Studia Religiologica

“The Name of Yahveh is Called Upon You.” Deuteronomy 28:10 and the Apotropaic Qualities 
of Tefillin in the Early Rabbinic Literature

Data publikacji: 12.05.2015

Studia Religiologica, 2015, Tom 48, Numer 2, s. 143 - 154



Wojciech Kosior
Katedra Porównawczych Studiów Cywilizacji Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego, ul. Grodzka 52, 31-044 Kraków
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1555-5952 Orcid
Wszystkie publikacje autora →


Although the apotropaic qualities of tefillin have been generally recognised, there is one additional aspect that needs some further attention. The main purpose of this paper is therefore to present the connection between tefillin and Deuteronomy 28:10 that is drawn in the early Rabbinic literature. The said verse reads: “and all the nations of the land will see that the name of Yahveh is called upon you and will be afraid of you” and in itself bears the meaning of distinction, provision and protection. Yet, despite this verse’s interpretative potential, it is referred to just eleven times in the scope of both Talmuds and Midrash R. Seven of these references are clustered in the Babylonian Talmud: one (Berakhot 56a) interprets the passage as a metaphor of fame, whereas the remaining six (Berakhot 6a, 57a; Megillah 16b; Sotah 17a; Menahot 35b; Hullin 89a) explicitly state that the words “the name of Yahveh is called upon you” refer to head-tefillin. Meanwhile, the other four mentions (Exodus R. 15:6, 17; Deuteronomy R. 1:25; JT Berakhot 5:1 37b–38a) portray Israel as an earthly representative of Yahveh respected and feared by the heathens, despite the military supremacy of the latter. This indirect connection between tefillin and the idea of godly provision is supported by BT Menahot 36b and Mekhilta de-rabbi Ishmael to Exodus 12:23, 14:29, which explain the power of tefillin as stemming from the sacred names contained therein. This explanation fits the broader context of the apotropaic power of divine appellations.



Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 4th edition, part of BibleWorks 9.0 (CD-ROM).

Midrash Rabbah, Z. Glitz (ed.), 2006, http://www.daat.ac.il [accessed: 25 October 2014].

Mekhilta de-rabbi Yishma’el, Frankfurt 1931, http://www.daat.ac.il [accessed: 25 October 2014].

Talmud Bavli, Vilna 1886, http://www.mechon-mamre.org [accessed: 25 October 2014],

Talmud Yerushalmi, Piotrków 1898–1900, http://www.mechon-mamre.org [accessed: 25 October 2014].

The Soncino Midrash Rabbah, New York 1983, part of Judaic Classics Library II (CD-ROM).

The Soncino Talmud, New York 1990, part of Judaic Classics Library II (CD-ROM).


Afterman A., ‘Qesher Tfilin Her‘ah le-‘Aniv Tmunat H’ leneged ‘Aynav’: Gilgulah shel Tmunah Midrashit be-Ro’shit ha-QabalahTe‘udah, Mitos, [no.] 26, [edition:] Ritu’al u-Mistiqah. 
Mehaqrim le-Khavod Prof. Itamar Gruenwald
, G. Bohak, R. Margolin, I. Rosen-Zvi (eds.), Tel-Aviv 2013, pp. 441–480.

Alexander E.S., Women’s Exemption from Shema and Tefillin and How These Rituals Came to be Viewed as Torah Study, “Journal for the Study of Judaism” 2011, no. 42, pp. 531–579.

Amulet [in:] Jewish Encyclopedia, I. Singer (ed.), New York 1901–1906, http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/1445-amulet [accessed: 25 October 2014].

Aviezer H., Ha-Mezuzah – beyn Mitzvah le-Qame‘a, “Ma‘aliyot” 1997, no. 19, pp. 217–237.

Bar-Ilan M., Hotmot Magiim ‘al ha-Guf ’etzel Yehudim ba-Me’ot ha-Ri’shonot le-Sfirah, “Tarbiz” 1988, no. 57, pp. 37–50.

Block D.I., How Many Is God? An Investigation into the Meaning of Deuteronomy 6:4–5, “The Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society” 2004, no. 47 (2).

Brown F., Driver S.R., Briggs C.A., Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, Oxford 1907, [BDB], (CD-ROM).

Cohn Y.B., Tangled Up in Text: Tefillin and the Ancient World, “Brown Judaic Studies” 2008.

Crow J.L., Miracle or Magic? The Problematic Status of Christian Amulets [in:] Discussion to Experience: Religious Studies at the University of Amsterdam, J. Braak D. Malone (eds.), 
Amsterdam 2009, pp. 97–112.

Gabriel R.A., Gods of Our Fathers: The Memory of Egypt in Judaism and Christianity, Greenwood 2002.

Gaster T.H., Amulets and Talismans [in:] Encyclopedia of Religion, 2nd edition, L. Jones (ed.), vol. I, 
Detroit 2005.

Goldberg O., Rzeczywistość Hebrajczyków, Kraków 2012.

Gordon C.H., His Name Is ‘One’, “Journal of Near Eastern Studies” 1970, vol. 29, no. 3.

Harris R.L., Archer G.L., Waltke B.K., Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Chicago 2003, [TWOT]. (CD-ROM).

