Back to Home Page or Contents Page or Past and present beliefs or Index

Divine Name, The


In Jewish mysticism great importance is attributed to the Divine Name. Originally it consisted of forty-two letters; not, as Moses Maimoides points out, comprised in one word, but in a phrase of several words, which conveyed the exact concept of the essence of God. Coinciding with the priestly decadence of the final days of the Temple, a name of twelve letters was substituted for the Divine Name, and with the continuance of time even this secondary name was not told to every priest, but only to a few. Occasionally the longer name was said to contain forty-five or seventy-two letters. The tenth Sephroth are also supposed, in a mystical sense, to be the names of the Deity (see Kabbalah). The Divine Name Jahveh is greater than "I am that I am," since the latter signifies God as He was before the creation, the Absolute, the Unknowable, and the Hidden One; but the former denotes the Supreme Manifestation, the immanence of God in the Cosmos. A.G.H.


Sources: 81, 128.