Do not destroy objects associated with G-d's Name

The Literal Commandment

You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess serve their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. You shall tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and burn their Asherim with fire, and you shall cut down the engraved images of their gods and obliterate their name from that place.  You shall not act like this toward the LORD your God. (Leviticus 12:2-4)

 

If we consider this commandment literally then we find that we are commanded not to:

  • destroy the places where we serve G-d
  • tear down G-d's altar
  • obliterate G-d's name

 

These were the things Israel was commanded to do in regards to the nations they dispossessed when they entered the promised land.

 

Messiah Says

Messiah implicitly affirmed this commandment when He spoke about the Law:

"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:17-19)

 

Pictures of Messiah

In an apparent contradiction, we are commanded not to destroy objects associated with G-d's Name and yet this exact thing was required in the death of Messiah.

Messiah came in the name of the Father (John 5:43) and is thus His body is an "object" associated with G-d's Name.  In destroying Him, those who scourged Him, executed Him, and then pierced His side violated this commandment.

 

How Messiah Fulfilled

Messiah obeyed this commandment by not destroying objects associated with G-d's Name.

  

Traditional Observance

Various objects that "bear G-d's name" are treated with respect and reverence.  Some examples include books of Scripture, books that contain the written Hebrew form of G-d's Name, phylacteries [tefillin], and other similar items.

There are seven names of G-d that fall into this category according to tradition:

  1. YHVH [the special, four-letter name of G-d usually circumlocuted with Adonai (Hebrew for "Lord")]
  2. El [Hebrew for G-d]
  3. Eloah [Hebrew for G-d.  A prolonged form of #2.]
  4. Elohim [Hebrew for G-d but in plural form.]
  5. Shaddai [usually El Shaddai: Hebrew for G-d Almighty]
  6. Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh [the special "I AM" name given at the burning bush]
  7. Tzavaot [usually Adonai Tzavaot: Hebrew for Lord of Hosts]

 

Rather than just discarding objects that contain these names like common trash they are instead buried with all the honor that G-d's Name should receive.

 

Other Notes

We are able to fulfill this commandment today and should not to destroy objects associated with G-d's name.

 

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Commandment Details

  • Mishneh Torah # 8
  • Mishneh Torah Book # 1
  • Mishneh Torah Book Knowledge
  • Mishneh Torah Category 1- The Foundations of Torah
  • Reference Deuteronomy 12:4
  • Scripture Book Deuteronomy
  • Chapter 12
  • Verse 4
  • English You shall not act like this toward the LORD your God.
  • Hebrew ד לֹא-תַעֲשׂוּן כֵּן, לַיהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם.
  • Greek 4 οὐ ποιήσετε οὕτως κυρίῳ τῷ θεῷ ὑμῶν,
  • Parashah 47- Re'eh
  • Positive/Negative Negative
  • Sefer Hachinuch # 437
  • Sef. Hach. Command Not to erase holy writings or written Names of the Holy One, nor destroy the temples of holy worship
  • Category Temple and Sacred Objects
  • We can fullfill today Yes

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