Heiser M.S., The Name Theology in Israelite Religion, http://michaelsheiser.com/TheNakedBible/2011/11/the-name-theology-in-israelite-religion/ [accessed: 25 September 2014].

Hezser C., Jewish Literacy in Roman Palestine, Tübingen 2001.

Isaacson M., The Name of God and the Arava, http://www.academia.edu/4496787/The_Name_of_God_and_the_Arava [accessed: 24 October 2014].

Jansson E.-M., The Message of Mitsvah: The Mezuzah in Rabbinic Literature, Lund 1999.

Jastrow M., Dictionary of Targumim, Talmud and Midrashic Literature, London 1903.

Kaatz S., Drei Hapaxlegomena, “Monatsschrift für Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judentums” 1939, Jahrg. 83 (N.F. 47) (Januar/Dezember), pp. 278–280.

Kalland E.S., Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Zondervan 2002–2004 (CD-ROM).

Kohler L., Baumgartner W., The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, Leiden 2002, [HALOT] (CD-ROM).

Lieberman S., Hellenism in Jewish Palestine, New York 1962.

Lookstein H., Tefillin and God’s Kingship“Tradition” 1961, vol. 4, no. 1 (Fall), pp. 66–78.

Miller P.D., Apotropaic Imagery in Proverbs 6:20–22, “Journal of Near Eastern Studies”, 1970, vol. 29, no. 2 (Apr.), pp. 129–130.

Miller P.D., The Divine Warrior in Early Israel, Atlanta 2006.

Miskin M., Dead Sea Chabad: “Tefillin to Protect Us in Battle”, http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/129329#.U63aeWf4KiM [accessed: 27 June 2014].

Phylacteries (tefillin) [in:] Jewish Encyclopedia, I. Singer (ed.), New York 1901–1906, http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/12125-phylacteries [accessed: 25 October 2014].

Rabinowitz L.I., Tefillin [in:] Encyclopaedia Judaica, 2nd edition, F. Skolnik, M. Berenbaum (eds.), vol. 19, Detroit 2007, pp. 577–580.

Rosen-Zvi I., Demonic Desires: “Yetzer Hara” and the Problem of Evil in Late Antiquity, Philadelphia 2011.

Sabar S., Torah and Magic: The Torah Scroll and Its Appurtenances as Magical Objects in Traditional Jewish Culture [in:] European Journal of Jewish Studies 2009, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 135–170.

Schniedewind W.M., The Evolution of Name Theology [in:] The Chronicler as Theologian, M.P. Graham (ed.), London 2003, pp. 228–239.

Schwab M., The Talmud of Jerusalem, London 1886.

Skemer D.C., Binding Words: Textual Amulets in the Middle Ages, Pennsylvania 2006.

Speiser E.A., Ṭwṭpt, “The Jewish Quarterly Review” 1957, New Series, vol. 48, no. 2, Dropsie College Jubilee Alumni Issue (Oct.), pp. 208–217.

Stollman A., Mahadurah u-Perush ‘al Derekh ha-Mehqar le-Pereq “Ha-Motze’ Tefillin” mitokh ha-Talmud ha-Bavli (‘Eruvin, Pereq ‘Eshiri) [PhD thesis], Ramat Gan 2006.

Trachtenberg J., Jewish Magic and Superstition: Study in Folk Religion, New York 1939.

Tigay J.H., On the Term Phylacteries (Matt 23:5), “The Harvard Theological Review” 1979, vol. 72, no. 1/2 (Jan.–Apr.), pp. 45–53.

Tigay J.H., On the Meaning of Ṭ(W)ṬPT, “Journal of Biblical Literature” 1982, vol. 101, no. 3 (Sep.), pp. 321–331.

Weinfeld M., Perushah shel Qriy’at Shema‘ ha-Miqra’it, http://lib.cet.ac.il/pages/item.asp?item=13044 [accessed: 25 September 2014].

Willoughby B.E., Heartfelt Love: An Exegesis of Deuteronomy 6:4–19, “Restoration Quarterly” 1977, no. 20.

Wolfson E.R., Circumcision and the Divine Name: Study in the Transmission of Esoteric Doctrine, “The Jewish Quarterly Review” 1987, no. 1/2, pp. 77–112.


Informacje: Studia Religiologica, 2015, s. 143 - 154

Typ artykułu: Oryginalny artykuł naukowy


“The Name of Yahveh is Called Upon You.” Deuteronomy 28:10 and the Apotropaic Qualities 
of Tefillin in the Early Rabbinic Literature



Wojciech Kosior
Katedra Porównawczych Studiów Cywilizacji Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego, ul. Grodzka 52, 31-044 Kraków
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1555-5952 Orcid
Wszystkie publikacje autora →

Katedra Porównawczych Studiów Cywilizacji Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego, ul. Grodzka 52, 31-044 Kraków

Publikacja: 12.05.2015

Status artykułu: Otwarte __T_UNLOCK

Licencja: Żadna

Udział procentowy autorów:

Wojciech Kosior (Autor) - 100%

Korekty artykułu:


Języki publikacji:


Liczba wyświetleń: 46

Liczba pobrań: 26