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Jewish Magic and Superstition, by Joshua Trachtenberg, [1939], at


"IN THE NAME OF . . ."

1. See Prof. Lauterbach's essay, "Naming of Children," etc., CCAR Yearbook, XLII (1932), 356-60; Ber. 7b; Ḥag. 3b-4a; S. Ḥas. 363, 364, 366, 375, 377, 1118, 1551, 1552, 1871; S. Ḥas. B 477; Testament of Judah, 26, 28, 61; Ḥochmat HaNefesh, 24e; Ẓiyuni 17b; cf. Landshuth, p. xii f., for Biblical and Talmudic references; also Bischoff, 32 ff.

2. See Jacob, Im Namen Gottes, 72, 75 ff.; Frazer, Golden Bough, 1900, I, 403-47. Methuselah advised Lamech, father of Noah, to delay naming his son "because the people of that generation were sorcerers, and they would have bewitched him if they had known his name" (Da‘at Zekenim on Gen. 5:28).

3. S. Ḥas. B 1150; Ẓiyuni and Pa‘aneaḥ Raza on Gen. 32:30.

4. S. Ḥas. 1452. However, the contrary opinion is inevitably implied in the practice; cf. Ẓiyuni, 22a: ‏ראה כי אין טוב להשתמש בשמות ומכאן תבין גדול עונש המטריח את קונו‎. Even the invocation of angels involves a measure of coercion

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upon God, who is ultimately responsible for their actions; cf. Lebush on Oraḥ Ḥayim 584:1: ‏סגולת ההשבעות האמיתיות כן היא שהשם ית׳ יתן להם רשות לאותן מלאבים שיעשו דברי המשביעים בלא שום זבות‎.

5. Montgomery, 59; cf. also M. Gaster, The Samaritans, London 1925, p. 81.

6. Jacob, 73 f.; cf. also Grünbaum, Ges. Auf., 120 ff.; De Givry, 109.

7. Rashi, Sotah 22a.

7a. Bischoff, 192 f., 195, offers an ingenious Hebrew derivation for this word.

8. Ber. 55a; cf. also Men. 29b.

9. Joseph Omeẓ, 73; Raziel, 4a; cf. also Gaster, Sword of Moses, 28, 48; S. Ḥas. 1458 (cf. Kid. 71a); Joseph Omeẓ, 279. The practice of altering the names of God in one way or another when writing them, or of substituting shorthand forms, grew up at a very early time. Eighty-three written substitutes for the Tetragrammaton have been listed. For fear of writing even the particle rah proper names were abbreviated, so that Jehudah became Judah, the final "h" of Elijah and Isaiah was dropped, the number 15 was written ‏ט״ו‎ instead of ‏ט״ה‎, etc. See Lauterbach, Proc. Amer. Acad. for Jew. Research, 1931, 39-67; S. W. Baron, A Social and Religious History of the Jews, N. Y. 1937, III, 48;—Raziel, 2a.

10. See Gaster, Ma’aseh Book, pp. 357, 366, 370; HaGan, ch. 4; S. Ḥas. 1444, 1448, 1449. .Nishmat Ḥayim III, 28, contains a general discussion of the powers that reside in the holy names, with quotations and proofs.

11. San. 67b and Rashi; Blau 27; Hadar Zekenim on Ex. 8:14, and Rashi on the same verse; cf. Güd. I, 169.

12. San. 67b, 65b and Rashi; Thorndike, II, 353, III, 139.

13. N. Brüll, Jahrbücher, IX (1889), 27; JE, VI, 37; EJ, VII, 501-7; Chayim Bloch, The Golem, Vienna 1925; cf. Shelah, III, 65a. In the seventeenth century the question was raised whether a Golem could be counted as one of a minyan (JE, loc. cit.).

14. Commentary on Sefer Yeẓirah, 4d, 15d ff.; EJ, loc. cit.

15. Steinschneider, Cat. Munich, p. 3; Grünbaum, Jüdischdeutsche Chrest., 566. For a discussion of the Golem motif in German folklore see B. Rosenfeld, Die Golemsage and ihre Verwertung in der deutschen Literatur, Breslau 1934.

16. See Montgomery, 57 ff.; Gaster, op. cit., 71f.; Thorndike, I, 14, 360 ff.

17. Gaster, op. cit., 8-9; Blau, 133; Thorndike, I, 450.

18. The Aggadah has a few references to invocation of the names of God: Moses killed the Egyptian (Ex. 2:11) by merely speaking God's name; the name of God, engraved on Moses’ staff, caused the sea to divide (Blau, 50, 60). The words ehyeh asher ehyeh yah YHVH ẓebaot amen amen selah, written on a staff, caused a stormy sea to subside (B.B. 73a).

