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On the Matter of “Xian” and “G-d”

This article contains the ineffable name of G-d – please treat it with due respect.

 

Using the abbreviation Xian

 

As a Jew I consider myself prohibited from writing or speaking the name of an to Judaism alien deity, unfortunately for Xians the first six letters of ‘Xians’ in ‘traditional writing forms the name of an entity that is considered an alien deity in Judaism. That is the first point.

 

“And in all things that I have said unto you take ye heed; and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth.” (Exodus 23:13)

 

The second point is that I am also prohibited from making mention of individuals or entities that by Judaism is considered heretics or false prophets – and as much as that may offend some Xians in this Group – it is how Judaism view Yeshu ben Miriam/Yosef.

 

“If prophets or those who divine by dreams appear among you and promise you omens or portents, and the omens or the portents declared by them take place, and they say, ‘Let us follow other gods’ (whom you have not known) ‘and let us serve them,’ you must not heed the words of those prophets or those who divine by dreams; for Adonai your God is testing you, to know whether you indeed love Adonai your God with all your heart and soul. Adonai your God you shall follow, Him alone you shall fear, His commandments you shall keep, His voice you shall obey, Him you shall serve, and to Him you shall hold fast.” (Deu.13:2-4)

 

“But the prophet, that shall speak a word presumptuously in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.'” (Deu. 18:20-22)

 

My writing ‘Xians’ and ‘Xianism’ is by no means intended as derogatory or as an offense – it is simply a way for me deal respectfully with a prohibition of my religious belief in relation to Xians and Xianism – or any other religion – no I do not write out the names of other religions deities either.


 

Writing the Name of God

 

Jews do not casually write any Name of G-d. This practice does not come from the commandment not to take the Lord’s Name in vain, as many suppose. In Jewish thought, that commandment refers solely to oath-taking, and is a prohibition against swearing by G-d’s Name falsely or frivolously (the word normally translated as “in vain” literally means “for falsehood”).

 

Judaism does not prohibit writing the Name of G-d per se; it prohibits only erasing or defacing a Name of G-d. However, observant Jews avoid writing any Name of G-d casually because of the risk that the written Name might later be defaced, obliterated or destroyed accidentally or by one who does not know better.

 

The commandment not to erase or deface the name of G-d comes from Deut. 12:3. In that passage, the people are commanded that when they take over the promised land, they should destroy all things related to the idolatrous religions of that region, and should utterly destroy the names of the local deities. Immediately afterwards, we are commanded not to do the same to our G-d. From this, the rabbis inferred that we are commanded not to destroy any holy thing, and not to erase or deface a Name of G-d.

 

It is worth noting that this prohibition against erasing or defacing Names of G-d applies only to Names that are written in some kind of permanent form, and recent rabbinical decisions have held that writing on a computer is not a permanent form, thus it is not a violation to type G-d’s Name into a computer and then backspace over it or cut and paste it, or copy and delete files with G-d’s Name in them. However, once you print the document out, it becomes a permanent form. That is why observant Jews avoid writing a Name of G-d on web sites like this one or in BBS messages: because there is a risk that someone else will print it out and deface it.

 

Normally, we avoid writing the Name by substituting letters or syllables, for example, writing “G-d” instead of “God.” In addition, the number 15, which would ordinarily be written in Hebrew as Yod-Heh (10-5), is normally written as Tet-Vav (9-6), because Yod-Heh is a Name.

 

Pronouncing the Name of God

 

 

Nothing in the Torah prohibits a person from pronouncing the Name of God. Indeed, it is evident from scripture that God’s Name was pronounced routinely. Many common Hebrew names contain “Yah” or “Yahu,” part of God’s four-letter Name. The Name was pronounced as part of daily services in the Temple.

 

The Mishnah confirms that there was no prohibition against pronouncing The Name in ancient times. In fact, the Mishnah recommends using God’s Name as a routine greeting to a fellow Jew. Berakhot 9:5. However, by the time of the Talmud, it was the custom to use substitute Names for God. Some rabbis asserted that a person who pronounces YHVH according to its letters (instead of using a substitute) has no place in the World to Come, and should be put to death. Instead of pronouncing the four-letter Name, we usually substitute the Name “Adonai,” or simply say “Ha-Shem” (lit. The Name).

 

Although the prohibition on pronunciation applies only to the four-letter Name, Jews customarily do not pronounce any of God’s many Names except in prayer or study. The usual practice is to substitute letters or syllables, so that Adonai becomes Adoshem or Ha-Shem, Elohaynu and Elohim become Elokaynu and Elokim, etc.

 

With the Temple destroyed and the prohibition on pronouncing The Name outside of the Temple, pronunciation of the Name fell into disuse. Scholars passed down knowledge of the correct pronunciation of YHVH for many generations, but eventually the correct pronunciation was lost, and we no longer know it with any certainty. We do not know what vowels were used, or even whether the Vav in the Name was a vowel or a consonant. See Hebrew Alphabet for more information about the difficulties in pronouncing Hebrew. Some religious scholars suggest that the Name was pronounced “Yahweh,” but others do not find this pronunciation particularly persuasive.

 

Some Christian scholars render the four-letter Name as “Jehovah,” but this pronunciation is particularly unlikely. The word “Jehovah” comes from the fact that ancient Jewish texts used to put the vowels of the Name “Adonai” (the usual substitute for YHVH) under the consonants of YHVH to remind people not to pronounce YHVH as written. A sixteenth century German Christian scribe, while transliterating the Bible into Latin for the Pope, wrote the Name out as it appeared in his texts, with the consonants of YHVH and the vowels of Adonai, and came up with the word JeHoVaH, and the name stuck. From Jewish Virtual Library

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