A form of praise or blessing greatly in vogue in medieval Hebrew literature. In ancient times the invocation was an essential part of the various forms of salutation, many instances of which are found in Biblical, and especially in post-Biblical, literature. They recognize the divine presence, invoke the divine benediction, and express the wish that the object of the salutation may enjoy a long at happy life and general prosperity. To them belong also the special blessings invoked upon arriving and departing travelers and upon the sick, and those recited upon extraordinary occasions, joyful or otherwise—upon drinking wine, upon sneezing, and upon the completion of a written communication. See Asusa.Invocations for the Living.
With the exception of few formulas used when mentioning the name of the Lord ( ), in vocations, as a rule,refer to persons, and fall into two main groups, those upon the living, and those upon the dead. In the first group the oldest formula occurs frequently in the Mishnah ( = "may he be remembered for good!"). This formula, however, afterward came to be invoked mainly upon the dead. From geonic times are derived expressions like and [, abbreviated ; the latter abbreviation, having gained the signification of the term ("his light"), evolved into . Later were added also with the addition ).
The wish that the one saluted may enjoy a long and happy life was conveyed in the formula , ; then, more fully, in , with ), or , with ; with the further addition ). The Spanish or Oriental Jews write ). In the case of prominent men, particularly those that wielded worldly power, non-Jewish rulers included, the formula was, and still is, used ( is a Biblical expression; see Dan. xi. 21; I Chron. xvi. 27, xxix. 25). Besides these special phrases, several Bible verses, generally in abbreviated and altered form, were employed, such as, for instance, those from Ex. xviii. 4: (see Ps. cxlvi. 5: ); Deut. xxxiii. 24: (); Isa. liii. 10: with the appended ); Ps. xxii. 27: ; xxiv. 5: ); xli. 3: ; lxxii. 17: ; Prov. iii. 2: (from which came: ; or perhaps, in order to obtain this ingenious abbreviation, the letter ו of and the word have been omitted, and the eulogy runs: ); Ezra i. 3: , etc. In the case of women, from Judges v. 24 is recited: and transposed ) were customary. On occasion of mentioning localities use was made of the eulogy formed after Num. xxi. 27: (, with ); so, likewise, the adaptations from Ps. xlviii. 9 and lxxxvii. 5: (with ) and , were employed.Invocations for the Dead.
Eulogies upon the dead contain an expression of the desire that the life of the departed may prove to have been a blessing, that their earthly remains may have peace, and that their souls have entered the realms of bliss, are partaking there of heavenly blessings and of the raptures of Eden, and are face to face with the glory of God. The utterance of some of these eulogies such as the phrase (briefly: ) was early enjoined upon children when naming their deceased father, and upon pupils when naming their deceased teacher. The following forms of eulogy, each with its variations, have gradually developed: , (Prov. x. 7, compare Ps. cxii. 6; abbreviated ; in combination these eulogies upon the dead occur in numerous variations, among which and ) is the most complete formula; ; ; in transpositions ; with = ), etc.
Besides these freely selected formulas, as in the case of eulogies upon the living, verses from the Bible, more or less modified in form, have been employed. These were largely taken from Ex. xvi. 14: (the resurrection is notably associated with the dew, ); I Sam. xxv. 29: (from among the many variations the most customary is: ); Isa. xi. 10:  ; ib. xxvii. 11: ; ib. lvii. 2: ; lxiii. 14: (compare also Genesis ii. 15: ; from the two verses developed the formula ); Hab. ii. 4: ); Ps. xvii. 14: ; ib. xxv. 13: ; often only the first half, ); ib. xci. 1: ; ib. cxvi. 9: (in the third person , etc. = ); Dan. xii. 13: ; and many others. The merits of the deceased who led a pious life were recited to the surviving in expressions such as ), etc.
It may naturally be assumed that the eulogies found upon tombstones represent the eulogies in current use at the time of inscription. Nor have the-poets in their acrostics neglected them ( ). The contractions of eulogy, as abbreviations in general, have greatly influenced the formation of family-names: compare, for example, names such as Shalit (), Jare (), and others.
- Zunz, Z. G. pp. 304 et seq.;
- Steinschneider, Hebr. Bibl. vii. 23;
- Kaufmann, in Monatsschrift, xxxvii. 121 et seq.