Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”
(Psalm 16:1-2, NRSV)
- It replaces a proper name with a title.
- It requires a definite article.
- It is virtually indistinguishable from “Lord.”
Since I’ve started studying Hebrew, I notice that people use Hashem in order to avoid pronouncing the tetragrammaton. Literally “the name” it still sounds like a name to me and so I can imagine God’s name being Hashem.
I’m all for respecting tradition and but I also have a high regard for Scripture and isn’t it in fact God himself who is quoted as saying, Tell them I am called …”
The Message uses the transliteration of the tetragrammaton. Here in Mozambique, God is regularly referred to as Jeovah. Ironically, the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Mozambique call their kingdom halls, “Nyumba ya Ufumu wa Yehova.” Didn’t the JWs fight rather hard to establish that this name must begin with J?
The archaic “Lord” has to cover a lot of uses. My culture is so egalitarian that it’s hard to think of a word that carried the respect that this word implied 400 years ago. But no one in my country has called anyone “Lord.” since the War of Independence. What would that word be in American English. “Master” has negative connotations. “Boss” is too informal. “Leader” gets close since it signifies respect and submission.
Back to that LORD business. The gods of the nations surrounding Israel had their own names. Molech. Asheroth. Baal.
I come from a country where we regularly call our President by his first name (not to his face) and even use a diminutive at that: Jimmy, Bill. Is it disrespectful to refer to God by a title when he’s given you his name?