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Name of God. A reverential allusion to the name of God, in some especial and peculiar form, is to be found in the doctrines and ceremonies of almost all nations. This unutterable name was respected by the Jews under the sacred form of the word Jehovah. Among the Druids, the three letters I.O.W. constituted the name of Deity. They were never pronounced, says Giraldus Cambrensis, but another and less sacred name was substituted for them. Each letter was a name in itself. The first is the Word, at the utterance of which in the beginning the world burst into existence; the second is the Word, whose sound still continues, and by which all things remain in existence; the third is the Word, by the utterance of which all things will be consummated in happiness, forever approaching to the immediate presence of the Deity. The analogy between this and the past, present, and future significations contained in the Jewish Tetragrammaton, will be evident.
Among the Muslims there is a science called ISM ALLAH, or the science of the name of God. "They pretend," says Niebuhr, "that God is the lock of this science, and Mohammed the key; that, consequently, none but Muslims can attain it; that it discovers what passes in different countries; that it familiarizes the possessors with the genii, who are at the command of the initiated, and who instruct them; that it places the winds and the seasons at their disposal, and heals the bites of serpents, the lame, the maimed, and the blind."
In the chapter of the Koran entitled Araaf, it is written: "God has many excellent names. Invoke him by these names, and separate yourselves from them who give him false names." The Muslims believe that God has ninety-nine names, which, with that of Allah, make one hundred; and, therefore, their chaplets or rosaries are composed of one hundred beads, at each of which they invoke one of these names; and there is a tradition, that whoever frequently makes this invocation will find the gates of Paradise open to him. With them ALLAH is the Ism al adhem, the Great Name, and they bestow upon it all the miraculous virtues which the Jews give to the Tetragrammaton. This, they say, is the name that was engraven on the stone which Japheth gave to his children to bring down rain from heaven; and it was by virtue of this name that Noah made the ark float on the waters, and governed it at will, without the aid of oars or rudder.
Among the Hindus there was the same veneration of the name of God, as is evinced in their treatment of the mystical name AUM. The "Institutes of Menu" continually refer to the peculiar efficacy of this word, of which it is said, "All rites ordained in the Veda, oblations to fire, and solemn sacrifices pass away; but that which passes not away is the syllable AUM, thence called aishara, since it is a symbol of God, the Lord of created beings."
There was in every ancient nation a sacred name given to the highest god of its religious faith, besides the epithets of the other and subordinate deities. The old Aryans, the founders of our race, called their chief god DYAUS, and in the Vedas we have the invocation to Dyaus Pitar, which is the same as the Greek ZEU PATHR, and the Latin, Jupiter, all meaning the Heaven-Father, and at once reminding us of the Christian invocation to "Our Father which art in heaven."
There is one incident in the Hindu mythology which shows how much the old Indian heart yearned after this expression of the nature of Deity by a name. There was a nameless god, to whom, as the "source of golden light," there was a worship. This is expressed in one of the Veda hymns, where the invocation in every stanza closes with the exclamation, "Who is the god to whom we shall offer our sacrifice?" Now, says Bunsen, (God in History, i. 302,) "the Brahmanic expositors must needs find in every hymn the name of a god who is invoked in it, and so, in this case, they have actually invented a grammatical divinity, the god Who." What more pregnant testimony could we have of the tendency of man to seek a knowledge of the Divine nature in the expression of a name?
The Assyrians worshipped Assur, or Asarac, as their chief god. On an obelisk, taken from the palace of Nimrod, we find the inscription, "to Asarac, the Great Lord, the King of all the great gods."
Of the veneration of the Egyptians for the name of their supreme god, we have a striking evidence in the writings of Herodotus, the Father of History, as he has been called, who during a visit to Egypt was initiated into the Osirian mysteries. Speaking of these initiations, he says, (B. ii., c. 171,) "the Egyptians represent by night his sufferings, whose name I refrain from mentioning." It was no more lawful among the Egyptians than it was among the Jews, to give utterance aloud to that Holy Name.
At Byblos the Phoenicians worshipped Eliun. the Most High God. From him was descended El, whom Philo identifies with Saturn, and to whom he traces the Hebrew Elohim. Of this EL, Max Muller says that there was undeniably a primitive religion of the whole Semitic race, and that the Strong One in Heaven was invoked under this name by the ancestors of the Semitic races, before there were Babylonians in Babylonia, Phoenicians in Sidon and Tyre, or Jews in Mesopotamia and Jerusalem. If so, then the Mosaic adoption of Jehovah, with its more precise teaching of the Divine essence, was a step in the progress to the knowledge of the Divine Truth.
