Unsolved:Names of God in Judaism

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Short description: Names given to God in Judaism
Hebrew name of God inscribed on the page of a Sephardic manuscript of the Hebrew Bible (1385)

Judaism considers some names of God so holy that, once written, they should not be erased: יהוה (YHWH), אֲדֹנָי‎ (Adonai), אֵל‎ (El ), אֱלֹהִים‎ (Elohim , a plural noun),[n 1] אֵל שַׁדַּי‎ (El Shaddai ), שַׁדַּי‎ (Shaddai ), יְהֹוָ֥ה צְבָאֽוֹת‎ (Adonai Tzevaoth ) and צְבָאֽוֹת‎ (Tzevaoth ); some also include I Am that I Am.[1] Early authorities considered other Hebrew names mere epithets or descriptions of God, and wrote that they and names in other languages may be written and erased freely.[2] Some moderns advise special care even in these cases,[3] and many Orthodox Jews have adopted the chumras of writing "G-d" instead of "God" in English or saying Ṭēt-Vav (טו, lit. "9-6") instead of Yōd-Hē (יה, lit. "10-5" but also "Jah") for the number fifteen or Ṭēt-Zayin (טז, lit. "9-7") instead of Yōd-Vav (יו, lit. "10-6") for the Hebrew number sixteen.[4]

Seven names of God

The names of God that, once written, cannot be erased because of their holiness[5] are the Tetragrammaton, Adonai, El, Elohim,[n 1] Shaddai, Tzevaot; some also include I Am that I Am.[1] In addition, the name Jah—because it forms part of the Tetragrammaton—is similarly protected.[6] The tanna Jose ben Halafta considered "Tzevaot" a common name in the second century[7] and Rabbi Ishmael considered "Elohim" to be one.[8] All other names, such as "Merciful", "Gracious" and "Faithful", merely represent attributes that are also common to human beings.[9]


The Tetragrammaton in Paleo-Hebrew (fl. 1100 BC – 500 AD) (two forms), and Aramaic (fl. 1100 BC – 200 AD) or modern Hebrew scripts
The Tetragrammaton in the Ketef Hinnom silver scrolls with the Priestly Blessing from the Book of Numbers[10] (c. 600 BCE)

Also abbreviated Jah, the most common name of God in the Hebrew Bible is the Tetragrammaton, יהוה, that is usually transcribed as YHWH. Hebrew script is an abjad, so that the letters in the name are normally consonants, usually expanded as Yahweh in English.[11]

Modern Rabbinical Jewish culture judges it forbidden to pronounce this name. In prayers it is replaced by the word אֲדֹנָי (Adonai, Hebrew pronunciation: [adoˈnaj], , Pluralis majestatis taken as singular), and in discussion by HaShem "The Name". Nothing in the Torah explicitly prohibits speaking the name[12] and the Book of Ruth shows it was being pronounced as late as the fifth century BCE.[13][n 2] Mark Sameth argues that only a pseudo name was pronounced, the four letters YHWH being a cryptogram which the priests of ancient Israel read in reverse as huhi, "heshe", signifying a dual-gendered deity, as earlier theorized by Guillaume Postel (16th century) and Michelangelo Lanci (19th century).[15][16][17][18] It had ceased to be spoken aloud by at least the 3rd century BCE, during Second Temple Judaism.[19] The Talmud relates, perhaps anecdotally, this began with the death of Simeon the Just.[20] Vowel points began to be added to the Hebrew text only in the early medieval period. The Masoretic Text adds to the Tetragrammaton the vowel points of Adonai or Elohim (depending on the context), indicating that these are the words to be pronounced in place of the Tetragrammaton (see Qere and Ketiv),[21][22] as shown also by the subtle pronunciation changes when combined with a preposition or a conjunction. This is in contrast to Karaite Jews, who traditionally viewed pronouncing the Tetragrammaton as a mitzvah because the name appears some 6800 times throughout the Tanakh; though most modern Karaites, under pressure and seeking acceptance from mainstream Rabbinical Jews, now also use the term Adonai instead,[23] and the Beta Israel, who pronounce the Tetragrammaton as "Yahu", but also use the Geʽez term Igziabeher.[24]

The Tetragrammaton appears in Genesis[25] and occurs 6,828 times in total in the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia edition of the Masoretic Text. It is thought to be an archaic third-person singular of the imperfective aspect[n 3] of the verb "to be" (i.e., "[He] is/was/will be"). This agrees with the passage in Exodus where God names himself as "I Will Be What I Will Be"[26] using the first-person singular imperfective aspect, open to interpretation as present tense ("I am what I am"), future ("I shall be what I shall be"), or imperfect ("I used to be what I used to be").[27]

