The Importance of Remembering
Let’s take a look at a Hebrew word that will help us understand the importance of knowing, remembering, and honoring God’s divine name. Hopefully, you will begin to see why He placed His name so many times in His Word!
Zecher – זכר
The word Zecher (Strong’s H2143) means memorial, remembrance, memory. Yehovah uses this word when He tells Moses His unique, four-letter name (YHVH – יהוה). It comes from the root Zachar (זכר) (Strong’s H2142) which means:
(Qal) to remember, recall, call to mind
(Niphal) to be brought to remembrance, to be thought of, to be brought to mind
(Hiphil) to cause to remember, remind, to cause to be remembered, to mention, to record, to make a memorial.
“And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, יהוה – YHVH (Yehovah) God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is My name forever, and this is My memorial (remembrance – zecher) unto all generations.”
The root form of this word is used in the following verse and is translated “record” in the KJV and NKJV, but most other English translations translate it as “cause my name to be remembered,” or “cause my name to be honoured.”
“An altar of earth thou shalt make unto Me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record My name (where I cause My name to be remembered) I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee.”
In Jewish thought, to remember something goes hand in hand with mentioning it. When you remember something, you are calling it up in your mind. When you mention something you are placing it on your tongue (in your mouth). When we remember something/someone, it often causes us to mention it/them with our mouth. We do this when we reminisce about days gone by and talk to others about it, or when we remember a person who has died, and share our memories of them with others. This is the implication in these verses. God’s name Yehovah is a “REMEMBRANCE” for all generations. It is to be remembered and mentioned. In all the places where He causes His name to be remembered, we are to MENTION it!
To remember and mention someone is to honor him. To forget and/or never mention someone is to dishonor him. In fact, in Jewish thought, to forget and not mention someone is to curse them. Compare the following verses with the two we just read.
“And the LORD said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial (Strong’s H2146 – zicharon – זכרון from the same root as zecher) in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance (zecher) of Amalek from under heaven.”
“Therefore it shall be, when the LORD (Yehovah) thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which the LORD (Yehovah) thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it, that thou shalt blot out the remembrance (zecher) of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it.”
Yehovah was cursing Amalek and promising not only to defeat them, but to utterly destroy and wipe them out, so that they would not be remembered. The Hebrew carries a very emphatic meaning—utterly obliterate/exterminate the memory of Amalek. God wants Joshua to remember this, when he brings the children of Israel into the promised land, so He has Moses write it in a book and rehearse it in Joshua’s ears (read it out loud to him – mention it to him) so that he will not forget that God plans to wipe out the memory and mention of Amalek, through the Israelites.
“For I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered (zachar) by their name.”
“How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart; Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbor, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal.”
Going further, consider this verse:
“And ye shall not swear by My name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD (Yehovah).”
The word translated “profane” is the Hebrew word Chalal (חלל) (Strong’s 2490) which is defined here as: (Piel) to profane, make common, defile, pollute, to violate the honor of, dishonor, to violate (a covenant), to treat as common.
Therefore, in light of the fact that Yehovah says that His name is a remembrance and that He causes His name to be remembered, if we fail to remember it and mention it, it can be said that we have violated the honour of it. We have dishonoured His holy name, His Shem HaMeforash, by forgetting it. The rabbis banned the name; they caused the Jews to pronounce it as Adonai or Elohim. The English translations covered it up with LORD or GOD so that readers would not know that it was there. It seems that there has been an attempt to blot out His memorial name. Who do you think might be behind that?
Allow me to take this one step further:
There is a Jewish curse still used today. “May his name and memory (zecher) be blotted out.” This is a very strong curse used against one’s enemy. The Hebrew for this is ימח שמו וזכרו (yemakh shemo vezichro). From this phrase, there is a Jewish acromyn of sorts, formed by the first letters of yemakh and shemo and the last letter of vezichro – ישייו – pronounced yeshu. Jews use this term in place of the curse “May his name and memory be blotted out.” This term is used even today by Jews in referring to Jesus (Yeshua). It becomes a play on words, because it is so close to Yeshua. Yeshu was actually a nickname for Yeshua (which is a Hebrew form of Joshua) in the latter 2nd Temple times. The rabbis turned this nickname into a curse.
Take another look at “remembrance.”
“Then they that feared Yehovah spake often one to another: and Yehovah hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared Yehovah, and that thought upon His name.”
Remembrance here is the word Zichron – זכרון (Strong’s 2146) from the same root word Zachar – זכר that we have already talked about. Here God has a book of remembrance written for Himself with our names in it, because we fear Yehovah and think about His name! How awesome is that! Knowing this gives me chill bumps!
What is the advantage of knowing God’s unique, memorial name?
“Because he hath set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.”
This passage uses an unusual word for love in the Hebrew Bible. It is only used eight times with the Qal conjugation which means: to love, be attached to, long for. Verse 14 implies a longing desire to know God by His name.
There is an interesting commentary about this passage by Rabbi Kimchi of the 12th century AD. He said that knowing the Tetragrammaton is loving God “…and this is the greatest achievement that any person can achieve while he is still a body.” Notice that he wrote that hundreds of years after the Jews had stopped speaking His name out loud. Even though they did not speak it, knowing His Shem HaMeforash was considered to be the greatest achievement during life on earth! If just knowing the name is a great achievement, how much more is speaking it with our lips?
- As you continue to practice saying/reading YEHOVAH instead of LORD when you read the Word, are you noticing any effect on your understanding of the verses? Does it have an effect on your understanding and appreciation of your heavenly Father? How so?
- Seek out ways to incorporate the name YEHOVAH in your everyday life, e.g., “Yehovah bless you!”
- Read the priestly blessing found in Numbers 6:24-26. Speak and pray this over your family, your children, grandchildren, friends, and neighbors.
- Practice the Hebrew phrases we covered in Part 2-B: “Yehovah be with you” and “Yehovah bless you.”
“Yehovah be with you” (יְהֹוָה עִמָכֶם) is transliterated:
“Yehovah bless you” (יְבָרֶכְךָ יְהֹוָה) is transliterated:
(NOTE: ch and kh make a sound similar to clearing the throat. The ‘i’ in the above transliteration sounds like ‘ee’. The accented syllables are in bold type.)
- In light of what you have learned about the importance of remembering and mentioning Yehovah’s name, take some time to record your thoughts regarding the rabbinic ban on speaking the Name by the Jews and the intentional hiding of the Name in our translations. Do we dishonor Yehovah when we cover up His name and fail to speak it? Who or what is ultimately behind this?
- Now that you know His name, what will you do to remember and honor the name Yehovah?
I’m so glad you are taking this journey with me! I’ll see you in Part 2-D next week!
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Feature Image background by titoOns via CanvaPro; Scripture photography by Lisa Urbani; Hebrew calligraphy by Melody Cash.