God or G-d?

by Louis A. Turk

Why do many Jews write G-d instead of God? The Judaism 101 website explains why as follows:

Jews do not casually write any Name of God. This practice does not come from the commandment not to take the Lord's Name in vain, as many suppose. In Jewish thought, that commandment refers solely to oath-taking, and is a prohibition against swearing by God's Name falsely or frivolously (the word normally translated as "in vain" literally means "for falsehood").

Judaism does not prohibit writing the Name of God per se; it prohibits only erasing or defacing a Name of God. However, observant Jews avoid writing any Name of God casually because of the risk that the written Name might later be defaced, obliterated or destroyed accidentally or by one who does not know better.

The commandment not to erase or deface the name of God comes from Deut. 12:3. In that passage, the people are commanded that when they take over the promised land, they should destroy all things related to the idolatrous religions of that region, and should utterly destroy the names of the local deities. Immediately afterwards, we are commanded not to do the same to our God. From this, the rabbis inferred that we are commanded not to destroy any holy thing, and not to erase or deface a Name of God.

It is worth noting that this prohibition against erasing or defacing Names of God applies only to Names that are written in some kind of permanent form, and recent rabbinical decisions have held that writing on a computer is not a permanent form, thus it is not a violation to type God's Name into a computer and then backspace over it or cut and paste it, or copy and delete files with God's Name in them. However, once you print the document out, it becomes a permanent form. That is why observant Jews avoid writing a Name of God on web sites like this one or in newsgroup messages: because there is a risk that someone else will print it out and deface it.

Normally, we avoid writing the Name by substituting letters or syllables, for example, writing "G-d" instead of "God." In addition, the number 15, which would ordinarily be written in Hebrew as Yod-Heh (10-5), is normally written as Tet-Vav (9-6), because Yod-Heh is a Name. (Writing the Name of God)

While holding God's name in reverence is certainly commendable, writing G-d instead of God is straining at a nat and swallowing a camel. The web page from which the above quote was taken begins like this: "Please note: This page contains the Name of God. If you print it out, please treat it with appropriate respect." But what if the reader does not print out the page? Shouldn't he still treat God's name with appropriate respect?

Permanence is relative. Writing on a piece of paper would not be absolutely permanent unless the paper and ink could not be destroyed. The writing stored on a computer diskette might last much longer than the writing on a piece of paper. The rabbis have obviously misinterpreted Deut. 12:3. Here it is in context:

Deuteronomy 12:1 These are the statutes and judgments, which ye shall observe to do in the land, which the LORD God of thy fathers giveth thee to possess it, all the days that ye live upon the earth. 2 Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree: 3 And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place. 4 Ye shall not do so unto the LORD your God. 5 But unto the place which the LORD your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there, even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come: 6 And thither ye shall bring your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, and your tithes, and heave offerings of your hand, and your vows, and your freewill offerings, and the firstlings of your herds and of your flocks: 7 And there ye shall eat before the LORD your God, and ye shall rejoice in all that ye put your hand unto, ye and your households, wherein the LORD thy God hath blessed thee.

The context shows that God was referring to destroying the idols of paganism and everything that was associated with it. He was not referring to editing the writing on a piece of paper. It is no more wrong to erase the word God from a piece of paper than it is to erase it from your computer screen. Trying to split hairs so closely is straining at a nat.

Straining at a nat is silly, but swallowing a camel is life-threatening. By denying that Immanuel is God (Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:21-25), Judaism is actually trying to destroy God's name! By rejecting the name of Jesus, Judaism is damning its followers to Hell, "for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). Such hypocracy is why Jesus pronounced woe after woe upon the scribes and Pharisees.

Mat. 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. 24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. 25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. 26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. 27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. 28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

What is really at issue is the object of your faith. In whom are you trusting? The true God or yourself? All false religions teach that salvation is obtained by keeping the law and doing good works. False religions disagree among themselves concerning what constitutes the law and what good works are required, but they agree that works are necessary for salvation. Salvation by ones own works is trust in self-righteousness and not in the true God.

Ezekiel 33:13 When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it.

The above verse from the Tanakh (Old Testament) shows the vanity of nat straining. If you trust to your "own righteousness," and then commit a sin, then ALL your righteousnesses will be forgotten, and you will die for that one sin! Consider the significance of that fact in light of

Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

It is vanity to split hairs on matters of uncertain interpretation when God says that ALL your righteousnesses are as filthy rags, and when there is in your life the major sin of unbelief---when you are trusting in your own righteousness instead of in the righteousness of God.

Jeremiah 23:1 Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD. 2 Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD. 3 And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. 4 And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD. 5 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. 6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

The "Branch" mentioned in the above verse is none other then the Messiah. His name whereby He shall be called is "THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS." You only hope of salvation is to trust in Messiah's righteousness and not in your own righteousness. You have broken the law many times. So you must not trust in your own righteousness, but rather in the Messiah who is without sin (Heb. 4:14-16). Jehovah himself is the Messiah. If you will accept the Messiah as your Savior, God will consider His righteousness to be your own. There is no other way for you to be considered righteous in God's eyes.

Romans 10:1 Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. 2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. 5 For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. 6 But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) 7 Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) 8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Whosoever means you!





Louis A. Turk, B.A., M.Div., Ph.D.

www.EternalSalvation.Org

The website dedicated to the study of eternal life.

ETERNAL LIFE IS NOT TEMPORARY LIFE!