Modern Hebrew uses a “vav” (v) for the sixth letter of its alphabet but anciently this wasn’t the case. Originally it had a “w” (double “u”) sound. This is a big deal when determining the proper pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton. The only “v” sound in classical or biblical Hebrew is made from the second letter, the “bet” (for you Hebrew students this is the Hebrew letter “bet” without the dot called the dagesh lene, which indicates the harder pronunciation “b”).
It is known from antiquity the Tetragrammaton letters yod, heh, and waw are vowels. Vowels are spoken with the open mouth. The “v” is a consonant, not a vowel, and is spoken with the upper teeth and lower lip together. The historian Josephus (37 CE) said of the high priest, “A mitre also of fine linen encompassed his head, which was tied by a blue ribbon, about which there was another golden crown, in which was engraven the sacred name [of the Almighty]: it consists of four vowels.” (War of the Jews, Book 5. 5. 7.)
Consisting of four vowels, the name Yahweh is pronounced with the open mouth, i.e., ee – ah- oo – eh. You cannot have or inject a consonant v as in Yahveh or Yehovah i.e., ee – ah – vv – eh. The two-syllable name Yahweh can be breathed when you deeply inhale and exhale.
The Masoretic vowel pointing backs up Josephus’ claims about the yod, heh and waw. In biblical Hebrew there are six unchangeable vowels (see chart above).
In his biblical Hebrew lecture series, Dr. Bill Barrick makes this interesting observation: “Sometimes actually in the transcription of ancient Hebrew such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, a ‘waw’ is sometimes given as a vowel letter for the qibbuts, which really represents a shureq and that also indicates the sounds of them were very, very close, even in ancient times.” (Biblical Hebrew Grammar I, Lesson 12). youtu.be/qb6DzN875y4?t=386 The qibbuts is a short vowel and has a “u” sound like in the word “ruler,” which equates to the “w” or double u. (See Basics of Biblical Hebrew Chapter 2.4)
J.D. Wijnkoop, literary candidate at the University of Leyden and rabbi of the Jewish Congregation in Amsterdam, states in his book, Manual of Hebrew Grammar, “Waw is a softly, scarcely audible pronounced w, which is produced by a quick opening of the lips,” (Forgotten Books, Classic Reprint Series, 2015, p. 3, original publication 1898).
Dr. Steven E. Fassberg, who received his Ph.D. from Harvard and teaches at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem as a professor in the Hebrew language department and who headed the University’s Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and has contributed to numerous works such as The Encyclopedia Judaica, stated: “There is no doubt that the original sound was w and not v. Sometime during the history of the Hebrew language there was a shift from w > v in pronunciation, probably already during the Mishnaic Period [70 CE-200 CE]” (email correspondence).
We posed the V vs. W question to the Hebrew language Department at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. The Department Chair, Professor Adina Moshavi, responded in great detail: “I believe there are many ways to demonstrate that the waw was not originally pronounced as a bilabial “v” as it is in Tiberian Hebrew. The fact that the waw is frequently used as a mater lectionis for a long u sound would be impossible to explain if it was pronounced v, like the bet rafeh, rather as the semivowel w. Furthermore, there are many Hebrew words where a historical dipthong aw, as evidenced from Semitic cognates, has been reduced to a long vowel, e.g., in hiphil perfect of w-initial verbs hawrid > horid “he brought down”, or in the word yawm > yom “day”, and alternations between a dipthong and a long vowel, e.g.,absolute mawwet vs. construct mot “death.” Such correspondences are only understandable if the phonetic value of the waw was a semivowel.”
