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"Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain" (KJV; also "You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God" (NRSV) and variants, Hebrew : לֹא תִשָּׂא אֶת-שֵׁם-ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ לַשָּׁוְא, romanized: Lōʾ t̲iśśāʾ ʾet̲-šēm-ʾăd̲ōnāi ʾĕlōhêk̲ā laššāwəʾ) is the second or third (depending on numbering) of God's Ten Commandments to man in Judaism and Christianity.
Exodus 20:7 and Deuteronomy 5:11 read:
Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
Based on this commandment, Second Temple Judaism by the Hellenistic period developed a taboo of pronouncing the name Yahweh at all, resulting in the replacement of the Tetragrammaton by "Adonai" (literally "my lord" – see Adonai) in pronunciation.
In the Hebrew Bible itself, the commandment is directed against abuse of the name of God, not against any use; there are numerous examples in the Hebrew Bible and a few in the New Testament where God's name is called upon in oaths to tell the truth or to support the truth of the statement being sworn to, and the books of Daniel and Revelation include instances where an angel sent by God invokes the name of God to support the truth of apocalyptic revelations.God himself is presented as swearing by his own name ("As surely as I live …") to guarantee the certainty of various events foretold through the prophets.
The Hebrew לא תשא לשוא is translated as "thou shalt not take in vain". The word here translated as "in vain" is שוא (shav' 'emptiness', 'vanity', 'emptiness of speech', 'lying'), while 'take' is נשא nasa' 'to lift', 'carry', 'bear', 'take', 'take away' (appearing in the second person as תשא). The expression "to take in vain" is also translated less literally as "to misuse" or variants.
Some have interpreted the commandment to be against perjury,since invoking God's name in an oath was considered a guarantee of the truth of a statement or promise. Other scholars believe the original intent was to prohibit using the name in the magical practice of conjuration.
Hebrew Bible passages also refer to God's name being profaned by hypocritical behavior of people and false representation of God's words or character.
The object of the command "thou shalt not take in vain" is את־שם־יהוה אלהיךet-shem-YHWH eloheikha this-same name of YHWH, thy elohim', making explicit that the commandment is against the misuse of the proper name Yahweh specifically.
In the Hebrew Bible, as well as in the Ancient Near East and throughout classical antiquity more generally, an oath is a conditional self-curse invoking deities that are asked to inflict punishment on the oath-breaker. There are numerous examples in the Book of Samuel of people strengthening their statements or promises with the phrase, "As surely as Yahweh lives ..."and such statements are referred to in Jeremiah as well. The value of invoking punishment from God was based on the belief that God cannot be deceived or evaded. For example, a narrative in the Book of Numbers describes how such an oath is to be administered by a priest to a woman suspected of adultery, with the expectation that the accompanying curse will have no effect on an innocent person.
Such oaths may have been used in civil claims, regarding supposed theft, for example, and the commandment is repeated in the context of honest dealings between people in Leviticus 19:12. At one point of the account of the dedication of the Temple of Solomon, Solomon prays to Yahweh, asking him to hear and act upon curses uttered in a dispute that are then brought before his altar, to distinguish between the person in the right and the one in the wrong.
The prophet Isaiah rebuked Israel as the Babylonian captivity drew near, pointing out that they bore the name of God, and swore by him, but their swearing was hypocritical since they had forsaken the exclusive worship of Yahweh for the worship of idols.The Israelites had been told in Leviticus that sacrificing their children to idols and then coming to worship God caused God's name to be profaned, thus breaking the commandment. According to the Book of Jeremiah, Yahweh told him to look around Jerusalem, asserting that he would not be able to find an honest man – "Even when they say, 'As Yahweh lives,' they are sure to be swearing falsely." Jeremiah refers to a situation in which Israelites repented and took oaths in God's name – only to renege by reclaiming as slaves persons they had freed as part of their repentance. This hypocritical act was also considered profaning God's name. In Jeremiah 12, an opportunity is also described for Israel's neighbors to avoid destruction and prosper if they stop swearing by their idol and swear only by the name of Yahweh.
Philo pointed out that it is natural that God would swear by himself, even though this is "a thing impossible for anyone else".
To avoid coming under guilt by accidentally misusing God's name, Jewish scholars do not write or pronounce the proper name in most circumstances, but use substitutes such as "Adonai" ("the Lord") or "HaShem" ("the Name").In English translations of the Bible, the name Adonai is often translated "Lord", while the proper name Yahweh represented by the tetragrammaton is often indicated by the use of capital and small capital letters, Lᴏʀᴅ.
Rabbi Joseph Telushkin wrote that the commandment is much more than a prohibition against casual interjections using God's name. He pointed out that the more literal translation of Lo tissa is "you shall not carry" rather than "you shall not take", and that understanding this helps one understand why the commandment ranks with such as "You shall not murder" and "You shall not commit adultery".
