וארא. נבואת האבות היתה במראות הלילה על כן מלת וארא. AND I APPEARED. The patriarchs received their prophesies in visions of the night, hence the term And I appeared.4Which implies, I appeared in a vision. The Hebrew word for vision (mareh) and the word for, and I appeared (va-era) come from the same root, resh, alef, heh.
מלת שדי קשה בפירוש. והגאון אמר כי השי"ן נוסף כשי"ן שאתה מדבר עמי. והטעם שאמר לעולם די. ולא אדע טעם לפירוש זה כי איך יקרא שם אשר די. רק להיותו תאר כמו טוב וסלח. על לבי דוי. והנגיד רב שמואל פי' בו בלשון ערבי אלקהאר. ופירושו מנצח ותקיף. והיו"ד תחת אות הכפל. כיו"ד דליו שוקים מפסח. ואל"ף אשר בואו נהרים. וכמוהו כקול שדי. והיה שדי בצריך ויפה פירש. [ALMIGHTY.] It is difficult to explain the word Shaddai (Almighty).5Its meaning is not self-evident. Saadiah Gaon says that the shin of Shaddai is a preposition, like the shin prefixed to she-attah (that it is thou) in that it is thou that talkest with me (Jud. 6:17). The meaning of Shaddai is: Who said to the world, enough.6According to Saadiah Gaon, Shaddai is composed of two words, she-dai (who is enough). He further explained that she-dai is short for she-amar le’olam dai. Saadiah Gaon apparently interprets Shaddai as meaning the one who controls or sets a limit on nature. See Hagigah 12a, “What is the meaning of ani El Shaddai (Gen. 17:1)? Its meaning is: I am (ani) the God (El) who said to my world dai (enough). Resh Lakish said: When the Holy One created the sea, it went spreading on until the Holy One rebuked it and made it dry (i.e., said to it, enough).” However, I cannot see any meaning in this interpretation. How can God be called by the name “Who is enough?”7I.E. was bothered by having a proper name that opens with a prefix (the shin) (Krinsky). Shaddai therefore can only be taken as an adjective, like the words tov (good) and sallach (ready to pardon) in good, and ready to pardon (Ps. 86:5) and davvai (faint)8In other words, the shin in Shaddai is not a prefix but an integral part of the word, like the dalet in davvai and the samekh in sallach. in My heart is faint within me (Jer. 8:18). Now Rabbi Samuel the Nagid explains Shaddai with the Arabic word al kahar, which means victorious and mighty. He further notes that the yod in Shaddai is in place of the double letter,9According to the Nagid the root of Shaddai is shin, dalet, dalet. (Cf. I.E. on Gen. 17:1 and the notes thereto.) Shaddai is spelled shin, dalet, yod. Thus one dalet is missing. Rabbi Samuel says that the yod takes the place of the dalet. like the yod in dalyu (hang limp)10The root of which is dalet, lamed, lamed. A lamed is missing in dalyu and is made up by the yod. in The legs hang limp from the lame (Prov. 26:7) and the alef in baze’u (divide)11The root of baze’u is bet, zayin, zayin. A zayin is missing in baze’u and is made up by the alef. in Whose land the rivers divide (Is. 18:2). Shaddai (mighty) in like a mighty voice (Ezek. 1:24)12Translated according to I.E. and Shaddai (mighty) in And mighty shall he thy silver (Job 22:25)13Translated according to I.E. See I.E.’s commentary on Gen. 17:1 and note 2 thereto. are similar. The Nagid explained it well.14I.E. agrees with the Nagid that Shaddai means mighty or the Almighty.
ומלת נודעתי מבנין נפעל. ואיננו כמו הודעתי כדברי מנחם. [I MADE ME NOT KNOWN TO THEM.] The word nodati (I made Me known) is in the nifal.15Its literal meaning is, I was known. It is not like hodati (I made known)16Which is in the hifil. According to Menachem ben Saruk, a tenth-century Sephardic philologist, the meaning of our clause is: but My name YHVH I made not known to them. See note 18. as Menachem maintains.17For if we take Menachem’s interpretation at face value, then Israel’s forefathers were not aware of the divine name YHVH. However, there are many verses that show that the patriarchs were aware of this divine name. Cf. Gen. 15:2; 22:14.
