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The Da Vinci Code: Sorting Fact From Fiction (5)

The Da Vinci Code certainly plays upon the ignorance of the common reader in many of the charges laid against Christianity. One charge that I found particularly ridiculous is below:

“The Jewish tetragrammaton YHWH–the sacred name of God–is in fact derived from Jehovah, an androgynous physical union between the masculine Jah and the pre-Hebraic name for Eve, Havah.” (309)

This charge sounds very appealing if one is unwilling to lift a finger and double check Dan Brown’s “research.” Pick up any encyclopedia or Bible dictionary and one can quickly find just how far off the mark Dan Brown is by declaring this as fact.

Jah is a shortened form of the Hebrew word YHWH. YHWH is the sacred name of the Lord which was not to be spoken for fear of breaking God’s commandment, “You shall not take the Lord’s name in vain.” YHWH is derived from the Hebrew word hayah (“to be”), and it was a variation of this term– ehyeh (“I AM”)– by which God identified himself to Moses in Exodus 3:14. To avoid speaking the sacred and revered name of the Lord (YHWH), the Hebrews substituted the word Adonai (“Lord”). The Hebrews used the vowels from Adonai when they wrote YHWH (the Hebrew language did not have vowels but the Masoretic Hebrews did use vowel points to show the intended pronunciation). Therefore, by placing the vowels of Adonai into YHWH, one gets Yahowah (pronounced Yah-oo-way). Notice the similarity of Yahowah and Jehovah.

The word “Jehovah” is an English word that was first used in the thirteenth century at the earliest, and was not commonly used until the sixteenth century. It becomes readily clear that Jehovah came from YHWH, and not the other way around. The charge that the name Jehovah comes from “an androgynous physical union comes from the imaginations of the authors he borrowed from and not from any piece of history. Jehovah simply comes from putting the vowels of Adonai in to the Hebrew word YHWH. But this true history is not as juicy as saying that the name of the Lord comes from a sexual union between a male and female god. Nice try, but factually void.

The Da Vinci Code goes further to charge:

“Early Jews believed that the Holy of Holies in Solomon’s Temple housed not only God but also His powerful female equal, Shekinah. Men seeking spiritual wholeness came to the Temple to visit the priestess–or hierodules–with whom they made love and experienced the divine through physical union.” (309)

It is a shame that Dan Brown does not state where this “factual information” comes from in history. This charge is a very remarkable claim considering that Judaism’s uniqueness from the pagan religions was that it was monotheistic (only one God, not two) and it avoided and condemned ritualistic sex. Deuteronomy 23:18 is clear in its condemnation of sexual worship:

“You shall not bring the hire of a harlot, or the wages of a dog, into the house of the Lord your God in payment for any vow; for both of these are an abomination to the Lord your God.”

The Law also condemned the worship of any other gods (Exodus 20:1-6) and declared that there is only one God. “Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone” (Deuteronomy 6:4).

The word Shekinah does not appear in the Bible, but the concept of it can be found. However, the Shekinah never represents an equal, powerful female god. Dan Brown simply asserts this without any historical evidence. The Shekinah was the word used by post-Biblical Jewish rabbis to describe the glory of God dwelling among His people. In Rabbinic literature, the Shekinah refers to both the abiding of God in a specific place and as a divine name irrespective of spatial location (see Louis Jacobs’ book The Jewish Religion: A Companion). Dan Brown says that early Jews believed in the Shekinah. However, early Jews did not even use this word, nor did they believe that the temple housed a powerful female equal.

As I noted, though not used in the Bible, I think the concept of the Shekinah can be seen in the scriptures. Ezekiel refers to the movement of the glory of the Lord from the temple:

“3 Now the cherubim were standing to the south of the temple when the man went in, and the cloud filled the inner court.
4 Then the glory of the Lord rose from above the cherubim to the threshold of the temple. The temple was filled with the cloud, and the court was filled with the brightness of the Lord’s glory.
5 The sound of the cherubim’s wings could be heard as far as the outer court; it was like the voice of God Almighty when He speaks.
18 Then the glory of the Lord moved away from the threshold of the temple and stood above the cherubim.
19 The cherubim lifted their wings and ascended from the earth right before my eyes; the wheels were beside them as they went. The glory of the God of Israel was above them, and it stood at the entrance to the eastern gate of the Lord’s house.” (Ezekiel 10:3-5,18-19)

Ezekiel shows the glory of the Lord departing the temple, which symbolized the lack of favor the people had with God. Judgment was coming upon the Jewish nation as God has left them in their iniquities. The Shekinah has nothing to do with female goddess in the temple, but was simply used by later Jewish rabbis to describe God’s presence among His people.

Once again we see that Dan Brown chose to take a simple concept and shroud it in mystery and conspiracy. There is no Biblical or historical evidence to support his theory about a sexual union between God and Shekinah. This is simply a conjecture by another novelist that Dan Brown has pounced upon to add intrigue to his work of fiction. We have not seen Dan Brown bring forward any shred of evidence for this theories, yet these false doctrines are taking the world by storm.

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