Adonai (Hebrew meaning "lord, ruler") is a name bestowed upon God in the Old Testament. It is retained in the Vulgate and its dependent versions, Exod., vi, 3; Judith, xvi, 16. No other name applied to God is more definite and more easily understood than this. Etymologically it is the plural of Adon , with the suffix of the possessive pronoun, first person, singular number. This plural has been subjected to various explanations. It may be looked upon as a plurale abstractum , and as such it would indicate the fullness of divine sway and point to God as the Lord of lords. This explanation has the endorsement of Hebrew grammarians, who distinguish a plurale virium , or virtutum . Others prefer to designate this form as plurale excellentiæ , magnitudinis , or plurale majestatis . To look upon it as a form of politeness such as the German Sie for du , or French volts for to is certainly not warranted by Hebrew usage. The possessive pronoun has no more significance in this word than it has in Rabbi (my master), Monsieur , or Madonna . Adonai is also the perpetual substitute for the ineffable Name Yahve , to which it lends its vowel signs. Whenever therefore, the word Yahve occurs in the text, the Jew will read Adonai.
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