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. The Jewish and Christian idea that God may be present among those who gather for his sake may have important implications for the renewed encounter of Jews and Christians, and indeed for interreligious relations in general, without any attempt to downplay differences. As a matter of fact, the concept of Sakīna in the Qur’an and other Islamic writings is most probably related to Shekhinah, an observation that can only be touched upon in this article but can be the basis for further dialogue and scholarship.
"“Where Two or Three . . .”: Shekhinah and Matthew 18:20: Foundations for Jewish-Christian Dialogue and Beyond?,"
Claritas: Journal of Dialogue and Culture: Vol. 6
, Article 4.
Available at: http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/claritas/vol6/iss1/4