[b-hebrew] adonai "my Lord" or "the Lord"
leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Thu Dec 17 20:18:30 EST 2009
Steve, I don't know where you got the idea that "in the synagogue the people
davening would be reading the Bible in Hebrew as fast as they could, and
they would bow their heads every time they read the name of God". First of
all, "davening" (that's the Yiddish term often used for Jewish prayer) is
not done from a Bible. The prayers are independent compositions, which do
draw heavily on the Bible and do include whole chapters (especially Psalms),
but they are printed in separate prayer-books (siddurim). These prayer-books
often use the abbreviation Yod-Yod for the Name of God, vocalized "Adonai",
so that there is no room for error.
Before the invention of print, and in a reality in which many of the
congregants could not read, the leader/Hazzan/cantor usually said much of
the prayer out loud, as is done when repeating the Amidah (which is the main
unit of each prayer service) today, and as is done for most of the prayer in
Sephardic (Spanish and Middle Eastern) communities to this day.
And people do not bow their heads every time the name of God is pronounced.
As far as the difference between God, men and angels is concerned, look at
Gen. 18:3. The simple understanding of the text is that Abraham is calling
the three visitors "adonai" - "my lords" in the plural, thinking that they
are either humans or angels. He then says "your servant" in the singular
because he is addressing their leader. But some commentators say that he is
addressing God throughout this verse.
Steve Miller] Pere,
>From what you had explained previously, I understood that the Masoretes
voweled adoni to refer to a human or angel lord and adonai to refer to God.
So I would expect practically all uses of adoni to refer persons whom the
Masoretes understood were angels or men.
I can see why. In the synagogue the people davening would be reading the
Bible in Hebrew as fast as they could, and they would bow their heads every
time they read the name of God. They wouldn't want to mistakenly bow their
head to a man or an angel. Elohim can refer to angels or a human judge also,
but the usage is rare.
If Gen 1:26 was a "royal we", then I would expect to find this "royal we"
somewhere else in the Bible referring to royalty. If no such "royal we"
exists in the Bible, then I consider this proof that the "royal we"
interpretation of Gen 1:26 is wrong. I would not try to use traditions of
modern gentile kings and popes to explain the Bible, but use the Bible
itself. It may be that the Victorian kings and popes got their tradition
from Gen 1:26.
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