In China there is an infinite variety of names of elemental powers, and even of ancestral spirits, who are worshipped as subordinate deities; but the ineffable name is TIEN, compounded of the two signs for great and one, and which the Imperial Dictionary tells us signifies "the Great One — He that dwells on high, and regulates all below."
Drummond (Origines) says that ABAUK was the name of the Supreme Deity among the ancient Chaldeans. It is evidently the Hebrew ABNER and signifies "The Father of Light."
The Scandinavians had twelve subordinate gods, but their chief or supreme deity was Al-Fathr, or the All Father.
Even among the red men of America we find the idea of an invisible deity, whose name was to be venerated. Garcilasso de la Vega tells us that while the Peruvians paid public worship to the sun, it was but as a symbol of the Supreme Being, whom they called Pachacamac, a word meaning "the soul of the world," and which was so sacred that it was spoken only with extreme dread.
The Jews had, besides the Tetragrammaton or four-lettered name, two others: one consisting of twelve and the other of forty-two letters. But Maimonides. in his More Nevochim, (p.i., clxii.,) remarks that it is impossible to suppose that either of these constituted a single name, but that each must have been composed of several words, which must, however, have been significant in making man approximate to a knowledge of the true essence of God. The Kabbalistical book called the Sohar (Zohar) confirms this when it tells us that there are ten names of God mentioned in the Bible, and that when these ten names are combined into one word, the number of the letters amounts to forty-two. But the Talmudists, although they did not throw around the forty-two-lettered name the sanctity of the Tetragrammaton, prescribed that it should be communicated only to men of middle age and of virtuous habits, and that its knowledge would confirm them as heirs of the future as well as the present life. The twelve-lettered name, although once common, became afterwards occult; and when, on the death of Simon the First, the priests ceased to use the Tetragrammaton, they were accustomed to bless the people with the name of twelve letters. Maimonides very wisely rejects the idea, that any power was derived from these letters or their pronunciation, and claims that the only virtue of the names consisted in the holy ideas expressed by the words of which they were composed.
The following are the ten Kabbalistic names of God, corresponding to the ten Sephiroth: 1. Eheyeh; 2. Jah; 3. Jehovah; 4. El; 5. Eloah; 6. Elohim; 7. Jehovah Sabaoth; 8. Elohim Sabaoth; 9. Elhi; 10. Adonai.
Lanzi extends his list of divine names to twenty-six, which, with their signification, are as follows:
1. At. The Aleph and Tau, that is, Alpha and Omega. A name figurative of the Tetragrammaton.
2. Ihoh. The eternal, absolute principle of creation, and
3. Hohi, destruction, the male and female principle, the author and regulator of time and motion.
4. Jah. The Lord and Remunerator.
5. Oh. The severe and punisher.
6. Jao. The author of life.
7. Azazel. The author of death.
8. Jao-Sabaoth. God of the co-ordinations of loves and hatreds. Lord of the solstices and the equinoxes.
9. Ehie. The Being; the Ens.
10. El. The first cause. The principle or beginning of all things.
11. Elo-hi. The good principle.
12. Elo-ho. The evil principle.
13. El-raccum. The succoring principle.
14. El-cannum. The abhorring principle.
15. Ell. The most luminous.
16. Il. The omnipotent.
17. Ellohim. The omnipotent and beneficent.
18. Elohim. The most beneficent.
19. Elo. The Sovereign, the Excelsua.
20. Adon. The Lord, the dominator.
21. Eloi. The illuminator, the most effulgent.
22. Adonai. The most firm, the strongest.
23. Elion. The most high.
24. Shaddai. The most victorious.
25. Yeshurun. The most generous.
26. Noil. The most sublime.
Like the Muslim Ism Allah, Freemasonry presents us as its most important feature with this science of the names of God. But here it elevates itself above Talmudical and Rabbinical reveries, and becomes a symbol of Divine Truth. The names of God were undoubtedly intended originally to be a means of communicating the knowledge of God himself. The name was, from its construction and its literal powers, used to give some idea, however scanty, in early times, of the true nature and essence of the Deity. The ineffable name was the symbol of the unutterable sublimity and perfection of truth which emanate from the Supreme God, while the subordinate names were symbols of the subordinate manifestations of truth. Freemasonry has availed itself of this system, and, in its reverence for the Divine Name, indicates its desire to attain to that truth as the ultimate object of all its labor. The significant words of the Masonic system, which describe the names of God wherever they are found, are not intended merely as words of recognition, but as indices, pointing like the symbolic ladder of Jacob of the first degree, or the winding stairs of the second, or the three gates of the third — the way of progress from darkness to light, from ignorance to knowledge, from the lowest to the highest conceptions of Divine Truth. And this is, after all, the real object of all Masonic science.
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