2 Maccabees 14:35


32 When they declared on oath that they did not know where the man was whom he wanted, 33 he stretched out his right hand toward the sanctuary, and swore this oath: "If you do not hand Judas over to me as a prisoner, I will level this shrine of God to the ground and tear down the altar, and build here a splendid temple to Dionysus." 34 Having said this, he went away. Then the priests stretched out their hands toward heaven and called upon the constant Defender of our nation, in these words: 35 "O Lord of all, though you have need of nothing, you were pleased that there should be a temple for your shekinah* among us; 36 so now, O holy One, Lord of all holiness, keep undefiled forever this house that has been so recently purified."

Pirkei Avot 3:2


2 Rabbi Hanina, the vice-high priest said: pray for the welfare of the government, for were it not for the fear it inspires, every man would swallow his neighbor alive. R. Hananiah ben Teradion said: if two sit together and there are no words of Torah [spoken] between them, then this is a session of scorners, as it is said: “nor sat he in the seat of the scornful…[rather, the teaching of the Lord is his delight]” (Psalms 1:1); but if two sit together and there are words of Torah [spoken] between them, then the Shekhinah abides among them, as it is said: “then they that feared the Lord spoke one with another; and the Lord hearkened and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before Him, for them that feared the Lord and that thought upon His name” (Malachi 3:16). Now I have no [scriptural proof for the presence of the Shekhinah] except [among] two, how [do we know] that even one who sits and studies Torah the Holy One, blessed be He, fixes his reward? As it is said: “though he sit alone and [meditate] in stillness, yet he takes [a reward] unto himself” (Lamentations 3:28).

 Notes and References

"... The term shekhinta, in Hebrew Shekhinah (“dwelling,” “[Divine] presence”), is quite common in the Aramaic translations of the Hebrew Bible (Targumim) and in other parts of rabbinic literature. It originates from the idea of God’s dwelling in a sanctuary, especially the Jerusalem Temple, and is based on longstanding biblical traditions, but the term itself is perhaps first attested in the Greek text of 2 Maccabees 14:35. God’s dwelling, however, was not imagined as limited to the Temple, particularly at times when there was no functioning temple. The Divine presence was attributed also to other contexts, such as a gathering of judges or of small groups of people, not necessarily in a liturgical setting. One of the best-known expressions of this idea is found in Mishnah tractate Avot (3:2), which reads, “But two who are sitting together and there are words of Torah [spoken] between them, the Divine Presence [Shekhinah] rests with them.” This and similar sayings find an interesting analogy in the New Testament: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt 18:20). Despite the differences, there seem to be profound connections between the different sayings, beyond a common basis in the Hebrew Bible ..."

Sievers, Joseph Shekhinah and Matthew 18:20 (pp. 25-39) Claritas Journal of Dialogue and Culture, Vol 6., No. 1, 2017

 User Comments

Do you have questions or comments about these texts? Please submit them here.