19. Montgomery, 95 ff.; Wohlstein, 6-7, 9 ff.; Ta‘am Zekenim, ed. Eliezer Ashkenazi, 54 ff. Cf. also J. Mann, Texts and Studies, II, 90 ff.

20. Lea, III, 412, 436; Thorndike, I, 729, II, 286 ff., IV, 170.

21. Cf. Lauterbach, loc. cit., 39, n. 1 and 2. On the meaning of the term ‏שם המפורש‎ concerning which there is considerable difference of opinion, see Grünbaum, Ges. Auf., 190 and 238 ff.; Blau, 125; Grunwald, MGJV, V, 35 and X, 95; JE, XI, 262 ff.; L. Geiger, Kebuẓat Maamarim, ed. Poznanski, Warsaw 1910, p. 98, and Ginzberg's note, p. 394; H. H. Schaeder, Esra der Schreiber, Tübingen 1930, 53 ff. This term was applied in post-Talmudic times not alone to the Tetragrammaton, but also to the longer names; cf. Hai Gaon in Ashkenazi,

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loc. cit.; Rashi, San 60a, Suk. 45a, Erub. 18b, etc. Raziel, 7a, has a shem hameforash which altogether defies classification.

22. The 12-letter name is mentioned once, in Kid. 71 a, which also speaks of the name of 42 letters. The only other reference to this latter name in Talmudic literature is in Lekaḥ Tov to Ex. 3:15, p. 10a, ed. Buber. The name of 72 letters (or elements) is not mentioned in the Talmud, but does occur in one frequently repeated passage of the Midrash: Gen. R. 44: 19, Lev. R. 23, beg., Nu. R. 1:11, etc.: ‏ששמו של הקב״ה שבעים ושתים אותיות‎ Cant. R. to 2:2 has: ‏ששמו של הקב״ה ע״ב שמות הן‎. Blau, 137 if., suggests that the oldest mystical name is that of 12 letters; 42 and 72 developed out of it later. The name of 72 was known, at the latest, by the first half of the third century. The Talmudic literature, however, gives us no information about these names, what they were, what were their component elements, or how they were constructed.

23. This, in addition to the 4-, 12-, 42-, and 72-letter names, constitutes the list given in the ms. S. Gematriaot, 72b ff.

24. See, e.g., Raziel, 24b ff.; Jellinek, 40-41.

25. Raziel, Sob.

26. Pesikta R. ch. 21 (ed. Friedmann, 104a); see also Ginzberg, Legends, V, 5, n. 10. There were several theories as to just which name of God was responsible for the creation of the universe. The one most often advanced is that it was the Tetragrammaton alone, or in conjunction with the particle yah, that did the job. See Eleazar of Worms, Commentary on S. Yeẓirah, 1c; Jellinek, 33; Grunwald, JJV, I, 388, n. 4. Raziel, 12b, offers an interesting and original hypothesis: God had 73 of His names inscribed at His right hand when He was about to commence the work of creation. Out of the first name there came forth three drops of water which filled the universe; the second provided light; the third, fire; and so forth. When His task was completed He set the name of 42 to keep the celestial waters apart from the terrestrial; it was the removal of this name that caused the flood (p. 14a).

27. Cf. Thorndike, II, 407.

28. These particles were very popular. Pes. R., loc. cit.: ‏אפילו אות אחת משמו עושה צבא ככל שמו‎; Blau, 102 f.; Wohlstein, 30; Montgomery, 60; Jellinek, 33; Grunwald, MJV, XIX (1906), 112; etc.

29. Ẓiyuni 11 a, Sob; see also Raziel, 24a-b, 33b.

30. An effort has been made by some scholars to reconstruct the three names known in Talmudic times, those of 12, 42 and 72, on the assumption that they were not the same as those employed in later times. Bacher (Agada der babylonischen Amoräer, 17-20) suggests that the 12-letter name was based on the three creative potencies ‏חכמה תבונה דעת‎; and the 42 on the full ten: ‏הכמה תבונה דעת כח גבורה גערה צדק משפט חסד רחמים‎ with the addition of the Tetragrammaton. Franck (Kabbalah, 71) derives the name of 42 from the ten Sefirot (cf. also Bischoff, 35 ff., 107 ff.), which, as Ginsburg (Kabbalah, 183) points out, is an obvious anachronism. Robert Eisler (REJ, LXXXII [1926], 157-9) bases the names of 42 and 72 on the thirteen Middot of Ex. 34:6-7. Blau (p. 144), on the analogy of the Greek magical papyri, in which the seven Greek vowels play a great rôle, works out a triangular anagram which, beginning with one YHVH builds up by the addition of one letter at a time to three—this, he maintains, contains the 4-letter name in the first line, the 12 in the last, the 42 in the last four, and the 72 in its totality. Finally, A. Haffer (HaẒofeh, II [1912], 127 ff.) derives the 12-letter name from the first three names of God that occur in the Shema‘, ‏אל אלהינו יהוה‎, and to make up the 42-letter name he adds the final two words of the Shema‘ and the doxology ‏ברוך שם כבוד מלכותו לעולם ועד‎. The name of 72 he derives from Deut. 4:34. See also Schwab, Vocabulaire, 28 ff.

