JOT. A corruption of iote, an English transliteration of iota, the ninth letter of the Greek alphabet and the nearest equivalent to Hebrew yodh, the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet and almost identical with our apostrophe sign (’). Used figuratively, the jot signifies something of apparently small moment. See Matt.5.17-Matt.5.18; NIV “the smallest letter.”
KJV, ASV, Knox tr.) IOTA, ī ō’ te, RSV; LETTER NEB. An Eng. transliteration of Gr. ἰω̂τα
, the nearest Gr. equivalent of Heb. י
, the smallest letter of the Heb. alphabet. See Tittle
. The meaning of vv. 17
is that the smallest letter or part of a letter shall not be erased from the law until all things that have been promised come to pass.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
jot: "Jot" (Revised Version, later editions of the King James Version) is a corruption of iote (early editions of the King James Version, Geneva, Rheims, Bishops’--pronounced i-o’te), an English transliteration of iota, the 9th letter of the Greek alphabet (Mt 5:18 parallel). "Iota," in turn, is the nearest Greek equivalent for the Hebrew yodh ("y"), the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet, in New Testament times being little larger than an English accent (’). The tittle (which see) is the smallest part of a letter (not part of a y, however). Consequently, thinking of the law as written out, the sense of Mt 5:17, is: "From this code, so written, not the smallest letter nor part of a letter--not an `i’ nor the crossing of a `t’--shall be erased until all things come to pass." (For the meaning, see Law.) The reference is to the synagogue rolls, which were written in Hebrew, so that the passage has no bearing on the language used by Christ. For the form of the "jot," compare the tables in HDB, article "Alphabet," more fully in Chwolson,. Corp. Inscr. Hebrew. (1882).