Prof. Yoel Elitzur, Herzog College
The Eleventh International Conference on Jewish Names, Paper Abstract
The Tetragrammaton – Y-H-W-H – is mentioned 6,828 times in the Bible. The divine name A-D-N-Y is mentioned 134 times without the Tetragrammaton next to it and another 301 times together with the Tetragrammaton – A-D-N-Y Y-H-W-H. In five places, we find Y-H-W-H A-D-N-Y and in another 40 places, Y-H-W-H E-lohim (20 of them in the story of the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2-3). During a certain period in the first half of the Second Temple period (some time between the writing of the Latter Prophets and the Septuagint), the Tetragrammaton began to be pronounced A-donay, which is the practice to this day. When the Tetragrammaton appears adjacent to the name A-D-N-Y, it is pronounced E-lohim. This practice, which also influenced ancient and newer translations of the Bible, often makes it difficult to distinguish the unique nature of the original name A-D-N-Y.
Surprisingly, in the early biblical period, A-D-N-Y was apparently not used as a designation of God, but rather as a term of address signifying submission, similar to the term of address adoni 'sir' (adoni occurs 194 times in the Bible: always as part of a direct quote – when a person addresses an individual who is greater than himself, or when a woman or slave speaks with others about their master; the word bi is added to the word adoni in seven occurrences, and to A-D-N-Y in four). The use of the name A-D-N-Y as an “ordinary” designation of God is found extensively in the books of Hosea, Amos, Isaiah and Kings, which enables us to date its use. It may be hypothesized that the vocalization of the word with the vowel a – qamēṣ in the MT (apparently based on adonim), is late, and in the consonantal text of the early books of the Bible, the word was read adoni. Evidence of this can be seen in the fact that in the entire Bible, the phrase Adoni Y-H-W-H does not appear even once.
These findings have implications in principle for the putative dating of the composition of the books of the Torah and Early Prophets. It appears that they can also be used as a means of dating some of the Psalms.
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