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Exodus 20:7

You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave anyone unpunished who takes His name in vain.

I could not understand why misusing the personal proper name is more important than misusing the title of the One who serves in the capacity of the highest position in the Universe, such that He has to take legal actions against the offenders.

Can שֵׁם with Strong's Hebrew number: 8034 be translated as "title", besides "name" or "fame" or "reputation", etc?

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  • Welcome. Can you indicate - at least - a Bible passage where a translation like 'title' would be apt? Nov 12 '18 at 8:46
  • Thank you Saro! "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave anyone unpunished who takes His name in vain." Exodus 20:7 I could not understand why misusing the personal proper name is more important than misusing the title of the One who serves in the capacity of the highest position in the Universe, such that He has to take legal actions against the offenders. There are titles in the Bible, aren't there? Is there a biblical Hebrew word for "title"? Thanks! Nov 12 '18 at 9:51
  • @Chin-LeeChan I added the context from your comment into your question. If you have more details to add or if I misrepresented your question, you can edit the post again to change it.
    – b a
    Nov 12 '18 at 10:44
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We can get a clue to the use of the Hebrew word you pointed out from the way the Greek speaking Jews translated the same word in the LXX:-

() added

LXX Ex. 20:7 οὐ λήμψῃ τὸ ὄνομα (The Name) κυρίου τοῦ ("The LORD" a substitue for Yahweh/Jehovah) θεοῦ (God) σου ἐπὶ ματαίῳ· οὐ γὰρ μὴ καθαρίσῃ κύριος τὸν (The LORD) λαμβάνοντα τὸ ὄνομα (The Name) αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ ματαίῳ.

YLT Ex. 27:7 "`Thou dost not take up the NAME of Jehovah thy God for a vain thing, for Jehovah acquitteth not him who taketh up His NAME for a vain thing."

So as the texts focus is to show respect etc. for God's PERSONAL name, called "The Tetragrammaton", (four letters) "JHVH" thus showing respect for the person who has that "name" as that is how he wishes to be identified. Ex. 20:7 is an extention of verse which read:-

YLT Ex. 20:1-2 "And God speaketh all these words, saying, 2 I [am] Jehovah thy God, who hath brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of a house of servants. 3 Thou hast no other Gods before Me.

The Jews have a prayer calles "HaShem" (השם Lit. The Name) ‬)using the Hebrew word you pointed out. and it a prayer about God Name etc..

"For example, when making audio recordings of prayer services, HaShem will generally be substituted for Adonai. A popular expression containing this phrase is Baruch HaShem, meaning "Thank God" (literally, "Blessed be the Name")."-From Goggle

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  • Thank you ethos! Would you provide the Greek word in LXX for "title"? Nov 12 '18 at 17:20
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    @Chin-Lee Chan The Greek word for Title is "τίτλος" - "totlos"
    – user26950
    Nov 12 '18 at 17:43
  • Thank you very much ethos? Would you kindly provide a verse in LXX using "τίτλος" - "totlos" ? Nov 12 '18 at 19:56
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    Abbott-Smith Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament *† τίτλος , -ου , ὁ , (Lat. titulus), [in Aq., Sm., Th.: Jeremiah 21:4;] a title, inscription: John 19:19-20 (in Christian Inscr., epitaph, v. MM. xxiv).† Abbott-Smith Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament. Copyright © 1922 by G. Abbott-Smith, D.D., D.C.L.. T & T Clarke, London.
    – user26950
    Nov 12 '18 at 21:50
  • Thank you ethos! Using Blue Letter Bible LXX search, I was not able to find any result blueletterbible.org/search/… Somehow Jeremiah 21:4 "τάδε λέγει κύριος ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ μεταστρέφω τὰ ὅπλα τὰ πολεμικά ἐν οἷς ὑμεῖς πολεμεῖτε ἐν αὐτοῖς πρὸς τοὺς Χαλδαίους τοὺς συγκεκλεικότας ὑμᾶς ἔξωθεν τοῦ τείχους εἰς τὸ μέσον τῆς πόλεως ταύτης" does not have "τίτλος". Would copy the LXX text that has the word "τίτλος" to share in your reply? Thank you again! Nov 13 '18 at 12:25
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Exodus 20:71 has been historically interpreted by Jewish commentators as a prohibition of false oaths,2 not of simply speaking the name of God rashly.3 It states (in part),

You shall not lift up the name of Yahveh your god in vain.
לֹא תִשָּׂא אֶת שֵׁם יַהְוֶה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לַשָּׁוְא

Gesenius notes that the verb נָשָׂא (nasa) can mean to take up with the voice, i.e., to utter.4

נָשָׂא, Gesenius, p. 567

Thus, to lift up the name of God in vain would be to utter it in vain (for falsehood).

It should be noted that the Hebrew word שֶׁקֶר (sheker), which occurs twice as often as שָׁוְא (shav), is a synonym of שָׁוְא (shav). Consider the following parallel from the Torah:

Exodus 20:16 and Deuteronomy 5:20

There we see an almost identical phrase with only the final words being changed: שָׁקֶר ↔ שָׁוְא.

Now, then, consider the following verse of Leviticus 19:12 in relation to Exodus 20:7:

And you shall not swear by My name in vain, nor shall you you profane the name of your God. I am Yahveh. KJV, 1769
וְלֹא תִשָּׁבְעוּ בִשְׁמִי לַשָּׁקֶר וְחִלַּלְתָּ אֶת שֵׁם אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֲנִי יַהְוֶה

While it is not completely apparent, Leviticus 19:12 is indeed a restatement of Exodus 20:7 which prohibits one from uttering false oaths in the name of Yahveh.


Footnotes

1 || Deu. 5:11
2 Philo, The Decalogue, Ch. XVII, §82–95; The Special Laws, II, Ch. 1, §2. Moshe ben Maimon (a.k.a., Maimonides), Mishneh Torah, Sefer Haflaʿah, Hilkhot Shvuʿot, Ch. 1, §7
3 e.g., saying “God damn it.”
4 p. 568, נָשָׂא

References

Gesenius, Heinrich Friedrich Wilhelm. Gesenius’s Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures. Trans. Tregelles, Samuel Prideaux. London: Bagster, 1860.

Moshe ben Maimon (Maimonides). Mishneh Torah (משנה תורה).

Philo. The Works of Philo. Trans. Yonge, Charles Duke. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1995.

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  • Thank you Der Ubermensch! Would you provide a biblical example of taking an oath in the name of Yahveh Your God in a narrative? Nov 12 '18 at 17:19
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    @Chin-LeeChan—Gen. 24:3 Nov 12 '18 at 20:28
  • Thanks! Yahveh was used for swearing an oath. Do you agree that in English a name is a more inclusive term than a title? Name includes names of categories, proper names of places, proper names of individuals, proper names of countries, etc.? Does a name include a job title or a rank position? If it does, then the set of titles is a subset of the set of names. As far as I know, there is no word in biblical Hebrew that specifically means "title" or "position". So when we translate the word "שֵׁם", we need to, as usual, translate according to the context. What does this context dictate? Nov 12 '18 at 20:58

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