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Thau (Tau) is the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The Latin Bible version of the Vulgate reads in Ezekiel 9:4 and Ezekiel 6, that a part of the people of Jerusalem were marked with the "sign of tau" on their foreheads, and that these thus marked would be saved in the coming great tribulation. It was apparently Melchior Hofmann who, being acquainted with the Vulgate, introduced this expression in Anabaptism. It then means, as the martyr Anneken Jans points out, that "those signed by the Lord, who have received the sign of Tau on their foreheads" are "the chosen, who follow the Lamb" (BRN II, 72, 76). The expression was used by David Joris in his Wonder-Boeck, but also by Menno Simons (in Opera Omnia, 1681, fol. 183a, 282b, 636a; Writings, 59, 713, 416). For Menno too it has the meaning of salvation: "So we are marked on our foreheads with the sign of Tau, Ezekiel 9. So the kingdom of God is within us." In the same sense the word is used in the booklet Christelijcke Proeve of 1570, where the Christians are admonished to penitence, that they might be sealed with the sign of Thau in the day of judgment.


Cramer, Samuel and Fredrik Pijper. Bibliotheca Reformatoria Neerlandica, 10 vols. The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1903-1914: v. II, 72, note 1, 76.

Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1917): 156-59.

Meihuizen, H. W. Galenus Abrahamsz. Haarlem, 1954: 12.

Author(s) Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1959

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Zijpp, Nanne van der. "Thau." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 25 Nov 2020.

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Zijpp, Nanne van der. (1959). Thau. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 25 November 2020, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 703-704. All rights reserved.

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