Taw Sheepmark Means “Sheep”

Weavers, Scribes, and Kings: A New History of the Ancient Near East, by Amanda Podany, is full of illuminating comments on the cultures and technologies of the ancient Near East, mostly Mesopotamia.

The ancient form of the Hebrew letter “taw” is an equal-armed cross in a circle (which is used as an angelic “sheepmark” for faithful human members of God’s flock, in the Book of Ezekiel).

The ancient business representation of a sheep was used on proto-cuneiform tablets for accounting; and before that, in the small clay tokens representing the individual pieces of a delivery which were enclosed in clay “bulla” balls sealed all over with a cylinder seal, and then presented and opened to confirm delivery of everything that had been sent.

And what was the shape of a sheep token?

An equal-armed cross enclosed in a circle.

God’s sheepmark, the Tau cross, was literally present and known in the world from the beginning of human writing… and even before human writing, when it was just an accounting convenience. His Providence was preparing us in the deeps of time.

And the Taw shape probably represents a slain sheep being roasted over a fire on a cross-shaped frame, with each sheep leg bound to an arm of the cross. It is a foreshadowing of Passover, and hence of the Paschal Lamb Who was slain.

“In the beginning was the Word.”


(Pretty early on, btw, Uruk developed fifteen different pictograms for different kinds of sheep, so it is really interesting that the basic sheep sign survived so long, and was incorporated into the Phoenician and Hebrew and Greek alphabets, and hence into the Latin one as T.)

(Taw could also be a stylized picture of a sheep sprawled out on the ground, or on its butt and being sheared, if you like that idea better. I don’t think anybody could tell you differently, at this point.)


Filed under Uncategorized

2 responses to “Taw Sheepmark Means “Sheep”

  1. Peter J. Floriani

    And since it went into Latin (and thus English and many other languages) as T, and because it is the second letter of Latin “et” = English “and” – and used in the usual colloquial form of math as “two and two are four” (2+2 = 4) we now have it on all our keyboards generating an internal pattern 00101011 (sometimes called 43) for the ASCII symbol rendered as “+”.

    All Symbols and Languages praise the Lord! Glory and praise be to Him forever!
    All Electronics and Software praise the Lord! Give glory and eternal praise to Him!

    No wonder Chesterton said whether you start with PIGS or the BINOMIAL THEORY you end up talking about GOD.

  2. Very good!

    So we go from accounting tokens to language, and then back to counting…. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.