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Shabbos 67b says "Gad" (גד) was the name of an Amorite idol, and we shouldn't use it. Shouldn't this apply to the name "God" as well?

eg. "God forbid"

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4 Answers 4

In the Torah we see the word Elokim used for both Hashem and other nations Gods (Elohim Acheirim). That proves that a word can have two meanings, and you still may use it. In addition the name Gad does not sound like God at all.

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+1. Great point (re Elokim/elohim)!! –  msh210 Oct 27 '11 at 19:17
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I agree that words have multiple meanings, but I don't think that really applies here. Elohim can mean any God in general where as this Gemara is prohibiting using the name of a specific idol. &, it sounds exactly like God when I say it. –  zaq Oct 27 '11 at 19:34
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To @msh210 and Gershon Gold, I'm interested to know where you guys are from that you pronounce god and gad differently. I'm from New Jersey and they're exactly the same for me. Do you pronounce the 'a' in "gad" like the 'a' in "hat"? Or do you not pronounce the 'o' in "god" like the 'o' in "hot"? –  Mark Dec 21 '11 at 14:14
    
@Mark, I pronounce the 'o' in god differently from the 'o' in hot. The 'o' in hot I pronounce about the same as I do a patach. (See my answer.) –  msh210 Dec 21 '11 at 16:02
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Presumably, there is an amount of kavana (intention) and context involved.

For example, if language X has the following words in it's lexicon:

  • fjiqn (pronounced Ah-Doh-Nai) - name of idol worshipped by the speakers of lanugage X
  • dajlfp (pronounced Bah-Ahl) - name of God of the Jews

Then if one were speaking hebrew, they would still be able to use the hebrew word pronounced Ah-Doh-Nai, despite the fact that another language uses it to refer to an idol.

Similarly, Jews living in the society of the language X speakers, when referring to God, could use the word Bah-Ahl, assuming they intended the meaning in language X and not that in Hebrew (I would guess, however, that the cognitive dissonance of using Bah-Ahl to refer to God would be too much and the Jews living in that society would come up with another language X word to refer to God)

As it relates to your example, a speaker of language X:

  • could say "Bah-Ahl forbid" if they were using the language X meaning of Bah-Ahl
  • could not say "Bah-Ahl forbid" if they were using the hebrew meaning of Bah-Ahl
  • could say "Ah-Doh-Nai forbid" if they were using the hebrew meaning of Ah-Doh-Nai
  • could not say "Ah-Doh-Nai forbid" if they were using the language X meaning of Ah-Doh-Nai

[Note: this is my own pondering. I have no source.]

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There is no continuity between the English word God and the Amorite deity, they simply are not related words even if they are specifically similar in meaning and pronunciation. To suggest that a word can be problematic because of an unrelated homonym in a foreign language a continent apart could have far reaching implications.

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The gemora seems to care what words in Greek are, and what they sound like in other contexts. However, I think the fact that the word "god" comes from the word "good" and not "gad" is a sufficient explanation (the first have of your answer) –  avi Dec 29 '11 at 9:34
    
I would be interested in your source, but that situation is very different because Greek was spoken widely in the time of Chazal meaning that a Greek homonymn very easily could have been known or even theoretically been the source of the Hebrew/Aramaic. There is no such relationship between English and Amoritish. –  Yirmeyahu Dec 29 '11 at 16:45
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The verse quoted by the g'mara there vowelizes the name as גַּד, with a patach. I don't know about you, but I don't pronounce that the same as God. (The patach is central or maybe even front, while the o is back.) While I can't guarantee that that makes it okay (and, as always, CYLOR for practical halacha), it conceivably may. (That's besides issues of intent and of bitul.)

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Very strange. For me, I pronounce Gimel Dalet with a patach as "god", but I pronounce "gad" differently. In a way that can not be said in hebrew. –  avi Dec 29 '11 at 9:35
    
@avi, I pronounce all three differently from one another. –  msh210 Dec 29 '11 at 17:44
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