Yahweh or Yahvah / Yahveh?

q I heard that the name should be Yahveh or Yahvah like the V in Jehovah (Yehovah).

a   The v is a consonant that some have used for the sound of the Hebrew waw in Yahweh’s Name (Yahveh). The problem is, the waw in His Name was considered a vowel anciently. In fact, all the letters of the Tetragrammaton are called vowels by Josephus (Wars of the Jews, 5.5.556) as well as by Hebrew grammars.Bagster’s Helps to Bible Study also says these are vowel-letters in the sacred Name, “as having been originally used to represent vowels, and they still frequently serve as vowels in combination with the points.”Bagsters says the waw represents the letters o or u.

Another authority says, “The sound of waw a long time ago wasn’t ‘vav’ at all but ‘w’ and ‘w’ is weak. The Yemenite Jews of Arabia who retain an ancient, correct, and pure pronunciation of Hebrew still pronounce the waw as ‘w,’ as does Arabic, the close sister language of Hebrew,” How the Hebrew Language Grew, Edward Horowitz, pp. 29-30.

A response to a query about the proper pronunciation of waw/ vav, EKS Publishing responded, “In modern Hebrew it is pronounced VAV. Since our materials are geared for a predominantly Jewish audience, we give this pronunciation in our wall charts and most other publications. However, in Biblical times the letter was pronounced WAW. Because our book, A Simple Approach to O.T. Hebrew, is written for a Christian audience, we have given this Biblical Hebrew pronunciation for WAW and for a few other letters.”

Since the turn of the century the Jews returning to Palestine have hailed mostly from Eastern Europe. It is evident that the heavy influence of Ashkenazic or Germanic (German influenced) pronunciation of the vav instead of the Sephardic or biblical waw has become dominant in present-day Judaism and is referred to as “Modern-Sephardic.” However, the Temple or Biblical Hebrew uses WAW as the ancient and more correct pronunciation.

The English name “Jehovah” or “Yehovah” was invented by Roman Catholics sometime in the Middle Ages, based on a misunderstanding of Masoretic Hebrew texts. It is a hybrid word consisting of the Tetragrammaton YHWH (“J” used to be pronounced as “Y”) and the vowels for the word “Adonai.” Though “Jehovah” is used a few times in the 1611 King James Version (e.g.,Gen 22:14; Exod 6:3; Isa 12:2; Ps 83:18) and is found in many older Christian hymns, it is not the authentic biblical pronunciation of the sacred Name (For a discussion of the “Jehovah or Yahweh” question see “God, Names of” inEncyclopædia Judaica, vol. 7, col. 680, or George F. Moore, Judaism in the First Centuries of the Christian Era: The Age of the Tannaim (3 vols., Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1927-30), vol. 1, p. 219 and note 1, p. 427. Most modern Bible translations have notes on this issue in their introductions, agreeing that the true Name of the Heavenly Father is Yahweh.

For an explanation on the ending of the name “eh or “ah” >>

Yahwah?

q   The name is Yahwah, because of a few reasons. {1} The Concordance Hebrew #1961 & #1933 are the 2 root words for יהוה. Hayah for #1961, and Hawah for #1933, thus we conclude to the phonetic sounding of YAHWAH. {2} We say hallelu yah, not hallelu yeh, if the first ה is pronounced “ah” thus the yah sounding, then the second ה is pronounced ah {not an eh sounding} thus the wah sounding. Thus we use the phonetic sounding of יהוה as YAHWAH.

a  Although Yahwah is a close variation, the mistake is establishing a pronunciation by using Strong’s 1933 as well as 1961, although 1933 is related in meaning (existence) it is however a different word. The Hebrew of 1961, hay-yod-hay, is not the same as the 1933 cognate, hay-wa-hay. The first is pronounced hayah, the second hawah. The error is in fusing these two different words to make Yahwah without any linguistic basis or evidence to do so.Another argument for the “ah” ending is that if the sound of the first hay is “ah,” the second hay must be the same sound. The same letter often takes on a different sound when appearing twice in the same word. For example, the “a” in always is not the same sound at the beginning of the word as it is at the end. Just because words are related in their roots is no justification for manufacturing a word or name by combining variations and should be disregarded as poor scholarship. The Berlitz Hebrew Self-Teacher on page 73 reveals: “There are, however, four letters which can be used as vowels. h and a may have the vowel sound of ah or eh, w that of oo or oh, and y of ee or eh.”

The Greek shows that the last syllable is pronounced with a short “e” sound: ee-ah-oo-eh. The name Yahweh is shown on various Greek transcriptions, such as ιαβε, dating from the first centuries CE.

