He who must not be named

This week, the youngest class completed the first chapter of Nahum. In addition to continuing our study of key terms like “vengeance,” and “whirlwind,” we took the opportunity to practice Hebrew vocabulary, using the words “Yahweh,” and “shalom” to help illustrate the “good news” at the end of chapter 1:

14 The Lord has issued a command concerning you: “Your name will no longer be perpetuated. I will cut off idol and image from the house of your gods. I will prepare your grave, for you are contemptible.” 15 Behold, on the mountains the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces peace! Celebrate your feasts, O Judah; Pay your vows. For never again will the wicked one pass through you; He is cut off completely. (Nahum 1:14-15)

Instructing the kids to trace the words יהוה (Yahweh) and שָׁלוֹם (peace) on the board, I explained that since ancient times, many of God’s people were afraid to say the word Yahweh out loud. Curious, not puzzled, the children wanted to know why. I asked two students to get up from their seats and stage a pretend fight. Everyone was delighted, and pleasant chaos ensued. Finally, a third child was informed that I would leave the room. “I will return,” I grinned ominously, “when you say my name.”

“What is your name?”

“Yahweh.”

The first time the Lord’s name was called, I did not respond and the ruckus continued. Finally, after a few attempts, I returned proclaiming “shalom! peace!” in a booming fatherly tone. The noise and the mock fighting came to an abrupt halt. Everyone quickly jumped back into their seat. There was silence in the room.

“Good news brings peace and keeps us safe. Like children,” I explained, “who stop fighting when dad comes home.”

We then celebrated the good news with a light snack after class.

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