Yahweh: Map


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See also Tetragrammaton, God in Judaism, God in Abrahamic religions.

(Yahweh) William Gesenius's proposed Hebrew vocalization of YHWH

[[File:Tetragrammaton scripts.svg|frame|Right|The Tetragrammaton in Paleo-Hebrew (10th c. BCE – c. 135 CE),Aramaic (800 BCE–600 CE) and modern Hebrew (3rd c. BCE – Present.]]

Yahweh is the English rendering of יַהְוֶה , a Hebrew vocalization of the Tetragrammaton that was proposed by the Hebrew scholar Wilhelm Gesenius in the 19th century. Although this vocalized Hebrew spelling יַהְוֶה is found in no extant Hebrew Manuscript, several English Bibles use the spelling "Yahweh" in the Old Testament. This rendering, as with many religious and scholarly issues, remains the subject of ongoing debate. The start of the name Yahweh (Yah-) remains widely accepted but disagreements continue on the ending (-weh).

According to the Bible, Yahweh is the personal name of the one true God who delivered Israel from Egypt and gave the Ten Commandments, "Then God spoke all these words. He said, ‘I am Yahweh your God who brought you out of Egypt, where you lived as slaves. You shall have no other gods to rival me.’” Yahweh revealed himself to Israel as a jealous God who would not permit his people to make idols or follow gods of other nations or worship gods known by other names, "I am Yahweh, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, or my praise to idols." Yahweh demanded the role of the one true God in the hearts and minds of Israel, "Hear, Israel: Yahweh is our God; Yahweh is one: and you shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might."

The 7th-11th century Masoretic Text vocalises the Hebrew term as (YeHoWaH/JeHoVaH). The Masoretic text underlies the Old Testament of the most circulated Bible of the Christian world, the King James Version, as well as many of the other English language versions. However, the interpretation of this vocalization has been disputed. Early Christian translators considered the vowels to belong to the name JHWH. According to Jewish tradition, the Name is too holy to pronounce, and the vowels belong to the word "Adonai", Lord, that one should substitute when reciting. In the 19th century, the Hebrew scholar Gesenius proposed the form based on Epiphanius's Greek transcription (representing Yave) of a term used by some Gnostic circles. However, the form Yahweh is also criticized.

Yahweh in the Torah

In the Genesis narrative, “Yahweh treated Sarah as he had said, and he did what he had promised her. Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age.” When this son, Isaac, is grown, Abraham’s servant credits Yahweh with orchestrating events to lead him to Rebekah to be Isaac’s wife. Rebekah’s father and brother agree: “This matter stems from Yahweh … Rebekah is at your call; take her with you and let her be a wife to your master’s son, as Yahweh has spoken.” When Jacob (Isaac and Rebekah’s son) flees from his twin brother Esau, Yahweh appears to Jacob, saying, “I, Yahweh, am the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. Tthe ground on which you are lying I shall give to you and your descendants.” After Jacob’s son, Joseph, is sold as a slave in Egypt, his master notices that “Yahweh was with Joseph” and takes him into his household, with the result that “Yahweh blessed the house of the Egyptian for Joseph’s sake; indeed, Yahweh’s blessing was on everything he owned.”

In Exodus, Yahweh initiates a covenant with Israelmarker. His right to be Israel’s God is based in his redeeming them from slavery in Egyptmarker. The people of Israel agree to the covenant terms Yahweh gives, including the Ten Commandments,

In Leviticus, Yahweh indicates that an overarching purpose of these laws is to distinguish the nation of Israel and highlight the unique identity of Yahweh. “For I am Yahweh your God. Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be holy; for I am holy: neither shall you defile yourselves with any kind of creeping thing that moves on the earth. For I am Yahweh who brought you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.”

In Numbers, the priests are instructed to bless the nation of Israel as follows: “‘Yahweh bless you, and keep you. Yahweh make his face to shine on you, and be gracious to you. Yahweh lift up his face toward you, and give you peace.’ “So they shall put my name on the children of Israel; and I will bless them.”

In Deuteronomy, Moses reviews the terms of the covenant before Israel continues on to the promised land under the leadership of Joshua. Yahweh intends his commands to reveal his unique wisdom and identity to the other nations of the earth. Moses writes,

The detailed religious requirements of the covenant should not detract from the love between Israel and their redeemer, “Hear, Israel: Yahweh is our God; Yahweh is one: and you shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might."

Account of the burning bush

According to Exodus, Yahweh appeared to Moses in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. Yahweh said to Moses, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Yahweh further said:

Throughout the discussion between Yahweh and Moses, Moses seems reluctant to attempt to lead Israel out of Egypt. At one point, he said to God, “Behold, when I come to the children of Israel, and tell them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you;’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ What should I tell them?”

God replied, “I AM WHO I AM,” and he said, “You shall tell the children of Israel this: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” God said moreover to Moses:

This introduction to “Yahweh” as the personal name of God associates the divine name with the Hebrew verb “hayah” meaning “to be.” “I will be what I will be” indicates “My nature will become evident from my actions.” Later in Exodus, God frequently declares that from his actions (such as the ten plagues) Israel and Egypt “shall know that I am Yahweh.” Thus, as God, Yahweh is revealed by both his personal name and his mighty deeds in history rather than a mere list of characteristics.

Yahweh in the Nevi’im (Prophets)

The Nevi’im draw clear distinctions between the worship of Yahweh as God and the worship of other gods which are regarded as false. Faithfulness to Yahweh brings blessings of rain, health, peace, and victory over one’s enemies. Worship of false gods brings drought, plague, foreign invasion, captivity, and destruction.

Contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal regarding the name of God

Yahweh sends fire from heaven to consume Elijah’s sacrifice.

According to the book of Kings, the prophet Elijah, whose name means Yahweh is God, announced a period of drought as a consequence for Israel’s worship of false gods during the reign of Ahab. After 42 months of drought, Elijah proposed a contest between Yahweh and the prophets of Baal, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of Yahweh; but Baal’s prophets are 450 men. Let them therefore give us two bulls; and let them choose one bull for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, and put no fire under; and I will dress the other bull, and lay it on the wood, and put no fire under it. You call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of Yahweh. The God who answers by fire, let him be God.”

All the people agreed to the contest, and the prophets of Baal arranged a bull for sacrifice on a pile of wood and called on the name of their god from morning to noon without result. They cried aloud, cut themselves with lances, and prophesied well into the afternoon, but there was no answer. Elijah then repaired the alter of Yahweh, put the wood in order, and cut the bull and placed the pieces upon the wood. After having a large quantity of water poured over the sacrifice and the wood three times, Elijah prayed, “Yahweh, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Hear me, Yahweh, hear me, that this people may know that you, Yahweh, are God, and that you have turned their heart back again.”

Then the fire of Yahweh fell, and consumed the burnt offering, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces. They said,“Yahweh, he is God! Yahweh, he is God!”

Yahweh in the Book of Isaiah

According to Isaiah, Yahweh expected Israel to rely on him rather than neighboring nations for support and protection.

The prophet Isaiah also portrays Yahweh as the God who created the heavens and the earth, the God who appointed Israel as a light for the Gentiles, and a God who is jealous when the praise that is due him is given to idols.

Yahweh in the Book of Jeremiah

Jeremiah portrays Yahweh as a God who will hold his people accountable for their actions.

Yet, Jeremiah also portrays Yahweh as a God who is willing to answer the cries of the upright heart and bring restoration to the penitent.

Yahweh in the Book of Zechariah

The prophet Zechariah portrays Yahweh both as the giver of the rain and contrasts the source of life giving rain with the deception of idols that brings oppression.

Zechariah is clear that Yahweh will answer those who call on him by name: They will call on my name, and I will hear them. I will say, “It is my people;” and they will say, “Yahweh is my God.”