‘Yahweh’ is Aramaic and that ‘Yahueh’ is Hebrew. Is that true?

q    I have heard that ‘Yahweh’ is Aramaic and that ‘Yahueh’ is Hebrew. Is that true?

aIn actuality, “Yahweh” with a “w” is Hebrew, while the “u” in the name Yahueh is Greek. The Tetragrammaton YHWH, found 6,823 times in the Hebrew Old Testament, is rendered Iaoue in the Greek Septuagint. This is an attempt to transliterate the four Hebrew letters, including the waw, which is the transliterated “w” in the Tetragrammaton. Not having a “w” in its alphabet, the Greek uses the closest letter to it: the upsilon, or “u.”

In a letter to Biblical Archaeology Review (Sept.-Oct 1994), Dr. Anson R. Rainy, professor of Ancient and Near Eastern Cultures and Semitic Linguistics at Tel Aviv University, wrote this about the pronunciation of Yahweh in the Greek alphabet, “I mentioned the evidence from Greek transcriptions in religious papyri found in Egypt. The best of these is Iaouee.”

He goes on to explain the correct Hebrew rendition of the name: “Yahweh is from the verbal root *hwy*, ‘to be.’ This root usually shows up in Hebrew as *hyy*.  It is a verbal root developed from the third person pronoun, *huwa/*hiya.”

From the book, How the Hebrew Language Grew by Edward Horowitz, we find, “The Yemenite Jews of Arabia who retain an ancient, correct and pure pronunciation of Hebrew still pronounce the (waw) as ‘w’ – as does Arabic, the close sister language of Hebrew.”

Pronunciation varies little between the “u” and the “w” name forms. It is the written form, however, that causes confusion, and nearly all credible scholars and references use “Yahweh.”

Yahuah or Yahweh?

q   I have some friends who follow the Hebrew Bible and teachings and have told me the Creator’s Name is Yahuah (Yahuwah) are they wrong?

 

Daespite the fact that nearly all credible scholars and biblical references confirm and use “Yahweh,” there are still those who insist on using the “u” in the Name, i.e. Yahuah or Yahueh. Typically, those who employ the u form tend to over-emphasize the sound of the u as well—Yah-OO-ah (or -eh). The letter in question, the waw and third letter of the Hebrew Tetragrammaton, is represented by the W. The development of the letter U shows a late progression. The American Heritage Dictionary says that the W came to be pronounced as a V in later Latin (proof that “Yahveh” is historically impossible). Then this source says under the letter U, “The letter U originated in the early Middle Ages as a cursive version of V.” The w (waw) in biblical Hebrew is a weak letter. The w even drops out in some English words like sword, wrong, wrap, law, wrench, two and wrinkle. The waw is almost a guttural, and is nearly swallowed in biblical Hebrew, the opposite of over-emphasis given by some to the u (oo) sound. Who pronounces “answer” as “ans-OO-er”? In the book How the Hebrew Language Grew, Edward Horowitz, pg. 29 explains how many English words with the equivalent letter ‘w’ is silent and follows the same pattern as the Hebrew “waw.” Examples include, “answer, sword, law, two, write, etc.”  “…the sound of w a long time ago wasn’t “vav” at all but “w” and “w” is weak…The Yemenite Jews of Arabia who retain an ancient, correct, and pure pronunciation of Hebrew still pronounce the w as “w” –as does Arabic, the close sister language of Hebrew,” pp. 29-30.

The main argument for Yahuah is that the name Judah (Yahudah) holds the key to unlocking the truth of the father’s name. The tetragrammaton contains the Hebrew letters (Yod Heh Waw Heh) and the name of Judah (Yod Heh Waw Daleth Heh.). Now (according to them) simply remove the Daleth and you have the pronounciation. This is indeed poor scholarship, if you can even call it that. To formulate a pronounciation by using two different Hebrew words that have similar letters is naive and linguistically not very sound. In Hebrew you can have words that are spelled exactly the same but are pronounced differently. The word שאול, “Shaul” (King “Saul”) is spelled exactly the same as שאול, pronounced “Sheol.” “Shaul” means “desired” but “Sheol” means “grave.” The vowels are different, but the word is spelled exactlty the same.

Another argument for the “ah” ending is that if the sound of the first hay is “ah,” the second hay must be the same sound. The same letter often takes on a different sound when appearing twice in the same word. For example, the “a” in always is not the same sound at the beginning of the word as it is at the end. Just because words are related in their roots is no justification for manufacturing a word or name by combining variations and should be disregarded as poor scholarship. The Berlitz Hebrew Self-Teacher on page 73 reveals: “There are, however, four letters which can be used as vowels. h and a may have the vowel sound of ah or eh, w that of oo or oh, and y of ee or eh.”

The Greek shows that the last syllable is pronounced with a short “e” sound: ee-ah-oo-eh like Theodoret’s Iabe. There is Iaoue from Clement of Alexandria. An interesting extra-biblical find is the Nag Hammadi Apocryphon of John (written by Gnostic Christians). Since it was known to the church father Irenaeus, it is estimated to have been written 120-180 CE. In the text we find the name “Yawe” occurring alongside Eloim.

The Encyclopedia Judaica notes that the true pronunciation of Yahweh’s Name was never lost, being pronounced “Yahweh.