Shem HaMephorash

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Shem HaMephorash (Hebrew: שם המפורש, alternatively Shem ha-Mephorash or Schemhamphoras), meaning the explicit name, is an originally Tannaitic term[1] describing a hidden name of God in Kabbalah (including Christian and Hermetic variants), and in some more mainstream Jewish discourses. It is composed of either 4, 12, 22, 42, or 72 letters (or triads of letters), the last version being the most common.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8]

12-, 22-, and 42-letter versions[edit]

Maimonides thought the Shem ha-Mephorash was used only for the four letter Tetragrammaton.[1]

A 12-letter variant appears in the Talmud, though it was unknown in later Kabbalah and completely absent from Jewish mysticism.[5]

A 22-letter variant is first written down in the Sefer Raziel HaMalakh,[5][7] without interpretation, as אנקתם פסתם פספסים דיונסים (likely transliterated as Anaktam Pastam Paspasim Dionsim).[citation needed] Its origins are unknown, with no connection to Hebrew or Aramaic being found, and no agreement on any particular Greek or Zoroastrian origin. There are Geonic precedents for the name, indicating that the name is older than Sefer Raziel.[5]

A 42-letter variant was described by Hai Gaon as אבגיתץ קרעשטן נגדיכש בטרצתג חקבטנע יגלפזק שקוצית. He wrote "Although the consonants of this name are well known, its proper vocalization is not rendered by tradition. Some pronounce its first part Abgitaẓ, and others Abigtaẓ, and the last part is sometimes read Shakvaẓit, and sometimes Shekuẓit, but there is no definite proof." This variation in pronunciation was understood by Joshua Trachtenberg to indicate that this version is quite ancient, the vowels in Hebrew being easily lost over time. It is, by some means, derived from the first 42 letters of the Hebrew Bible.[5] Like the 22-letter name, it is found in the Sefer Raziel HaMalakh.[7]

The 72-fold name[edit]

The "72-fold name" is highly important to Sefer Raziel,[5][7] and a key (but often missing) component to the magical practices in the Lesser Key of Solomon.[8] It is derived from Exodus 14:19–21,[2][4][5][6] read boustrophedonically[3][8] to produce 72 names of three letters. This method was explained by Rashi, (b. Sukkah 45a).[9] Kabbalist and occultist legends state that the 72-fold name was used by Moses to cross the Red Sea, and that it could grant later holy men the power to cast out demons, heal the sick, prevent natural disasters, and even kill enemies.[6]

The 72-fold name is mentioned by Roger Bacon, who complained about a book titled Liber semamphoras, more specifically the linguistic corruption that occurred in translating Hebrew to Latin.[10] The angels of the Shemhamphorash factored heavily into the cosmology of Johann Reuchlin,[11] influencing Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa[3] and Athanasius Kircher.[11] Thomas Rudd featured the 72 angels in his magic,[2] as a balancing force against the evil spirits of the Ars Goetia[8] or in isolation.[12] Rudd's material on the Shemhamphorash was later copied and expanded by Blaise de Vigenère, whose manuscripts were in turn used by Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers in his works for the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.[8]

Using the 'Reversal Cipher' of the Shematria Gematria Calculator, the 72-fold name comes to the total value of 9000.[[13]]

In LaVeyan Satanism[edit]

Within LaVeyan Satanism, the term "shemhamforash" is used during rituals in and based on The Satanic Bible.[14] The term is essentially an equivalent of "hallelujah," in the context of satanic ritual.

According to the Church of Satan website; "This word is supposed to stand for the “secret” name of the Hebrew God. To utter it was considered to be the utmost blasphemy against this deity, thereby guaranteeing one’s damnation. It is also supposed to be the “word of power” spoken by Moses to part the Red Sea. So, Satanists use it for traditional blasphemy’s sake."[15]


  1. ^ a b "Jewish Encyclopedia, Shem Ha-Meforash". Retrieved 2013-07-22.
  2. ^ a b c Arguing with Angels: Enochian Magic and Modern Occulture, by Egil Asprem, SUNY Press, 2 Apr 2012, p.33
  3. ^ a b c The Black Arts, by Richard Cavendish, Penguin Group, p.119
  4. ^ a b Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology (Fifth edition), "Shemhamphorash", ed. J. Gordon Melton, Gale Group, p. 1399
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Jewish Magic and Superstition, by Joshua Trachtenberg, Behrman's Jewish Book House, 1939; hosted at The Internet Sacred Text Archive, 2008; p.90-98 and notes for the section on p.288 and onward
  6. ^ a b c Magic, Mystery, and Science: The Occult in Western Civilization, by Dan Burton and David Grandy, Indiana University Press, 2004, p.69
  7. ^ a b c d Sepher Rezial Hemelach: The Book of the Angel Rezial, trans. Steve Savedow, Weiser Books, p.18
  8. ^ a b c d e The Goetia of Dr Rudd, by Thomas Rudd, Ed. Stephen Skinner & David Rankine, 2007, Golden Hoard Press. p.14, 39-44, 67-73
  9. ^ The Scholar's Haggadah: Ashkenazic, Sephardic, and Oriental Versions, Heinrich Guggenheimer, Jason Aronson, Incorporated, 1 Dec 1998, p. 300.
  10. ^ Invoking angels, by Claire Fanger, Penn State UP, pp. 60-61
  11. ^ a b Dictionary of Gnosis & Western Esoterism, ed. Wouter Hanegraaf, Brill Publishers, p. 625
  12. ^ Dr. Rudd's Treatise on Angel Magick, by Thomas Rudd, ed. Adam McLean, Weiser Books, 2006 reprint. pp. 43-50.
  13. ^ Ashe, Bethsheba. "The gematria of the Shemhamphorash". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  14. ^ LaVey, Anton (1969). The Satanic Bible. New York, NY: Avon Publishing. pp. 130, 134. ISBN 0-380-01539-0.
  15. ^ "F.A.Q. Symbols and Symbolism"

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]