Sunday Study: WHO IS HASHEM?

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Jews use the word Hashem to refer to God. Literally, Hashem means “The Name.” The word Hashem actually appears in the Torah, as in “…fear the great and awesome Hashem (Name) – the L-rd your G-d.” Deuteronomy 28:58

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” Exodus 20:7

This command in Scripture is the reason that Jews use Hashem in place of YHWH. To “misuse” the Name of God carries the idea of speaking (or writing) the name of God in an “empty,” “worthless” manner, even unintentionally, and potentially blaspheming God by misusing His name. Hashem, therefore, is a “placeholder” for the actual Name of God.

However, there is no Biblical reason to use Hashem in the place of God’s name. No passage in Scripture instructs us not to use His name. In fact, if God didn’t want us to use His name, He wouldn’t have given it to us.

The name of God, as revealed in the Hebrew Scriptures, is YHWH. It is written as four letters, YHWH (known as the Tetragrammaton). God told Moses that “this is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation” (Exodus 3:15). The older and more well-known form Jehovah had its beginnings in the 16th century when it was introduced as an English pronunciation for the Name of God transliterated from the Hebrew.

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