Rabbinic Judaism teaches that the name is forbidden to all except the High Priest of Israel, who should only speak it in the Holy of Holies of the Temple in Jerusalem on Yom Kippur. He then pronounces the name "just as it is written."[28] As each blessing was made, the people in the courtyard were to prostrate themselves completely as they heard it spoken aloud. As the Temple has not been rebuilt since its destruction in 70CE, most modern Jews never pronounce YHWH but instead read אֲדֹנָי (Adonai, Hebrew pronunciation: [ʾăḏōnāy], , Pluralis majestatis taken as singular) during prayer and while reading the Torah and as HaShem ("The Name") at other times.[29][30] Similarly, the Vulgate used Dominus ("The Lord") and most English translations of the Bible write "the Lord" for YHWH and "the Lord God", "the Lord God" or "the Sovereign Lord" for Adonai YHWH instead of transcribing the name. The Septuagint may have originally used the Hebrew letters themselves amid its Greek text,[31][32] but there is no scholarly consensus on this point. All surviving Christian-era manuscripts use Kyrios (Κυριος, "Lord") or very occasionally Theos (Θεος, "God") to translate the many thousand occurrences of the Name. However, given the great preponderance of the anarthrous Kyrios solution for translating YHWH in the Septuagint and some disambiguation efforts by Christian-era copyists involving Kyrios (see especially scribal activity in Acts),[33] Theos should probably not be considered historically as a serious early contender substitute for the divine Name.[improper synthesis?]


Shefa Tal – A Kabbalistic explanation of the Priestly Blessing with Adonai inscribed

אֲדֹנָי (ăḏōnāy, , pluralis majestatis taken as singular) is the possessive form of adon ("Lord"), along with the first-person singular pronoun enclitic.[n 4] As with Elohim, Adonai's grammatical form is usually explained as a plural of majesty. In the Hebrew Bible, the word is nearly always used to refer to God (approximately 450 occurrences). As pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton came to be avoided in the Hellenistic period, Jews may have begun to drop the Tetragrammaton when presented alongside Adonai and subsequently to expand it to cover for the Tetragrammaton in the forms of spoken prayer and written scripture. Owing to the expansion of chumra (the idea of "building a fence around the Torah"), the word "Adonai" itself has come to be too holy to say for Orthodox Jews outside of prayer, leading to its replacement by HaShem ("The Name").

The singular forms adon and adoni ("my lord") are used in the Hebrew Bible as royal titles,[34][35] as in the First Book of Samuel,[36] and for distinguished persons. The Phoenicians used it as a title of Tammuz (the origin of the Greek Adonis). It is also used very occasionally in Hebrew texts to refer to God (e.g. Psalm 136:3.)[37] Deuteronomy 10:17 has the proper name Yahweh alongside the superlative constructions "God of gods" (elōhê ha-elōhîm, literally, "the gods of gods") and "Lord of lords" (adōnê ha-adōnîm, "the lords of lords": כִּי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם הוּא אֱלֹהֵי הָאֱלֹהִים וַאֲדֹנֵי הָאֲדֹנִים; KJV: "For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords").[38]

The final syllable of Adonai uses the vowel kamatz, rather than patach which would be expected from the Hebrew for "my lord(s)". Professor Yoel Elitzur explains this as a normal transformation when a Hebrew word becomes a name, giving as other examples Nathan, Yitzchak, and Yigal.[39] As Adonai became the most common reverent substitute for the Tetragrammaton, it too became considered un-erasable due to its holiness. As such, most prayer books avoid spelling out the word Adonai, and instead write two yodhs (יְיָ) in its place.[40]

The forms Adaunoi, Adoinoi, and Adonoi[41] represent Ashkenazi Hebrew variant pronunciations of the word Adonai.


El appears in Ugaritic, Phoenician and other 2nd and 1st millennium BCE texts both as generic "god" and as the head of the divine pantheon.[42] In the Hebrew Bible, El (אל, ʾel) appears very occasionally alone (e.g. Genesis 33:20, el elohei yisrael, "Mighty God of Israel",[43] and Genesis 46:3, ha'el elohei abika, "El the God of thy father"),[44] but usually with some epithet or attribute attached (e.g. El Elyon, "Most High El", El Shaddai, "El of Shaddai", El 'Olam "Everlasting El", El Hai, "Living El", El Ro'i "El my Shepherd", and El Gibbor "El of Strength"), in which cases it can be understood as the generic "god". In theophoric names such as Gabriel ("Strength of God"), Michael ("Who is like God?"), Raphael ("God healed"), Ariel ("My lion is God"), Daniel ("My judgment is God"), Ezekiel ("God shall strengthen"), Israel ("one who has struggled with God"), Immanuel ("God is with us"), and Ishmael ("God hears/ will hear / listens/ will listen") it is usually interpreted and translated as "God", but it is not clear whether these "el"s refer to the deity in general or to the god El in particular.[45]

El also appears in the form אֱלוֹהַּ‎‎ (Eloah).


Main page: Religion:Elohim

A common name of God in the Hebrew Bible is Elohim (אלהים, ʾĕlōhīm), the plural of אֱלוֹהַּ‎ (Eloah). When Elohim refers to God in the Hebrew Bible, singular verbs are used. The word is identical to elohim meaning gods and is cognate to the 'lhm found in Ugaritic, where it is used for the pantheon of Canaanite gods, the children of El and conventionally vocalized as "Elohim" although the original Ugaritic vowels are unknown. When the Hebrew Bible uses elohim not in reference to God, it is plural (for example, Exodus 20:2). There are a few other such uses in Hebrew, for example Behemoth. In Modern Hebrew, the singular word ba'alim ("owner") looks plural, but likewise takes a singular verb.

A number of scholars have traced the etymology to the Semitic root *yl, "to be first, powerful", despite some difficulties with this view.[46] Elohim is thus the plural construct "powers". Hebrew grammar allows for this form to mean "He is the Power (singular) over powers (plural)", just as the word Ba'alim means "owner" (see above). "He is lord (singular) even over any of those things that he owns that are lordly (plural)."

