Updated: Nov 1, 2018
So it seems that I have unearthed the original and long forgotten structure inherent to the Torah...I have dug up the metaphorical Ark of the Covenant. Arguably, its more important than that - the Ark is only a relic - an artifact and representative of the Torah. This is the real thing, the 80,000 word book that changed the world. When seen within the framework of the original structure beautiful things emerge.
Book of Numbers?
At the core of the structure are patterns of eight and thirteen and their multiples. By contrasting those numbers with the primary numbers of the pagan world - seven and twelve, the Torah is layered with subtext and meaning.
People have been put off by biblical numerology and "gematria" is a dirty word in many circles. But there are two things to recall: First, the people who received the Torah way back when, had no numerals beyond the 22 letters - the letters were numbers for them and when they saw the word יד they saw 14 subtextually - the Torah is layered with subtext directed at its original audience, for them this wouldn't have even been subtext - it would have jumped out of the page in every word.
Second, numbers are the ultimate form of abstraction and are fundamental to the world - could God have created a world where Pi had some other value? You see how that question is unsettling? That is because understanding God and understanding numbers are the same species of problem. They are both invisible abstractions (from the human perspective) that permeate all existence and without whom nothing would be able to exist. God is numbers - he is Rishon. That's why the first word of Torah is a number בראשית which is the ordinal form of one - ordinal numbers being an abstraction of an abstraction.
In the book I will argue, inter alia, that the Torah could have only been accepted in the very specific situation that existed among the nomads of the ancient Levant. A phonetic alphabet accessible to nomads - not just city people and elites - and the ability to use numbers abstractly are prerequisites for being able to understand an abstract God and allowing a disparate nomadic people to coalesce as a nation under His law.
Numbers are also the ultimate metaphorical device. Consider the Talmudic dictum "the Torah is like water". In many ways the analogy works: it nourishes, flows from on high, purifies, and so on. But there are many ways where water is not like Torah - you can't use Torah to wash the dishes and Torah doesn't freeze. Not so numbers - they have none of that baggage - only their essence. We decide what they are bring used as code for.
Finding the pattern
I first noticed the pattern in Deuteronomy and realized that it extended across the whole Torah - this is a brief summary of the journey:
Thirteen always represents "recognition of the unity of God" and eight represents "transcendence of the natural order through covenant with God."
These are not my suppositions, but those of many greater minds than myself. (The Rabbi who was closest to both sides of my family Solomon Sassoon was also the world expert on these two numbers - http://judaicseminar.org/general/numbersymbolism.pdf ).
It's my baby so I naturally think it very beautiful, and hope that when others agree they are not just being polite, like I am when I meet other peoples babies. Here it is:
I first realized that Devarim was fourteen sections - or thirteen with an addendum about the death of Moses. This had not been noticed before as far as I could determine. Would the same apply to Bereshit I wondered? Well, there seemed to be nine clear distinct narratives up to Abraham, and then Issac, Jacob and Joseph. This was twelve - it didn't work.
I forgot about the pattern. At some point I stumbled upon the Sassoon article and became aware of the way the Torah is coded for meaning with number symbolism and the meaning of thirteen and eight and their multiples.
I looked back at my notes for Devarim and realized that I had made a list of all the laws in what I calling "section VI: Moshe's Law Speech": there were 80 - so it seemed thirteen sections with an eighty buried inside. Then I looked back at Bereshit and suddenly understood - it was thirteen - Abram and Abraham are separate sections, the Torah goes to great lengths to separate them to show the distinction between covenantal and non-covenantal man.
Shemot and Vayikra neatly parsed out into thirteen sections each - but Bamidbar was a problem. There seemed to be nearly thirty discrete elements. I came back to the sketch I mad made after some time and remembered those weird backwards "nuns" in Parashat Behalotecha. (Numbers 10.35)
I recalled learning that they were a separate book (describing the history that could have been had the people not sinned) dividing Bamidbar into three separate books in total. I rearranged the grid. I could sort of shoehorn the two halves into thirteen sections each, but the first was loose and the second half too dense - I wasn't happy - my theory had failed. I noticed though that it would have been perfect. The Torah would have had a total of 80 parts...Rabbi Sassoon would have been delighted.
I tried reordering Bamidbar strictly based on content alone - this gave me two books - one on either side of the nuns. Ten in the first, sixteen in the second - this did give a total of eighty, but the pattern was broken - I gave up.
The final revelation came while waking up from a dream. The first three books were thirteen sections each, that's 39, plus ten for the fourth book is 49. Then the "nuns" section was 50 and then 16 and 14 more....wait! .... "The nuns section was 50"...Nun means 50! And if I was an ancient scribe who wanted to mark a sectional waypoint in the Torah how would I do it? The only number system I have is based on the letters - so I can't use them - they will be misunderstood as text. The only way to do it is to write them as obtusely as possible - say, upside down....or backwards.
I pored over my notes and realized that Bamidbar was actually three main books with ten, eight and eight sections. Elegantly, each was set in a different location, the first in Sinai, the second in Paran and the third in Arvot Moav.
The Torah had revealed its secret structure - 80,000 words, 8 books, 80 sections - with fractal patterns of 8 and 13 everywhere.
If my theory was correct then clearly it was important - if true it could enable a paradigm shift in the understanding and study of the most studied 80,000 words humanity possesses. I realized that I had to publish. Publishing a book on Torah was not something I had ever considered to in my future.
