Page:The Folk-Lore Journal Volume 7 1889.djvu/163

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briefly, with the superstitions clustering around names among barbaric and quasi-civilized peoples.

1. The belief in the interdependence of names and persons is evidenced in the mystical ideas of ancient peoples concerning the names of their deities. To the Mohammedan, "Allah" is but an epithet of the "great name," known only to apostles and prophets, who work miracles through it; deep reverence for the name "Yahweh," or "Jehovah," led the Jews to substitute "Adonai" in its place, in obedience to a supposed command in Leviticus, xxiv. 16. It generally appears simply as "the name" when referred to in Rabbinical writings. A rather doubtful tradition says, that "Jehovah" was uttered but once a year by the high priest on the Day of Atonement, when he entered the Holy of Holies, and, according to Maimonides, it was spoken for the last time by Simon the Just. Henceforth, says the Talmud, he who attempts to pronounce it shall have no part in the world to come. Jewish legend tells how Solomon, beginning to utter the sacred name, made heaven and earth quake; and the wonders wrought by Jesus are ascribed by an old Jewish writer, author of Toldoth Jesu, to his having abstracted the Ineffable Name and concealed it in his thigh. Vedic literature shows the important part played by the mystic word "Om" in the development of Brahmanism. The real name of the Chinese sage is so sacred that it is a statutable offence to pronounce it. Commissioner Yeh, in a conversation with Mr. Wingrove Cooke, said, "Tien means properly only the material heaven, but it also means Shang-Te, supreme ruler, God; for as it is not lawful to use his name lightly, we name him by his dwelling-place, which is in Tien."[1] Cognate ideas account for the Roman practice of keeping the name of the tutelary deity of the city secret, the divulging of which is said to have cost Valerius Soranus his life. Pliny,[2] quoting an earlier author, says that it was a practice with the Romans, when besieging a town, to win the support of its tutelary deity by offering him a place in their Pantheon; and,

  1. Folklore Record, iv. 76.
  2. xxviii. 4.