Personal and Non-personal Divine Presence: The Name YHWH in the Thought of R. Abraham Ibn Ezra and R. Judah Halevi

  • Hillel Ben-Sasson
Part of the Jewish Thought and Philosophy book series (JTP)


This chapter delves into the positions of R. Abraham Ibn-Ezra and R. Judah Halevi on the name YHWH. These two most influential early Jewish thinkers in medieval times held almost diametrically opposed views of the divine name. R. Abraham Ibn Ezra offered a widespread interpretation which placed the name YHWH at the center of a hierarchical metaphysical and cosmological picture, in which human possibility of addressing God personally was all but rejected. In contrast, R. Judah Halevi located in the Name an indication to the exclusive personal relationship of the people of Israel with God, and even stressed that the meaning of every proper name as such derives from a personal acquaintance of the speaker with the named person or entity. Influenced by the thought of Halevi and Ibn Ezra, later medieval treatments of the name YHWH continued to develop views of the Name as referring to God’s presence, in either personal or non-personal terms.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hillel Ben-Sasson
    • 1
  1. 1.Jewish Theological SeminaryNew YorkUSA

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