Yahweh in the Kethuvim (writings)

In the Psalms, the unique supremacy of Yahweh is iterated: “May they know that You alone— whose name is Yahweh— are the Most High over all the earth.” However, several other characteristics are also developed in the Psalms. The psalmist David wrote, “Yahweh is my shepherd, I lack nothing.” Yahweh is portrayed as the creator, who continues to care for his creation: “… the faithful love of Yahweh fills the earth. By the word of Yahweh the heavens were made, by the breath of his mouth all their array.” “For Yahweh is a great God, a great King above all gods …The sea is his, and he made it. His hands formed the dry land … Let's kneel before Yahweh, our Maker, for he is our God. We are the people of his pasture, and the sheep in his care.”

According to Psalms, Yahweh is a warrior. “O Yahweh, strive with my adversaries, give battle to my foes, take up shield and buckler, and come to my defense; ready the spear and javelin against my pursuers; tell me, ‘I am your deliverance.’” In battle, Yahweh’s help is preferred to help from conventional sources: “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we trust the name of Yahweh our God.” Psalms portrays Yahweh as responsive to people who call on his name, whether in battle or in times of personal distress. “Hear, Yahweh, my prayer. Listen to the voice of my petitions. In the day of my trouble I will call on you, for you will answer me.” Psalm 107 describes people in circumstances of wandering, oppression, punishment for their own misdeeds, and physical danger. After each scenario, the refrain is repeated, “They cried out to Yahweh in their distress, he rescued them from their plight.” Many Psalms include a call to praise Yahweh by name: “Sing to God! Sing praises to His name. Exalt Him who rides on the clouds — His name is Yahweh—and rejoice before Him.” A subcollection of Psalms begin and/or end with the liturgical call to worship, “hallelujah,” a transliteration of the Hebrew meaning “give praise to Yahweh.”

In Proverbs, Yahweh is described as the source of wisdom: “The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of knowledge; fools spurn wisdom and discipline.” Yahweh is portrayed as knowing a person better than the person knows himself, “All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but Yahweh weighs the motives.” Each of these characteristics is also mentioned in Psalms.

The book of Job depicts Yahweh being praised in the midst of tragedy: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, naked I shall return again. Yahweh gave, Yahweh has taken back. Blessed be the name of Yahweh!” Job 38-41 is a first-person narrative in which Yahweh describes his creative work and authority over nature: “Then Yahweh answered Job … ‘Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?’”

In Ruth, Yahweh is credited with restoring the widowed Naomi’s family line as well as her social standing by allowing the marriage of her widowed daughter-in-law, Ruth, and Boaz to produce a child. “And so, Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife, and he had intercourse with her and Yahweh made her conceive and she bore a son. Then the women said to Naomi, ‘Blessed be Yahweh who this day has not let there cease to be a redeemer for you.'”

Lamentations represents the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of the Israelites as a fulfillment of previous warnings to Israel not to worship other gods. “Yahweh has resolved to destroy the walls of the daughter of Zion.” “Yahweh has done that which he purposed; he has fulfilled his word that he commanded in the days of old.” Yet, hope is expressed that relief will come based on Yahweh’s mercy as well as his faithfulness to his covenant with Israel: “Surely Yahweh’s mercies are not over, his deeds of faithful love not exhausted … Yahweh is good to those who trust him, to all who search for him.”

Correct pronunciation and spelling

Correct pronunciation and spelling of the name has historically been a matter of some disagreement, and the consensus view at various points in history has not been consistent.

Historical overview

Observant Jews write down but do not pronounce the Tetragrammaton, because it is considered too sacred to be used for common activities. Even ordinary prayer is considered too common for this use. The Tetragrammaton was pronounced by the High Priest on Yom Kippur when the Temple was standing in Jerusalem. Since the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, the Tetragrammaton is no longer pronounced, and while Jewish tradition holds that the correct pronunciation is known to a select few people in each generation, it is not generally known what this pronunciation is. Instead, common Jewish use has been to substitute the name " " ("My Lord") where the Tetragrammaton appears.

The Septuagint (Greek translation) and Vulgate (Latin translation) use the word "Lord" ( (kurios) and , respectively). However, newer research has brought to light the oldest available copies of the Septuagint which interestingly include the Tetragrammaton inside the Greek text.

The Masoretes added vowel points (niqqud) and cantillation marks to the manuscripts to indicate vowel usage and for use in the ritual chanting of readings from the Bible in synagogue services. To they added the vowels for " " ("My Lord"), the word to use when the text was read.

Many Jews will not even use " " except when praying, and substitute other terms, e.g., ("The Name") or the nonsense word Ado-Shem, out of fear of the potential misuse of the divine name. In written English, "G-d" is a substitute used by a minority.

Parts of the Talmud, particularly those dealing with Yom Kippur, seem to imply that the Tetragrammaton should be pronounced in several ways, with only one (not explained in the text, and apparently kept by oral tradition by the Kohen Gadol) being the personal name of God.

In late Kabbalistic works the Tetragrammaton is sometimes referred to as the Name of Havayah— , meaning "the Name of Being/Existence".

Translators often render YHWH as a word meaning "Lord", e.g., Greek , Latin , and following that, English "the Lord", Polish , Welsh , etc. However, all of the above are inaccurate translations of the Tetragrammaton.

Because the name was no longer pronounced and its own vowels were not written, its own pronunciation was forgotten. When Christians, unaware of the Jewish tradition, started to read the Hebrew Bible, they read as written with YHWH's consonants with 's vowels, and thus said or transcribed Iehovah. Today this transcription is generally recognized as mistaken; however many religious groups continue to use the form Jehovah because it is familiar.

Using the Name in the Bible

 is used to support the use of the Name YHWH: “This is my Name forever, and this is my memorial to all generations.” The word “forever” is “olahm” which means “time out of mind, to eternity.”

"The Hebrew word ‘olahm’, translated ‘for ever’ clearly doesn’t always mean literal future infinity—although in some places it can have that sense. It is actually used in places to describe the past; events of a long time ago, but not events that happened an ‘infinitely long time’ ago. It describes the time of a previous generation; to the time just before the exile of Judah; to the time of the Exodus to the time just before the flood.

Many Scriptures do favour the use of the Name. The biblical law does not prohibit the use of the Name, but it warns against “misuse”, “blaspheming” or in ordinary terms, “taking lightly” the Name of YHWH. The Biblical texts suggest the people of the Bible—including the patriarchs—used the Name of YHWH. A wealth of scriptures support this notion.


Theophoric names

Yahū" or "Yehū" is a common short form for "Yahweh" in Hebrew theophoric names; as a prefix it sometimes appears as "Yehō-". This has caused two opinions:

  1. In former times (at least from c.1650 AD), that it was abbreviated from the supposed pronunciation "Yehowah", rather than "Yahweh" which contains no 'o'- or 'u'-type vowel sound in the middle.
  2. Recently that, as "Yahweh" is likely an imperfective verb form, "Yahu" is its corresponding preterite or jussive short form: compare yiŝtahaweh (imperfective), yiŝtáhû (preterit or jussive short form) = "do obeisance".

Those who argue for argument 1 above are the: George Wesley Buchanan in Biblical Archaeology Review; Smith’s 1863 A Dictionary of the Bible; Section # 2.1 The Analytical Hebrew & Chaldee Lexicon (1848) in its article

Smith’s 1863 A Dictionary of the Bible says that "Yahweh" is possible because shortening to "Yahw" would end up as "Yahu" or similar. The Jewish Encyclopedia of 1901-1906 in the Article:Names Of God has a very similar discussion, and also gives the form Jo or Yo ( ) contracted from Jeho or Yeho ( ). The Encyclopedia Britannica also says that "Jeho-" or "Jo" can be explained from "Yahweh", and that the suffix "-jah" can be explained from "Yahweh" better than from "Yehowah".

Chapter 1 of The Tetragrammaton and the Christian Greek Scriptures, under the heading: The Pronunciation Of Gods Name quotes from Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 2, page 7: Hebrew Scholars generally favor "Yahweh" as the most likely pronunciation. They point out that the abbreviated form of the name is Yah (Jah in the Latinized form), as at and in the expression Hallelu-Yah (meaning "Praise Yah, you people!"). Also, the forms Yehoh', Yoh, Yah, and Ya'hu, found in the Hebrew spelling of the names of Jehoshaphat, Joshaphat, Shephatiah, and others, can all be derived from Yahweh.