ורבי מרינוס אמר כי ושמי ה' שבועה כי בלשון ערבי יש וי"ו לשבועה. וטעם לא נודעתי להם כמו שנודעתי לך. וכוי"ו הזה לא מצאנו בל' הקדש. וככה דקדוקו יש מלות מושכות עצמן ואחרו' עמם ג"כ אותיות. כמ"ם מאל אביך ויעזרך ואת שדי. שהוא ומאת שדי. וככה בי"ת באל שדי כאילו כתוב ובשמי ה' לא נודעתי להם. [BUT BY MY NAME YHVH.] Rabbi Merinus says that u-shemi YHVH (But by my name YHVH)18The literal meaning of the verse is: and/but My name YHVH I made Me not known to them. The latter is grammatically incorrect, as it lacks the preposition “by” before “My name,” and it presents a problem for it implies that the patriarchs were not aware of the name YHVH. However, it is clear from the book of Genesis that Abraham and Jacob were acquainted with this name. The commentaries which follow try each in his own way to solve this problem. is an oath, as in Arabic there is a vav which indicates an oath.19Thus u-shemi YHVH can be interpreted as an oath, its meaning being: I swear by My name YHVH. Rabbi Merinus explains the meaning of I made Me not known to them as: I made Me not known to them as I made Me known to you.20This is the thrust of I made Me not known to them. The meaning of the entire verse is: I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, as God Almighty, and I swear by My name YHVH that I made Me not known to them as I made Me known to you. However, we never find a vav with this meaning in Scripture.21We never find a vav indicating an oath. Thus we can’t interpret u-shemi YHVH as: I swear by My name YHVH. This then is its grammatical explanation.22Of u-shemi YHVH. There are words that are to be read as if written twice.23See I.E. on Gen. 6:13 and the notes thereto. The same applies to letters.24See I.E. on Gen. 2:19 and the notes thereto. For example, the mem prefaced to me’el (From the God) in From the God of thy father, who shall help thee, and the (ve-et) Almighty, who shall bless thee (Gen. 49: 25)25Translated according to I.E. is also to be placed before ve-et (and the) and be read as if written u-me’et (and from the).26The verse should thus be read as if written: From the God of thy father, who shall help thee, and from the Almighty, who shall bless thee. See I.E. on Gen. 49:25 and the notes thereto. Similarly the bet of be’el Shaddai (as God Almighty).27Also governs shemi. Our phrase is thus to be read as if written: but by My name YHVH (u-vi-shemi) I made Me not known to them.28Rather than the literal: but My name YHVH I made Me not known to them. I.E. will later elaborate on his explanation. See note 40.
