Divine Names as Keys, Names of God Series Part 3
What's in a name? A lot. Your name is the key to your identity. If I know your name, I can make contact with you. If I know a name of God or the name of a part of God, I can make contact with God or with that part of God.
As we explore the ten divine names that unlock the power of the sefirot , bear in mind that in the ancient world a name was more than a label. It often indicated a person’s character.
When someone’s character was transformed, he was given a new name. Thus, at turning points in their lives, Abram’s name (meaning “the father is exalted”) was changed to Abraham (“father of a multitude”) and Jacob’s name (meaning “supplanter”) was changed to Israel (“he strives with God.”)
The names of God are also more than mere labels. Each one reflects a specific aspect of God’s multifaceted character.
More than that, each divine name concentrates a singular facet of God’s power. And when you properly call upon that name, God releases the particular concentration of energy that is channeled through the corresponding sefirah.
Thirteenth-century Kabbalist Joseph Gikatilla unveils the mystical applications of God's names in his classic work Sha’are Orah (Gates of Light), a work Luria later called the key to the mystical teachings.
Gikatilla was a friend and colleague of Moses de León, the reputed author of the Zohar. Gikatilla himself was an influential Kabbalist and liturgical poet who gained a reputation as one who could work miracles.
In his introduction to Gates of Light, Gikatilla explains that each of God's names has a unique function and that each one “is like a key for all of [one's] needs, no matter what they are.”
Eighteenth-century Kabbalist Moses Luzzatto echoes this theme. He affirms that God has distinct names that are connected with each sefirah and says that “when a particular name of God is uttered and used to call upon Him, it results in the emanation of an Influence associated with that Name.”
Power in the Name of God
The Kabbalists who accessed the power of God's names treated their work as an exact science. In order for any equation to work, we need to “plug in” the correct components.
In the same way, these Kabbalists knew that in order to get the results we want from our prayers and meditations, we have to plug in the correct name of God. For this reason Gikatilla advises us to become expert in the “purpose” of each divine name so that when we need to request something from God we can “concentrate on the Name designated to handle that question.”
How do we become experts in the “purpose” of each name of God? Gikatilla says we first have to understand the meaning of each name as revealed in the scriptures. He says that is why God promised in Psalm 91, “I will keep him safe, for he knows my name. When he calls on me I will answer him.” “The verse does not promise safety by merely mentioning His Name,” writes Gikatilla, “but by knowing His Name.”
Kabbalists believe that the names of God reveal the hidden meaning of scripture. They relate each name of God in the Bible to a different sefirah , and whenever a name of God is used in a certain verse of scripture, they read that verse as a story about one of the sefirah. Gikatilla uses this type of analysis in Gates of Light.
Next in The Names of God series, we will explore the mysteries of the divine names, including some of Gikatilla's insights into the significance and purpose of each name.
The above article is excerpted from Kabbalah: Key to Your Inner Power by Elizabeth Clare Prophet. [Editor's note: Please refer to the print edition for extensive footnotes, figures and annotations.]