Using consonants as semi-vowels (v/w)

In ancient Hebrew, the letter ו, known to modern Hebrew speakers as vav, was a semivowel /w/ (as in English, not as in German) rather than a /v/. The letter is referred to as waw in the academic world. Because the ancient pronunciation differs from the modern pronunciation, it is common today to represent as YHWH rather than YHVH.

In Biblical Hebrew, most vowels are not written and the rest are written only ambiguously, as the vowel letters double as consonants (similar to the Latin use of V to indicate both U and V). See Matres lectionis for details. For similar reasons, an appearance of the Tetragrammaton in ancient Egyptian records of the 13th century BC sheds no light on the original pronunciation. Therefore it is, in general, difficult to deduce how a word is pronounced from its spelling only, and the Tetragrammaton is a particular example: two of its letters can serve as vowels, and two are vocalic place-holders, which are not pronounced.

This difficulty occurs somewhat also in Greek when transcribing Hebrew words, because of Greek's lack of a letter for consonant 'y' and (since loss of the digamma) of a letter for "w", forcing the Hebrew consonants yod and waw to be transcribed into Greek as vowels. Also, non-initial 'h' caused difficulty for Greeks and was liable to be omitted; х (chi) was pronounced as 'k' + 'h' (as in modern Hindi "lakh") and could not be used to spell 'h' as in Modern Greek = "Harry", for example.

Yahweh or Jahweh

The English pronunciation of the letter J (in Latin originally an I) has changed over time. Originally, the pronunciation would have been as the (the 'Y' sound of the word 'You'). This has transformed into the (the 'J' sound of the word 'Juice') in modern English. Almost all other European languages have retained the pronunciation of J.

Loan-words from Classical languages also received this sound shift if the spelling was established, and as an effect language transliterations caused trouble if an older transliteration system lingered without modernisation. In an English language conflict between correct pronunciation and historically correct grapheme representation, the practice of correct pronunciation has prevailed.

Kethib and Qere and Qere perpetuum

The original consonantal text of the Hebrew Bible was provided with vowel marks by the Masoretes to assist reading. In places where the consonants of the text to be read (the Qere) differed from the consonants of the written text (the Kethib), they wrote the Qere in the margin as a note showing what was to be read. In such a case the vowels of the Qere were written on the Kethib. For a few very frequent words the marginal note was omitted: this is called Q're perpetuum.

One of these frequent cases was God's name, that should not be pronounced, but read as " " ("My Lord [plural of majesty]"), or, if the previous or next word already was " ", or " " ("My Lord"), as " " ("God"). This combination produces and respectively, non-words that would spell "yehovah" and "yehovih" respectively.

The oldest manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible, such as the Aleppo Codex and the Codex Leningradensis mostly write (yehvah), with no pointing on the first H; this points to its Qere being 'Shema', which is Aramaic for "the Name".

The Leningrad Codex of 1008-1010 A.D.

Vowel points were added to the Tetragrammaton by the Masoretes, in the first millennium A.D.

Six Hebrew spellings of the Tetragrammaton are found in:
The Leningrad Codex of 1008-1010 A.D.
as shown below [Note that all six of these Hebrew Spellings [ i.e. variants can be observed in the Online Leningrad Codex, by clicking on the corresponding Codex L. Link provided] ( Also note that the entries in the Close Transcription column are not intended to indicate how the name was intended to be pronounced by the Masoretes, but only how the word would be pronounced if read without q're perpetuum):

Chapter & Verse Hebrew Spelling Close transcription
Codex L.
Genesis 3:14
This is the most common set of vowels, which are essentially the vowels from Adonai (with the hataf patah reverting to its natural state as a shwa).
Judges 16:28
This is the same as above, but with the dot over the holam/waw left out, because it is a little redundant.
Judges 16:28
When the Tetragrammaton is preceded by Adonai, it receives the vowels from the name Elohim instead. The hataf segol does not revert to a shwa because doing so could lead to confusion with the vowels in Adonai.
Genesis 15:2
Just as above, this uses the vowels from Elohim, but like the second version, the dot over the holam/waw is omitted as redundant.
1 Kings 2:26
Here, the dot over the holam/waw is present, but the hataf segol does get reverted to a shwa.
Ezekiel 24:24
Here, the dot over the holam/waw is omitted, and the hataf segol gets reverted to a shwa.
ĕ is hatef segol; ǝ is the pronounced form of plain shewamarker

Gérard Gertoux wrote that in the Leningrad Codex of 1008-1010, the Masoretes used 7 different vowel pointings [i.e., 7 different Q're's] for YHWH. [Note that one of these different vowel pointings is not a true variant, but was the result of the addition of an inseparable preposition to YHWH] A version of the BHS text, which is derived from the Leningrad Codex, is used to translate the Old Testament of almost all English Bibles other than the King James Bible. The Brown-Driver-Briggs Lexicon of 1905 shows only two different vowel pointings [ i.e. variants ] of YHWH are found in the Ben Chayyim Hebrew Text of 1525 A.D., which underlies the Old Testament of the King James Bible.

Frequency of use in scripture

According to the Brown-Driver-Briggs Lexicon, (Qr ) occurs 6,518 times, and (Qr ) occurs 305 times in the Masoretic Text. Since the scribes admit removing it at least 134 different times and inserting Adonai, we may conclude that the four letter Name appeared about 7,000 times.

It appears 6,823 times in the Jewish Bible, according to the Jewish Encyclopedia, and 6,828 times each in the Biblia Hebraica and Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia texts of the Hebrew Scriptures.

The vocalizations of and are not identical

The schwa in YHWH (the vowel under the first letter, ) and the hataf patakh in 'DNY (the vowel under its first letter, ), appear different. One reason suggested is that the spelling (with the hataf patakh) risks that a reader might start pronouncing "Yah", which is a form of the Name, thus completing the first half of the full Name . Alternatively, the vocalization can be attributed to Biblical Hebrew phonology, where the hataf patakh is grammatically identical to a schwa, always replacing every schwa naḥ under a guttural letter. Since the first letter of is a guttural letter, while the first letter of is not, the hataf patakh under the (guttural) aleph reverts to a regular schwa under the (non-guttural) yodh.

Very old scrolls

The discovery of the Qumranmarker scrolls has added support to some parts of this position . These scrolls are unvocalized, showing that the position of those who claim that the vowel marks were already written by the original authors of the text is untenable. Many of these scrolls write (only) the tetragrammaton in paleo-Hebrew script, showing that the Name was treated specially. See this link.

The text in the Codex Leningrad B 19A, 1008 A.D, shows יהוה with various different vowel points, indicating that the name was to be read as Yehwah', Yehwih, and a number of times as Yehowah, as in . The Aleppo and Leningrad codices do not use the holem (o) in their vocalization, but it is used in a few instances, so that the (systematic) spelling "Yehovah" is more recent than about 1000 A.D. or from a different tradition. Nevertheless, this spelling does appear in both codices.

Josephus's description of vowels

Josephus in Jewish Wars, chapter V, verse 235, wrote " " ("...[engraved with] the holy letters; and they are four vowels"), presumably because Hebrew yod and waw, even if consonantal, would have to be transcribed into the Greek of the time as vowels.


Various people draw various conclusions from this Greek material.

William Smith writes in his 1863 "A Dictionary of the Bible" about the different Hebrew forms supported by these Greek forms:

... The votes of others are divided between (yahveh) or (yahaveh), supposed to be represented by the of Epiphanius mentioned above, and (yahvah) or (yahavah), which Fürst holds to be the Ιευώ of Porphyry, or the of Clemens Alexandrinus.

Early Greek and Latin forms

The writings of the Church Fathers contain several references to God's name in Greek or Latin.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia (1907) and B.D. Eerdmans:

Clement's Stromata
Clement of Alexandria writes in Stromata V, 6:34-35:

( Reinhold Koltz text)

The translation[6044] of Clement's Stromata in Volume II of the classic Ante-Nicene Fathers series renders this as:

"... Further, the mystic name of four letters which was affixed to those alone to whom the adytum was accessible, is called Jave, which is interpreted, 'Who is and shall be.' The name of God, too [i.e., θεὸς], among the Greeks contains four letters."

