O Adonai

Antiphon:  O Sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain:  Come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.

The account in the third chapter of Exodus, when God speaks to Moses in the burning bush, is a most wonderful story.  The bush that is not consumed by flames and the voice that tells Moses to remove his shoes because he is standing on holy ground display God’s power, but the rest of the chapter illustrates God’s compassion.  God expresses concern for the suffering of the Israelites in Egypt and states intent to rescue them

Today’s name for the messiah comes from this passage.  Moses asks God’s name as a way to bolster his own credibility with the Israelites when he tells them what God intends.  The depth and scope of the name God gives, I AM WHO AM, are striking. In Hebrew, this name for God is associated with a verb meaning “I will be,” connecting the name of God with the source of all being as well as connoting God’s complete transcendence.  The four letters YHVH are used to express this personal name of God, because Jewish tradition is not to pronounce God’s name outside the Temple in Jerusalem.  Various titles are used instead.  “Lord” or in Hebrew, “Adonai” is the name for today’s antiphon.

I’m drawn to the word “Adonai” as a name for God. Perhaps its unfamiliarity conveys mystery.  Inherently it seems to incorporate power and compassion, transcendence and indwelling.  Though “Lord” is a strongly masculine title, Adonai suggests no gender identity to this non-Hebrew speaker.  I feel both awe and affection for Adonai.

Prayer:  O Adonai, awaken us to your power and presence in our midst.  Set free all those bound by violence, oppression or hardship.
Copyright Peg Conway 2010

This entry was posted in Advent and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to O Adonai

  1. Philip Moore says:

    Adonai also may indicate personal name as in ‘MY God’. This is indicated by the Hebrew suffix yud-transliterated i in English. Compared to yet another Hebrew word for God, Elohenu which in Hebrew ends in a nun and a vav- English n and u which indicate first person plural, OUR God. Traditional Hebrew blessings use both Adonai and Elohenu indicating that God is experienced both personally and with the community.

  2. pegconway says:

    Thank you, Philip! You are becoming a true Hebrew scholar.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s