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You are here: Index location Esoteric Wisdom location Commentaries on the Tetragrammaton

Commentaries on the Tetragrammaton

These commentaries and the intro have been hand copied from Appedix B in Tetragrammaton by Donald Tyson. (site down?)

"The following is a collection of observations by by mystics occultists and kabbalists both ancient and modern on the meaning of Tetragrammaton. It is interesting to compare one with another. Often it is possible to trace influences-Eliphas Levi, in the second passage quoted has derived his inspiration from Fabre D' Olivet; Frater Achad is obviously echoing the teachings of his magical master, Aleicester Crowley. There are also many errors or discrepancies, which I have let stand-for example, the assignment of the four letters to the sephiroth of the kabbalistic tree made by Isaac Myer is in disagreement with that of Gershom Scholem. Necessarily there is repetition, because many authors say much the same thing about the Name and indeed have little else to say. The wide variety of transliterations of the hebrew IHVH into Latin characters takes a little getting used to, but should not prove confusing."

And God said moreover unto moses, Thus shalt though say unto the children of Israel, the Lord God (IHVH) of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you; this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations. (Pentateuch [ninth century BC], Exod. 3:15, King James translation)

Philo Judaeus
If anyone, I do not say should blaspheme against the Lord of men and gods, but should even dare to utter his name unseasonably, let him expect the penalty of death. (Vita Mosis [first century], 3.2)

Flavius Josephus
Moses having now seen and heard these words that assured him of the truth of these promises of God, had no reason left him to disbelieve them : he entreated him to grant him that power when he should be in Egypt; and besought him to vouchsafe him the knowledge of his own name; and since he had heard and seen him, that he would also tell him his name, that when he offered sacrifice he might invoke him by such his name in his oblations. Whereupon God declared to him his holy name, which had never been discovered to men before; concerning which it is not lawful for me to say any more. (Antiquities of the Jews [first century], bk. 2, ch. 12, sec.4 [London: George Routledge, n.d.], p.66)

Sepher Yetzirah
He selected three letters from among the simple ones and sealed them and formed them into a Great Name, IHV, and with this He sealed the universe in six directions. (Sepher Yetzirah [third century], Wynn Westcott edition [New York: Weiser, 1980], p.17)

Sepher ha-Bahir
It is thus written (Micah 2:13), "God (YHVH) is at their head." We have a rule that every Name that is written Yud, Heh, Vav, Heh is specific to the Blessed Holy One and is sanctified with holiness. (The Bahir [twelfth century], Aryeh Kaplan translation [York Beach, Maine: Weiser, 1989], p. 25)

Moses Maimonides
It is well known that all the names of God occuring in Scripture are derived from His actions, except one, namely, the Tetragrammaton, which consists of the letters, yod, he, vau and he. This name is applied exclusively to God, and is on that account called Shem ha-meforash, "The nomen proprium." It is the distinct and exclusive designation of the Divine Being; whilst His other names are common nouns, and are derived from actions...The derivation of the name, consisting of yod, he, vau, and he, is not positively known, the word having no additional signification. This sacred name, which, as you know, was not pronounced except in the sanctuary by the appointed priests, when they gave the sacerdotal blessing, and by the high priest on the day of Atonement, undoubtably denotes something which is peculiar to God, and is not found in any other being. It is possible that in the Hebrew language of which we have known now but a slight knowledge, the Tetragrammaton in the way it was pronounced conveyed the meaning of "absolute wxistence." In short the majesty of the name and the great dread of uttering it, are connected to the fact that it denotes God Himself, without including in its meaning any names of the things created by Him. (The Guide for the Perplexed [twelfth century], Friedlander translation [New York: Dover, 1956], pp. 89-90)

Clavicula Salomonis
O God Almighty Who art the Life of the Universe and Who rulest over the four divisions of its vast form by the strength and virtue of the Four Letters of Thy Holy Name Tetragrammaton, Yod, He, Vau, He... (Key of Solomon the King [fourteenth century], MacGregor Mathers edition, bk. 1, ch. 13,[York Beach, Maine: Weiser, 1989], p.55)

