Friday, 24 March 2017
Sefer Shemot, the Book of Exodus, begins by recounting the names - Shemot - of Jacob's sons who came to Egypt, but this book also has much to say about other names: the names of G-d. In Genesis, Hashem is identified as a plurally unified creator, Elohim, and as El Shaddai, the G-d of ... the G-d who ... well, we're not sure what Shaddaii means.
One popular Midrashic interpretation breaks down Shaddai into she-dai, where dai is understood as "enough" or "sufficient", such as when we read and sing Dayenu at the Pesach Seder, where we remember that it was enough for us that G-d performed successive wonders: bringing Israel out from Egyptian oppression; giving the nation the Torah, Shabbat, and manna in the wilderness; and many more.
In the writings of the New Covenant, this theme of the gradual unfolding revelation of the identity of Hashem is further communicated in the book of Hebrews:
At many times and in many ways, God spoke long ago to the fathers through the prophets. In these last days He has spoken to us through a Son, whom He appointed heir of all things and through whom He created the universe. This Son is the radiance of His glory and the imprint of His being, upholding all things by His powerful word. When He had made purification for our sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. Thus He became as far above the angels as the name He has inherited is more excellent than theirs. (TLV)
The writer of Hebrews bears witness that the Son of the Most High has inherited a name more excellent than all prior names given among men and angels. And because the Son has come in the imprint, the image, of the Father, the Son and Father share the same name: Yeshua.
In Sefer Shemot, Moshe, a descendant of Noah's son Shem, bears witness of the one true G-d to Pharaoh, a descendant of Ḥam, another of Noah's sons. And centuries later, the shaliach/apostle Peter, another of Shem's seed, bears witness to representatives of a multitude of nations on the day of Shavuot. To which of the nationalities present within our communities are we being sent to proclaim the name above all names?