It seems as though virtually all seforim (especially those written by Acharonim and earlier) refer to G-d as either Hakodosh Boruch Hu or Ribono Shel Olom, and never as "Hashem." Similarly, I don't think I've ever come across a single instance of G-d being referred to as Hashem in the Talmud or Midrash.

Is this because "Hashem" is a relatively modern term? If so, who came up with it, and when did it start becoming normative?

If not, is there some reason why HKBH and RSO are the preferred terms in rabbinic writings?

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    Maybe because "Hashem" doesn't mean G-d? I think it's really only English-speaking Jews who refer to G-d as Hashem. For instance, in Yiddish He's often called the דער אויבערשטער / Der Eybershter.
    – ezra
    Aug 9, 2017 at 14:56
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    The Sefer HaChinuch talks about Hashem. He was a Rishon. E.g.g תיז. מצות אחדות השם. Also in 6511 - כאשר ידענו מתורתנו שזהו דרך השם וזה חפצו מבריותיו . Also תקסא. שלא יבוא עמוני ומואבי בקהל השם Aug 9, 2017 at 15:04
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    So does the Ralbag - a Rishon - E.g. לא הסכים השם ית' שיהיה בחיי משה and the Rambam. Aug 9, 2017 at 15:06
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    @DanF By the Avodah we say both Hashem and Bashem, but they are both referring to the actual name of Hashem (as the Kohen Gadol actually pronounced Hashem's name), so the term Hashem (literally; name) rightfully applies. The question was when is God himself referred to as Hashem.
    – lionscribe
    Aug 10, 2017 at 5:49
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    @Danny The Gemara is referring to saying the name God, so the term Hashem (literally; name) rightfully applies. The question was where do we find God himself being referred to as Hashem.
    – lionscribe
    Aug 10, 2017 at 5:51

1 Answer 1


At first glance one may point to Berachos 12a:

אמר רבה בר חניננא סבא משמיה דרב המתפלל כשהוא כורע כורע בברוך וכשהוא זוקף זוקף בשם

Rabbah Bar Chininna Sabbah said in the name of Rav: When one is davening - when he bows, he bows at Baruch, and when he straightens, he straightens at the Name

where בשם is the grammatically correct way to stick a ב in front of a word already prefixed with a ה.

However, this is already predated by several Mishnayos in Yoma, such as אנא השם in 3:8 and 6:2, or לשם חטאת in 4:1.

It is entirely possible, though, that all of these are later printers inserting their own euphemisms for the שם המפורש over older versions that spelled out the Name. However, if these versions are accurate (which I tend to believe, as they spell out לשם or השם or בשם instead of לה׳ or ה׳ or בה׳, respectively), then this would answer your question.

  • This answer is not entirely incorrect: בשם is using a preposition - ב - and means "at the name of", Same with השם .לשם is a noun used as substitute for G-d - very different usage.
    – user4736
    Nov 26, 2017 at 8:52
  • בשם means before YHWH, therefore שם refers to YHWH, therefore it substitutes it. Doniel's right. We use it exactly the same way, substituting YHWH with "השם", like in "השם שומרך", meaning the holy name comes here.
    – Al Berko
    Nov 30, 2017 at 15:47

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