Why don’t Jews use G-d’s Holiest Name?
Some of His names should never be pronounced except in prayer or in study. “Whoever utters the (four letter holiest) Name (Tetragrammaton) must be put to death—the entire congregation has to take part in his execution; the same applies to a foreigner as to a citizen: he must die for his uttering of the Name” (Vayikra / Leviticus 24:16).
The various words used to speak of G-d in the T’nach are more “descriptions” rather than “names.” We humans try to use words to express Him — and they range from “mighty ruler,” to “judge” to “merciful” to “eternal” to “Father” to “King” and so forth.
The Talmud lists nine names (really more descriptions than names) appearing in the T’nach and which are so sacred that they may not be destroyed (Jews bury torot which are beyond repair so that the holy names will not be destroyed).
In Vayikra / Leviticus 24:16 (the passage in question) the Hebrew word is actually וְנֹקֵ֤ב (v’nokev). It actually means to declare or to state clearly and explicitly. Compare B’réshĭt / Genesis 30:28, Bamĭdbar / Numbers 1:17 and Y’shayahū / Isaiah 62:2.
The verb נֹקֵ֤ב (nokev) has 3 different meanings, and it depends on the context which meaning applies.
One meaning is to pierce, to perforate, to bore (a hole) – e.g.,Yeshayahu / Isaiah 36:6.
A second meaning is to specify, to name, to state – e.g., Br’eshit / Genesis 30:28.
A third meaning is to curse, to blaspheme – e.g., Vayikra / Leviticus 24:16.
Have you ever seen B’réshĭt / Genesis 30:28 translated as “Pierce your wages to me”, B’mĭdbar / Numbers 1:17 as “those men who had been pierced by name” or Y’shayahū 62:2 as “you will be called by a new name that G-d’s mouth will pierce”?
“The name of G-d (the four letter holiest name) was only uttered in the Temple during prayer. It is very holy. The people who write it cavalierly or attempt to pronounce it (not knowing the vowels!) are showing disrespect to G-d.
The Tetragrammaton was spoken on at least three occasions in the T’nach and on all three occasions the consequences to the people it was spoken against were disastrous (Sh’mot / Exodus 2:12, Sh’muél Alef / 1 Samuel 17:45, and M’lachim Beit / 2 Kings 2:24); this is why the correct vowels are never printed and are kept a closely-guarded secret.
The “son of the Israelite woman” in Vayikra / Leviticus 24 committed two offences: (1) he spoke the Four-Lettered “Name”, and (2) he cursed It. He was executed for the first of these crimes.
The sin of “cursing G-d” (24:15) is so serious that no “atonement” is possible for it: the person committing a sin of such seriousness must “bear his guilt” (ibid.), i.e. it remains with him for the remainder of his life, and is dealt with by G-d Himself after his death.
Why is showing respect as requested BY G-d in the T’nach such a “big deal” to people? Some people seem to want to “love” G-d on their terms (not His). True love is doing the things the person (or G-d) cares about rather than our own inclinations. . .
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