Monday 7 November 2011

Hashem השם, Hebrew for "the Name"

In Judaism, the name and titels of God are more than a distinguishing title; they represent the Jewish conception of the divine nature, and of the relationship of God to the Jewish people and to the world.

Those who copied the scrolls were avare of their difficult but important part to keep all Names and titles and each word correct. To demonstrate the sacredness of the name and titles of God, and as a means of showing respect and reverence for them, the scribes of sacred texts treated them with absolute sanctity when writing and speaking them. The various titles for God in Judaism represent God as He is known, as well as the divine aspects which are attributed to Him.

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יברכך יהוה וישמרך
יאר יהוה פניו אליך ויחנך
ישא יהוה פניו אליך וישם לך שלום
"May YHWH bless you and keep you; may YHWH cause his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; may YHWH lift up his countenance upon you and grant you peace."

Many are confused and take titles for names but the Tetragammaton YHWH stands for the only One Name (Jehovah/Yahweh) which is the only proper "name of God" in the Tanakh, in the sense that Abraham or Sarah are proper names by which you call a person. Whereas words such as Elohim (god, or authority), El (mighty one), Shaddai (almighty), Adonai (master), Elyon (most high), Avinu (our father), etc. are not names but titles, highlighting different aspects of YHWH, and the various roles which God has. This is similar to how someone may be called 'father', 'husband', 'brother', 'son', etc, but their personal name is the only one that can be correctly identified as their actual designation. In the Tanakh, YHWH is the personal name of the God of Israel, whereas other 'names' are titles which are ascribed to God.

Through the years it became the custom to speak about God as over the master or the "gentleman", for which in the Roman catholic (katholische) Church in the 4° Century agreed with the local rulers to put on a resemblance with the then most important god "Lord" as Baal also was named.

In the Judaisme, one chose the word "Master" or the Hebrew word for "Gentleman" Hashem above the word for "Bale" "Baal", "Lord" in English "Heer" in Dutch. Therefore we still would prefer to better use the word "Master" "Hashem" instead of "Lord" what refers to the idol Baal. 

Halakha requires that secondary rules be placed around the primary law, to reduce the chance that the main law will be broken. As such, it is common Jewish practice to restrict the use of the word Adonai to prayer only. In conversation, many Jewish people, even when not speaking Hebrew, will call God "HaShem", השם, which is Hebrew for "the Name" (this appears in Leviticus 24:11).
"And the Yisra’ĕlite woman’s son blasphemed the Name (Hashem), and cursed. So they brought him to Mosheh. Now his mother’s name was Shelomith the daughter of Diḇri, of the tribe of Dan." (Leviticus 24:11 The Scriptures 1998+)

Many Jews extend this prohibition to some of the other titles for the Most High like:

Adonai (אֲדֹנָי) from adon "lord, owner",
Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh אהיה אשר אהיה (I am that I am),
El  אל (deity),
Elah  אֵלָה (awesome),

Eloah אלוהּ ("a god", as opposed to Allah meaning "The God" and in Aramaic (Elaha)),

Elohim  אלהים ("He is the Power (singular) over powers (plural)") For these reasons many Trinitarians cite the apparent plurality of elohim as evidence for the basic Trinitarian doctrine of the Trinity. This was a traditional position but there are some modern Christian theologians who consider this to be an exegetical fallacy.

`Elyon עליון ("supreme"),
Roi (El Roi) “seeing". To Hagar, God revealed Himself as “The God Who sees".

Shaddai [ El Shaddai was therefore the "god of Shaddai"] (Shaddai was a late Bronze Age Amorite city on the banks of the Euphrates river, in northern Syria.)

Shekhinah שכינה "Sakina سكينة" ( presence or manifestation of God which has descended to "dwell" among humanity)


YHWH Tzevaot (tzevaot or sabaoth: "hosts" or "armies", Hebrew: צבאות)

HaMakom המקום ("The Omnipresent" (literally, The Place)

Jews will add additional sounds to alter the pronunciation of a name when using it outside of a liturgical context, such as replacing the "h" with a "k" in names of God such as "kel" and "elokim".
While other names, or better titles, of God in Judaism are generally restricted to use in a liturgical context, HaShem is used in more casual circumstances.
HaShem is used by Orthodox Jews so as to avoid saying Adonai outside of a ritual context. For example, when some Orthodox Jews make audio recordings of prayer services, they generally substitute HaShem for Adonai; a few others have used Amonai. [Read more about this in:
Stanley S. Seidner, "HaShem: Uses through the Ages". Unpublished paper, Rabbinical Society Seminar, Los Angeles, CA, 1987.] On some occasions, similar sounds are used for authenticity, as in the movie Ushpizin, where Abonai Elokenu [sic] is used throughout.

Dutch version / Nederlandse versie:

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