Pico della Mirandola
The Letters of the name of the evil demon who is the prince of this world are the same as those of the name of God-Tetragrammaton-and he who knows how to effect their transposition can extract one fom the other. (Kabbalistic Conclusions [1486], as translated by A.E. Waite in The Holy Kabbalah [New Hyde Park, New York: University Books, 1975], P. 447)

Cornelius Agrippa
Therefore a four square is ascribed to God the Father, and also contains the mysteries of the whole Trinity, for by its single proportion, viz. by the first of one to one, the unity of the paternall substance is signified, from one which proceeds one Son, equall to two, is signified by the second procession the Holy Ghost from both, that the Son be equall to the Father by the first procession; and the Holy Ghost be equal to both by the second procession. Hence that-super-excellent, and great name of the divine Trinity in God is written with four letters, viz. Iod, He and Vau, He, where it is the aspiration He signifies the proceeding of the spirit from both: for He being duplicated, terminates both syllables, and the whole name, but pronounced Jove as some will, whence that that Jovis of the heathen, which the ancients did picture with four ears, whence the number four is the fountain, and head of the whole divinity. (Three Books of Occult Philosophy [1531-3], bk. 2, ch. 7, English translation of 1651, p. 183)

But the true name of God is neither to men nor to Angels, but to God alone, neither shall it be manifested (as the holy Scriptures testifie) before the will og God be fulfilled; Notwithstanding God hath other names amongst the Angels, others amongst us men; for there is no name of God amongst us (as Moses the Egyptian saith) which is not taken from his works, and signifieth with participation, besides the name Tetragrammaton, which is holy, signifying the substance of the Creator in a pure signification, in which no other thing is partaker name, which is written and not read, neither is it expressed by us, but named, and signifieth the second supernall Idiome, which is of God, and perhaps the Angels. (ibid., bk. 3, ch. 11, pp. 378-9)

Edward Kelley
And seeing that the Quaternary rests in the Ternary, it is a number which stands on the horizon of eternity, and doth exhibit everything bound with God in us, thus including God, men and all created things, with all their mysterious powers. Adding three, you get ten, which marks the return to unity. In this arcanum is concluded all knoledge of hidden things which God, by his word, has made known to the men of His good pleasure, so that they might have a true conception of Him. ("Theatre of Terresrial Astronomy" [sixteenth century), The Alchemical Writings of Edward Kelly, edited by A.E. Waite [New York: Weiser], pp. 117-8)

Robert Fludd
The Soul of the World is therefore Metatron, whose light is the Soul of the Messiah or of Tetragrammaton,s virtue, in which is the light of the living God, in which is the light of the Ain Soph, beyond ehich there is no progression. (Philosophia Moysaica, 1638)

Fabre d'Olivet
This name presents first the sign which indicates life, repeated twice, and thus forming the essentially living root EE. This root is never used as a noun, and is the only one which enjoys such prerogative. It is from its formation not only a verb but an unique verb, from which all the others are merely derivations; in short, the verb EVE, to be, being. Here, as we can see, and as I have carefully explained in my Hebrew grammar, the sign of intelligible light VO is placed in the midst of the root of life, Moses, when using this unique verb to form the proper name of the Being of Beings, added to it the sign of potential manifestation and of eternity, "I"; He thus obtained IEVE, in which the facultative Being is placed between a past tense without origin, and a future without limit. This admirable word thus exactly signifies the Being who is, who was and who will be. (La Langue Hebraique Restituee [1810], as translated by A.P. Morton in his translation of The Tarot of the Bohemians by Papus [New York: Arcanum Books, 1958], pp. 18-9, footnote 1)

Adolphe Franck
The Talmud tells us that in ancient times three names were known to express the idea of God: the famous Tetragrammaton, or name of four letters, and two names foreign to the bible, the first of which consisted of twelve letters, the other of forty-two. The first, though forbidden to the masses, circulated freely enough within the schools. "The wise men," the text says, "taught it once a week to their sons and their disciples." (The Kabbalah [1843] [New York: Bell Publishing, 1940], pp. 18-9)

The Absolute Being and visible nature have but one name, whose meaning is God. (ibid., p. 112)