One of the first commandments listed by Maimonides in the Mishneh Torah is the responsibility to sanctify God's name.Maimonides thought the commandment should be taken as generally as possible, and therefore he considered it forbidden to mention God's name unnecessarily at any time. Jewish scholars referred to this as motzi shem shamayim lavatalah, "uttering the Name of Heaven uselessly." To avoid guilt associated with accidentally breaking the commandment, Jewish scholars applied the prohibition to all seven biblical titles of God in addition to the proper name, and established the safeguard of circumlocution when referring to the Name of God. In writing names of God, a common practice includes substituting letters or syllables so that the written word is not exactly the name, or writing the name in an abbreviated manner. Orthodox Jews will not even pronounce a name of God unless it is said in prayer or religious study. The Sacred Name (Tetragrammaton), is never pronounced by these Jews but always read as "Adonai (the Lord)," "HaShem (the Name)," or sometimes "AdoShem".
May His great Name be blessed forever and ever.
The Kaddish is an important prayer in a Jewish prayer service whose central theme is the magnification and sanctification of God's name.Along with the Shema and Amidah, it is one of the most important and central prayers of Jewish liturgy.
In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught that one's word should be reliable and that one should not swear by God or his creation.The Epistle of James reiterates to simply say 'yes' or 'no' and keep one's word, "so that you may not fall into condemnation."
According to the Applied New Testament Commentary, appeals to authorities to validate the truth of a promise had expanded in Jesus's day, which was not in line with the original commandment.Jesus is quoted as warning that they were blind and foolish who gave credibility to such arguments.
According to the Gospel of John, Jesus made appeals to the power of the name of Godand also claimed the name of God as his own, which constituted blasphemy if it were not true. The Gospel of John relates an incident where a group attempts to stone Jesus after he speaks God's name. Jesus says that he is the Messiah, and makes parallels between himself and the "Son of Man" referred to by the prophet Daniel, which evokes an emphatic response that he has blasphemed (broken the commandment) and deserves death.
Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."— Matthew 28:18–19 (NIV)
Paul the Apostle occasionally invokes God's name in his epistles, calling God as witness to the purity of his motives and honesty of his dealings with the churches to whom he ministered.
The author of Hebrews reviewed God's promise to Abraham as assurance that outstanding promises will yet be fulfilled. "Human beings, of course, swear by someone greater than themselves, and an oath given as confirmation puts an end to all dispute."In the case of the promise of God to Abraham, God swore by his own name to guarantee the promise, since there was nothing greater for him to swear by.
Similar to the events described in the Book of Daniel, the Book of Revelation includes a description of an angel who swears by God to the truth of the end-time events being revealed to John.
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!— Psalm 8:1, Catechism of the Catholic Church 2160
The Catholic Church teaches that the Lord's name is holy and should be introduced into one's speech only to bless, praise or glorify that name.The name should be used respectfully, with an awareness of the presence of God. It must not be abused by careless speech, false oaths, or words of hatred, reproach or defiance toward God, or used in magic. Since Jesus Christ is believed to be the Messiah, and "the image of the invisible God," this commandment is applied to the name of Jesus Christ as well.
The sentiment behind this commandment is expressed in the Lord's Prayer, which begins, "Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name." According to Pope Benedict XVI, when God revealed his name to Moses he established a relationship with mankind; Benedict stated that the Incarnation was the culmination of a process that "had begun with the giving of the divine name."Benedict elaborated that this means the divine name could be misused and that Jesus' inclusion of "hallowed be thy name" is a plea for the sanctification of God's name, to "protect the wonderful mystery of his accessibility to us, and constantly assert his true identity as opposed to our distortion of it."
Taking an oath or swearing is to take God as witness to what one affirms. It is to invoke the divine truthfulness as a pledge of one's own truthfulness.
Promises made to others in God's name engage the divine honor, fidelity, truthfulness, and authority. They must be respected in justice. To be unfaithful to them is to misuse God's name and in some way to make God out to be a liar. (1 John 1:10)— Catechism of the Catholic Church 2147
For the same reason, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that it is a duty to reject false oaths that others might try to impose; an oath may be made false because it attests to a lie, because an illegitimate authority is requiring it, or because the purpose of the oath is contrary to God's law or human dignity.
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe in this commandment as written in Exodus 20. This commandment has been repeated in the LDS Scriptures such as the Book of Mormon and in Doctrine and Covenants.
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
Keep yourselves from evil to take the name of the Lord in vain, for I am the Lord your God, even the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob.
And again, the Lord God hath commanded that men should not murder; that they should not lie; that they should not steal; that they should not take the name of the Lord their God in vain; that they should not envy; that they should not have malice; that they should not contend one with another; that they should not commit whoredoms; and that they should do none of these things; for whoso doeth them shall perish.