אמר רב סעדיה הגאון כי תחסר באחרונה מלת לבדו. כאילו אמר ובשמי ה' לבדו לא נודעתי להם רק פעם באל שדי ופעם בשם ה'. וכמוהו לפי דעתי לא יעקב לבדו יאמר עוד שמך כי אם ישראל משתתף עמו ואין צורך לתקון הזה כי ידענו כי אל שדי הוא הש"י הנכבד ואין ביניהם הפרש. רק ששם שדי הוא תואר והשם הנכבד פעם שם עצם ופעם שם תואר כאשר פירשתי. והנה מצאנו כתוב באברהם אני ה' אשר הוצאתיך מאור כשדים. וביעקב אני ה' אלהי אברהם אביך. ורבי ישועה אמר כי אברהם ויעקב לא ידעו זה השם רק משה כתב ככה. ולא דבר ר' ישועה נכונה. כי איך יכתוב משה שם לא הזכירו השם. ואין ספק כי האבות ידעו זה השם שהוא שם העצם. רק זה השם הוא התאר לא ידעו. Rabbi Saadiah Gaon says that the word le-vado (only) has been omitted from the end of our clause. Our text should be read as if written: but I made Me not known to them only by My name YHVH.29That is, u-vi-shemi YHVH should be interpreted as if written, u-vi-shemi YHVH le-vado. On the contrary, I at times appeared to them with the name El Shaddai (God Almighty) and at other times with the name YHVH. In my opinion, thy name shall not be called any more only Jacob, but Israel shall be used with it (Gen. 35:10)30I.E.’s paraphrase of thy name shall not be called anymore Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name. is similar.31According to I.E., Gen. 35:10 proves Saadiah Gaon’s assertion that at times the word le-vado, although missing, is implied in the text. Really, there is no need for Saadiah Gaon’s reconstruction32Of our verse. That is, it is to be read as if written, u-vi-shemi YHVH le-vado. because we know that El Shaddai and the blessed and glorious Lord are one and the same,33In other words, there is no difference between the name YHVH and El Shaddai. So what sign of divine favor is there in God telling Moses that He appears to him only as YHVH while He appeared to the patriarchs sometimes as El Shaddai and sometimes as YHVH? As to the question raised by our verse, I.E. answers it at the end of his comment. except that the term El Shaddai is an adjective and the glorious and revered name34YHVH. is, as I have explained,35See I.E on Ex. 3:15 and the notes thereto. sometimes a noun and sometimes an adjective. Now we find it written with regard to Abraham, I am the Lord (YHVH) that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it (Gen. 15:7). We similarly find with regard to Jacob, I am the Lord (YHVH), the God of Abraham thy father (Gen. 28:13).36Which shows that God appeared to the patriarchs with the name YHVH. Rabbi Joshua says that Abraham and Jacob did not know the name YHVH.37Rabbi Joshua interprets but by My name YHVH I made Me not known to them literally. Moses used it when writing the Torah.38When Moses wrote the book of Genesis and recorded the history of the patriarchs he employed the name that God revealed to him. However, God himself never used that name when He revealed Himself to the patriarchs. However, Rabbi Joshua is incorrect, for how would Moses dare to write a name that God did not utter.39If in revealing himself to Abraham God said, “I am El Shaddai who brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees,” would Moses deliberately dare to write, “I am YHVH that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees” (Gen. 15:7). There is no doubt that the patriarchs knew the name YHVH as a proper name. However, they did not know it as an adjective.40Thus but My name YHVH I made Me not known to them means, they did not know the adjectival meaning of YHVH; that is, they did not experience the adjectival meaning of My name YHVH, viz., My suspending the laws of nature (Krinsky).
ועתה אגלה לך קצת סוד אל שדי. ידענו כי השם ברא ג' עולמות שהזכרתי. והעולם השפל יקבל כח מעולם התיכון. כל א' מהפרטים כפי מערכת העליונה. ובעבור כי נשמת האדם גבוה מן העולם האמצעי. אם היתה הנפש חכמה והכירה מעשה השם שהם בלא אמצעי. ועל ידי אמצעי. והניחה תאות העולם השפל והתבודדה לדבקה בשם הנכבד. אם יש במערכת הככבים בעת ההריון רעה שתבא עליו ביום ידוע. השם שדבק בו יסבב סבות להצילו מרעתו. וככה אם יש במערכה שיהיה עקר. השם יתקן לו כח תולדתו ויוליד. על כן אמרו חז"ל שהשם אמר לאברהם צא מאצטגנינות שלך. וקרוב מזה הטעם אין מזל לישראל. ועוד אבאר זה בפ' כי תשא. על כן אמר השם לאברהם קודם וארבה את זרעך אני אל שדי שפירושו מנצח המערכות העליונות. לא שהמערכה תשחת רק שידע הדבק בשמו שמתחדש לו טוב שלא יהיה במערכתו על כן אמר יעקב המלאך הגואל אותי מכל רע. שהי' נכון לבא עלי. וזה הוא סוד כל התורה כאשר אפרש עוד. והנה האבות לא הגיעה מעלתם