Of Clement's Stromata there is only one surviving manuscript, the Codex L (Codex Laurentianus V 3), from the 11th century. Other sources are later copies of that ms. and a few dozen quotations from this work by other authors. For Stromata V,6:34, Codex L has . The critical edition by Otto Stählin (1905) gives the forms

"Ἰαουέ Didymus Taurinensis de pronunc. divini nominis quatuor literarum (Parmae 1799) p. 32ff, L, Nic., Mon. 9.82 Reg. 1888 Taurin. III 50 (bei Did.), Coisl. Seg. 308 Reg. 1825."

and has in the running text. The Additions and Corrections page gives a reference to an author who rejects the change of into .

Other editors give similar data. A (Latin: chain) referred to by A. le Boulluec ("Coisl. 113 fol. 368v") and by Smith’s 1863 "A Dictionary of the Bible" ("a catena to the Pentateuch in a MS. at Turinmarker") is reported to have " ".

Verb origin

In the Book of Exodus the name Yahweh is explained as I am who I am and as I am.

The Hebrew verb for to be, not often explicitly used, is yehiyeh in the future tense (will be), howeh in the present tense (is), and hayah in the past tense (was). As a consonantal language, the important elements of these words are YHYH, HWH, and HYH, respectively; the letter combination YHWH has therefore been interpreted by some , in light of the biblical explanation, to be an amalgamation of the three tenses, to create a sense of something which simultaneously is in the past, present, and future.

A root hawah is represented in Hebrew by the nouns howah (Ezek., Isa. xlvii. II) and hawwah (Ps., Prov., Job) "disaster, calamity, ruin." The primary meaning is probably "sink down, fall", in which sense (common in Arabic) the verb appears in Job xxxvii. 6 (of snow falling to earth).

A Catholic commentator of the 16th century, Hieronymus ab Oleastro, seems to have been the first to connect the name "Jehova" with "howah" interpreting it as " " (destruction of the Egyptians and Canaanites). Daumer, adopting the same etymology, took it in a more general sense: Yahweh, as well as Shaddai, meant "Destroyer", and fitly expressed the nature of the terrible god who he identified with Moloch.

The derivation of Yahweh from hawah is formally unimpeachable, and is adopted by many recent scholars, who proceed, however, from the primary sense of the root rather than from the specific meaning of the nouns. The name is accordingly interpreted, He (who) falls (baetyl, , meteorite); or causes (rain or lightning) to fall (storm god); or casts down (his foes, by his thunderbolts). It is obvious that if the derivation be correct, the significance of the name, which in itself denotes only "He falls" or "He fells", must be learned, if at all, from early Semitic conceptions of the nature of Yahweh rather than from etymology.

Jehovah (and similar)

Later, Christian Europeans who did not know about the Q're perpetuum custom took these spellings at face value, producing the form "Jehovah" and spelling variants of it. The Catholic Encyclopedia [1913, Vol. VIII, p. 329] states: “Jehovah (Yahweh), the proper name of God in the Old Testament." Had they known about the Q're perpetuum, the term "Jehovah" may have never come in to being.

For more information, see the page Jehovah. Alternatively, most scholars recognise Jehovah to be “grammatically impossible” Jewish Encyclopedia (Vol VII, p. 8).

Delitzsch prefers " " (yahavah) since he considered the shwa quiescens below ungrammatical. In his 1863 "A Dictionary of the Bible", William Smith prefers the form " " (yahaveh). Many other variations have been proposed.

= Yahweh

In the early 19th century Hebrew scholars were still critiquing "Jehovah" [a.k.a. Iehovah and Iehouah] because they believed that the vowel points of were not the actual vowel points of God's name. The Hebrew scholar Wilhelm Gesenius [1786-1842] had suggested that the Hebrew punctuation , which is transliterated into English as "Yahweh", might more accurately represent the actual pronunciation of God's name than the Biblical Hebrew punctuation " ", from which the English name Jehovah has been derived.

William Gesenius's Hebrew punctuation (i.e., Yahweh)

Wilhelm Gesenius is noted for being one of the greatest Hebrew and biblical scholars [6045]. His proposal to read YHWH as " " (see image to the right) was based in large part on various Greek transcriptions, such as ιαβε, dating from the first centuries AD, but also on the forms of theophoric names.

In his Hebrew Dictionary Gesenius (see image of German text) supports the pronunciation "Yahweh" because of the Samaritan pronunciation reported by Theodoret, and that the theophoric name prefixes YHW [Yeho] and YH [Yo] can be explained from the form "Yahweh".

: Today many scholars accept Gesenius's proposal to read YHWH as .

: (Here 'accept' does not necessarily mean that they actually believe that it describes the truth, but rather that among the many vocalizations that have been proposed, none is clearly superior . That is, 'Yahweh' is the scholarly convention, rather than the scholarly consensus .)

In the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1910,in the article Jehovah (Yahweh), under the sub-title:"To take up the ancient writers", the editors wrote:

In Smith’s 1863 "A Dictionary of the Bible", the author displays some of the above forms and concludes:

But even if these writers were entitled to speak with authority, their evidence only tends to show in how many different ways the four letters of the word could be represented in Greek characters, and throws no light either upon its real pronunciation or its punctuation.

On the other hand however, is the common belief that the true name was never lost, the Encyclopedia Judaica concludes: "The true pronunciation of the name YHWH was never lost. Several early Greek writers of the Christian church testify that the name was pronounced Yahweh."

The editors of New Bible Dictionary (1962) write:

The pronunciation Yahweh is indicated by transliterations of the name into Greek in early Christian literature, in the form (Clement of Alexandria) or (Theodoret; by this time had the pronunciation of v).

The main approaches in modern attempts to determine a pronunciation of יהוה have been study of the Hebrew Bible text, study of theophoric names and study of early Christian Greek texts that contain reports about the pronunciation. Evidence from Semitic philology and archeology has been tried, resulting in a "scholarly convention to pronounce יהוה as Yahweh".

Gesenius' proposal gradually became accepted as the best scholarly reconstructed vocalized Hebrew spelling of the Tetragrammaton.

Originated among the Israelites?

A more fundamental question is whether the name Yahweh originated among the Israelites or was adopted by them from some other people and speech.

The biblical author of the history of the sacred institutions (P) expressly declares that the name Yahweh was unknown to the patriarchs (Exod. vi. 3), and the much older Israelite historian (E) records the first revelation of the name to Moses (Exod. iii. 13-15), apparently following a tradition according to which the Israelites had not been worshippers of Yahweh before the time of Moses, or, as he conceived it, had not worshipped the god of their fathers under that name.

The revelation of the name to Moses was made at a mountain sacred to Yahweh, (the mountain of God) far to the south of Canaan, in a region where the forefathers of the Israelites had never roamed, and in the territory of other tribes. Long after the settlement in Canaan this region continued to be regarded as the abode of Yahweh (Judg. v. 4; Deut. xxxiii. 2 sqq.; I Kings xix. 8 sqq. &c).

Moses is closely connected with the tribes in the vicinity of the holy mountain Mount Horeb. According to the Book of Exodus, Moses married a daughter of the priest of Midian (Exod. ii. 16 sqq.; iii. 1). It is to this mountain he led the Israelites after their deliverance from Egyptmarker. There his father-in-law met him, and extolling Yahweh as greater than all the gods, offered sacrifices, at which the chief men of the Israelites were his guests. In the holy mountain the religion of Yahweh was revealed through Moses, and the Israelites pledged themselves to serve God according to its prescriptions.

It appears, therefore, that in the tradition followed by the Israelite historians, the tribes within whose pasture lands the mountain of God stood were worshipers of Yahweh before the time of Moses. The surmise that the name Yahweh belongs to their speech, rather than to that of Israel, is a significant possibility. One of these tribes was Edom, another Midian, between whose lands the mountain of God lay. The Kenites also, with whom another tradition connects Moses, seem to have been worshipers of Yahweh, but the Amalek who were great enemies of Israel were not a part of the covenant to be law abiding.

