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If you spell out each letter that makes up the name of God, then add up the gematria (numerical value) of each letter of each fully spelled out letter you get various values. The value depends on how you spell each individual letter.

There are 4 numeric values of the name of G-d (YKVK), each based on different spellings of the its constituent letters. (Wikipedia):

  • ע"ב/`AV : יו"ד ה"י וי"ו ה"י, gematria 72
  • ס"ג/SaG: יו"ד ה"י וא"ו ה"י, gematria 63.
  • ב"ן/BaN: יו"ד ה"ה ו"ו ה"ה, gematria 52.
  • מ"ה/MaH: יו"ד ה"א וא"ו ה"א, gematria 45.

My question is why is BaN (representing 2+50) not termed “NaB” (representing 50+2), so that like AV (representing 70+2), SaG (representing 60+3), and MaH (representing 40+5), its ten’s place numeral would come before its one’s place numeral?

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I don't understand this at all. What do you mean 4 permutations of the name of God? –  Daniel May 2 '13 at 21:23
Perhaps if you used actual Hebrew letters instead of writing out their names, it would be easier to understand? –  Daniel May 2 '13 at 21:24
Shouldn't there be more than 4 permutations? –  Double AA May 2 '13 at 21:40
@DoubleAA According to there are 27 different possible ones. (Why these four are most commonly referred to sounds like it could be another question. Also, maybe the Ramchal that Wikipedia cites says more.) –  HodofHod May 2 '13 at 21:59
Similar: –  msh210 May 3 '13 at 19:20

2 Answers 2

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because if it were termed נ"ב then it wouldn’t equal 9 in “the small number gematria” value.

The “small number gematria value” comes down to this: were I to add 2+4+6 I’d of course arrive at 12. If I were to add the 1 and 2 of the figure 12 I’d arrived at just now, I’d then arrive at the number 3, which is the “small number gematria” value of the original 2+4+6 (i.e., 2+4+6=12=3).

So, just as ע"ב’s 72 is 7+2=9, ס"ג’s 63 is 6+3=9, and מ"ה’s 45 is 4+5=9 — ב"ן’s 52 is 2+700=9 in “small number gematria value” (given that the final letter Nun is worth 700), whereas it would be worth only 7 (5+2) if it read נ"ב(Midrash Peliah 163).

Why would they need to each be worth 9? According to that same source, that’s because that represents the nine major components of each Partzuf which is then completed by its tenth — it’s Malchut; or because the word for truth (emet) also has the “the small number gematria” value of 9 (1+40+400=9).

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The Lubavitcher Rebbe addresses this in a letter included in the appendices to Likkutei Sichos vol. 16. He gives several explanations:

  • According to the מהר״ש מאסטרופוליא הי'ד: Each of the names have a gematria of 9 in mispar katan - except NaB (5+2 = 7). BaN on the other hand, does have a mispar katan of 9, since a final nun has a mispar gadol of 700. The Rebbe says he can't remember if the מהר״ש מאסטרופוליא הי'ד said what is the benefit of them being 9, but he does give his own explanation. (In a nutshell, 9 is the highest number of mispar katan; the Rebbe refers to this as ״תכלית החשבון שאיו למעלה הימנו״ (See there)).

  • On a simple level he explains that it's simply easier to remember BaN, since it is a word that one already knows.

(There's a third explanation, but I don't fully understand it, so I won't bring it here.)

Also see this thread on that discusses this very issue. (They quote an additional reason to make BaN worth 9, is because 9 is אמת (which is חותמו של הקב"ה) in mispar katan.)

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The word we already know is..."ben" like son? Or am I missing something obvious about ban? –  Double AA May 2 '13 at 22:26
@DoubleAA Bingo. (I think) –  HodofHod May 2 '13 at 22:27
Nov is also a word (at least, a proper noun). Also Niv, although that is usually spelled plene. –  Double AA May 2 '13 at 22:31
Somewhere in the Miluyim at the back of one of the Chassidus Mevu'eres they bring several explanations to this. –  Michoel May 3 '13 at 0:57
@Michoel If you could find it, you should write up another answer. –  HodofHod May 3 '13 at 3:48

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