The numerical interpretation of Hebrew words.
The Hebrew alphabet has 22 letters - five with end-forms (used only when a word ends with one of these). From circa 200 BC, as the following table reveals, each letter was made to function as a numeral - thus copying the earlier Greek model (c.600 BC).
The practice then was to record numbers on an additive basis, ie the number represented by a string of letters was the sum of these, interpreted as numerals. The characteristic value of a conventional Hebrew word, or phrase, is obtained in this manner. As an illustration of this procedure, consider the evaluation of the seven words with which the Bible opens (ie Genesis 1:1):
Letter values are given above the text; word characteristic values (the sum of these), below. The verse characteristic value (ie the sum of the word values) is 2701, or 37.73.
The untranslatable fourth word is formed from the first and last letters of the alphabet - Aleph and Tau; its presence is necessary to sustain the grammar of the verse.