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Dear catholic.com visitors: This website from Catholic Answers, with all its many resources, is the world's largest source of explanations for Catholic beliefs and practices. A fully independent, lay-run, 501(c)(3) ministry that receives no funding from the institutional Church, we rely entirely on the generosity of everyday people like you to keep this website going with trustworthy , fresh, and relevant content. If everyone visiting this month gave just $1, catholic.com would be fully funded for an entire year. Do you find catholic.com helpful? Please make a gift today. SPECIAL PROMOTION FOR NEW MONTHLY DONATIONS! Thank you and God bless.

Adonai

Name bestowed upon God in the Old Testament

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Adonai (Hebrew: ADGY), lord, ruler, is a name bestowed upon God in the Old Testament. It is retained in the Vulgate and its dependent versions, Exod., vi, 3; Judith, xvi, 16. No other name applied to God is more definite and more easily understood than this. Etymologically it is the plural of Adon, with the suffix of the possessive pronoun, first person, singular number. This plural has been subjected to various explanations. It may be looked upon as a plurale abstractum, and as such it would indicate the fullness of divine sway and point to God as the Lord of lords. This explanation has the endorsement of Hebrew grammarians, who distinguish a plurale virium, or virtutum. Others prefer to designate this form as plurale excellentiae, magnitudinis, or plurale majestails. To look upon it as a form of politeness such as the German Sie for du, or French vous for tu is certainly not warranted by Hebrew usage. The possessive pronoun has no more significance in this word than it has in Rabbi (my master), Monsieur, or Madonna. Adonai is also the perpetual substitute for the ineffable Name Yahve, to which it lends its vowel signs. Whenever, therefore, the word Yahve occurs in the text, the Jew will read Adonai.

E. HEINLEIN


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