Eliphas Levi
A single word comprehends all things, and this name consists of four letters: it is the Tetragram of the Hebrews, the Azor of the alchemists, the Thot of the Bohemians, or the Taro of the Kabalists. This word, expressed after so many manners, means God for the profane, man for the philosophers, and imparts to the adepts the final term of human sciences and the key of divine power; but he only can use it who understands the necessity of never revealing it. (Transcendental Magic [1855-6], A. E. Waite translation New York: Weiser, 1970], pp. 16-7)

Adam is the human tetragram, summed up in the mysterious JOD, type of the kabalistic phallus. By adding to this JOD the triadic name of Eve, the name of Jehova is formed, the Divine Tetragram, which is eminently the kabalistic and magical word, being that which the high-priest in the temple pronounced JODCHEVA. So unity, complete in the fruitfullness of the triad, forms therewith the tetrad, which is the key of all numbers, of all movements and of all forms. (ibid., p. 37)

When a man pronounces the Tetragram-say the Kabalists-the nine celestial realms sustain a shock, and then all spirits cry out apon another: "Who is it thus disturbing the kingdom of heaven?" Then does the earth communicate unto the first sphere the sins of that rash being who takes the Eternal Name in vain, and the accusing word is transmitted from circle to circle, from star to star, and from hierarchy to hierarchy. (ibid., p. 50)

According to consecrated dogma, there are Three Persons in God, and these Three constitute one only Deity. Three and one provide the conception of four, because unity is required to explain the three. Hence, in almost all languages, the name of God consists of four letters, and in Hebrew these four are really three, one of them being repeated twice, that which expresses the Word and the creation of the Word. (ibid., p. 53)

The Kabalistic Tetragram, JODHEVA, expresses God in humanity and humanity in aGod. (ibid., p. 54)

Christian D. Ginsburg
He [man] is still the presence of God upon the earth...and the very form of the body depicts the Tetragrammaton, the most sacred name Jehovah (....). Thus the head is in the form of the {}, the arms and the shoulders are like the {}, the breast represents the form of the {}, whilst the two legs with the back represent the form of the second {}. (The Kabbalah [1863] [London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1970], p. 113)

There is no doubt that the tetrad ({}) of Pythagoras is an imitation of the Hebrew Tetragrammaton, and that the worship of the decade has simply been invented in honour of the ten Sephiroth. The four letters composing this name represent the four fundamental constituents of the body (i.e., heat, cold, dryness and humidity), the four geometrical principal points (i.e., the point, line, flat and body), the four notes of the musical scale, the four rivers in the earthly paradise, the four symbolical figures in the vision of Ezekiel, etc, etc, etc. Moreover if we look at these four letters separately we shall find that each of them has equally a recondite meaning. The first letter {}, which also stands for the number ten and which by its form reminds us of the mathematical point, teaches us that God is the beginning and end of all things. The number five, expressed by {} the second letter, shows us the union of God with nature-of God inasmuch as he is depicted by the number three, i.e., the Trinity; and of visible nature, inasmuch as it is represented by Plato and Pythagoras under the dual. The number six, expressed by {}, the third letter, which is likewise revered in the Pythagorean school, is formed by the combination of one, two and three, the symbol of all perfection. Moreover the number six is the symbol of the cube, the bodies (solida), or the world. Hence it is evident that the the world has in it the imprint of divine perfection. The fourth and last letter of this divine name ({}) is like the second, represents the number five, and here symbolizes the human and rational soul, which is the medium between heaven and earth, just as five is the centre of the decade, the symbolic expression of the totality of things. (ibid., pp. 209-10)

H. P. Blavatsky
The primordial point in a circle; the circle squaring itself from the four cardinal points becomes a quaternary, the perfect square, having at each of its four angles a letter of the mirific name, the sacred TETRAGRAM. It is the four Buddhas who came and who have passed away; the Pythagorean tetractys-absorbed and resolved by the one eternal NO-BEING. (Isis Unveiled [1877] [California: Theosophy Company, 1931], vol. 1, p. 507)