Theologians who dispute this claim cite the hypothesis that plurals of majesty came about in more modern times. Richard Toporoski, a classics scholar, asserts that plurals of majesty first appeared in the reign of Diocletian (CE 284–305).[47] Indeed, Gesenius states in his book Hebrew Grammar the following:[48]

The Jewish grammarians call such plurals ... plur. virium or virtutum; later grammarians call them plur. excellentiae, magnitudinis, or plur. maiestaticus. This last name may have been suggested by the we used by kings when speaking of themselves (compare 1 Maccabees 10:19 and 11:31); and the plural used by God in Genesis 1:26 and 11:7; Isaiah 6:8 has been incorrectly explained in this way. It is, however, either communicative (including the attendant angels: so at all events in Isaiah 6:8 and Genesis 3:22), or according to others, an indication of the fullness of power and might implied. It is best explained as a plural of self-deliberation. The use of the plural as a form of respectful address is quite foreign to Hebrew.

Mark S. Smith has cited the use of plural as possible evidence to suggest an evolution in the formation of early Jewish conceptions of monotheism, wherein references to "the gods" (plural) in earlier accounts of verbal tradition became either interpreted as multiple aspects of a single monotheistic God at the time of writing, or subsumed under a form of monolatry, wherein the god(s) of a certain city would be accepted after the fact as a reference to the God of Israel and the plural deliberately dropped.[49]

The plural form ending in -im can also be understood as denoting abstraction, as in the Hebrew words chayyim ("life") or betulim ("virginity"). If understood this way, Elohim means "divinity" or "deity". The word chayyim is similarly syntactically singular when used as a name but syntactically plural otherwise. In many of the passages in which elohim occurs in the Bible, it refers to non-Israelite deities, or in some instances to powerful men or judges, and even angels (Exodus 21:6, Psalms 8:5) as a simple plural in those instances.


Main page: Religion:El Shaddai

El Shaddai (אל שדי, ʾel šaday, pronounced [ʃaˈdaj]) is one of the names of God in Judaism, with its etymology coming from the influence of the Ugaritic religion on modern Judaism. El Shaddai is conventionally translated as "God Almighty". While the translation of El as "god" in Ugaritic/Canaanite languages is straightforward, the literal meaning of Shaddai is the subject of debate.


Tzevaot, Tzevaoth, Tsebaoth or Sabaoth (צבאות, ṣəḇāʾōṯ, [tsvaot] (About this soundlisten), lit. "Armies"), usually translated "Hosts", appears in reference to armies or armed hosts of men but is not used as a divine epithet in the Torah, Joshua, or Judges. Starting in the Books of Samuel, the term "Lord of Hosts" appears hundreds of times throughout the Prophetic books, in Psalms, and in Chronicles.

The Hebrew word Sabaoth was also absorbed in Ancient Greek (σαβαωθ, sabaōth) and Latin (Sabaoth, with no declension). Tertullian and other patristics used it with the meaning of "Army of angels of God".[50]


Main page: Unsolved:I Am that I Am

Ehyeh asher ehyeh (אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה) is the first of three responses given to Moses when he asks for God's name in the Book of Exodus.[26] The King James Version of the Bible translates the Hebrew as "I Am that I Am" and uses it as a proper name for God.

The word ehyeh is the first-person singular imperfect form of hayah, "to be". Biblical Hebrew does not distinguish between grammatical tenses. It has instead an aspectual system in which the imperfect denotes any actions that are not yet completed,[51][52][53] Accordingly, Ehyeh asher ehyeh can be rendered in English not only as "I am that I am" but also as "I will be what I will be" or "I will be who I will be", or "I shall prove to be whatsoever I shall prove to be" or even "I will be because I will be". Other renderings include: Leeser, "I Will Be that I Will Be"; Rotherham, "I Will Become whatsoever I please", Greek, Ego eimi ho on (ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ὤν), "I am The Being" in the Septuagint,[54] and Philo,[55][56] and Revelation[57] or, "I am The Existing One"; Latin, ego sum qui sum, "I am Who I am."

The word asher is a relative pronoun whose meaning depends on the immediate context, so that "that", "who", "which", or "where" are all possible translations of that word.[58]

Other names and titles


Main page: Religion:Baal

Baal meant "owner" and, by extension, "lord",[59] "master", and "husband" in Hebrew and the other Northwest Semitic languages.[60][61] In some early contexts and theophoric names, it and Baali (/ˈbəl/; "My Lord") were treated as synonyms of Adon and Adonai.[62] After the time of Solomon[63] and particularly after Jezebel's attempt to promote the worship of the Lord of Tyre Melqart,[62] however, the name became particularly associated with the Canaanite storm god Baʿal Haddu and was gradually avoided as a title for Yahweh.[63] Several names that included it were rewritten as bosheth ("shame").[64] The prophet Hosea in particular reproached the Israelites for continuing to use the term:[65]

"It will come about in that day," declares the Lord, "That you will call Me Ishi[n 5] And will no longer call Me Baali."[67]


Elah (אֱלָה, pl. Elim or Elohim; Aramaic: אלהא‏‎) is the Aramaic word for God and the absolute singular form of אלהא‏, ʾilāhā. The origin of the word is from Proto-Semitic ʔil and is thus cognate to the Hebrew, Arabic, Akkadian, and other Semitic languages' words for god. Elah is found in the Tanakh in the books of Ezra, Jeremiah (Jeremiah 10:11,[68] the only verse in the entire book written in Aramaic),[69] and Daniel. Elah is used to describe both pagan gods and the Abrahamic God.

