Why Do Some Jews Spell God, "G-d?"

William Arnold III


Can you please tell me why the Jews can not say GOD?? They spell it without the "o."


Some Jews spell God as G-d. This has its origin in the third commandment, "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain" (Exo. 20:7). Many Jews later became so cautious not to break this commandment that they quit pronouncing the name of God altogether, for fear that they might say it in vain. This is why we are not sure exactly what the vowels were for the divine name of God in the Old Testament (YHWH), known today as the tetragrammaton. "Yahweh" is the closest approximation we have (See, Is "Jehovah" the Name of God?). When a Jew would come across this name when reading the Old Testament, instead of saying God's name, he would say "Adonai," which means "Lord" or "Master." They would also use other words in place of the name of God, or even the title, "God." Notice that Matthew usually substitutes the phrase "kingdom of heaven" where the other gospels have "kingdom of God." We are told that before a Massoretic scribe would even write the name of God, he would first wash himself and then he would use a new pen. This is all done out of respect for the name of God and for fear of breaking the third commandment. What you see today with this hesitation even to write the title "God" is simply an outgrowth of this Jewish piety.

Let me add that this is nowhere commanded in scripture. We see faithful men of God calling upon him and using his name throughout the Bible. We can and should use God's name properly. However, we should also take a lesson from these Jews not use God's name without respect, or "in vain" as the scripture says. Taking God's name in vain includes a whole lot more than saying it in connection with curse words. Whenever we say "God" or "Lord" or "Christ" it should be with respect and devotion. We should never use God as a substitute for "Wow!" or simply say his name as an expression of anger or frustration.

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