Hebrew Names of God

I am sometimes asked whether it is "kosher" or okay for a Christian (or Messianic Jew) to get a tattoo (i.e., "micro-pigment implantation"). In addition, I regularly receive email requests from various tattoo artists asking me to give them "the Hebrew lettering for such-and-such a word." It is my hope that this page will express my own convictions regarding this subject.


Oy Vey!

In the Jewish tradition, there is a prohibition against getting a tattoo put upon any part of the body. This prohibition derives from Torah: "You shall not make gashes in your flesh for the dead, or incise any marks on yourselves: I am the Lord" (Leviticus 19:28). The Gemarah (i.e., the Babylonian Talmud ) goes on to debate whether it is the inclusion of God's name that makes this a culpable act or whether it is the fact that a tattoo mutilates or disfigures the human body.  Either way, however, according to Jewish halakhah (law),  it is forbidden to voluntarily get a tattoo (or to voluntarily mutilate the body, as is the latest rage in the "body art" scene).

Tattooing is considered to be in bad taste from the Jewish point of view, especially in a secular society that constantly challenges the view that people are created b'tzelem Elohim (in the image of God). In the Jewish view, the human body is viewed as a precious gift on loan from God - not personal property to do with as we choose.

The prohibition of tattooing in the Rabbinical literature deals only with personal, voluntary tattooing. With respect to a tattoo applied involuntarily, such as the hateful ka-tzetnik identification used by the Nazis to mark the arms of Jews with numbers during the Shoah, Jewish law states those who bear such as blameless.


According to some Orthodox Jews, the presence of a tattoo actually makes the body unfit for Jewish burial and even unfit for participation in a synagogue service! This is an extreme view, however, not shared by the majority of Jews. Nevertheless, the consensus of Jewish law and tradition is firm on this subject: tattoos are prohibited.

If you are a Christian or Messianic Jew, then you are not under Rabbinical authority (B"H), but nonetheless you might want to keep in mind that you are to be a walking testimony of the LORD and His impact on your life. How a tattoo fits into that testimony is, of course, between you and the Master. However, if you are hoping to be a witness to the Jewish people or to walk out your life as a spiritual Jew, you need to be aware that your tattoos would be generally offensive to Jewish religious sentiment.

Of all the tattoos that would be considered offensive, however, a tattoo with the Hebrew Name of God (or any derivative thereof) is surely the worst, since Jewish halakhah and tradition have very strict rules regarding the writing of the Name (to keep it from physical desecration, to keep it from being used in vain, and so on).

For those of you who might be considering getting a tattoo, I would simply suggest that you pray about your decision - and keep an open mind to hear from the Spirit of God. But if you are a tattoo artist or someone hoping to get the Hebrew lettering for a tattoo you want to put on your body, please find someone else to help you, since my conviction in this matter is to abstain from this practice.

A final note:

Please let me add a closing note of comfort to those of you who have tattoos. While it's true that Jewish tradition prohibits getting them, there are many people that love and honor the LORD God of Israel who have tattoos. Please understand that this article is not meant to bring any sense of shame or condemnation upon you.  My intent is simply to inform those of you who might be considering getting a tattoo that doing so is contrary to the Jewish way of thinking about the human body as b'tzelem elohim. Nonetheless, just as the Mashiach Yeshua was "marred" and disfigured for our transgressions (Isa 52:14), so He is forever able (and willing) to completely make those who trust in Him to be "whiter than snow" (Isa 1:18; Ps 51:7). God be with you, chaverim.


Leave a Reply

שים לב: רק חברים בבלוג הזה יכולים לפרסם תגובה.