Consider the last verse of Genesis 29:
“She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, ‘This time I will praise the Lord.’ So she named him Judah.”
“What has this got to do with antisemitism?” one might ask. Well, this writer will argue that it has a great deal to do with it; in fact, he contends that that is where the very origins of antisemitism are located. Admittedly, a good knowledge of Hebrew—perhaps more so, an innate feel for the language—is a requisite. To start with, let us quote the entire passage (Genesis 29:31-35):
When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the Lord has seen [ראה = ra’ah] my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.” She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Because the Lord heard [שמע = shama’] that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.” So she named him Simeon. Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Now at last my husband will become attached [ילוה = yillaveh] to me, because I have borne him three sons.” So he was named Levi. She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise [אודה = oddeh] the Lord.” So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children.
In order to fully comprehend the meaning of the name of Leah’s firstborn, it has to be viewed in its two parts: re’u [see]; ben [son]. One can just imagine Leah lording it over her sister/her rival: He loves you, but see – I have the son! As for “Simeon,” the Hebrew is shim’on; “Levi” is levvi.
While the name Judah [יהודה = Yehudah] does sound somewhat like one of the Hebrew words for “praise” (הודיה = hodayah) [it also has the element of “glory/splendor” (הוד = hod) in it, as may be seen], the word rendered in all translations as “praise”—אודה—(which could also be translated “thank”!) carries another meaning, one with far greater significance: “confess/acknowledge”! Consider also Leah’s “This time…” which she does not employ in the case of the first three.
One can conceive of Leah, having given birth to a fourth son, saying: “Now I am going to forget about my father’s gods; this time I will confess/acknowledge the God of my husband Jacob.” Which is why she called the boy’s name יהודה, the only name in Hebrew that has God’s ineffable name—the tetragrammaton—in it: י ה ו ה!
The word “Jew” [יהודי = yehuddi] being derived from “Judah” [יהודה], the Jewish people thus have the imprint of God’s name in their genes. And the world hates God!
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