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These theories ring false, and certainly bear no relation to what was considered a potent magic name in the post-Talmudic period; in any event, such efforts are entirely a matter of conjecture and invention, which can in no way be substantiated from the available facts. It seems to me that there is a strong probability that the names of 42 and 72 employed in the Middle Ages were the same as those in use during the first few centuries of the Common Era. Hai Gaon (10th-11th century) (Ta‘am Zekenim, 57) spoke of them in words which imply that they had been well known for a long time, and the tenacity of traditional lore, especially in a field such as that of mysticism and magic, in which letter-perfection is one of the prime requisites, is a well-known phenomenon.

31. See Appendix I.

32. Ms. S. Gematriaot, 74b: ‏שם בן י״ב אנתיות הוא יהוה יהוה יהוה יהם ג׳ מאי יברכך ה׳ וישמרך וגו׳ שמו של הקב״ה‎; Ẓiyuni, 60b; ‏שמות של יברכך יאר וישא והוא בן י״ב אותיות י״ד ו״ד י״ד ו״ד י״ד ו״ד‎ cf. L. Zunz, Die synagogale Poesie des Mittelalters, Berlin 1855, p. 146.

33. Ms. S. Gematriaot, 74b: ‏שם בן י״ד אותיות יוצא משלש תיבות בפסוק שמע ישראל והם יהוה אלהינו יהוה והם י״ד אותיות מתחלפות באותיות שלפניהם‎.

34. Pp. 42b, 44b, 45a and 41b (in this last only the word ‏פספסים‎ occurs, intercalated between the second and third verses of the Priestly Blessing. The other three were probably originally included in the text, but dropped out before it was printed in the eighteenth century) .

35. Cf. Bernard Heller, REJ, LV (1908), 60 ff., and LVII (1909), 105 f.; J. Perles, MGWJ, XXI (1872), 259-60; ibid., LXXVII (1933), 246; Schwab, op. cit., s. v.; Cordovero's Pardes, 21:14 (ed. Lemberg 1862, p. 113a), vocalizes the name as I have given it.

36. Cf. Albert Katz, Allg. Zeit. des Jud., 1907, 312; S. Krauss, REJ, LVI (1908), 251-2; Nathan Hanover's Sha‘are Ẓion, Vienna 1817, 34b, 35a, 28a, 60a, 63a; REJ, LXV (1913), 59-60, where Aptowitzer cites acrostics containing this name which are somewhat older than those in Sha‘are Ẓion.

37. Ms. S. Gematriaot, 74b:

An incantation in a sixteenth-century manuscript employs "the 22-letter name of the Priestly Benediction" to conjure a divinatory spirit (Grunwald, MJV, XIX [1906], 106). By means of this name the dead will be recalled from their graves at the resurrection; cf. Gaster, Studies and Texts, III, 230; Gollancz, Clavic. Sal., 42. The "Jerusalem" type of amulet-mezuzah (see p. 150 above) includes both benediction and name in a manner indicating their close relationship; cf. Aptowitzer, REJ, LXV (1913), 59. An additional item of evidence is provided by a late Italian ms. entitled Sefer HaRazim (Ms. D 146, J. T. S. Library) which (p. 18a) combines the name and the blessing in an amulet.

38. Pardes, loc. cit.; cf. also Joel, Allg. Zeit. des Jud., XXXVIII (1874), 246, 351-2.

39. Ta‘am Zekenim, 57; B. M. Lewin, Otzar HaGaonim, IV (Jerusalem 1931), Ḥagigah, 20 f. In connection with this name Maimonides launched a bitter denunciation of all these mystical names of God (cf. More Neb. I, 61, 62) which aroused only the faintest echo in Northern Europe.

40. Cf. Raziel, 24b, 45a-b; Ms. S. Gematriaot, 74b: ‏ומכל אות ואות של זה השם יוצא שם אחד והם מ״ב שמות‎. There were other versions of the name

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of 42, such as that which the Zohar constructed out of the ten divine names mentioned in the Bible (see Ginsburg, Kabbalah, 186-7), and the mnemotechnical signs for the ten plagues in the Passover Haggadah which a sixteenth-century ms. designated as this name because their numerical sum (by mispar katan) is 42 (Grunwald, MJV, XIX [1906], p. 119; see also JE, IX, 164); but these were "sports" which never challenged the position of the true name.

41. See I. M. Casanowicz, Jour. Amer. Or. Soc., XXXVI (1917), 159. This prayer was made much of by the Kabbalists, who also composed other such prayers containing this name in acrostic; cf. Landshuth, p. xxv; EJ, II, 857.

