Monday, November 07, 2005


I have a question, and wonder whether anyone out there has an answer. No, not that kind of question.

Hebrew manuscripts abound with substitutes for the Tetragrammaton. Jacob Lauterbach wrote an article with a long list of examples. Having a critical list, one that catalogues usage of different letters and graphic schemes by date and geographic distribution, would be a boon to scholars. But, as David Golinkin has pointed out, this work has yet to be done, and Lauterbach's list is not particularly useful.

My question is this - when did spelling out השם, Hashem, first crop up? I don't remember seeing it discussed anywhere, but chances are it is. I would have assumed it was quite late, but the manuscript I am working on now is probably from around 1300.

Googling the word Hashem, I found a preponderance of messianic sites. I don't know why. Any ideas on that?

There are two auditory memories that Hashem brings to me. The first is Rav Mordechai Breuer talking about the documents in the story of the Ten Plagues. One of the two is, of course, that of Shem Havayah.

The other memory is from a Beit Morashah conference on mysticism. Prof. Philip Alexander spoke about Metatron, calling him "Hashem Ha-Katan". With his accent, it sounded really funny, and has stuck in my mind ever since.

Jacob Lauterbach, “Substitutes for the Tetragrammaton”, Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research 1/2 (1930-1931), pp. 39-67
David Golinkin, Ginzei Rosh Hashanah: Manuscript Fragments of Bavli Rosh Hashanah from the Cairo Genizah, New York and Jerusalem 2000, p. 7


Blogger Dan Rabinowitz said...

See Yaakov Speigel "Toldot Sefer ha-Ivrei- Kitvah V'haatako" 2005 pp. 622-632. Where he discusses the origin of Hashem as well as updating Lauterbach etc. If you don't have this, I am happy to email it to you.

10:19 PM  
Anonymous mivami said...

In addition to Dan's suggestion, I wouldve recommended checking with Beit Arieh's Sefardata program (I assume you are in close enough proximity to people on his team -- he himself is in Phila now) that would give you the info from dated manuscripts anwyay.

10:48 PM  
Blogger Dan Rabinowitz said...

Just to tell you Speigel's punchline. He claims that Hashem is earlier than the three (or the other permutations) yods and that the yods were to replace Hashem. But eventually, Hashem came to replace the three yods. He, of course, deals with the manuscript as well as the published evidence.

11:10 PM  
Anonymous Avi Shmidman said...

The unicode consortium has also been amassing a set of tetragrammaton images from manuscripts, in preparation for a tetragrammaton character which may added in Unicode 5.0. The original proprosal can be viewed at:
[Although most of the manuscript images have not been integrated yet into the proposal.]

11:55 PM  
Blogger Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

I asked your question about Hashem in July.

Predictably, no one really knew.

4:19 PM  
Blogger manuscriptboy said...

Dan - thanks for the reference. Spiegel says that, in manuscripts, three yods preceded hashem, but at some point hashem appeared (at first, side by side with the yods).
Fred - I wasn't asking about the expression, just the scribal practice. But thanks.

11:45 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Speaking of the Unicode proposed YHVH glyph, i found the following note interesting:

9a. Can any of the characters be considered to be similar (in appearance or function) to an existing character?

Only to ﷲ U+FDF2, ARABIC LIGATURE ALLAH ISOLATED FORM, with which it would not be possible to unify this character as the two belong to different scripts.

11:25 PM  
Blogger Rabbi Ariel Sokolovsky said...

By the grace of G-d
Doesn't realy answer your question but I thought this may be interesting to you as it direcly relates to the issue Gemora in Bava Basra says Moshiach will also be called "Yehovah Tsidkeinu" and Gemorah in Psochim says that in oilam habah (which my article proves is now based on Gemorah in Sanhedrin (40 years of Moshiach followed by techiat hameisim aka oilam habah) i also quote the mimar of the Alter Rebbe as well as Moreh Nevuchim and others which explain the techiah metaphoricly.

3:24 PM  
Blogger Rabbi Ariel Sokolovsky said...

almost forgot
Yechi Yehovah Tsidkeinu!

3:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would vouch that the first occurence of hashem as a euphemism for the actual name of god is in Mishna Yoma (cap 4 mishna 2)) and so it is in Kaufmann. Obviously this is not a euphemism for "god" but for a proper name, but the extension is not far off.

2:02 PM  

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