Petroglyphs evidencing that Yahweh (El, Al, Allah, Iah) was at one time reverenced by various tribes near Palestine in the Seir, the mountain chain running between Mount Horeb and Hammath, in Sinai and the Negev, have been found at Serabit el Khadim. Emanual Anasti has found several cultic places in that territory (Horeb, Sinaimarker, Kadesh, &c.) that were sacred to the various powers of secular lord, wind, storm, water in the desert, fire and smoke that these glyphs represented. The oldest and most famous of these, the mountain of God, Mount Horeb seems to have lain in Arabia, at the juncture of the Arabah with the Gulf of Aqabah of the Red Seamarker at Elat. From some of these peoples and at one of these holy places, a group of Israelite tribes adopted the religion of Yahweh, the power who, by the hand of Moses, had delivered them from Egypt.

The tribes of this region probably belonged to some branch of the Arabian desert Semitic stock, and accordingly, the name Yahweh has been connected with the Arabic hawa, the void (between heaven and earth), "the atmosphere, or with the verb hawa, cognate with Heb; Hawah, "sink, glide down (through space)"; and hawwa "blow (wind)". "He rides through the air, He blows" (Wellhausen), would be a fit name for a god of wind and storm. There is, however, no certain evidence that the Israelites in historical times had any consciousness of the primitive significance of the name.

However, the 'h' in the root h-w-h, h-y-h = "be, become" and in "Yahweh" is the ordinary glottal 'h' (spelled with a He), and the 'h' in the roots ħ-y-w = "live" and ħ-w- = "air, blow (of wind)" is a pharyngeal 'h' (spelled with a Heth) which is usually transcribed as 'h' with a dot under.


The caves in which the scrolls were found

According to a theory, Yahweh, or Yahu, Yaho, is the name of a god worshipped throughout the whole, or a great part, of the area occupied by the Western Semites.

In its earlier form this opinion rested chiefly on certain misinterpreted testimonies in Greek authors about a god and was conclusively refuted by Baudissin; recent adherents of the theory build more largely on the occurrence in various parts of this territory of proper names of persons and places which they explain as compounds of Yahu or Yah.

The explanation is in most cases simply an assumption of the point at issue; some of the names have been misread; others are undoubtedly the names of Jews.

There remain, however, some cases in which it is highly probable that names of non-Israelites are really compounded with Yahweh. The most conspicuous of these is the king of Hamath who in the inscriptions of Sargon (722-705 B.C.) is called Yaubi'di and Ilubi'di (compare Jehoiakim-Eliakim). Azriyau of Jaudi, also, in inscriptions of Tiglath-Pileser III (745-728 B.C.), who was formerly supposed to be Uzziah of Judah, is probably a king of the country in northern Syriamarker known to us from the Zenjirli inscriptions as Ja'di. Also, in Byblosmarker have been found inscriptions telling about the kings named Yehimilk “YH the king” (XI-X B.C.) and Yehawmilk “YHW the king” (V B.C.).

Deity named YW is mentioned in the Ugariticmarker text as one of the many sons of El. KTU 1.1 IV 14 says:
sm . bny . yw . ilt
“The name of the son of god, YW”.

Magic papyri

Some claim that the spellings of the Tetragrammaton occur among the many combinations and permutations of names of powerful agents that occur in Egyptian magical writings. One of these forms is the heptagram

In the magical texts, Iave (Jahveh Sebaoth), and , occurs frequently. In an Ethiopic list of magical names of Jesus, purporting to have been taught by him to his disciples, Yaweis found.

Mesopotamian influence

Friedrich Delitzsch brought into notice three tablets, of the age of the first dynasty of Babylon, in which he read the names of Ya- a'-ve-ilu, Ya-ve-ilu, and Ya-u-um-ilu ("Yahweh is God"), and which he regarded as conclusive proof that Yahweh was known in Babylonia before 2000 B.C.; he was a god of the Semitic invaders in the second wave of migration, who were, according to Winckler and Delitzsch, of North Semitic stock (Canaanites, in the linguistic sense).

We should thus have in the tablets evidence of the worship of Yahweh among the Western Semites at a time long before the rise of Israel. The reading of the names is, however, extremely uncertain, not to say improbable, and the far-reaching inferences drawn from them carry no conviction.

In a tablet attributed to the 14th century B.C. which Sellin found in the course of his excavations at Tell Ta'annuk (the city Taanach of the O.T.) a name occurs which may be read Ahi-Yawi (equivalent to Hebrew Ahijah); if the reading be correct, this would show that Yahweh was worshipped in Central Palestine before the Israelite conquest. describes a meeting between Melchizedek the king/priest of Salem and Abraham. Both these pre-conquest figures are described as worshipping the same Most High God later identified as Yahweh.

The reading is, however, only one of several possibilities. The fact that the full form Yahweh appears, whereas in Hebrew proper names only the shorter Yahu and Yah occur, weighs somewhat against the interpretation, as it does against Delitzsch's reading of his tablets.

It would not be at all surprising if, in the great movements of populations and shifting of ascendancy which lie beyond our historical horizon, the worship of Yahweh should have been established in regions remote from those which it occupied in historical times; but nothing which we now know warrants the opinion that his worship was ever general among the Western Semites.

Many attempts have been made to trace the West Semitic Yahu back to Babylonia. Thus Delitzsch formerly derived the name from an Akkadian god, I or Ia; or from the Semitic nominative ending, Yau; but this deity has since disappeared from the pantheon of Assyriologists. Bottero speculates that the West Semitic Yah/Ia, in fact is a version of the Babylonian God Ea (Enki), a view given support by the earliest finding of this name at Eblamarker during the reign of Ebrum, at which time the city was under Mesopotamian hegemony of Sargon of Akkad.

Preferences of various modern groups

Bible Translations

Bible translators James Moffatt and Dr J. M. Power Smith declare the Tetragrammaton should have been transliterated “Yahweh”.

Examining the vowel points of and

In 2008 (Y)Jehovah is favored by some Christians as being the actual name of God, but for over 400 years some scholars have claimed that Jehovah is a hybrid name that has the vowel points of Adonay. However, contrary to what many Christians have been taught, Jehovah does not have the actual vowel points of Adonay.[Refer to vowel point tables in Section #1]

In the table below, Yehovah and Adonay are dissected
Hebrew Word #3068

Hebrew Word #136

Yod Y Aleph glottal stop
.Simple Shewa E Hatef Patah A
Heh H Daleth D
Holem O Holem O
Vav V Nun N
Kametz A Kametz A
Heh H Yod Y

Note in the table directly above that the "simple shewa" in Yehovah and the hatef patah in Adonay are not the same points. The same information is displayed in the table above and to the right where "YHWH intended to be pronounced as Adonai" and "Adonai, with its slightly different vowel points" are shown to have different vowel points.

Criticisms and theories of origin and meaning

Yahweh (YHWH) is believed by scholars to derive from hawah, a Hebrew root cognate to an Arabic word meaning fall (down), and which is usually translated with this sense where it occurs in the Book of Job; scholars therefore usually proffer interpretations of Yahweh along the lines of he [who] falls, he [who causes to] fall, or more figuratively he [who] casts down. Among other possibilities, it would be a suitable name for a storm deity, perhaps representing the fall of rain, the casting down of lightning, etc.

Biblical passages attributed by textual scholars to the priestly source expressly declare that the name Yahweh (YHWH) was unknown to the biblical patriarchs and the episode of the burning bush in the Elohist text suggests that Moses and the Israelites had not known the deity under that name before, if they had previously worshipped him at all. The divergent Yahwist account, which suggests that Yahweh had always been worshipped, is thought to be due to the Kenite element in the Kingdom of Judah.

The Elohist account describes Jethro, a Midianite priest, meeting the Israelites near Mount Sinaimarker, and extolling the virtues of Yahweh to them; scholars surmise therefore that Israelite use of the name Yahweh originates among the people in whose lands the mountain lay—the Midianites according to the biblical text. The region around Mount Seir, which is one of two main modern candidates for the location of Sinai, have several cult places sacred to the storm and weather god(s); at Serabit el-Khadimmarker, within this region, petroglyphs have been found which seem to confirm that Yahweh was at one time reverenced by the tribes in the area.