  • Elah Yisrael, God of Israel (Ezra 5:1)
  • Elah Yerushelem, God of Jerusalem (Ezra 7:19)
  • Elah Shemaya, God of Heaven (Ezra 7:23)
  • Elah-avahati, God of my fathers, (Daniel 2:23)
  • Elah Elahin, God of gods (Daniel 2:47)

El Roi

Main page: Religion:El Roi

In the Book of Genesis, Hagar uses this name for the God who spoke to her through his angel. In Hebrew, her phrase "El Roi", literally, "God of Seeing Me",[70] is translated in the King James Version as "Thou God seest me."[71][72]


Main page: Religion:Elyon

The name Elyon (עליון) occurs in combination with El, YHWH, Elohim and alone. It appears chiefly in poetic and later Biblical passages. The modern Hebrew adjective 'Elyon means "supreme" (as in "Supreme Court") or "Most High". El Elyon has been traditionally translated into English as 'God Most High'. The Phoenicians used what appears to be a similar name for God, one that the Greeks wrote as Έλιονα.

Eternal One

"The Eternal One" or "The Eternal" is increasingly used, particularly in Reform and Reconstructionist communities seeking to use gender-neutral language.[73] In the Torah, YHWH El Olam ("the Everlasting God") is used at Genesis 21:33 to refer to God.[74]


Biblical text on a synagogue in Holešov, Czech Republic: "HaShem (ה׳) kills and makes alive; He brings down to Sheol and raises up." (1 Samuel 2:6)
Sign near the site of the Safed massacre, reading הי״ד (H.Y.D., abbreviation of הַשֵּׁם יִנקּוֹם דָּמו‎ HaShem yinkom damo, "may HaShem avenge his blood").

It is common Jewish practice to restrict the use of the names of God to a liturgical context. In casual conversation some Jews, even when not speaking Hebrew, will call God HaShem (השם), which is Hebrew for "the Name" (cf. Leviticus 24:11 and Deuteronomy 28:58). When written, it is often abbreviated to ה׳. Likewise, when quoting from the Tanakh or prayers, some pious Jews will replace 'Adonai' with 'HaShem'. For example, when making audio recordings of prayer services, 'HaShem'[75] will generally be substituted for 'Adonai'.

A popular expression containing this phrase is Baruch HaShem, meaning "Thank God" (literally, "Blessed be the Name").[76]

Samaritans use the Aramaic equivalent Shema (שמא, "the name") in much the same situations as Jews use HaShem.


Main page: Religion:Shalom

Talmudic authors,[77] ruling on the basis of Gideon's name for an altar ("YHVH-Shalom", according to Judges 6:24), write that "the name of God is 'Peace'" (Pereq ha-Shalom, Shabbat 10b); consequently, a Talmudic opinion (Shabbat, 10b) asserts that one would greet another with the word shalom in order for the word not to be forgotten in the exile. But one is not permitted to greet another with the word Shalom in unholy places such as a bathroom, because of the holiness of the name.


Main page: Religion:Shekhinah

Shekhinah (שכינה) is the presence or manifestation of God which has descended to "dwell" among humanity. The term never appears in the Hebrew Bible; later rabbis used the word when speaking of God dwelling either in the Tabernacle or amongst the people of Israel. The root of the word means "dwelling". Of the principal names of God, it is the only one that is of the feminine gender in Hebrew grammar. Some believe that this was the name of a female counterpart of God, but this is unlikely as the name is always mentioned in conjunction with an article (e.g.: "the Shekhina descended and dwelt among them" or "He removed Himself and His Shekhina from their midst"). This kind of usage does not occur in Semitic languages in conjunction with proper names. The term, however, may not be a name, as it may merely describe the presence of God, and not God Himself.

