Matthew 5:18
King James Bible
For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

What are these jot and tittle? Hebrew? Greek? Niqqud?

  • If you're asking about the English in KJV: Jot is from Iota, and means a small thing; tittle means a dot or mark; and the two together are usually interpreted as the main part and the dot respectively of the letter "i". If you're asking about the Greek, I can't help you (though I see that the first word is Iota).
    – Colin Fine
    Aug 12, 2020 at 20:47

1 Answer 1


Excellent question! * What are the jot and tittle in Matthew 5:18 [KJV]?

  1. In Hebrew, the "Yod" (י) is the smallest letter of the Alef-Beyt and used numerically in the Masoretic text to note #10.
  2. In the Tanakh, "Yod" represents a #possessive hand used as a suffix with nouns like 'My-Help' ( עֶזְרִי ) from [Psalm 121:2]
  3. The word 'Yod' (יד) is literally a #Hand of YHVH in [Ezekiel 37:1] "The Hand of YHVH" ( יַד יְהֹוָֽה ) came upon him.
  • In context to Matthew 5:18, Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth is making a deeper metaphor in stating God's Hand (Yod) will not pass away from the law. The Greek mistransliteration ' ἰῶτα ' (iota) loses the meaning.
  1. 'Tittle' (Stroke) refers to Latin (titulus) mistranslated from the Greek ' κεραία ' (keraia) from the Hebrew term 'Kera' ( כְרָעַ֨ ) - meaning the 'leg' a letter stands on. To Greeks, the 'Kera' meant a horn instead of leg, so scholars assume Yeshua meant the 'heel' stroke of a Dalet (ד​). - Tittle is not referring to a 'dot' or 'dagesh', because the niqqud used by Masoretes was not applied to Hebrew manuscripts before 70AD. Which means Yeshua (Jesus) did not refer to niqqud.
  • 1
    In the Tanakh, as in Central and Northern Semitic languages generally, the suffix -i represents the inherited first-person-possessor. Nothing else. When it came to be written, it was written with a yod, because Hebrew script did not note vowels. Some fanciful literate people may have noticed the yod and thought of "hand", but to say it "represents" it is unwarranted. (It is possible that the letter name derives from the word yad, but far from established - though it could have been widely believed).
    – Colin Fine
    Aug 12, 2020 at 18:33
  • Thanks for your feedback, Colin Fine! Regarding your hebrew suffix -i, which letter of the Alef-beyt would that be referencing? Aug 12, 2020 at 18:39
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    Why would a sound reference a letter? Sounds are a part of language, nothing to do with letters. Some languages have the technology called writing applied to them, and in some kinds of writing there is a correspondence of some sort between letters and sounds, though it is often imperfect. Which letter of the alef-beyt does the -i in Maltese qalbi ("my heart") reference? It's the same suffix.
    – Colin Fine
    Aug 12, 2020 at 19:13
  • Thanks for clarifying, Colin! The pronunciation of Hebrew words is not what assigns a word to a letter in the Alef-Beyt. It is based on their pictogram's meaning. * For example : The letter (א) is called the word 'Alef' (אלפ) found in [ Tehillim (Psalms) 8:8 ] because it's pictogram represents an 'Ox'. Aug 12, 2020 at 19:38
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    I fundamentally disagree. While in some cases the name of a letter was a recognisable word and the letter bore some resemblance to the referent of that word (eg 'aleph') This was not generally the case. I have no doubt that there were mystics drawing ex post facto meanings from the written word, just as happened with gematria, I see no evidence that the writing the Hebrews borrowed from the Phoenicians was anything other than a technology to note down words by their sound.
    – Colin Fine
    Aug 12, 2020 at 20:39

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