According to a theory, Yahweh may be a compound from Yahu or Yah, explaining why there are many theophoric names (of people and places) based on Yah but few based on Yahweh as a whole; the theory proposes that Yahu/Yah is the name of a deity worshipped throughout the Western Semitic area. Based on damaged writing at Eblamarker, dated to the reign of Ebrum, it has been proposed by Mark Smith that Yah was the original name of Yam, and that this Yah must be another form of Ea, the Babylonian version of Enki, with which Yam has several similarities. Jean Bottero and other archaeologists have consequently supported the view that Yahweh derives from this Yah, and ultimately from Enki. It has also not gone unnoticed that the Egyptian word for moon was Yah, and the semitic moon god was Sin, after which scholars believe Sinai and the surrounding wilderness of Sin were named .

Importance of the Name

A fundamental question is whether the Name is important. Most groups have concluded it is not relevant anymore and therefore, rejected any use of a sacred name. On August 8, 2008, Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of Patersonmarker, N.J., chairman of the U.S. bishop's Committee on Divine Worship, announced a new Vaticanmarker directive regarding the use of the name of God in the sacred liturgy. "Specifically, the word 'Yahweh' may no longer be 'used or pronounced' in songs and prayers during liturgical celebrations." This action was justified by claiming that they would now have respect for Jewish Law and therefore remove the Name Yahweh from their Bibles and their songbooks. The Name Yahweh, though accepted by most Scholars as the most likely pronunciation, is not a popular Name amongst either Christians or Jews. There are few, if any, religious groups that embrace the use of the Sacred Name. Other forms are used such as Jehovah (Jehovah's Witnesses), and by the Sacred Name Movement. Most respectable encyclopedias testify that the Name of Yahweh is the most accurate pronunciation based upon historic and linguistic evidence.

Usage of the name YHWH

In ancient Judaism

Several centuries before the Christian era the name of their god YHWH had ceased to be commonly used by the Jews. Some of the later writers in the Old Testament employ the appellative Elohim, God, prevailingly or exclusively.

The oldest complete Septuagint (Greek Old Testament) versions, from around the second century A.D., consistently use (= "Lord"), where the Hebrew has YHWH, corresponding to substituting Adonay for YHWH in reading the original; in books written in Greek in this period (e.g., Wisdom, 2 and 3 Maccabees), as in the New Testament, takes the place of the name of God. However, older fragments contain the name YHWH. In the P. Ryl. 458 (perhaps the oldest extant Septuagint manuscript) there are blank spaces, leading some scholars to believe that the Tetragrammaton must have been written where these breaks or blank spaces are.

Josephus, who as a priest knew the pronunciation of the name, declares that religion forbids him to divulge it.

Philo calls it ineffable, and says that it is lawful for those only whose ears and tongues are purified by wisdom to hear and utter it in a holy place (that is, for priests in the Temple). In another passage, commenting on Lev. xxiv. 15 seq.: "If any one, I do not say should blaspheme against the Lord of men and gods, but should even dare to utter his name unseasonably, let him expect the penalty of death."

Various motives may have concurred to bring about the suppression of the name:

  1. An instinctive feeling that a proper name for God implicitly recognizes the existence of other gods may have had some influence; reverence and the fear lest the holy name should be profaned among the heathen.
  2. Desire to prevent abuse of the name in magic. If so, the secrecy had the opposite effect; the name of the God of the Jews was one of the great names, in magic, heathen as well as Jewish, and miraculous efficacy was attributed to the mere utterance of it.
  3. Avoiding risk of the Name being used as an angry expletive, as reported in Leviticus 24:11 in the Bible.

In the liturgy of the Temple the name was pronounced in the priestly benediction (Num. vi. 27) after the regular daily sacrifice (in the synagogues a substitute—probably Adonai—was employed); on the Day of Atonement the High Priest uttered the name ten times in his prayers and benediction.

In the last generations before the fall of Jerusalemmarker, however, it was pronounced in a low tone so that the sounds were lost in the chant of the priests.

Theophoric uses

"Yahū" or "Yehū" is a common short form for "Yahweh" in Hebrew theophoric names (a type of name including those which became western names like 'Jonathan', 'Joachin', and 'John'); as a prefix it sometimes appears as "Yehō-". In former times that was thought to be abbreviated from the supposed pronunciation "Yehowah". There is nowadays an opinion that, as "Yahweh" is likely an imperfective verb form, "Yahu" is its corresponding preterite or jussive short form: compare yiŝtahaweh (imperfective), yiŝtáhû (preterit or jussive short form) = "do obeisance".

In some places, such as , the name YHWH is shortened to (Yah).

This same syllable is found in Hallelu-yah. Here the ה has mappiq, i.e., is consonantal, not a mater lectionis.

It is often assumed that this is also the second element -ya of the Aramaic " ": the Peshitta Old Testament translates Adonai with " " (Lord), and YHWH with " ".

In later Judaism

After the destruction of the Temple (70 C.E) the liturgical use of the name ceased, but the tradition was perpetuated in the schools of the rabbis. It was certainly known in Babylonia in the latter part of the 4th century, and not improbably much later. Nor was the knowledge confined to these pious circles; the name continued to be employed by healers, exorcists and magicians, and has been preserved in many places in magical papyri.

The vehemence with which the utterance of the name is denounced in the MishnaHe who pronounces the Name with its own letters has no part in the world to come!—suggests that this misuse of the name was not uncommon among Jews . Modern observant Jews no longer voice the name aloud. It is believed to be too sacred to be uttered and is often referred to as the 'Ineffable', 'Unutterable' or 'Distinctive Name'.

In Modern Judaism

The new Jewish Publication Society Tanakh 1985 follows the traditional convention of translating the Divine Name as "the LORD" (in all caps). The Artscroll Tanakh translates the Divine Name as "HaShem" (literally, "The Name").

When the Divine Name is read during prayer, "Adonai" ("My Lord") is substituted. However, when practicing a prayer or referring to one, Orthodox Jews will say either "HaShem" or "AdoShem" instead of "Adonai". When speaking to another person "HaShem" is used.

Liturgical usage of 'Yahweh'

Among the Samaritans

The Samaritans, who otherwise shared the scruples of the Jews about the utterance of the name, seem to have used it in judicial oaths to the scandal of the rabbis. (Their priests have preserved a liturgical pronunciation "Yahwe" or "Yahwa" to the present day.) However, the Aramaic "Shema" (שמא) remains the everyday (including liturgical) usage of the name, akin to Hebrew "Hashem" (השם).

Roman Catholic Church

The first edition of the official Vatican Nova Vulgata Bibliorum Sacrorum, published in 1979, used the form Iahveh for rendering the Tetragrammaton. Later editions of this version replaced "Iahveh" with "Dominus".

On August 8, 2008, Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli, chairman of the U.S. bishop's Committee on Divine Worship, announced a new Vaticanmarker directive regarding the use of the name of God in the sacred liturgy. "Specifically, the word 'Yahweh' may no longer be 'used or pronounced' in songs and prayers during liturgical celebrations."

Scriptural loss and retention of the name

Loss of the Tetragrammaton in the Septuagint

Septuagint study does give some credence to the possibility that the Divine Name appeared in its original texts. Dr Sidney Jellicoe concluded that "Kahle is right in holding that LXX [= Septuagint] texts, written by Jews for Jews, retained the Divine Name in Hebrew Letters (palaeo-Hebrew or Aramaic) or in the Greek-letters imitative form ΠΙΠΙ, and that its replacement by Κύριος was a Christian innovation." Jellicoe draws together evidence from a great many scholars (B. J. Roberts, Baudissin, Kahle and C.H Roberts) and various segments of the Septuagint to draw the conclusions that: a) the absence of "Adonai" from the text suggests that the insertion of the term "Kurios" was a later practice, b) in the Septuagint "Kurios", or in English "Lord", is used to substitute the Name YHWH, and c) the Tetragrammaton appeared in the original text, but Christian copyists removed it. There is therefore a strong possibility that the Sacred Name was once integrated within the Greek text, but eventually disappeared.