I knew it was going to be a hard push to prove to people that I had found something that nobody had seen in 2500 years, if ever - the original and overarching structure of the Torah.
However there were a few things about the pattern that I recognized would be particular sticking points for people.
1. First was the issue of Abram and Abraham. To me it seemed clear that they were two separate narratives - sections IX and X of Bereshit - but I could see how others might view this as tendentious.
2. If the pattern is supposed to be about thirteen and eight, why does Devarim have a fourteenth?
3. Is it really plausible that the Torah was written in this kind of hierarchical structure, with bullets and sub-bullets?
I had put this to the back of my mind. I learnt about chiasms - elegant patterns in the text with a structure in the form ABCCBA or ABCDCBA - the text echoing itself topically or linguistically. As I was looking at the weekly Parasha very late last Wednesday night I noticed that the story of Abram going down to Egypt was flanked by two mentions of visits to the Negev. Could I have found my first chiasm the first time I looked?
Well, it was beginners luck. I found a beautiful one - and it extended to the whole of what I was calling "section IX: Abram". It neatly echoed the early history of the Israelites, with a descent "ירידה" to Egypt and then an accent "עליה" to The Land.
Then I looked at "section X: Abraham". The chiasm emerged even more beautiful than the first. This time it was rotating around the fourteenth stage of Abraham's life - the Akedah -and it covered the whole of section X, from the Covenant and circumcision of Abraham (and Ishmael) though Abraham's death and ending with the descendants of Ishmael.
All sorts of interlacing patterns of eights and thirteens started to emerge. But most of all I realized that the initial "Lech Lecha" instruction was actually the blueprint for Abraham's entire life - a fourteen part journey to the Akeda.
The fourteen confused me - but only for a moment - I realized that Abraham's journey to recognizing God was a thirteen part journey - it was only once he had "graduated" from the "School of Thirteen" that he was ready for his final exam: "Can Abraham take the message of God that he has internalized and march it out into the pagan world of sevens" (and its multiples - i.e. fourteen.) - Indeed, the text of the Akeda is riddled with seven, both structurally, linguistically and even geographically - Abraham starts and ends his journey in Be'er Sheva "The Seventh Well" and the whole text is a pattern of seven groups of seven lines.
This after all is Abraham's mission - spreading the light of God in the world - so that's what fourteen is then - its a artifact of thirteen - thirteen to get to God - now its time to spread that light.
The Lech Lecha phrases matched up simply perfectly with the actual narrative and I could see that this wasn't just a cute trick but was revealing layers of meaning never before seen.
I now had two more questions:
4. How had nobody noticed this before? How had nobody noticed that when you break down the most famous line in Jewish education - emerges a blow by blow blueprint for the most famous narrative in Jewish History?!
5. And How had no chiasm obsessed academic ever found these obvious and instructive ones about Abraham - they had only esoteric and bizzare ones - each more disjointed shoehorned and unconvincing than the next? Google "Abraham Chiasms" and see for yourselves...
I stared at the notes I had made and I realized at once that these two chiasms answered my three biggest doubts about my theory in one fell swoop at the same time as they answered my new questions:
The scholars didn't find the chiasm because they were looking through a fog of catholic imposed chapter and verse divisions piled on top of commentaries and generations of sometimes stultifying scholarship - which I was totally unexposed to.
I was the first person to see the text in terms of its essential structure in 2500 years - so for me the chiasms jumped out of the page - I couldn't not see them. In the same way, until you properly analyze the narrative as having a hierarchical structure you will never notice the fourteen part epic that Abraham embarks on with "Lech Lecha..." as the header - and the Jewish educators are buried too deep in a snowdrift of midrashic commentary to notice.
The two separate chiasms were if nothing else intended to announce that these are two separate but interrelated and overlaid narratives - there are many other signs - including the listing of Abrams age as 86 at the end of section IX and then immediately listing his age as 99 again at the beginning of section X - why do that if these are not separate units - but I'll leave the details for another post.
I understood why it was so appropriate that the death of Moses would be section XIV. There are two reasons: First its to remind us that Moses, as great as he was, was no god and no demigod, but a mere mortal - that's also why his final song had 70 lines and 140 phrases, why his death is mentioned in 12 separate narratives (I counted) and he died aged 120 - because 7 and 12 are the numbers of the natural world , and represent the limits of pagan understanding.
Second, in the same way that Abraham's Akeda moment was the moment where God cut off direct contact with him (he never spoke to him again) and set him free to fulfill his mission in the mundane world, the death of Moses was a similar cut point for the Israelites - no more manna, no more desert camp, and again like with Abraham, no more direct connection ("there will never be another prophet like Moshe who would talk to God face to face") - they need to walk into the land and spread the word of God to the entire world.
Finally I understood: If we need color coded diagrams and bullet points to understand chaisms its inevitable that the Torah's creator was conceptualizing it that way too - or at the very least intending for it to be understood that way. Chaisms have no meaning except in terms of hierarchy and cannot even be easily visualized without hierarchical display.
The fact that there are chiasms in Torah proves my primary thesis - that the Torah has a hierarchical scheme of division and subdivision - just like everything in nature - maybe that's what the sages mean when they say that "God looked into the Torah are created the World." (Zohar, Terumah, 161b).