We must now give some proofs of what we have stated, and demonstrate that the word Jehovah, if Masonry adheres to it, will ever remain as a substitute, never be identical with the lost mirific name. This is so well known to the kabalists, that in their careful etymology of the {....} they show it beyond doubt to be only one of the many substitutes for the real name, and composed of the twofold name of the first androgyne-Adam and Eve, Jod (or Yodh), Vau and He-Va-the female serpent as a symbol of Divine Intelligence proceeding from the ONE-Generative or Creative Spirit. Thus, Jehovah is not the sacred name at all. Had Moses given to Pharaoh the true "name," the latter would not answer as he did, for the Egyptian King-Initiates knew it as well as Moses, who had learned it from them. The "name" was at that time the commmon property of the adepts of all the nations of the world, and the Pharaoh certainly knew the "name" of the Highest God mentioned in the Book of the Dead. But instead of that Moses (if we accept the allegory of Exodus literally) gives Pharaoh the name of Yeva, the expression or form of the Divine name used by all the Targums as passed by Moses. Hence Pharaoh's reply: "Who is that Yeva that I should obey his voice?"
"Jehovah" dates only from the Masoretic innovation. When the Rabbis, for fear that they should lose all the keys to their own doctrines, then written exclusively in consonants, began to insert vowel-points in their manuscripts, they were utterly ignorant of the true pronunciation of the NAME. Hence they gave it the sound Adonai, and made it read Ja-ho-vah. Thus the latter is simply a fancy, a perversion of the Holy Name. And how could they know it? Alone, out of all their nation, the high priests had it in their possession and repectively passed it to their successors, as the Hindu Brahmaata does before his death. Once a year only, on the day of atonement, the high priest was allowed to pronounce it in a whisper. Passing behind the veil into the inner chamber of the sanctuary, the Holy of Holies, with trembling lips and downcast eyeshe called apon the dreaded NAME. The bitter persecution of the kabalists, who received the precious syllables after deserving the favor by a whole life of sanctity, was due to a suspicion that they misused it.
(ibid., vol 2, pp. 398-9)

MacGregor Mathers
The name of the Deity, which we call Jehovah, is in Hebrew a name of four letters, IHVH; and the true pronunciation of it is known to very few. I myself know some score of different mystical pronunciations of it. The true pronunciation is a most secret arcanum, and it is a secret of secrets. "He who can rightly pronounce it, causeth heaven and earth to tremble, for it is a name which rusheth through the universe." Therefore when a devout Jew comes upon it in reading the Scripture, he either does not attempt to pronounce it, but instead makes a short pause, or else he substitutes for it the bname Adonai ADNI, Lord. The radical meaning of the word is "to be," and it is thus, like AHIH, Eheieh, a glyph of existence. It is capable of twelve transpositions, which all convey the meaning "to be"; it is the only word that will bear so many transpositions without its meaning being altered. They are called the "twelve banners of the mighty name," and are said by some to rule the twelve signs of the Zodiac. These are the twelve banners:-IHVH, IHHV, IVHH, HVHI, HVIH, HHIV, VHHI, VIHH, VHIH, HIHV, HIVH, HHVI. (The Kabbalah Unveiled [1887] [London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1962], pp. 30-31)

But IHVH, the Tetragrammaton, as we shall presently see, contains all the Sephiroth with the exeption of Kether, and specially signifies the Lesser Countenance, Microprosopus, the King of the qabalistical Sephirotic greatest Trinity, and the Son in His human incarnation, in the Christian acceptation of the Trinity.
Therefore as the Son reveals the Father, so does IHVH, Jehovah reveal AHIH, Eheieh.
And ADNI is the Queen "by whom alone Ttragrammaton can be grasped," whose exaltation into Binah is found in the Christian assumption of the Virgin.
The Tetragrammaton IHVH is referred to the Sephiroth, thus: the uppermost point of the letter Yod, I, is said to refer to Kether; the letter I itself to Chokmah, the father of the Microprosopus; the letter H, or "the supernal He" to Binah, the supernal Mother; the letter V to the next six Sephiroth, which are called the six members of Microprosopus (and six is the numerical value of V, the Hebrew Vau); lastly the letter H, "the inferior He," to Malkuth, the tenth Sephira, the bride of Microprosopus. (ibid., pp. 31-32)

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