Speculation on Yod
The cyborg’s name is Yod. I want to speculate about the name; it may or may not reflect what the author Marge Piercy thought about when choosing that name for that particular character.
Yod (rhymes with mode) is the 10th letter of the Hebrew alphabet (Piercy 69). It has a numeric value of 10. It looks kind of like an apostrophe. Yod is the smallest Hebrew letter. It can be a symbol of humility. It is the first letter in the name of the Hebrew God, and the first letter in the Hebrew word for “Jews” (Parson). Otherwise, as a word, Yod means “arm” or “leg” (Parson).
How does this compare with Yod’s character?
Yod is not small. He is “of medium height, with a solid compact build” (Piercy 68). He does, however, have decent arms and legs. He’s also supposed to be the tenth try (Piercy 72). His numeric value of 10 holds a special significance in numerology–it is a number of completion. Yod is Avram’s first complete cyborg (Piercy 70). He’s a protector of both Tikva and Shira; the Hebrew God is known, among a multitude of other things, as a protector of the Jews. In terms of humility, he doesn’t seem entirely proud.
Figuratively with the arms and legs, Yod is quite strong. He’s able to snap the spine of a would-be assassin, but also quite gentle, carrying Shira away from the scene without hurting her (Piercy 219). And, of course, Yod is made by Jewish people to serve the Jewish people. He identifies with the Jewish people in the book. He is made both of organic material and as a machine. A person, yet not human. No wonder there’s the question of crossing the Eternal.
Parsons, John J. “The Letter Yod.” Hebrew for Christians,
Piercy, Marge. He, She and It. Ballantine, 1991.