Former prophet and president of the Church, Spencer W. Kimball told the following story to inspire believers: President Kimball underwent surgery many years ago, he was wheeled from the operating room to the intensive care room. The attendant who pushed the gurney which carried him stumbled and let out an oath using the name of the Lord. President Kimball, who was barely conscious, said weakly, "Please! Please! That is my Lord whose names you revile." There was a deathly silence; then the young man whispered with a subdued voice, "I am sorry."
Matthew Henry described five categories of actions that constitute taking God's name in vain: 1) hypocrisy – making a profession of God's name, but not living up to that profession; 2) covenant breaking – if one makes promises to God yet does not carry out the promised actions; 3) rash swearing; 4) false swearing; and 5) using the name of God lightly and carelessly, for charms or spells, jest or sport. He pointed out that though a person may hold themself guiltless in one of these matters, the commandment specifically states that God will not.
The Lutheran Witness , a magazine representing the Lutheran faith, supports the view that oaths should not generally be taken at all, except "for the glory of God and the welfare of our neighbor." Specifically, it states that proper use of God's name includes administration of oaths in court, and in swearing-in a spiritual or political leader to their respective offices, which include responsibilities toward God and fellow human beings.
In his Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin sets the stage for discussing this commandment by noting that an oath is calling God to witness that what we say is true, and that an appropriate oath is a kind of worship of God in that it implies a profession of faith. When human testimony fails, people appeal to God as witness, as the only one able to bring hidden things to light and know what is in the heart. False swearing robs God of his truth (to the observer), and therefore it is a serious matter. With regard to the casual use of God's name, Calvin summarized, "remember that an oath is not appointed or allowed for passion or pleasure, but for necessity." He wrote that the frequency of casual use of the name of God has dulled the public conscience but that the commandment, with its penalty, still stands.
Historian Winwood Reade has a different interpretation of the third commandment: "Invention of the Oath: But the chief benefit which religion ever conferred upon mankind, whether in ancient or in modern times, was undoubtedly the oath. The priests taught that if a promise was made in the name of the gods, and that promise was broken, the gods would kill those who took their name in vain. Such is the true meaning of the third commandment. Before that time treaties of peace and contracts of every kind in which mutual confidence was required could only be effected by the interchange of hostages. But now by means of this purely theological device a verbal form became itself a sacred pledge: men could at all times confide in one another; and foreign tribes met freely together beneath the shelter of this useful superstition which yet survives in our courts of law."
Deuteronomy is the fifth book of the Torah, where it is called Devarim and the fifth book of the Christian Old Testament.
Judaism considers some names of God so holy that, once written, they should not be erased: יהוה, אֲדֹנָי (Adonai), אֵל, אֱלֹהִים, אֵל שַׁדַּי, שַׁדַּי, יְהֹוָ֥ה צְבָאֽוֹת and צְבָאֽוֹת ; some also include I Am that I Am. Early authorities considered other Hebrew names mere epithets or descriptions of God, and wrote that they and names in other languages may be written and erased freely. Some moderns advise special care even in these cases, and many Orthodox Jews have adopted the chumras of writing "G-d" instead of "God" in English or saying Ṭēt-Vav instead of Yōd-Hē for the number fifteen or Ṭēt-Zayin instead of Yōd-Vav for the Hebrew number sixteen.
Shema Yisrael is a Jewish prayer that serves as a centerpiece of the morning and evening Jewish prayer services. Its first verse encapsulates the monotheistic essence of Judaism: "Hear, O Israel: YHWH is our God, YHWH is one", found in Deuteronomy 6:4.
Monolatry is the belief in the existence of many gods, but with the consistent worship of only one deity. The term monolatry was perhaps first used by Julius Wellhausen.
There are various names of God, many of which enumerate the various qualities of a Supreme Being. The English word god is used by multiple religions as a noun to refer to different deities, or specifically to the Supreme Being, as denoted in English by the capitalized and uncapitalized terms God and god. Ancient cognate equivalents for the biblical Hebrew Elohim, one of the most common names of God in the Bible, include proto-Semitic El, biblical Aramaic Elah, and Arabic ilah. The personal or proper name for God in many of these languages may either be distinguished from such attributes, or homonymic. For example, in Judaism the tetragrammaton is sometimes related to the ancient Hebrew ehyeh. It is connected to the passage in Exodus 3:14 in which God gives his name as אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה, where the verb, translated most basically as "I am that I am" or "I shall be what I shall be", "I shall be what I am" In the Hebrew Bible, YHWH, the personal name of God, is revealed directly to Moses. Correlation between various theories and interpretation of the name of "the one God", used to signify a monotheistic or ultimate Supreme Being from which all other divine attributes derive, has been a subject of ecumenical discourse between Eastern and Western scholars for over two centuries. In Christian theology the word is considered a personal and a proper name of God. On the other hand, the names of God in a different tradition are sometimes referred to by symbols. The question whether divine names used by different religions are equivalent has been raised and analyzed.