Uncommon or esoteric names

  • Abir – "Strong One"[78]
  • Adir – "Great One"[79]
  • Adon Olam – "Master of the World"
  • Aibishter – "The One Above" (Yiddish)
  • Aleim – sometimes seen as an alternative transliteration of Elohim, A'lim "عليم" in Arabic means "who intensively knows", A'alim "عالم" means "who knows", the verb is A'lima علم means "knew", while Allahumma "اللهم" in Arabic equals to "O'God" and used to supplicate him for something.
  • Aravat (or Avarat) – "Father of Creation"; mentioned once in 2 Enoch, "On the tenth heaven is God, in the Hebrew tongue he is called Aravat".
  • About this soundAvinu Malkeinu  – "Our Father, Our King"
  • About this soundBore  – "The Creator"
  • Dibbura or Dibbera – "The Word (The Law)" – used primarily in the Palestinian Targums of the Pentateuch (Aramaic); e.g. Num 7:89, The Word spoke to Moses from between the cherubim in the holy of holies.
  • Ehiyeh sh'Ehiyeh – "I Am That I Am": a modern Hebrew version of "Ehyeh asher Ehyeh"
  • Ani Sh'ani - "I am that I am": another modern Hebrew form of "Ehyeh asher Ehyeh"
  • Ein Sof – "Endless, Infinite", Kabbalistic name of God
  • El ha-Gibbor – "God the Hero" or "God the Strong" or "God the Warrior". Allah jabbar "الله جبار" in Arabic means "the God is formidable and invincible"
  • Emet – "Truth" (the "Seal of God."[80][81][82] [Cf.[83]] The word is composed of the first, middle, and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet. See also Alpha and Omega)
  • HaKadosh, Barukh Hu (Hebrew); Kudsha, Brikh Hu (Aramaic); تبارك القدوس (Arabic) – "The Holy One, Blessed Be He"
  • HaRachaman – "The Merciful One"; Rahmanرحمن" (Arabic)
  • Kadosh Israel – "Holy One of Israel"
  • Magen Avraham – "Shield of Abraham"
  • Makom or HaMakom – literally "The Place", perhaps meaning "The Omnipresent" (see Tzimtzum)
  • Malbish Arumim – "Clother of the Naked"
  • Matir Asurim – "Freer of the Captives"
  • Mechayeh HaKol In Arabic al-Muhyi al-Kull محيي الكل – "Life giver to All" (Reform version of Mechayeh Metim)
  • Mechayeh Metim – "Life giver to the Dead"
  • Melech HaMelachim – "The King of Kings" or Melech Malchei HaMelachim "The King, King of Kings", to express superiority to the earthly ruler's title. Arabic version of it is مالك الملك (Malik al-Mulk).
  • Melech HaOlam – "The King of the World"
  • Memra d'Adonai – "The Word of the LORD" (plus variations such as "My Word") – restricted to the Aramaic Targums (the written Tetragrammaton is represented in various ways such as YYY, YWY, YY, but pronounced as the Hebrew "Adonai")
  • Mi She'amar V'haya Ha`olam – "He who spoke, and the world came into being."
  • Netzakh Yisrael – "The Glory of Israel" (1 Samuel 15:29)
  • Oseh Shalom – "Maker of Peace"
  • Pokeach Ivrim – "Opener of Blind Eyes"
  • Ribono shel'Olam – "Master of the World". Arabic version of it is رب العلمين ("Rabb al-‘Alamin)
  • Rachmana – "The Merciful One" (Aramaic)
  • Ro'eh Yisra'el – "Shepherd of Israel"
  • Rofeh Cholim – "Healer of the Sick"
  • Shomer Yisrael – "Guardian of Israel"[84]
  • Somech Noflim – "Supporter of the Fallen"
  • Tzur Israel – "Rock of Israel"
  • YHWH-Niss'i (Adonai-Nissi) – "The LORD Our Banner"[85]
  • YHWH-Rapha – "The LORD that Healeth"[86]
  • YHWH-Ro'i – "The LORD My Shepherd"[87]
  • YHWH-Shalom – "The LORD Our Peace"[88]
  • YHWH-Shammah (Adonai-shammah) – "The LORD Is Present"[89]
  • YHWH-Tsidkenu – "The LORD Our Righteousness"[90][91]
  • YHWH-Yireh (Adonai-jireh) – "The LORD Will Provide"[92]
  • Yotsehr 'Or – "Fashioner of Light"
  • Zokef kefufim – "Straightener of the Bent"

Writing divine names

The Psalms in Hebrew and Latin. Manuscript on parchment, 12th century.

In Jewish tradition the sacredness of the divine name or titles must be recognized by the professional sofer (scribe) who writes Torah scrolls, or tefillin and mezuzah. Before transcribing any of the divine titles or name, they prepare mentally to sanctify them. Once they begin a name, they do not stop until it is finished, and they must not be interrupted while writing it, even to greet a king. If an error is made in writing it may not be erased, but a line must be drawn round it to show that it is canceled, and the whole page must be put in a genizah (burial place for scripture) and a new page begun.

Kabbalistic use

One of the most important names is that of the Ein Sof (אין סוף "Endless"), which first came into use after 1300 CE.[93] Another name is derived from the names אהיה יהוה אדוני הויה. By spelling these four names out with the names of the Hebrew letters (אלף, הא, וו, יוד, דלת and נון)[clarification needed] this new forty-five letter long name is produced. Spelling the letters in יהוה (YHWH) by itself gives יוד הא ואו הא. Each letter in Hebrew is given a value, according to gematria, and the value of יוד הא ואו הא is also 45.[citation needed]

The seventy-two-fold name is derived from three verses in Exodus 14:19–21. Each of the verses contains 72 letters. When the verses are read boustrophedonically 72 names, three letters each, are produced (the niqqud of the source verses is disregarded in respect to pronunciation). Some regard this name as the Shem HaMephorash. The Proto-Kabbalistic book Sefer Yetzirah describes how the creation of the world was achieved by manipulation of these 216 sacred letters that form the names of God.