42. Cf. Tos. Ḥag. lib, s. v. ‏אין דורשין‎: [‏מ״ב‎ read] ‏פי׳ ר״ת הוא שם ע״ב אותיות היוצא מבראשית ומפסוק של אחריו‎. (See also Bacher, REJ XVIII [1889], 292-3, whose interpretation of this statement is far wide of the mark.) Raziel, 24b: ‏זה השם . . . יוצא מן הפסוק הראשין שבתורה הנא מן ב׳ של בראשית עד ב׳ של בוהו‎; Ẓiyuni, wc: ‏פסיק בראשית לתיבות שש שש אותיות בשם של מ״ב‎; Ms. S. Gematriaot, 74b: ‏שם בן מ״ב אותיות היוצא מפסיק בראשית עד ה׳ של בוהו ולא תחשוב ה׳ אחרובה של היתה‎; I may add that while the other works cited do not specify that the name of 42 to which they refer is the one of which I have been speaking, Raziel makes it clear that this is so. Cordovero (Pardes, 21:13, ed. Lemberg 1862, p. 112b) offers a complete exposition, through alphabetical permutations, of the derivation of this name from the opening verses of the Bible.

43. P. 43a: ‏לא יובלו למעבד שום כשוף אלא על ידי בלי ע״ב‎. Wohlstein, pp. 12 f., woefully misunderstood this passage when he stopped at the word ‏בלי‎ and translated it literally as "vessel," thus making the use of a vessel (he had in mind the many clay vessels that have been found inscribed with Aramaic incantations) obligatory upon the magician. The sentence quoted, and the context, make it unmistakably clear that the "vessel" or "tool" referred to is the name of 72.

44. Ta‘am Zekenim, loc. cit.; Rashi, M. Sukkah, 45a; cf. also Raziel, 24b, 40b; ms. S. Gematriaot, 35a, 74b; Ginsburg, Kabbalah, 133 ff.; JE, IX, 164.

45. Raziel, 40b.

46. Ibid., 30b-31b.

47. Ms. Raziel, 74b-76a:

48. P. 40b.

49. Ibid. 43a, 52b; on the 70 names of Metatron, cf. Steinschneider, HB, XIV (1874) 6-8, 33; Kiẓur Shelah, Inyane Limmud, p. 150. I have not attempted, by any means, to be exhaustive in this presentation of angelic and godly names, Hebraic and foreign. The material is far too vast to permit of anything more than a sampling here. Schwab has made the largest collection of such names, and if his etymologies are as often as not dubious, he presents a good survey of the entire field. The purpose of this discussion has been solely to illustrate the type of material under consideration.

50. See pp. 250 f. above.

51. Cf. Raziel, 25b, 34a-35a, 4a ff.

52. Grünbaum, Ges. Auf., 122; Raziel, 5b.

53. Cf. JE, I, 130; Montgomery, 151, and Myrhman, Hilprecht Anniversary Volume, Leipzig 5909, P. 345; Gaster, Sword of Moses, p. xiv, 1. 25; Raziel, 5a; Grunwald, MJV, XIX (1906), 112, and Jahrb. für jüd. Gesch. and Lit., IV (,90,), 130-31.

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54. Cf. Güd. I, 218.

55. Raziel, 42a; HaGan, ch. 2, end; Grunwald, MGJV, V (1900), 66, §225; Lauterbach, Proc. Amer. Acad. Jew. Research, 1931, 40, n. 3; M. Gaster, The Samaritans, London 1925, p. 67.

56. Eisenstein, Oẓar Midrashim, N. Y. 1915, I, 46; Schwab, Vocabulaire, 200, 201; Gaster, MGWJ, XXIX (1880), 554 ff., Folk-Lore, XI (1900), 157 ff., Sword of Moses, 19; cf. however, Grunwald, MJV, XIX (1906), 107, where these three terms are invoked not against Lilit, but to gain inspiration for the preparation of an amulet. See also Grunwald, MGWJ, LXXVII (1933), 241.

57. See J. Perles, Etym. Studien, 78; Heller, REJ, LV (1908), 6g ff.; Krauss, ibid., LVI (1908), 253-4; Heller, ibid., LVII (1909), 107-8; Brüll, Jahrbücher, I (1874), 154 ff.; Gaster, Studies and Texts, III, 228; Montgomery, 99.

58. MGJV, V (1900), 8r.

59. See Güd. II, 333-4; Perles, Graetz Jubelschrift, 32 ff.; Grunwald, MGJV, V (1900), 79-84; E. Lévy, REJ, LXXXII (1926), 401 if.; Steinschneider, Cat. Munich, p. 109.

60. Grunwald, MJV, XIX (1906), 112.

61. Steinschneider, HB, VI (1863), 121.

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