Meyer suggests as one possibility that "as modern Hebrew letters were introduced, the next step was to follow modern Jews and insert 'Kurios', Lord. This would prove this innovation was of a late date."

Bible scholars and translators as Eusebius and Jerome (translator of the Latin Vulgate) used the Hexapla. Both attest to the importance of the sacred Name and that the most reliable manuscripts contained the Tetragrammaton in Hebrew letters.

Dr F. F. Bruce in the The Books and the Parchments illustrates that the religious language of the Greeks is in effect, pagan. Bruce demonstrates that the words commonly used today in Christianity are pagan Greek words and substitutes; this includes words such as "Christ", "Lord", and "God" (The English "Jesus" is not the same as "Iesous" in Greek). For this reason, a few groups such as the Assemblies of Yahweh and the Jehovah's Witnesses have maintained that they are restoring the purity of worship—by using the sacred Names and Hebrew titles. On the other hand, Christianity still generally regards the sacred Name as a minor issue while observant Jews believe it is respectful not to speak the Name at all.

Later translations into European languages which descended from the Septuagint tended to follow the Greek and use each language's word for "lord": Latin "Dominus", German "der Herr", Polish "Pań", English "the Lord", French "le Seigneur", etc.

In the New Testament

Since the Tetragrammaton does not appear in the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, virtually all translations refrain from inserting it into the English. The vast majority of New Testament translations therefore render the Greek kyrios as "lord" and theos as "God". Nevertheless, the Sacred Scriptures Bethel Edition inserts the name Yahweh in the New Testament, while the New World Translation inserts the name Jehovah in the New Testament.

Several times in the New Testament, Jesus uses the words "I am", and in two occasions, at his trial before the Sanhedrin in Mark's Gospel and amongst the Jewish crowds in John's Gospel, he is accused of blasphemy.