Erasing the name of God

3 And ye shall break down their altars, and dash in pieces their pillars, and burn their Asherim with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods; and ye shall destroy their name out of that place. 4 Ye shall not do so unto the LORD your God.
—Deuteronomy 12:3–4[94]

From this it is understood by the rabbis that one should not erase or blot out the name of God. The general halachic opinion is that this only applies to the sacred Hebrew names of God, not to other euphemistic references; there is a dispute as to whether the word "God" in English or other languages may be erased or whether Jewish law and/or Jewish custom forbids doing so, directly or as a precautionary "fence" about the law.[95]

The words "God" and "Lord" are written by some Jews as "G-d" and "L-rd" as a way of avoiding writing any name of God out in full. The hyphenated version of the English name ("G-d") can be destroyed, so by writing that form, religious Jews prevent documents in their possession with the unhyphenated form from being destroyed later. Alternatively, a euphemistic reference such as Hashem (literally, "the Name") may be substituted, or an abbreviation thereof, such as in B''H (בְּעֶזרַת הַשֵׁם B'ezrat Hashem "with the help of the Name").[96]

See also: Tetragrammaton#Written prohibitions and [[::de:G’tt|G’tt [de]|:de:G’tt|G’tt [de]]]

See also

Explanatory notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 Including variations such as אֱלוֹהַּ‎ (Eloah, the singular), אֱלהֵי‎ (Elohei, the construct plural), אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ‎ (Elohekha), אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶ֗ם‎ (eloheikhem), etc.
  2. The World English Bible translation: "Behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said to the reapers, 'Yahweh be with you.' They answered him, "Yahweh bless you.'"[14] The book is traditionally ascribed to the prophet Samuel, who lived in the 11th and 10th centuries BC; but a date of the 6th or 5th century BC for the passage is more common among subscribers to the Documentary Hypothesis regarding the development of the Hebrew Bible canon.
  3. Biblical Hebrew did not have strictly defined past, present, or future tenses, but merely perfective and imperfective aspects, with past, present, or future connotation depending on context: see Modern Hebrew verb conjugation#Present tense.
  4. Gesenius, Hebrew Grammar, §124i (on pluralis majestatis): "Further, אֲדֹנִים, as well as the singular אָדוֹן, (lordship) lord, e.g. אֲדֹנִים קָשֶׁה a cruel lord, Is 19:4; אֲדֹנֵי הָאָרֶץ the lord of the land, Gn 42:30, cf. Gn 32:19; so especially with the suffixes of the 2nd and 3rd persons אֲדֹנֶיךָ, אֲדֹנַיִךְ ψ 45:12, אֲדֹנָיו, &c., also אֲדֹנֵינוּ (except 1 S 16:16); but in 1st sing. always אֲדֹנִי. So also בְּעָלִים (with suffixes) lord, master (of slaves, cattle, or inanimate things; but in the sense of maritus, always in the singular), e.g. בְּעָלָיו Ex 21:29, Is 1:3, &c."
  5. Literally, "my husband".[66]



