- Category: Torah Perspectives
- Published on Saturday, 19 April 2008 04:19
"The [Seleucid] Greeks decreed that the name of God may not be spoken aloud; but when the Hasmoneans grew in strength and defeated them they decreed that the name of God be used even in contracts... when the Rabbis heard about this they said, 'Tomorrow this person will pay his debt and the contract will be thrown on a garbage heap' so they forbade its use in contracts." (Babylonian Talmud, Rosh Hashannah 18b)
Shortly before the initial Jewish Maccabaen revolt (nearly two centuries before Yeshua's life), Antiochus IV Epiphanes made several intensely provocative anti-Torah decrees, including the ban of all forms of use of the Great Name (YHVH). Apparently, the rabbis thought it a good idea to continue the ban of Antiochus with their own spin:
"It is forbidden to read the glorious and terrible name as it is written, as the sages said "He that pronounces the name as it is written has no portion in the world to come". Therefore it must be read as if it were written Adonai." (Mishnah Berurah 5:2)
Why did Yeshua have to reveal the Great Name?
Some teachers claim Yeshua (Jesus) never broke the rabbinic ban on pronouncing the Great Name... thus we should follow his example and keep with Jewish Oral tradition NOT to speak the so-called "Ineffable" (unspeakable) Name. But is that really the case? Did he not say the Name? Did he not teach the Name to his disciples?
John 17:6 “I have revealed [manifested] Your Name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world. They were Yours, and You gave them to Me, and they have guarded Your Word."
John 17:26 “And I have made Your Name known to them, and shall make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me might be in them, and I in them.”
Hebrews 2:12 ...saying, “I shall announce Your Name to My brothers, in the midst of the congregation I shall sing praise to You.” See: Psalms 22:22; 45:17
Jeremiah 44:26 indicates the Name was removed from Judah's lips... so maybe they (the Jews) did not know how to pronounce It by the time Yeshua arrived... for they were still traditionally prohibited to do so. We can assume they knew the Torah and were familiar with the discourse between Moshe (Moses) and regarding what His Name was and what It meant in Exodus 3:13-15. So they didn't need him to reveal how it was spelled or its meaning, but the pronunciation had been prohibited for many generations. Traditionally, It is believed that only the High Priest would say the Name ten times on Yom Kippur and the Name would be heard all the way to Jericho (Yoma 39a-b).
Translation Controversy: "Revealed" or "Manifested"?
John 17:6 uses the Greek word "phaneroō"where you see "revealed" or "manifested" in English. Strong's #: G5319 description is below:
From G5318; to render apparent (literally or figuratively): - appear, manifestly declare, (make) manifest (forth), shew (self).
In modern English usage, the nuances of "revealed" and "manifested" are different, but a single Greek word is used. Every English speaker will generally prefer one word over another depending on their already strongly held view regarding what Yeshua did. Did he reveal the Name in power AND pronunciation or did he just manifest it in some figurative and yet powerful way without ever saying the Great Name out loud? Why would the Anointed of the Most High submit to the rulings of a pagan Greek king or his Jewish collaborators?
If you read Psalms 22 and 45 (passages Yeshua was apparently quoting), you see how frequent King David used the Great Name in writing, but did he actually say It out loud? My question is, why wouldn't he have said the Great Name out loud if he was speaking It respectively and with good purpose as instructed by the Torah? We have no reason to believe that Jews would not have said the Name until we come to the time of the Babylonian Captivity where Jeremiah (as already shown above) indicates the Name would be removed from the mouths of the men of Judah. If the Jews weren't saying It, why would prophesy though Jeremiah that It would be removed?
More significant evidence
The following are a few places Yeshua "likely" said the Great Name out loud. We cannot know for sure since He did not speak in Greek to the common people in Judah and Samaria, yet the Greek is exclusively what we have as the underlying known manuscript. We do know that the LXX (the Greek translation of the Tanakh/Old Testament) frequently translates "YHVH Elohim" as "Kurios Theos", which is almost always shown to us in English translation as "the LORD thy God".
Matthew 4:7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord [Kurios] thy God [Theos]. (Quoting Deut 6:16)
Luke 4:8 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord [Kurios] thy God [Theos], and him only shalt thou serve. (Quoting from the Shema: Deut 6:13)
What about the Apostle Paul?
Romans 14:11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord [Kurios], every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God [Theos]. (Quoting Isaiah 45:23)
Of course, we can believe that when Paul spoke to a live audience, he inserted "Ha-Shem" when he quoted Tanakh passages which included the Name, but that may never be known for sure... and is conjecture no matter one's point of view. To really prove the argument in regards to Paul, we need to have a live recording, but of course we don't. We only have the assumption that Paul began obeying the Written Torah above rabbinic bans or he didn't.
Until some time in the future, we may not have the silver bullet of proof that Paul or Yeshua spoke the Great Name out loud. People can of course claim that we have no proof that anyone spoke the Great Name in antiquity (minus the High Priest), but my question then is this: Why would the Seleucid Greeks demand the Great Name not to be spoken if it was already not spoken?
In the Shema passage of Deuteronomy 6, all of the Assembly of Israel is commanded to listen and then do the commands of the Torah. If they didn't all have individual Torah scrolls of their own to read, then they must have heard the Torah read to them out loud (we know this was the case), thus someone must have been speaking the Torah and thus the Great Name (which is found nearly 7,000 times) must have been said and heard in their ears. We see NO WRITTEN passage in the Torah demanding that the Name NOT be spoken until much later when Greeks and Jewish rabbis ban It.
Basically, it comes down to this: Who, which Master, are we going to listen to? Are we going to listen to the traditions and innovations of men (Matthew 15:9; Isaiah 29:13) or are we going to listen to the Eternal All Existing One, the Great One of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? It is our choice. Choose this day who you will serve! (Joshua 24:15)