לדבקה בשם כמשה אשר ידעו השם פנים בפנים ע"כ היה יכול משה לשנות תולדות עולם השפל ולחדש אותות ומופתים שלא יכלו האבות לחדשם. והנה משה אמר שני דברים האחד למה זה שלחתני. והשני והצל לא הצלת את עמך. והשיב על האחרון עתה תראה אשר אעשה לפרעה. ועל הראשון ויאמר אליו אני ה'. והטעם כי על ידי האבות נודע שמי שהוא אל שדי ועל ידך יודע שמי ה' הנכבד בעולם כאשר אמר לכן אמור לבני ישראל אני ה'. והנה שלחתיך להודיע זה השם: I will now reveal to you part of the secret meaning of the name El Shaddai. We know that God created the three worlds that I have previously noted.41See I.E. on Ex. 3:15 and the notes thereto. Everything in the lowest world receives power from the middle world according to the arrangements42The arrangement of the stars. in the higher world. Due to the fact that man’s soul comes from above the middle world, if it is wise and recognizes the works of God, both those done without an intermediary43That is, sees the hand of God when He suspends natural law. and those done via an intermediary44Sees the hand of God in the normal working of the world which ordinarily is under the influence of the heavenly constellations. and if the soul forsakes the pleasures of this lowest world and separates itself from them to cleave to God the glorious, should there be at the time of the birth of such a person an arrangement of the stars indicating that evil will befall this man on a certain day, the God to whom this man cleaves will set the chain of events in such a way that this man is saved from the evil that was destined to befall him. Similarly, if it is in the arrangement of the stars that this man be sterile God will make him virile and he will sire children. Therefore our sages said that God told Abraham, “Leave your astrological calculations.”45Cf. Sabbath 156a, “Abraham said before the Holy One Blessed Be He…I have searched my constellation and have found that I am incapable of having a son. Leave your astrological calculations, said the Lord to him, for Israel has no star.” Also see Nedarim 32a and Rashi on Gen. 15:5. The statement “Israel has no star” is close in meaning to the latter.46Israel’s fate is not determined by the stars, because Israel is under God’s direct influence. See I.E. on Deut. 4:19. I will yet explain this in the Torah portion Ki Tissa.47See I.E. on Ex. 33:22. Therefore, before God said to Abraham, and I will multiply thy seed, he told him, I am God Almighty (El Shaddai) (Gen. 17:1), the meaning of which is: I overcome the upper arrangements. The aforementioned does not mean that the arrangements are destroyed. It rather means that the one who cleaves to God knows that God creates good things for him that are not in keeping with what the stars have determined for him.48Literally, his arrangements. Jacob therefore said, the angel who hath redeemed me from all evil (Gen. 48:16), i.e., all evil that was destined49By the arrangement of the stars. to come upon me. This is, as I will explain, the secret of the whole Torah.50The Torah teaches man to cleave to the Lord. The latter places man under the providence of God rather than that of the stars (Krinsky). Now the patriarchs did not reach the level where they were able to cleave unto God as Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face,51Deut. 34:10. did. Moses was therefore able to change the laws governing the lower world52That is, to suspend natural law. and produce signs and wonders53Changing a staff into a serpent, changing water into blood, splitting the sea, etc. that the patriarchs were incapable of. Now Moses said two things to the Lord. One, why is it that Thou hast sent me (Ex. 5:22)? Two, neither hast Thou delivered Thy people (Ex. 5:23). God answered the latter with, Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh (v. 1). He answered the former54Why is it that Thou hast sent me? with, I am the Lord (v. 2).55That is, I have chosen you to make My name YHVH known in the world. The meaning56Of God’s response to Moses. is that via the patriarchs My name El Shaddai57Which indicates that God rules the constellations and thus can change destiny. was publicized, but through you My revered name YHVH58Which indicates that God can suspend natural law. will be known in the world. As God said, Wherefore say unto the children of Israel: I am the Lord (YHVH) (v. 6), the meaning of which is, behold, I have sent you to make this name known.