De Moor IV:8: Jewish Misuse of the Divine Name

On account of the Most Perfect Essence of God signified by the Name יְהוָֹה/Jehovah, that, no less than the other divine Names, is to be Venerated: but nevertheless all Superstition ought to be removed from that Name; in such a way that, 1. we neglect not its opportune Pronunciation, just as it has been done for ages among the Jews, whom many Christians have rashly imitated. 2. We bestow not singular Honor upon its letters, nor attribute Magical Virtue to them, just as it is everywhere done by the Jews; as it is narrated, for example, in Shalshelet ha-Kabbalah,[1] page 55b, concernin Ramban, or Moses bar Nahman,[2] that he, standing before the King at Barcelona, by the power of the pronunciation of the Name יְהוָֹה/ Jehovah launch a ship into the sea, which previously had not been able to be launch by many men. That the Magical Virtue of this Name was demonstrated in Moses and Christ in particular, is an intolerable blasphemy of the Jews; just as concerning Moses out of the book Caphtor, folio 56, and Targum Jonathan on Exodus 2:21, BUXTORF notes in his Lexico Hebraico on the word יהוה/Jehovah, page m. 160. But, with respect to Christ, while we attempt to prove His Deity against the Jews with an argument taken from His miraculous works; the Jews are not able peremptorily to deny Christ’s miracles, but they say that those were accomplished through the correct pronunciation of the Name יהוה/Jehovah, which Christ alone at that time knew. But Christ had learned it, entering the Temple sometimes, where He read that Name inscribed on an אֶבֶן שַׁתִּייָה, or Foundation Stone; and, so that He might not again forget these letters with the rest of the Jews, He wrote them on parchment, and cut the flesh of His thigh, and implanted it there, and immediately, with the Name expressed, the skin coagulated: and, when He had gone outside of the city, with the flesh divided again, He brought out the writing; and, when He had properly assessed the characters, He grasped the Name, by the enunciation of which He then wrought stupendous miracles: how they narrate out of the blasphemous book תולדות ישו, see Toledot Yeshu[3] in WAGENSEIL’S[4] Telis igneis Satanæ, pages 6-11; FINDLAY’S[5] Verdediging der Heilige Schriften tegen de Voltaire, part 2, section 6, pages 164-173. But the frivolities of this sort of the Jews are deservedly rejected as superstitious and blasphemous: true Miracles are able to be produced only by the omnipotent power of God; but in words and letters, of whatever sort they may be, written or spoken, there is no power to heal the sick, to cast out demons, or to work other miracles; which the more sober Jews also recognize: compare BUXTORF’S Lexicon Talmudicum, root שְׁתָה, column 2541; likewise his Lexicon Hebraicum, on the word יהוה, pages m. 160, 161, and his Dissertationem de Nominibus Dei Hebraicis, § 30; LUTHER’S book de Schem hammphorasch Judæorum, concerning which BUDDEUS’ Isagoge ad Theologiam universam, book II, chapter VII, § 8, tome 2, page 1196; LEUSDEN’S Philologum Hebræum, Dissertation XXVI, § 3, pages 270, 271, Dissertation XXVII, page 291; LUNDIUS’[6] Sanctuarium Judæorum, book II, chapter VI, tome I, page 401; and especially WAGENSEIL’S Confutationem libri Tholdos Jeschu, page 25 and following, in Telis igneis Satanæ; FINDLAY’S Verdediging der Heilige Schriften tegen de Voltaire, part 2, section 6, pages 164-173; LILIENTHAL’S Oordeelkundige Bybelverklaring, chapter XIX, § 4, 11, part 10, pages 22-24, 60, 61.

[1] Gedaliah ibn Yahya ben Joseph (c. 1515-c. 1587) was an Italian Talmudist. His Shalshelet ha-Kabbalah contains a history of the Jews from the time of Moses to his own day, and an account of the creation, the heavenly bodies, and magic.


[2] Moshe ben Nehman Gerondi, or Nahmanides (1194-1270), was a medieval Spanish Rabbi, a philosopher, a Kabbalist, and a Biblical commentator: indeed, he was reckoned in his early teens as one of the great Talmudic authorities of his country. His commentary on the Torah is characterized by his own careful philological work, an uncritical acceptance of the teachings of the Rabbis of the Talmud, and mysticism.


[3] Toledoth Yeshu is a Jewish text, presenting an alternative biography of Jesus. Although drawing upon earlier traditional material, it was probably composed in the ninth century or later.


[4] Johann Christoph Wagenseil (1633-1705) was a German historian and Hebraist.


[5] Robert Findlay (1721-1814) was a minister of the Church of Scotland, serving as Professor of Divinity at Glasgow from 1782 to 1814. He labored in the defense of the inspiration and authority of Holy Scripture against the rising tide of Rationalism.


[6] Johannes Lundius (1638-1686) was a Lutheran pastor and Hebraist, and expert on the Jewish Temple and worship.

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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