A Rambling Post on the Name of G-d

May 2, 2006 at 9:05 pm (Uncategorized)


Out of respect for The Name, the following measures have been taken to not render the following post sacred:
replace “@” with “a”
replace “q” with “h”
replace “-” with “o”
replace “*” with “e”

Thus, this post is safe for devout Jews as well.

This is inspired by comments by Wickedpinto and Michael.

A central claim of Jehovah’s Witnesses is getting the name of G-d right. This name, they contend, is “Jehovah.” In the King James Version of the Christian Bible, “Jehovah” has been used a number of times.

How this word came about fascinates Us to no end.

For Jews, The Name is extremely sacred. It has been called The Ineffable Name (the name that must not be spoken). Another name, especially common in Western Mysticism, is the Tetragrammaton or the Four-lettered Name (because it is written with four letters in Hebrew). The Name consists of the Hebrew letters yod (which has a “y” sound), heh (which has a “h” sound), vav (which has a “v” sound or may be used to indicate “o” or “u”; in Biblical times, its consonantal sound was “w”), and a final heh. As one can see, The Name, as given to this point, cannot be pronounced. Various traditions exist regarding when The Name can be used. It is usually said that it can be said only by the High Priest, on Yom Kippur, in front the Holy of Holies. To explain why no Jews pronounce The Name, it is now said that the true pronunciation had been lost since the destruction of The Temple in 70 CE.

However, The Name can be found everywhere. The Hebrew Bible has The Name countless times. Prayers have The Name as well. A dilemma arose: how ought Jews of the Biblical eras to preserve The Name while preventing people from profaning it? The custom had already existed to replace The Name with a Hebrew word, “Ad-nay”, meaning “L-rd.” The dilemma was solved by placing beneath the consonants of The Name the vowels of “Ad-nay” instead of the vowels of The Name. (In Hebrew, vowels are indicated by dashes and dots under, on top, or to the side of consonants. The Hebrew alphabet consists of consonants only.) Thus, when one would come across The Name, one would be reminded to pronounce it as “Ad-nay” (whose vowels were there) rather than as The Name would be pronounced. In the case the word “Ad-nay” preceded The Name, the vowels of the name “El-qim”, which means, literally, “gods,” but which connotes “G-d” (put into plural for majesty; when it means “G-d” it is treated as a singular masculine noun), were placed under The Name. With this constant substitution, the true vowels (and, thus, the true pronunciation) of The Name was forgotten.

If one were to recreate the pronunciation of The Name using the vowels of “Ad-nay,” one would get “Yehovah” (or “Yehowah”). (Both “Yehovah” and “Yehowah” are nonsensical in Hebrew. Hence, the lack of rendering them profane: they were not sacred to begin with.) However, there seems to be something wrong. In places, it seems that the name of G-d was Y@h. The most famous example is “halleluyah,” which is really two words: hallelu (imperative, “praise”) and Y@h, meaning “Praise Y@h!” Such a pronunciation is also supported by various Hebrew names: Mattityahu (Matthew), Yeshayahu (Isaiah; also known as “Yeshaya”), Yechizqiyahu (Ezekiel), and Eliyahu (Elijah) are some examples. This also fits The Name: If one took the first three letters, one could derive from it the name “Y@hu.”

But The Name has four letters: there is another heh. “Yahuh” cannot be The Name. Such a construction would not be in accordance with Hebrew. But, if The Name were to be divided into two syllables (assuming that Y@hu is a contraction and permutation of The Name), then one gets a Hebrew-sounding word (and, indeed, a word that follows the rules of Hebrew): Y@hv*h. This is especially plausible considering the tradition that The Name is to suggest that G-d was, is, and will be (havah hovah v’yihyeh). The phrase is spelled: heh-yod-heh heh-vav-heh vav-yod-heh-yod-heh. Notice that the phrase in Hebrew uses all of the letters of The Name, and that its letters come only from The Name.

Sometimes one will find The Name transliterated as Y@hw*h. This is to render The Name as one might imagine it would have been pronounced in the Biblical ages.

So, The Name, according to the Hebrew text of the Bible, is Y@hv*h. Nevertheless, it will always be “Ad-nay” or “hashem” (literally, “the name”) for those who continue to keep The Name sacred according to Jewish traditions.

inna naHnu-l-a’lam.

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Blogging and Academicity

May 2, 2006 at 8:48 pm (Uncategorized)

Ac academic, whom We shall not identify because We have yet to ask him whether We can divulge his name as someone with whom We have conversed and whom We may quote, once informed Us that one reason he does not blog is because of Dr. Juan Cole’s example. When an academic leaves the confines of academia and joins the blogosphere, the academic becomes a demagogue, an academic no more. Indeed, this much was even admitted by Dr. Cole when he admitted that the pressures, perspectives, and demands of blogging differ from those of academia. Rather than being an instructor and researcher, the academic becomes a “pundit,” which does great harm to his academic pursuits and, thus, also to his academic credibility. Rather than speaking to his peers, he is speaking down to the masses. The standards he, as an academic, must maintain while speaking to his peers vanish when one begins speaking to the masses.

We would go so far as to say that Dr. Cole has lost what made him initially legitimate: his being an academic. In Our eyes, Dr. Cole has no legitimacy. Indeed, the exposure of startling errors he made makes Us to go on: he is quite ignorant.

Dr. Victor Davis Hanson has a blog-website (it is a blog and it is a website but is neither one exclusively). Yet, one cannot say he blogs: he publishes. One aspect of his publishing is answering questions and publishing his responses on his blog-website. Amongst his responses are his articles and other published material. This is quite different from what Dr. Cole does. Dr. Hanson remains an academic. Indeed, despite how academics may view him, he is perhaps an academic par excellence.

Another example We can point to is Dr. Jeff Goldstein. He does not claim to be an academic. He used to be one. He blogs. He is a pundit. Yet, his standards are quite rigorous, and can take on any academic on the academic’s own turf, so to speak. Indeed, if one claims Dr. Cole is still an academic, one must admit that Dr. Goldstein is also an academic, particularly when Dr. Goldstein’s standards are higher than Dr. Cole’s.

As useful as it may be to be an academic and to blog, it is difficult to retain one’s adacemicity, so to speak, while blogging. However, Drs. Hanson and Goldstein have shown that this is possible. But Dr. Cole shows that, particularly on the Left, it is still a great peril.

Update: We should add that this post was inspired by this thread of the Ace of Spades Headquarters and by Dr. Goldstein of protein wisdom, who routinely excellently critiques Dr. Cole. Also, We have added links in the post above.

inna naHnu-l-a’lam.

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