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Shem Hammephorash

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(שֵׁ םהִמְּפֹרִשׁ, shem hammephorash, as if the peculiar Name; but perhaps factitious). By this expression the Jews mean the name of God written יהוה, but since the time of the Reformation, i.e. from the time that Christians began to study Hebrew, pronounced, according to its accompanying vowel points, Jehovah.. Before entering upon the explanation of the word it will be well to review what is said concerning. that name of God. Jerome, who was not only acquainted with the language, but also with the tradition, of the Jews, says, in Prologus Galeatus: "Nomen Domini tetragrammaton (i.e. יהוה ) in quibusdam Graecis voluminibus usque hodie antiquis expressum literis invenimus;" and in the 136th letter to Marcellus, where he treats of the ten names of God, he says: "Nonum (sc. nomen Dei) est tetragrammum, quod ἀνεκφώνητον, i.e., lei. ineffabile, putaverunt, qoud his literis scribitur Iod, E, Vau, E. Quod quidam non intelligentes propter elemenorum similitudinem, quum in Graecis libris repererint, Pi Pi legere consueverunt" (Opp. ed. Vallarsi, 1, 131; 720). Similar is the statement found in a fragmenit of Evagrius treating of the ten Jewish names of God, that the ineffable Tetragram, which καταχρηστικῶς is pronounced by the Jews ἀδωναι . by the Greeks κύριος, according to Exodus 28:36, was written on the plate of the high priest: ἁγίασμα κυρίῳ II I II I [in some codd. πι πἰ .. τούτοις γραφόμενον τοῖς στοιχέιοις ιωθ ηπ ουαυ ιηπ II I II I, ο ῾Θεός (cf.Cotelerius, Monum. Eccl. Groeoc, 3, 216, by Vallarsi, 3, 726; Lagarde, Onomastica Sacra, p. 205 sq.). Almost the same we find in Origen, Onomasticon (cf. Lagarde, loc. cit.). Fromn these statements we see that at and before the time of Jerome there were already Greek MSS. of the Old Test. in, which the Tetragram was written with Hebrew letters which were regarded, as the Greek uncial letters II I II I. Such a mistake was only possible when the Hebrew square alphabet was used. When in the last quarter of the last century, the attention of the learned was again called to the Syriac translation of the Sept., by the bishop Paul of Tela, they found ind many places the Hebrew name of God, which otherwise is expressed by the Greek κύριος and the Syriac מריא, represented by פיפי It was, however, more surprising that in the main manuscript of this version in the celebrated Codex Syro-Hexaplaris Ambrosianus at Milan, i the notes on Isaiah, instead of <>, the word יהיה was found.

The connection between the Greek II I II I and this יהיה was soon perceived, but not in a correct manner, so that in 1835 Middeldorpf, in his edition of Codex Syro- Hexaplaris, could but explain it as "ita ut inscius quidam librarius, Cod. Syr. Hexaplarem describens, sed sensum Graeci illius II I II I haun perspiciens Graecum characterem II loco Hebraici ה positum esse opinaretur, quemadmodum I loco Hebr. י, ideoque Syriace יהיה scriberet." Bernstein, in reviewing Middeldorpf's edition, quoted a scholion of Bar-Hebraeus, which gives us the following interesting notice: "The Hebrews call the. glorious name of God ש םפרוש, which is יהיה (יהוה ), and dare not to pronounce it with.thier lips, but read and speak instead to those who listen, אדני . Since the seventy interpreters retained the Hebrew nomenclature, the Greeks fell into an error and believed that these two letters were Greeek, and read it from the left to the right, and the name II I II I was formed, and thus יהיה (יהוה ), which designates the Eternal Being, was changed into II I II I, which yields no sense at all. The Yod of the Hebrews is like the Yod (Iota) of the Greeks, and He of the Hebrews has the form of the Greek Pi (II). Hence, in the Syriac copies of the Sept. we find everywhere the name מריא (i.e. where מריא stands for κύριος῟ יהוה ), with פיפי written above." On this scholium Bernstein remarks that ש םפרוש corresponds to the Rabbinic שׁ םהמפרש, Sem hammephorash. In his lexicon, Bernstein writes: "פרוש . is one who separates, discerns, hence ש םפרוש is a discerning, separating, or especial name, nomen separatum, secretum., occultum. Schroeter, in his edition of Bar-Hebraeus, explains ש םפרוש by nomen distinctum), singulare.