See also


  1. http://img.villagephotos.com/p/2003-7/264290/YahwehfromSmithsBibleDictionarylowres.JPG
  2. Encycl. Britannica, 15th edition, 1994, passim.
  3. Exodus 20:1-3, New Jerusalem Bible, On-line link to alternate version:
  4. Exodus 20:2-6, JPS Jewish Study Bible, On-line link to alternate version:
  5. Isaiah 42:8, Holman Christian Standard Bible, On-line link to alternate version:
  6. Deuteronomy 6:4-5, World English Bible, On-line link to alternate version:
  7. Bruce Metzger refers to this form as "the utterly un-English 'Yahweh.'". (Bible in Translation, The Ancient and English Versions, 2001, p. 128)
  8. Genesis 21:1-2, New Jerusalem Bible.
  9. Genesis 24:50-51, The Anchor Bible.
  10. Genesis 28:13, New Jerusalem Bible.
  11. Genesis 34:2, The Anchor Bible.
  12. Genesis 34:5, The Anchor Bible; see also Genesis 12:3.
  13. Leviticus 11:44-45 (WEB), On-line link to alternate version:
  14. Numbers 6:24-27 (WEB), On-line link to alternate version:
  15. Deuteronomy 6:4-5 (WEB), On-line link to alternate version:
  16. Exodus 3:6 (WEB), On-line link to alternate version:
  17. Exodus 3:13 (WEB), On-line link to alternate version:
  18. Jewish Study Bible, Tanakh Translation, p. 111, Jewish Publication Society, Oxford University Press, 2004.
  19. "Yahweh is God" is one meaning given in reliable sources. See: New Bible Dictionary, 2nd Edition, Tyndale, 1982. The Hebrew can be transliterated as "eliyyahu" and is also given meanings "Yah is God", "Yahu is God", "Yahweh is my God", etc. by various sources. For example, see The Jewish Study Bible, Jewish Publication Society, Oxford University Press, 2004, p. 711. The "yahu" part of Elijah does not necessarily mean "Yahweh" but is often interpreted as such in theophoric names, and this rendering is chosen as a consistent naming convention in this article rather than to imply that this is the only reasonable way to phrase the meaning of the name Elijah.
  20. 1 Kings 18:22-24 (WEB), On-line link to alternate version:
  21. 1 Kings 18:38-39 (WEB), On-line link to alternate version:
  22. 1 Kings 18:38-39 (WEB), On-line link to alternate version:
  23. Zecharaiah 13:9 (WEB), On-line link to alternate version:
  24. Psalm 83:18, Holman Christian Standard Bible. See also Psalm 2:2-4, Psalm 8:1,9, Psalm 18:31, Psalm 24:1, Psalm 47:2, Psalm 89:5-9, Psalm 95:3, Psalm 97:5-9, Psalm 103:19-22, Psalm 113:4-5, Psalm 135:5.
  25. Psalm 23:1, New Jerusalem Bible
  26. Psalm 33:5-6, New Jerusalem Bible.
  27. Psalm 95:3-7, World English Bible.
  28. Psalm 18, for example.
  29. Psalm 35:1-3, World English Bible.
  30. Psalm 20:7, World English Bible
  31. Psalm 86:6-7, World English Bible.
  32. Psalm 107:6, Psalm 107:13, Psalm 107:19, Psalm 107:28, New Jerusalem Bible.
  33. Psalm 68:4, Holman Christian Standard Bible.
  34. Psalms III, The Anchor Bible.
  35. For examples, see Psalms 146-150.
  36. New Bible Dictionary, second edition. Tyndale Press, Wheaton, IL., USA 1982.
  37. Proverbs 1:7 , New Jerusalem Bible.
  38. Proverbs 16:2, World English Bible.
  39. Psalm 111:10, Psalm 139:4
  40. Job 1:21, New Jerusalem Bible.
  41. Job 38:4, World English Bible.
  42. Ruth, The Anchor Bible.
  43. Ruth 4:13-14, The Anchor Bible.
  44. Lamentations 2:8, New Jerusalem Bible.
  45. Lamentations 2:17, World English Bible.
  46. New Bible Dictionary, second edition, Tyndale Press, Wheaton, IL , USA 1982.
  47. Lamentations 3:22-25, New Jerusalem Bible.
  48. Changing God's Eternal Law
  49. [1].
  50. AnsonLetter.htm
  51. The Analytical Hebrew & Chaldee Lexicon by Benjamin Davidson ISBN 0913573035
  52. "Jehovhah." Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition (New York: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 1910-11, vol. 15, pp. 312
  53. (see any Hebrew grammar)
  54. See pages 128 and 236 of the book "Who Were the Early Israelites?" by archeologist William G. Dever, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI, 2003.
  55. refer to the table on page 144 of Gérard Gertoux's book The Name of God Y.EH.OW.Ah which is pronounced as it is written I_EH_OU_AH.
  56. Lambdin, Thomas O.: Introduction to Biblical Hebrew, London: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1971
  57. B.D. Eerdmans, The Name Jahu, O.T.S. V (1948) 1-29
  58. Diodorus Siculus, Histor. I, 94
  59. Irenaeus, "Against Heresies", II, xxxv, 3, in P. G., VII, col. 840
  60. Irenaeus, "Against Heresies", I, iv, 1, in P.G., VII, col. 481
  61. Clement, "Stromata", V, 6, in P.G., IX, col. 60
  62. Origen, "In Joh.", II, 1, in P.G., XIV, col. 105
  63. according to Eusebius, Praeparatio Evangelica I, ix, in P.G., XXI, col. 72
  64. Epiphanius, Panarion, I, iii, 40, in P.G., XLI, col. 685
  65. "Breviarium in Psalmos", in P.L., XXVI, 828
  66. Theodoret, "Ex. quaest.", xv, in P. G., LXXX, col. 244 and "Haeret. Fab.", V, iii, in P. G., LXXXIII, col. 460.
  67. Footnote #8 from page 312 of the 1911 E.B. reads: " occurs also in the great magical papyrus of Paris, 1. 3020 (Wessely, Denkschrift. Wien. Akad., Phil. Hist. Kl., XXXVI. p. 120) and in the Leiden Papyrus, Xvii. 31."
  68. (cf. Lamy, "La science catholique", 1891, p. 196
  69. Jerome, "Ep. xxv ad Marcell.", in P. L., XXII, col. 429
  70. " Clemens Alexandrinus Werke, eds. Stählin. O. and Fruechtel. L. (Die griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten drei Jahrhunderte, 15), 3. Auflage, Berlin, 1960.
  71. Zu der in L übergelieferten Form , vgl. Ganschinietz RE IX Sp. 700, 28ff, der die Änderung in ablehnt.
  72. Clément d'Alexandrie. Stromate V. Tome I: Introduction, texte critique et index, par A. Le Boulluec, Traduction de † P. Voulet, S.J.; Tome II : Commentaire, bibliographie et index, par A. Le Boulluec, Sources Chrétiennes n° 278 et 279, Editions du Cerf, Paris 1981. (Tome I, pp. 80,81)
  73. Footnote #16 from page 312 of the 1911 E.B. reads: "Cf. also hawwah, "desire", Mic. vii. 3; Prov. x. 3."
  74. recent in 1911—this is what the 1911 E.B. wrote
  75. ”Job – Introduction, Anchor Bible, volume 15, page XIV and “Jehovah” Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th Edition, volume 15
  76. Footnote #1 from Page 313 of the 1911 E.B. reads: "See HEBREW RELIGION"
  77. Footnote #2 from Page 313 of the 1911 E.B. reads: "The divergent Judaean tradition, according to which the forefathers had worshipped Yahweh from time immemorial, may indicate that Judah and the kindred clans had in fact been worshippers of Yahweh before the time of Moses."
  78. Footnote #3 from Page 313 of the 1911 E.B. reads: "The form Yahu, or Yaho, occurs not only in composition, but by itself; see Aramaic Papyri discovered at Assaan, B 4,6,II; E 14; J 6. This doubtless is the original of 'Iαω, frequently found in Greek authors and in magical texts as the name of the God of the Jews."
  79. Footnote #4 from Page 313 of the 1911 E.B. reads: "See a collection and critical estimate of this evidence by Zimmern, Die Keilinschriften und das Alte Testament, 465 sqq."
  80. Inscription de Yehimilk, roi de Byblos (XI-X), UNESCO, "Memory of the World" program
  81. Nina Jidejian, Maurice Dunand, Byblos through the ages., p. 69, Beirut: Dar el-Machreq Publ., 1968.
  82. Yehawmilk stele, Louvre collection
  83. Phoenician Cities: Byblos, Student Reader
  84. Ugarit and the Bible, site of Quartz Hill School of Theology
  85. Smith, Mark S. (2001) The Origins of Biblical Monotheism: Israel's Polytheistic Background and the Ugaritic Texts (Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0195167686)
  86. B. Alfrink, La prononciation 'Jehova' du tétragramme, O.T.S. V (1948) 43-62.
  87. K. Preisendanz, Papyri Graecae Magicae, Leipzig-Berlin, I, 1928 and II, 1931
  88. Footnote #9 from page 312 of the 1911 E.B. reads: "See Deissmann, Bibelstudien, 13 sqq."
  89. Footnote #10 from Page 312 of the 1911 E.B. reads: "See Driver, Studia Biblica, I. 20."
  90. Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition (New York: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 1910-11), vol. 15, pp. 312, in the Article “JEHOVAH”
  91. Footnote #5 from Page 313 of the 1911 E.B. reads: "Babel und Bibel, 1902. The enormous, and for the most part ephemeral, literature provoked by Delitzsch's lecture cannot be cited here.
  92. Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition (New York: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 1910-11), vol. 15, pp. 312, in the Article “JEHOVAH”.
  93. Footnote #6 from Page 313 of the 1911 E.B. reads: "Denkschriften d. Wien. Akad., L. iv. p. 115 seq. (1904)."
  94. Footnote #7 from Page 313 of the 1911 E.B. reads: "Wo lag das Paradies? (1881), pp. 158-166."
  95. Encyclopedia Britannia, 1911
  96. Bottero, Jean (2004) "Religion in Ancient Mesopotamia" (University Of Chicago Press) ISBN 0-226-06718-1
  97. Cohn, Norman. Cosmos, Chaos and the World to Come, The Ancient Roots of Apocalyptic Faith. New Haven and London. Yale University Press, 1993.
  98. The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology Volume 2, page 512
  99. Paul Kahle, The Cairo Geniza (Oxford:Basil Blackwell,1959) p. 222
  100. Footnote #3 from page 311 of the 1911 E.B. reads: "See Josephus, Ant. ii. 12, 4; Philo, Vita Mosis, iii. II (ii. 114, ed. Cohn and Wendland); ib. iii. 27 (ii. 206). The Palestinian authorities more correctly interpreted Lev. xxiv. 15 seq., not of the mere utterance of the name, but of the use of the name of God in blaspheming God."
  101. Footnote #4 from page 311 of the 1911 E.B. reads: "Siphre, Num. f 39, 43; M. Sotak, iii. 7; Sotah, 38a. The tradition that the utterance of the name in the daily benedictions ceased with the death of Simeon the Just, two centuries or more before the Christian era, perhaps arose from a misunderstanding of Menahoth, 109b; in any case it cannot stand against the testimony of older and more authoritative texts.
  102. Footnote #5 from page 311 of the 1911 E.B. reads: "Yoma, 39b; Jer. Yoma, iii. 7; Kiddushin, 71a."
  103. http://members.fortunecity.com/yahuwthah/Resource-577/AnsonLetter.htm
  104. Footnote #1 from page 312 of the 1911 E.B. reads:"R. Johannan (second half of the 3rd century), Kiddushin, 71a."
  105. Footnote #2 from page 312 of the 1911 E.B. reads:"Kiddushin, l.c. = Pesahim, 50a"
  106. Footnote #3 from page 312 of the 1911 E.B. reads: "M. Sanhedrin, x.I; Abba Saul, end of 2nd century."
  107. Judaism 101 on the Name of God
  108. For example, see Insights of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik by Saul Weiss and Joseph Dov Soloveitchik, p.9. and Jewish Identity and Society in the Seventeenth Century by Minna Rozen, p.67.[2]
  109. Footnote #4 from page 312 of the 1911 E.B. reads:Jer. Sanhedrin, x.I; R. Mana, 4th century.
  110. Footnote #11 from page 312 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica reads: "See Montgomery, Journal of Biblical Literature, xxv. (1906), 49-51."
  111. "Dixítque íterum Deus ad Móysen: «Hæc dices fíliis Israel: Iahveh (Qui est), Deus patrum vestrórum, Deus Abraham, Deus Isaac et Deus Iacob misit me ad vos; hoc nomen mihi est in ætérnum, et hoc memoriále meum in generatiónem et generatiónem." (Exodus 3:15)
  112. Sidney Jellicoe, Septuagint and Modern Study (Eisenbrauns, 1989, ISBN 0931464005) pp. 271, 272.
  113. Dr F. F. Bruce, The Books and the Parchments, (p. 159).
  114. Judaism 101 http://www.jewfaq.org/name.htm


  • Holman Christian Standard Bible. 2004. B&H Publishing Group. ISBN 1586400681 ISBN 978-1586400682
  • New Bible Dictionary. 1982 (second edition). Tyndale Press, Wheaton, IL, USA. ISBN 0842346678
  • New Jerusalem Bible. 1985. http://www.catholic.org/bible/ (accessed 28 August, 2009)
  • The Anchor Bible. Vol. 1, Genesis. Speiser, E.A. 1987 (third edition). New York: Doubleday. ISBN 0385008546
  • The Anchor Bible. Vol. 17A, Psalms III (101-150). Dahood, Mitchell. 1970. New York: Doubleday. ASIN: B000OM3SGC
  • The Anchor Bible. Vol. 7, Ruth. Campbell, Edward E. F., Jr. 1975. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 0385053169 ISBN 978-0385053167
  • The Jewish Study Bible, Tanakh Translation. 2004. Berlin, Adele; Brettler, Marc Zvi; Fishbane, Michael, eds. Jewish Publication Society, New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195297512
  • World English Bible. http://ebible.org/web/ public domain. (accessed 28 August, 2009)

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