There are certain words in Tanakh that refer to God (shemot or azkarot) that have special rules: they cannot be erased and they require special sanctification before a sofer writes them. These include יהוה, אל, אדני, אלהים, and so on (see Keset HaSofer 11:5). But they only have this status when referring to God. For example, אלהי נחור in Gen 31:53 is not considered holy (see Soferim 4:5, and more generally chapter 4 for more background).

Is there a list of all words in Tanakh that have this status? (Equivalently: a full list of words that are usually holy combined with a complete list of occurrences of the usually-holy words where the word isn't holy.) I know that Soferim 4:5–9 contains many examples, but I imagine that it's not a full list. Additionally, I know that there are multiple opinions about some words (like אל in בית אל, or אשר in אהיה אשר אהיה), so a list that indicates the disagreements would be ideal.

Note: there are other names that are considered holy but may still be erased (see Soferim 5:17–18 for examples). Although a separate full list of those would also be welcome, that is not the focus of this question.

  • These are called רשימות הספיקות (or something very similar) and were only composed of the ~100 places in Torah where someone might be confused. No one before the modern era bothered to write down all the obvious places. There's one in the back of every classic tikkun sofrim, and all classic scribal works like keset hasofer, kol yaakov, etc.
    – Double AA
    Jun 25, 2021 at 0:03
  • (In the modern era a sofer is always copying from a computer generated tikkun with nice color indicators and such for all the potential names regarding their status (kodesh, chol, or safek) relegating these lists to study purposes only.)
    – Double AA
    Jun 25, 2021 at 0:11
  • @DoubleAA Someone clearly bothered to write down all the obvious places for Torah, so why not Nach? (I don't see one at the back of Kol Yaakov, and I don't see any non-Torah comments in Keset HaSofer.)
    – magicker72
    Jun 25, 2021 at 0:12
  • @DoubleAA Those who generate the tikkunim clearly have a list...
    – magicker72
    Jun 25, 2021 at 0:13
  • R. Menachem Lonzano didn't even bother clarifying the spelling of the words in Nakh and you wonder why no one worked out all the sfekot in shemot?? It was 'useless' info.
    – Double AA
    Jun 25, 2021 at 0:15

1 Answer 1


There is a sefer called "Melekhet ha-Ḳodesh" (מלאכת הקודש) which is dedicated to precisely this topic.

It was written by Rabbi Elazar Fleckeles, a student of Rabbi Yechezkel Landau (the author of the "Noda BeYehuda").

The first edition of the sefer can be found here.

The old edition is difficult to read, and it was typeset in a nice new edition, which appeared in 5745/1985, and can be found in the Otzar Hachachmah program, and on line.

  • That sefer only talks about the Torah, as far as I can tell at a cursory flip-through..
    – magicker72
    Jun 24, 2021 at 23:54
  • @magicker72 You are correct, that this sefer does not cover Nach (Neviim & Kesuvim), however on the Torah, he's very comprehensive, and he lays down a general approach for dealing with words that there exists disagreements regarding their status. Jun 25, 2021 at 0:01
  • @magicker72 There is no work like this on Nakh ttbomk
    – Double AA
    Jun 25, 2021 at 0:02
  • @magicker I just heard today that a new edition of a work like this is supposed to be coming out soon (or maybe was just published) that covers Nakh. I haven't seen it of course yet.
    – Double AA
    Mar 13, 2022 at 1:32
  • @DoubleAA Wonderful to hear! Know a name (author, sefer title) that I should be on the lookout for?
    – magicker72
    Mar 13, 2022 at 1:45

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