  1. 1.0 1.1 This is the formulation of Joseph Karo (SA YD 276:9). Maimonides (MT Yesodei haTorah 6:2), Jacob ben Asher (AT YD 276), and Isaac Alfasi (HK Menachot 3b) also included I Am that I Am, as do many later authorities, including Moses Isserles (SA YD 276:9). The original lists are found in y. Megillah 1:9 and b. Shavuot 35a, with some MSs agreeing with each authority. Maimonides and followers give the number of names as seven; however, manuscript inconsistency makes it difficult to judge which are included. Authorities including Asher ben Jehiel (Responsa 3:15), the Tosafists (b. Sotah 10a), Yechiel of Paris (cited Birkei Yosef, Oraḥ Hayyim 85:8), Simeon ben Zemah Duran, Yaakov ben Moshe Levi Moelin, and Moses Isserles (SA YD 276:13), include the term Shalom as well.
  2. e.g. Akiva Eiger (Hagahot to SA YD 276:9) and Shabbatai HaKohen (SK YD 179:11). Yechiel Michel Epstein (AH HM 27) was the first major authority to explicitly disagree. See also J. David Bleich, Contemporary Halakhic Problems Vol. I ch. IX.
  3. Epstein, Jonathan Eybeschutz, Urim veTumim 27:2, Yaakov Lorberbaum, Netivot ha-Mishpat 27:2, etc.
  4. Rich, Tracey R. (1996), "The Name of G-d", Judaism 101, http://www.jewfaq.org/name.htm, retrieved 31 Aug 2015 
  5. "If an error is made in writing it, it may not be erased, but a line must be drawn round it to show that it is canceled...", "Names of God", 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia
  6. Maimonides. "Yesodei ha-Torah - Chapter 6". Mishneh Torah - Sefer Madda. Chabad.org. http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/904982/jewish/Chapter-Six.htm. Retrieved 2017-08-10. 
  7. Jose ben Halafta, Soferim, 4:1, Yer. R.H., 1:1; Ab. R.N., 34.[clarification needed]
  8. Rabbi Ishmael, Sanhedrin, 66a.
  9. Sheb. 35a.[clarification needed]
  10. Num. 6:23–27.
  11. Robert Alter (2018). The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary, Volume 3. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 696. ISBN 978-0-393-29250-3. OCLC 1107699156. https://books.google.com/books?id=S75SDwAAQBAJ&pg=PT696. 
  12. Byrne, Máire (2011), The Names of God in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: A Basis for Interfaith Dialogue, A&C Black, p. 24 
  13. Ruth 2:4
  14. Ruth 2:4 (WEB).
  15. Sameth, Mark (2020). The Name: A History of the Dual-Gendered Hebrew Name for God. Wipf and Stock. pp. 25. ISBN 978-1-5326-9384-7. https://books.google.com/books?id=ozzpDwAAQBAJ&q=%22The+Name:+A+History+of+the+Dual-Gendered+Hebrew+Name+for+God%22. 
  16. Wilkinson, Robert (2015). Tetragrammaton: Western Christians and the Hebrew Name of God.. Boston: Brill. pp. 337. ISBN 9789004288171. https://books.google.com/books?id=1xyoBgAAQBAJ&dq=%22earlier+form+1551;+final+state+1566%22&pg=PA337. 
  17. Postel, Guillaume (1969). Secret, François. ed (in French). Le thrésor des prophéties de l'univers. Springer. pp. 211. ISBN 9789024702039. https://books.google.com/books?id=EmkytAEACAAJ. 
  18. Lanci, Michelangelo (1845) (in Italian). Paralipomeni alla illustrazione della sagra Scrittura (Facsmile of the first ed.). Dondey-Dupre. pp. 100–113. ISBN 978-1274016911. https://books.google.com/books?id=-q4WAAAAQAAJ&dq=Paralipomeni+Alla+Illustrazione+Della+Sagra+Scrittura&pg=PR15. 
  19. Harris, Stephen L. (1985), Understanding the Bible: A Reader's Introduction (2nd ed.), Palo Alto, Calif.: Mayfield, p. 21 
  20. Yoma; Tosefta Sotah 13
  21. Johannes Botterweck, G.; Ringgren, Helmer; Fabry, Heinz-Josef (6 December 1974). Otto Eissfeldt "אדון ādhōn" en G. Johannes Botterweck, Helmer Ringgren, 'Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament (Eerdmans1974), vol. I, p. 71. ISBN 9780802823250. https://books.google.com/books?id=znB4gOMlb3AC&dq=Tetragrammaton+%22came+to+be+pronounced%22&pg=PA71. 
  22. Bovon, François (2009). François Bovon, New Testament and Christian Apocrypha: Collected Studies II (Mohr Siebeck 2009), p. 20. ISBN 9783161490507. https://books.google.com/books?id=JQKyfwYlQV4C&dq=%22Origen+on+Psalm+2%3A2%22&pg=PA20. 
  23. "Pseudo-Qumisian Sermon to the Karaites", American Academy for Jewish Research XLIII: 49–105, 1976 
  24. Kaplan, Steven (1992). The Beta Israel (Falasha) in Ethiopia. NYU Press. p. 29. ISBN 0814748481. 
  25. Gen. 2:4
  26. 26.0 26.1 Exod. 3:14
  27. "Biblical Hebrew Grammar for Beginners", University of Texas at Austin
  28. "The Tetragrammaton—The Unpronounceable Four-Letter Name of God", My Jewish Learning, http://www.myjewishlearning.com/beliefs/Theology/God/About_God/Speaking_about_God/Gods_Names/Tetragrammaton.shtml, retrieved 17 September 2014 
  29. "Hebrew Name for God—Adonai", Hebrew for Christians, http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Names_of_G-d/Adonai/adonai.html, retrieved 21 May 2014 
  30. "Adonai", Theopedia, http://www.theopedia.com/Adonai 
  31. Origen, Commentary on Psalms 2:2.
  32. Jerome, Prologus Galeatus.
  33. see Larry W. Hurtado, "God or Jesus? Textual Ambiguity and Textual Variants in Acts of the Apostles," in Texts and Traditions: Essays in Honour of J. Keith Elliott, eds. Peter Doble and Jeffrey Kloha. Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2014. Pp. 239-54.
  34. "Lord", International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, p. 157 
  35. "Adonai and Adoni (Psalm 110:1)", Focus on the Kingdom, Restoration Fellowship, http://focusonthekingdom.org/articles/adonai.htm, retrieved 5 June 2015 
  36. 1 Samuel 29:8
