I have noticed that ArtScroll usually translates the shem of Adnus (Adonoy) as My Lord. Other translations of the Tenakh and Siddur use "Lord" or "O Lord." There are some pesukim that cannot be translated as ArtScroll usually does and then they switch to the plain Lord or even HaShem. What should be the correct English translation? Rabbeinu Bachya seems to like "Lord of Lords." I guess it depends on whether you consider the last letter to be the possessive or an intrinsic part of the shem.

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    Are you asking what the name means or for its English translation? You refer only to the latter, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Rabenu Bachya (either one) didn't know enough English to prefer one English translation over another.
    – msh210
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 2:26
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    Rabbeynu Bachya could indicate his preference by translating the shem as "Adon sheli" or as "Adon haAdonim" and he opts for the latter. He did not need to know English in order to express this opinion. Commented May 7, 2015 at 15:18

1 Answer 1


The unique pronunciation with a kamatz under the nun suggest that it is not simply translated as equivalent to the plural "adonai"("my lords") which has a patach (as is the case, e.g. by "elokim"-"elohim" [powers]). Nonetheless, that is the word which it most closely resembles.

The Maharal, in a different context, indicates that a plural is used to convey a sense of limitlessness. As such, the sense would seem to be "my L-rd above all lords".

  • As mentioned this is the opinion of Rabbaynu Bachya that the kamatz indicates greatness. He gives some other examples of this. The question remains though, why do some translate the shem as "My Lrd" assuming that the yod is turning the shem of Adon into the possessive? Commented May 7, 2015 at 15:16
  • I'm not sure what you mean. At the end of the day, it's a name of G-d and only of G-d. As such, it doesn't have a real translation in the literal sense, just ideas that are associated with this particular way of conceiving of the divine. The possessive form presumably relates to the personal aspect of this particular divine conception (e.g. a personally-relatable G-d as opposed to e.g. "Elokim" which presumably reflects a less personal emphasis. At least that's how I view the nuance.
    – Loewian
    Commented May 7, 2015 at 17:48
  • I think that you are correct that the shem should really not be translated at all. However, since those who translate the Tenach and the Siddur have chosen to translate the shem, I wonder what sources they have to sway them towards the particular translation they have chosen. ArtScroll favors My Lrd but that really doesn't always work, see for example, Melochim Bays 7:6 Interestingly, ArtScroll recognizes this problem and leaves the shem untranslated in this instance. Commented May 8, 2015 at 18:53

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