Why do Jews Write "G-D" Instead of "God"?


As a general rule of thumb, practicing Jews do not write the name God because of the laws delivered by Moses that are found in Deuteronomy 12:3-12:4. In this passage, the Jews are instructed to destroy anything and everything associated with their rival’s gods, and they are not to let this happen to their own God. Writing "G-d" instead of "God" is one way to prevent others from destroying the name of God.

Many practicing Jews write "G-d" instead of God to prevent others from desecrating the name of God.
Many practicing Jews write "G-d" instead of God to prevent others from desecrating the name of God.

Jews interpret the law given by Moses as a prohibition against transcribing the name of God because they feel that if the name is recorded onto a piece of paper, there is the possibility that it will be disrespected or destroyed in some way. The general concern with writing the name in its true form is that it might be erased, defaced by being crossed out or scribbled upon, torn, thrown in the trash, or ravaged in some other way. Writing "G-d" instead communicates the writer’s idea effectively, but since the word is incomplete, there is no risk of defacement. The Jews have other names for their creator, including Hashem, YHVH, Elohim, and El Shaddai, and these are also not written in their complete form.

Jews believe that it is acceptable to spell out God in places where it will not be disrespected, such as in the Torah.
Jews believe that it is acceptable to spell out God in places where it will not be disrespected, such as in the Torah.

There are, however, exceptions to the prohibition of writing "God." The Jews believe that, on occasion, it is acceptable to write "God" when there is no likelihood that the written word will be defaced. This includes the written form in the Torah, which is the Hebrew Bible, also found in the first five books of the Christian Bible. Writing the name is not prohibited when it is done carefully, with foresight and respect.

Due to the advent of technology that was not around when this law was written, the Jewish community, under careful deliberation, has decided that it is acceptable to write the name of God on a computer, as long as it is not printed to a permanent form. Rabbis have decided that deleting the name on a computer, though not encouraged, is not in violation of the commandment.

Literally "the Name," Hashem is the word used to refer to God by many people of the Jewish faith.
Literally "the Name," Hashem is the word used to refer to God by many people of the Jewish faith.

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Discussion Comments


What anon243169 makes much more sense. I can see why the Jews might not write God out on anything if this is what they're thinking.


I understand the reason. I would need to discuss this further before stating an opinion, but right now I'm leaning on the idea that God is not God's name. God is a general term from the Greeks. We capitalize God because we see God as the only god, and thus what is only but a mere term can only be referring to The God.


I do not understand why one belief is that you cannot write the name God, but think nothing about writing all of the slang used for body parts out there, etc., which God created. If one is an insult to God, then all of it is an insult.

I love God above all else. I am proud to write God's name and respect Him in everything I do or say or try. Knowing His Son and having a personal relationship with Him makes Him a personal friend and Savior and I believe it pleases Him for me to call Him by His name -- wholly and completely, singing, writing or in sign language. I wouldn't call my best friend a wrong name or leave out a part of it. All good things come from God. If your heart is good, count it all joy.


God's real name that he gave to the Israelites is not lost. The original pronunciation, however, is lost due to superstition that started in the first and second centuries CE. The four consonants that make up God's name are יהוה or YHWH/JHVH in English. This has been commonly transliterated in English as Yahweh or Jehovah. In Cantonese it's Ye wo wah, in french it's Jehova, in Italian it's Giova, in Japanese エホバ, etc.

This superstition was carried into Christianity and that's why most bibles substitute God's name, Yahweh/Jehovah for Lord. They often include a note in the forward explaining why they did this.

The idea that, because we don't know the exact pronunciation, we shouldn't use the name, is preposterous. considering that we still use names like Jesus (which may have been pronounced Yeshua in Hebrew). Hallelujah means Praise Jah, where Jah is an abbreviated form of Jehovah.


There is always power in a name. God's true name is forbidden to be spoken and written due to the Law in the Old Testament. It is a reverential fear of God.


I believe if God, who had holy men write the Bible under His inspiration;,allowed His title to to be written as God, and His name according to scripture is the LORD, then men have changed the word of God and have taught others to do the same.

It is my opinion that it is wrong to shorten the title of our Lord. How would you feel if someone shorten your title for whatever reason. God is God, a Chief Financial Officer is the Chief Financial Officer, not the Ch-ef F-nanc-al officer.


@fernvalley -- To clarify, the prohibition of using any of HaShem's names in vain refers to swearing an oath that cannot or will not be kept in HaShem's name or swearing such an oath to HaShem. That is a completely unrelated issue to writing any of His holy names down.

Any document with any of the "names" for HaShem written in full become holy and cannot be destroyed, hence the use of modified spellings on non-religious documents.


If it looks like "God", sounds like "God", then surely "God" or "G-d" who knows all, can't see any difference either.


I believe, as a Christian follower, that it does not matter if you write God and then it gets thrown away or destroyed by some sort. I understand the meaning of writing G-d or other words, but I love God and it doesn't mean I am disrespecting Him by all means. It just means that I don't need that certain paper or something.

I think that is His name, and everyone calls Him God. Throwing a paper away does not mean I don't love God. I will forever love God, even if I throw a paper away with God written on it.


Not writing "God" is also a way for practicing Jews to refrain from saying the lord's name in vain, similar to the way many Christians try to avoid exclaiming "Jesus Christ!" or "God!" when frustrated, but instead saying "Oh lord!", if anything at all of that nature.


If God's name is written on a piece of paper that is no longer wanted, Jewish law dictates that the paper must be buried. Many Jewish institutions will have a box, often by the copier, where paper with God's name on it can be tossed, and the contents will be later buried.

There is some dispute over whether the rule that one must write G-d should apply to God's name "God." Since this is not His real name, according to Jewish tradition, there is no need to modify the spelling. In fact, since God's real name, according to Jewish tradition, is lost, some argue there is no reason to modify the spelling of any of the present day names we have for him (e.g., Elohim, Adonai, and God).

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