In hundreds of verses (such as Psalms 51:17 אֲ֭דֹ-נָי שְׂפָתַ֣י תִּפְתָּ֑ח וּ֝פִ֗י יַגִּ֥יד תְּהִלָּתֶֽךָ׃) God is named with the word Ado-nai seemingly referring to the same pronunciation and meaning as how we pronounce and use the four letter name Yod Kay Vav Kay.

Why then (especially as the meforshim from the Aramaic on down, when quoting the verse, use H' which symbolizes the name of God) would the text use the word and not the 4 letters? Does the use of the letters A-d-n-y mean something different which would explain its use instead of the 4 letter name which is pronounced the same way?

  • Here's a very similar question judaism.stackexchange.com/q/77167/759
    – Double AA
    Nov 27, 2020 at 0:20
  • 2
    The siddur ha'gra says that the name alef daled nun yud is used here to invoke the zechus of Avraham who was the first person to call Hashem - Adon.
    – The GRAPKE
    Nov 27, 2020 at 0:53
  • @TheGRAPKE is that commentary applicable to the use of the word in its context as a posuk (that that was the intent of Dovid when dealing with what Natan was talking about)?
    – rosends
    Nov 27, 2020 at 0:59
  • How deep an explanation do you want? These 2 names are connected not by accident. Your last paragraph has 2 questions which can and do fill volumes literally. 1) Why do texts use one name over the other? 2) Is there different meaning (think intention/kavanah) associated with each of these names? Keep in mind answers to questions like this are generally not tolerated or appreciated at this site even though the question is a good one. Nov 27, 2020 at 1:35
  • 3
    Was the four letter name always pronounced identically to A-d-n-y?
    – Joel K
    Nov 27, 2020 at 4:44

1 Answer 1


Throughout Kabbalistic literature you find discussion about how the שם הויה is representative of קודשא בריך הוא, or the זעיר אנפין. The שם אד-ני is representative of the נוקבא דזעיר אנפין, or the מלכות. As such, the names themselves are representative of different aspects of Hashem, as it were.

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