But Bar-Hebraeus tells us only what he found in Jacob of Edessa, who has a whole scholium entitled "Scholium on the Singular and Distinguished Name which is found in the Syriac Holy Writings translated from the Greek, and which is called among the Jews ש םפרוש ." From this scholium, which Nestle published in the Zeitschrift der deutschen morgenanldischen Gesellschaft, 1878, 32, 465 sq., and which purports to give what Jewish tradition believed concerning this name, we see that it means the separated, i.e. singular name of God a view also adopted by Nestle himself. But a review of the different opinions will show that there is a great difference as to what the meaning of the word ש םהמפרש is. Some translate it by nomen explcitum, others by nomen separatum, (comp. Buxtorf, Lex.Talm. s.v.); Petrus Galatinus, De Arcanis Catholicoe Veritatis, 2, 18, by seperatum, i.e." sejunctum. et distinctum ab aliis omnmibus. Dei nominibus, aet soli Deo proprie conveniens." Reuchlin, in the third book of De Arte Cabalistica, explains it by nomen expositorium; Munk, le nom distinctement prononce; Geiger, der ausdruckliche Name; Levy, der deutlich ausgesprochene Name.

In settling the question all must depend on the meaning of פרש, whether it means only "to separate, " or whether it occurs also in the sense of "to pronounce distinctly." In the latter sense it occurs very often, especially in the Targum and Talmud, as Dr. Furst has shown against Dr. Nestle in Z. d. d. m. G. 1879, 33:297, claiming that פירש את הש is only the Aramaized form for הזכיר את הש, "to pronounce distinctly the name of God." In the Mishna (Yoma, 6:2) we are, told that both the priests and people, when they heard, on the Day of Atonement, the ש םהמפורש, fell to the ground; and we are also told that the voice of the high priest, when he pronounced "the name, " on the Day of Atonement, was heard as far as Jericho.

Whatever may be the meaning of this word in a philological point of view, Jewish traditionl ascribed to it great power. By means of the Shem hammephorash Christ is, said to have performed his miracles; Moses is said to have slain the Egyptian by the same means. Any one interested in these and other silly stories will find them in Eisenmenger, Neuentdecktes Judenthum, 1, 154 sq. See, besides the essays of Nestle and Furst already quoted, also Buxtorf, Lex. Talm. (ed. Fischer), p. 1205 sq.; Geiger, Urschrift der Bibel, p. 263 sq. (See JEHOVAH). (B.P.)

Practically, Shem-hammephorash is a cabalistic word among the Rabbinical Jews, who reckon it as of such importance that Moses spent forty days on Mount Sinai in learning it from the angel Saxael. It is not, however, the real word of power, but a representatioin of it. The rabbins differ as to whether the genuine word consisted of twelve, or forty-two, or seventy- two letters, and try by their gematria, or cabalistic arithmetic, to reconstruct it. They affirm that Jesus stole it from the Temple, and by its means was enabled to perform many wonderful works. It is now Iost, and hence, according to the rabbins, the lack of power in the prayers of Israel. They declare that if any one were able rightly and devoutly to pronounace it, he would by this means be able to create a world. It is alleged, indeed, that two letters of the word inscribed by a cabalist on a tablet and thrown into the sea raised the storm which, A.D. 1542, destroyed the fleet of Charles V. They say, further, that if you write this name on the person of a prince, you are sure of his abiding favor. The rationale of its virtue is thus described by Mr. Alfred Vaughan -in his Hours with the Mystics: "The Divine Being was supposed to have commenced the work of creation by concentrating on certain points the primal, universal Light. Within the region of these was the appointed place of our world. Out of the remaining luminous points, or foci, he constructed certain letters a heavenly alphabet. These characters he again combined into certain, creative words, whose secret potency produced the forms of the material world. The word Shem-hammephorash' contains the sum of these celestial letters with all their inherent virtue, in its mightiest combination."


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Shem Hammephorash'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/s/shem-hammephorash.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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