  37. Psalm 136:3
  38. Deuteronomy 10:17
  39. Yoel Elitzur, Shemot HaEl VeTaarichei Ketivat Sifrei HaMiqra, published in Be'einei Elohim VaAdam, Beit Morasha Jerusalem: 2017, p. 407 footnote 24; see also link.
  40. Robert James Victor Hiebert; Claude E. Cox; Peter John Gentry (2001). The Old Greek Psalter: Studies in Honour of Albert Pietersma. Sheffield: Sheffield Acad. Press. p. 129. ISBN 1-84127-209-4. 
  41. Salomon Ibn Gebirol (1888). "Excerpts from the Zohar". Qabbalah: The Philosophical Writings of Solomon Ben Yehudah Ibn Gebirol or Avicebron and their connection with the Hebrew Qabbalah and Sepher ha-Zohar, with remarks upon the antiquity and content of the latter, and translations of selected passages from the same [...]. Philadelphia: Isaac Myer. p. 341. https://books.google.com/books?id=96pb89Wg4X4C. Retrieved 8 September 2023. "[...] the Perfect Name Adonoi or Adonai." 
  42. Toorn, Karel van der; Becking, Bob (1999). K. van der Toorn, Bob Becking, Pieter Willem van der Horst, Dictionary of deities and demons in the Bible, pp. 274-277. ISBN 9780802824912. https://books.google.com/books?id=yCkRz5pfxz0C&q=Bene+elohim. Retrieved 2011-12-05. 
  43. KJV margin at Gen. 33:20
  44. Genesis 46:3
  45. Toorn, Karel van der; Becking, Bob; van der Horst, Pieter Willem (1999). Dictionary of deities and demons in the Bible. pp. 277–279. ISBN 9780802824912. https://books.google.com/books?id=yCkRz5pfxz0C&q=Bene+elohim. Retrieved 2011-12-05. 
  46. Mark S. Smith (2008). God in Translation: Deities in Cross-Cultural Discourse in the Biblical World. Coronet Books Incorporated. p. 15. ISBN 9783161495434. https://books.google.com/books?id=CmCVZ5mHsboC&q=elohim+etymology. Retrieved 2011-12-05. 
  47. R. Toporoski, "What was the origin of the royal 'we' and why is it no longer used?", The Times, May 29, 2002. Ed. F1, p. 32
  48. Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar (A. E. Cowley, ed., Oxford, 1976, p.398)
  49. Mark S. Smith, God in Translation: Deities in Cross-Cultural Discourse in the Biblical World, vol. 57 of Forschungen zum Alten Testament, Mohr Siebeck, 2008, ISBN:978-3-16-149543-4, p. 19.; Smith, Mark S. (2002), "The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel" (Biblical Resource Series)
  50. Georges, O. Badellini, F. Calonghi, Dizionario latino-italiano [Latin-to-Italian Dictionary], Rosenberg & Sellier, Turin, 17th edition, 1989, page 2431 of 2959
  51. "Biblical Hebrew". https://biblicalhebrew.org/hebrew-tenses.aspx. 
  52. "Hebrew Tenses". 31 January 2022. https://christian.net/pub/resources/text/m.sion/hebrtens.htm. 
  53. "Biblical Hebrew Grammar do Beginners". https://hebrew.laits.utexas.edu/drupal/themes/hebrewgrid/bh/bhonline/grammar/aspect.pdf. 
  54. "Exodus 3:14 LXX". Bibledatabase.net. http://bibledatabase.net/html/septuagint/02_003.htm. 
  55. Yonge. Philo Life Of Moses Vol.1 :75
  56. Life of Moses I 75, Life of Moses II 67,99,132,161 in F.H. Colson Philo Works Vol. VI, Loeb Classics, Harvard 1941
  57. Rev.1:4,1:8.4:8 UBS Greek Text Ed.4
  58. Seidner, 4.
  59. Herrmann (1999), p. 132.
  60. Pope (2006).
  61. DULAT (2015), "bʕl (II)".
  62. 62.0 62.1 BEWR (2006), "Baal".
  63. 63.0 63.1 Encyclopaedia Judaica, 2nd ed., VII, p. 675 
  64. ZPBD (1963).
  65. Hos. 2:16.
  66. Uittenbogaard, Arie, Ishi | The amazing name Ishi : meaning and etymology, Abarim Publications, http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Ishi.html#.UWSk3ddv2aU, retrieved 21 May 2014 
  67. Hos. 2:16 (NASB).
  68. Jeremiah 10:11
  69. Torrey 1945, 64; Metzger 1957, 96; Moore 1992, 704,
  70. Gen. 16:13
  71. Gen. 16:13 KJV.
  72. "Genesis 16:13 So Hagar gave this name to the LORD who had spoken to her: "You are the God who sees me," for she said, "Here I have seen the One who sees me!"". https://biblehub.com/genesis/16-13.htm. 
  73. Matthew Berke, GOD AND GENDER IN JUDAISM, First Things, June 1995; Mel Scult, The Radical American Judaism of Mordecai M. Kaplan, Indiana University Press, 2013. p. 195.
  74. Gen 21:33.
  75. "What is HaShem?". https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/hashem/. 
  76. Greenbaum, Elisha. "Thank G-d!". http://www.chabad.org/parshah/article_cdo/aid/651431/jewish/Thank-G-d.htm. 
  77. Rabbi Adah ben Ahabah and Rabbi Haninuna (possibly citing "'Ulla")
  78. "H46 – 'abiyr – Strong's Hebrew Lexicon (KJV)". https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H46&t=KJV. 
  79. "H117 – 'addiyr – Strong's Hebrew Lexicon (KJV)". https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H117&t=WLC. 
  80. "Yoma 69b:7-8". https://www.sefaria.org/Yoma.69b.7-8. 
  81. "Shabbat 55a:12". https://www.sefaria.org/Shabbat.55a.12. 
  82. "Bereishit Rabbah 81:2". https://www.sefaria.org/Bereishit_Rabbah.81.2. 
  83. "Isaiah 44:6". https://www.sefaria.org/Isaiah.44.6. 
  84. Psalms 121:4
  85. Exodus 17:8–15
  86. Exodus 15:26
  87. Psalms 23:1
  88. Judges 6:24
  89. Ezekiel 48:35
  90. Names of God
  91. Jeremiah 23:6
  92. Genesis 22:13–14
  93. Encyclopaedia Judaica, 2nd ed., VI, Keter Publishing House, p. 232 
  94. Deuteronomy 12:3–4
  95. "Shaimos guidelines". Shaimos.org. http://www.shaimos.org/guidelines.htm. 
  96. Davidson, Baruch (2011-02-23). "Why Don’t Jews Say G‑d’s Name? - On the use of the word "Hashem" - Chabad.org". https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1443443/jewish/Why-Dont-Jews-Say-Gds-Name.htm. 


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