Notarikon

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Notarikon (Hebrew: נוטריקון, Noṭariqōn‎) is a method of deriving a word, by using each of its initial (Hebrew: ראשי תיבות) or final (Hebrew: סופי תיבות) letters to stand for another, to form a sentence or idea out of the words. Another variation uses the first and last letters, or the two middle letters of a word, in order to form another word. [1] The word "notarikon" is borrowed from the Greek language (νοταρικόν)), and was derived from the Latin word "notarius" meaning "shorthand writer."[2]

Notarikon is one of the three ancient methods used by the Kabbalists (the other two are gematria and temurah) to rearrange words and sentences. These methods were used in order to derive the esoteric substratum and deeper spiritual meaning of the words in the Bible. Notarikon was also used in alchemy.

Usage by Rashi[edit]

Rashi uses notarikon seven times in his pirush ("explanation") on Chumash:

  • Bereishith (Genesis) 15:2 "וּבַגְּמָרָא שֶׁלָּנוּ דָּרְשׁוּ נוֹטְרִיקוֹן, דּוֹלֶה וּמַשְׁקֶה מִתּוֹרַת רַבּוֹ לַאֲחֵרִים"
  • Bereishith (Genesis) 17:2 "כִּי אַב הֲמוֹן גּוֹיִם. לְשׁוֹן נוֹטְרִיקוֹן שֶׁל שְׁמוֹ"
  • Bereishith (Genesis) 30:2 "וּמִדְרַשׁ אַגָּדָה יֵשׁ רַבִּים בִּלְשׁוֹן נוֹטָרִיקוֹן"
  • Bereishith (Genesis) 49:22 "אֶבֶן יִשְׂרָאֵל. לְשׁוֹן נוֹטְרִיקוֹן אָב וּבֵן, ’אֲבָהָן וּבְנִין‘, יַעֲקֹב וּבָנָיו"
  • Shemoth (Exodus) 20:12 "אִם תְּכַבֵּד יַאֲרִיכוּן יָמֶיךָ וְאִם לָאו יִקְצְרוּן. שֶׁדִּבְרֵי תוֹרָה נוֹטְרִיקוֹן הֵם נִדְרָשִׁים, מִכְּלָל הֵן לַאו וּמִכְּלָל לַאו הֵן" (The chiddush ("novel teaching") here is that the word נוטריקון in gematria = מכלל הן לאו ומכלל לאו הן.)
  • Bamidbar (Numbers) 11:8 "דָּבָר אַחֵר, 'לְשַׁד' לְשׁוֹן נוֹטָרִיקוֹן לַ'יִשׁ שֶׁ'מֶן דְּ'בַשׁ, כְּעִסָּה הַנִּלּוֹשָׁה בְשֶׁמֶן וּקְטוּפָה בִדְבַשׁ."
  • Bamidbar (Numbers) 22:32 "כִּי יָרַט הַדֶּרֶךְ לְנֶגְדִּי. רַבּוֹתֵינוּ חַכְמֵי הַמִּשְׁנָה דְּרָשׁוּהוּ נוֹטָרִיקוֹן, יָרְאָה, רָאֲתָה, נָטְתָה"

Usage in magic[edit]

A common usage of Notarikon in the practice of Kabbalah, either for magic or ritual, was to form secret names of Gods derived from religious or biblical verses. Agla, an acronym for Atah Gibor Le-olam Adonai, translated, "You, O Lord, are mighty forever," is one of the most famous examples of Notarikon. Dozens of examples are found in the Berit Menuchah, as is referenced in the following passage:

And it was discovered that the Malachim were created from the wind and the fine and enlightening air, and that the name of their origin עַמַרֻמְאֵליוְהָ was derived from the verse (Psalms 104:4): ‘Who makest the winds thy messengers, fire and flame thy ministers’ (.....) And when the lights reach this Sefira, they unite and receive a name that is derived from the central letters of the following verse (Genesis 6:2): ‘The sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair; and they took to wife such of them as they chose.’ And this valiant name, which is drawn in the Gevura, is רְנֵלבֺנקְהֵכשְיִהְ.[3]

Sefer Gematriot, is another example where many Notarikons for usage on talimans, are given from Biblical verses.[4]

Online Tools[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0015_0_14926.html
  2. ^ The Dictionary of Jewish usage: a guide to the use of Jewish terms, By Sol Steinmetz, ISBN 0-7425-4387-0, 2005, [article "Notarikon"]
  3. ^ Brit Menucha - Covenant of Rest, Providence University Press 2007, pg. 133
  4. ^ Theodore Schrire, Hebrew Amulets: Their Decipherment and Interpretation Routledge & Kegan Paul 1966