Author: Gidon Ariel

Published Date: November 06, 2016


Abigail asked a question about the best known phrase in a well known Christian prayer, and its relationship with Jewish sources.

I understand that the Jewish people, in at least one of their prayers, refer to Hashem as “Avinu Shebashamayim” (our Father in Heaven).
I am wondering when/how that started. Are there verses in the Tanakh that lead to that designation?
Toda raba for so patiently answering our questions!

Gidon responds:

Hi Abigail!

The first prayer that comes to mind that uses this phrase is the Prayer for the Peace and Wellbeing of the State of Israel, which begins with these words (full text below).

The second, much earlier source of this phrase comes from a Mishna in the Talmud that probably hails back to around the same period that the Gospel of Matthew does; about 100 AD. (You can see how the phrase fits in that Mishna in an essay I wrote about it and quoted it verbatim: The West’s Challenges: A Modern-Ancient Solution.

But upon looking to Wikipedia (remember, it’s your friend:-), I noticed this suggestion: …the first part [of the Lord’s Prayer has a counterpart] in Isaiah 63:15–16 (“Look down from heaven and see, from your holy and beautiful habitation … For you are our Father …”)

Whether Jesus had Isaiah in mind or not, the idea that God in Heaven is our Father is unarguably a common idea to Jews and Christians.

Thank you for this question!

The Prayer for the State of Israel

Our Father in Heaven, Rock and Redeemer of Israel, bless the State of Israel, the the beginning of the sprouting of our redemption. Shield it with Your lovingkindness, envelop it in Your peace, and bestow Your light and truth upon its leaders, ministers, and advisors, and grace them with Your good counsel. Strengthen the hands of those who defend our holy land, grant them deliverance, and adorn them in a mantle of victory. Ordain peace in the land and grant its inhabitants eternal happiness. And as for our brothers, all of Israel, remember them and visit them on all the lands of their dispersion, and lead them, swiftly and upright, to Your city Zion and to Jerusalem, the abode of Your Name, as is written in the Torah of Your servant Moses: “Even if your outcasts are at the ends of the world, from there the Lord your God will gather you, from there He will fetch you. And the Lord your God will bring you to the land that your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will make you more prosperous and more numerous than your fathers.” Unify our hearts to love and venerate Your name and to observe all the precepts of Your Torah, and send us quickly the righteous Messiah son of David, to redeem those who await Your deliverance. Manifest yourself in the splendor of Your boldness before the eyes of all inhabitants of Your world, and may everyone endowed with a soul affirm that the Lord, God of Israel, is king and his dominion is absolute. Amen forevermore.

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