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Rambam: Shemot: What Is His Name? Part Three

Moreh Nevuchim – Guide To The Perplexed, Section I, Chapter 63 continuation: God thus showed Moses the proofs by which His existence would be firmly established among the wise men of His people.

Therefore the explanation of the name is followed by the words, “Go, gather the elders of Israel,” and by the assurance that the elders would understand what God had shown to him, and would accept it, as is stated in the words,” And they will hearken to Your voice.”

Then Moses replied as follows: They will accept the doctrine that God exists convinced by these intelligible proofs. But, said Moses, by what means shall I be able to show that this existing God has sent me?

Thereupon God gave him the sign. We have thus shown that the question,” What is His name” means” Who is that Being, which according to Your belief has sent you?”

The sentence, “What is his name” (instead of, Who is He), has here been used as a tribute of praise and homage, as though it had been said, Nobody can be ignorant of Your essence and of Your real existence; if, nevertheless, I ask what is Your name, I mean, What idea is to be expressed by the name? (Moses considered it inappropriate to say to God that any person was ignorant of God’s existence, and therefore described the Israelites as ignorant of God’s name, not as ignorant of Him who was called by that name.) — The name Yah likewise implies eternal existence. Shaddai, however, is derived from day,” enough: comp.” for the stuff they had was sufficient” (dayyam, Exodus. xxxvi. 7) the shin is equal to asher,” which,” as in she-kehar,” which already” (Eccles. ii. 16). The name Shaddai, therefore, signifies” he who is sufficient”: that is to say, He does not require any other being for effecting the existence of what He created, or its conservation: His existence is sufficient for that. In a similar manner the name basin implies” strength”; comp.” he was strong (hason) as the oaks” (Amos ii. 9). The same is the case with” rock,” which is a homonym, as we have explained (chap. xvi.).

It is, therefore, clear that all these names of God are appellatives, or are applied to God by way of homonymy, like Tzur and others, the only exception being the Tetragrammaton, the Shem ha-meforash (the nomen proprium of God), which is not an appellative: it does not denote any attribute of God, nor does it imply anything except His existence. Absolute existence includes the idea of eternity, i.e., the necessity of existence. Note well the result at which we have arrived in this chapter.

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