Hallelujah is an interjection from the Hebrew language, used as an expression of gratitude to God. The term is used 24 times in the Hebrew Bible, twice in deuterocanonical books, and four times in the Christian Book of Revelation.
Intercession of the Saints is a Christian doctrine, which maintains that saints can intercede for others. To intercede is to go or come between two parties, to plead before one of them on behalf of the other. It is held by the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Assyrian Church of the East, and Oriental Orthodox churches, and some Lutherans and Anglicans. The practice of praying to saints for their intercession can be found in Christian writings from the 3rd century onwards.
The Ten Commandments, or the Decalogue, are a set of biblical principles relating to ethics and worship that play a fundamental role in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The text of the Ten Commandments appears twice in the Bible: at Exodus 20:2–17 and Deuteronomy 5:6–21.
Jehovah is a Latinization of the Hebrew יְהֹוָהYəhōwā, one vocalization of the Tetragrammaton יהוה (YHWH), the proper name of the God of Israel in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. The Tetragrammaton יהוה is considered one of the seven names of God in Judaism and a form of God's name in Christianity.
The Tetragrammaton, or the Tetragram, is the four-letter Hebrew theonym יהוה, the name of God in the Hebrew Bible. The four letters, written and read from right to left, are yodh, he, waw, and he. The name may be derived from a verb that means "to be", "to exist", "to cause to become", or "to come to pass". While there is no consensus about the structure and etymology of the name, the form Yahweh is now accepted almost universally, though the vocalization Jehovah continues to have wide usage.
"Honour thy father and thy mother" is one of the Ten Commandments in the Hebrew Bible. The commandment is generally regarded in Protestant and Jewish sources as the fifth in both the list in Exodus 20:1–21 and in Deuteronomy (Dvarim) 5:1–23. Catholics and Lutherans count this as the fourth.
"Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy" is one of the Ten Commandments found in the Torah.
"Thou shalt not commit adultery" is found in the Book of Exodus of the Hebrew Bible. It is considered the sixth commandment by Roman Catholic and Lutheran authorities, but the seventh by Jewish and most Protestant authorities. What constitutes adultery is not plainly defined in this passage of the Bible, and has been the subject of debate within Judaism and Christianity. The word fornication means illicit sex, prostitution, idolatry and lawlessness.
Thou shalt not kill, You shall not murder or You shall not murder (NIV), is a moral imperative included as one of the Ten Commandments in the Torah.
"Thou shalt not covet" is the most common translation of one of the Ten Commandments or Decalogue, which are widely understood as moral imperatives by legal scholars, Jewish scholars, Catholic scholars, and Protestant scholars. The Book of Exodus and the Book of Deuteronomy both describe the Ten Commandments as having been spoken by God, inscribed on two stone tablets by the finger of God, and, after Moses broke the original tablets, rewritten by God on replacements. On rewriting, the word covet changed to ‘desire’ (תתאוה).
"Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image" is an abbreviated form of one of the Ten Commandments which, according to the Book of Deuteronomy, were spoken by God to the Israelites and then written on stone tablets by the Finger of God. It continues, "... any graven image, or any likeness [of any thing] that [is] in heaven above, or that [is] in the earth beneath, or that [is] in the water under earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them."
The Bible usually uses the name of God in the singular, generally using the terms in a very general sense rather than referring to any special designation of God. However, general references to the name of God may branch to other special forms which express his multifaceted attributes. The Old Testament reveals YHWH as the personal name of God, along with certain titles including El Elyon and El Shaddai. Jah or Yah is an abbreviation of Jahweh/Yahweh, and often sees usage by Christians in the interjection "Hallelujah", meaning "Praise Yah", which is used to give God glory. In the New Testament the terms Theos, Kyrios and Patēr are additionally used to reference God.
"I am the LORD thy God" is the opening phrase of the Ten Commandments, which are widely understood as moral imperatives by ancient legal historians and Jewish and Christian biblical scholars.
"Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour" is one of the Ten Commandments, widely understood as moral imperatives by Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant scholars.
"Thou shalt have no other gods before Me" is one, or part of one depending on the numbering tradition used, of the Ten Commandments found in the Hebrew Bible at Exodus 20:3 and Deuteronomy 5:6. According to the Bible, the commandment was originally given to the ancient Israelites by Yahweh at biblical Mount Sinai after the Exodus from slavery in Egypt, as described in the Book of Exodus.