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Words of the Parashah - Shemot

Hebrew Word of the Week

Based on Weekly Torah Portion

The Hebrew word of the week is shem (שֵׁם), meaning the "name," or title, and by extension, the standing, reputation, or renown of someone or something.  The plural construct form of this word (i.e., שְׁמוֹת) occurs in the first verse of parashat Shemot:

These are the names of the children of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob;
every man coming with his household. (Exodus 1:1)

Shoresh-Related Words

The etymology (and therefore the root) of the word shem is unknown. The noun appears over 850 times in the Tanakh.  Some related words include:

Related Words

Quick Note about "Name Theology"

Some people seem to be preoccupied with finding out how to pronounce or utter the Sacred Name of the LORD (i.e., יהוה), though Jewish tradition maintains that the Divine Name is entirely ineffable and therefore intrinsically mysterious. Indeed, attaching a name to something "labels" it and claims authority over it (e.g., when David put his name over a conquered city). We name things to "own" them or otherwise exercise authority over them (hence the occultic desire to name angels and demons, for example). The Jewish mystics say that the proper Name of the LORD is all the letters of the Torah sounded at once -- without interruption.  There are literally hundreds of names, titles, metaphors, similes, and so on in the Scriptures. Though YHVH is God's special Name, it is a play on the verb "to be" (hayah). We do not "invoke" the Name like a magician might utter a "divine spell."  God is near to us -- He's in the wind, in the heavens and earth, as close to you as your own heart... The hard part is to love and obey the LORD, not to learn how to say His Name.

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