this expression point us to Messiah? Let’s investigate.
The Prophet Jeremiah paints a very grim picture of the state of Israel as idolatry among God’s people had led to an impending judgment. As chapter 8 of the book of Jeremiah begins, the nation of Babylon is about to desecrate the graves of the Kings of Israel looking for plunder. But in verse 3 Jeremiah declares that as bad as this seems, things will be worse for those who remain alive:
And death shall be chosen rather than life by all the residue of them that remain of this evil family, which remain in all the places whither I have driven them, saith the LORD of hosts.
Jeremiah further explained his sorrow in verse 19:
Behold the voice of the cry of the daughter of my people because of them that dwell in a far country: is not the LORD in Zion? Is not her king in her? Why have they provoked me to anger with their graven images, and with strange vanities?
Finally, in verse 22 he explained their need for a healing:
Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?
The word balm is the Hebrew word Tsori. In conventional Hebrew, it means a salve and it comes from a root word meaning to crack by pressure and to leak and describes the process of slicing bark from a balsam tree and collecting the leaking resin.
Jeremiah is describing something with which they were familiar that was used for healing. It’s something that should be available to them. But why isn’t it, and why aren’t they being healed? What clues can we discover in the Ancient Hebrew Pictographs that might reveal this mystery for us?
Tsori is spelled Tsade Reysh Yood.
Tsade is the picture of the fishhook and means to catch, to harvest, or to have a strong desire.
Reyshis the picture of the head and means the master or the prince.
Yood is the picture of the hand and refers to a mighty deed.
What message is awaiting us in these three letters? In Tsori we can see that a prince will perform a mighty work to catch or harvest. What does this mean?
The Balm of Gilead was used as an all-purpose cure for physical ailments but is being figuratively used here by Jeremiah to indicate the need for spiritual healing. There is a cure for an idolatrous spirit. To make better sense of this we need to evaluate the meaning of the numbers that each of these letters represents. The meanings of these numbers are determined from how they are used throughout the scriptures.
Tsade is the number 90 and the meaning comes from a combination of 9 times 10 which results in ordinal perfection and judgment at the conclusion of a series.
Reysh is the number 200 and refers to the balance between the insufficiency of man and the sufficiency of God.
Yood is the number 10 and stands for something ordained by God in Heaven or ordinal perfection.
This begins to explain something profound about our spiritual condition. Jeremiah pointed out the people were sick in spirit and in the number 200 we see that man is insufficient to remedy his condition. The bad news in the number 90 is that there is a judgment coming that has been ordained by God. The good news in the number 10 is that God has always had a plan that will provide for the healing of His people. The number 200 tells us He is all sufficient. But what is this plan? How can we recognize it and benefit from it?
There is one more number to consider. These three numbers in the word balm or Tsori taken together are the number 300. What is important about this number? This is the number of the letter Sheen which is the one letter God uses to identify Himself.
The numbers tell us the spiritual healing found in the Balm of Gilead comes from God Himself. But how is this accomplished? The meaning of the number 300 is our final clue. The number 300 signifies the blood sacrifice made by the perfect Lamb of God who was Jesus Christ.
Now we can understand the pictographs which told us that a prince would perform a mighty work to catch or harvest. Who was the prince? He was Messiah. What was the mighty work of the prince? His death on the cross was the pathway to life for those needing spiritual healing. God’s plan all along was to gather a great harvest through the mighty work of His Son.
Rabbi Paul described this for us in his letter to the Romans in chapter 5, verses 8 and 9:
But God commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
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