The Aramaic language became the common language throughout the Middle East, eventually displacing Assyrian cuneiform as the predominant writing system. Aramaic is still spoken today in parts of Turkey, Iraq and Iran. “An Aramaic institute was established in 2007 by Damascus University that teaches courses to keep the language alive. The institute’s activities were suspended in 2010 amidst fears that the square Aramaic alphabet used in the program too closely resembled the square script of the Hebrew alphabet and all the signs with the square Aramaic script were taken down.” Wikipedia “The Persians adopted Aramaic. The Babylonians adopted it and so did the Jews. It then prevailed as the language of the Middle East until 700 AD.” (Easter Sunday: A Syrian bid to resurrect Aramaic, the language of Jesus Christ)
Another interesting fact is found in the Aramaic alphabet. The Hebrew square script used today derived its letters from Aramaic around the time of the Babylonian exile. Being the language the Messiah spoke as well as the biblical patriarch Jacob, it uses a “w” for the sixth letter. We read in Deuteronomy 26:5, “My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down into Egypt with a few people and lived there and became a great nation, powerful and numerous.”
Ugaritic and later Semitic languages like Arabic, Maltese, and Ge’ez, all use a double “u” comparatively for the letter. This fact dynamites any possibility that the sixth letter had the sound of a “v” anciently as these languages all derive from older Semitic languages through Aramaic and as far back as Phoenician, i.e. ancient Hebrew.
Another substantiation is the linguistic study of the Yemenite Jews of Arabia. These Jews were never displaced from the region. Edward Horowitz writes: “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, pp. 29-30.
From this and other incontrovertible evidence, we see that any name for Yahweh like Yehovah, Yahvah, Yahveh, etc., has no basis in historical and linguistic fact.
A common argument that any name is acceptable for calling on the Heavenly Father not only violates the sanctity of Yahweh’s revealed, personal Name, but is also an assault on His True Worship.
The ongoing push to unite all worship into a monolithic, worldwide religion accomplishes its goals by exploiting words that are key to true worship and redefining them for mass consumption and unholy ends.
They make grace the universal leveler that eliminates specific demands that set apart true worship. “We are all covered by grace regardless of beliefs,” they say. Yahweh answers, No, such thinking turns grace into lawlessness, Jude 1:4.
The old bromides like: “He has many names;” “What difference does His name make, He knows who I mean,” fit right into this universalist agenda. Generic attributes like lord and god create all-purpose mighty ones. The result is worship where one size fits all.
But this is not how our Heavenly Father Yahweh expects devotion. In the 44th chapter of Jeremiah we find Him completely disgusted with His people and ready to wash His hands of them. We see an exceedingly patient Father who has finally had enough of His rebellious children who insist on worshiping their own way.
After all the many prophets He had sent to warn them, after all the trials they had to overcome and the plagues and hardships they endured for their disobedience, nothing ever really changed. Not for long.
Judah Barred from Using the Name
Now the people say in defiance to the prophet, “As for the word that you have spoken unto us in the name of Yahweh, we will not hearken unto you. But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goes forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil” (Jer. 44:16-17).
His people were as rebellious as bratty children who act up just as soon as the parent’s back is turned. These defiant ones are still wanting to worship the heathen gods. No matter what Yahweh says or does, they lust to follow the apostasy of the majority religions around them.
Yahweh decides it’s time for drastic measures. “Therefore hear the word of Yahweh, all Judah that dwell in the land of Egypt; Behold, I have sworn by my great name, says Yahweh, that my name shall no more be named in the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, Yahweh Elohim lives” (Jer. 44:26).
Yahweh tells them, okay, go ahead, follow your lust to worship in error like the heathens around you. But know this, you may no longer use my Name if you do.
This was punishment for their refusal to worship Him in truth. He does not want His Name tied to their sin of rebellion. So much for the argument, “It makes no difference what I call Him.”
For Judah to return to True Worship would mean that Judah would have to return to using His Name.
Name Identifies True Worship
The Name does more than identify. It also creates True Worship. You take on His Name you take on His worship; you take on His identity. When you take on His identity and don’t live up to His standard, you smear Him.
The lesson for us comes down to this: You cannot worship the Mighty One of the universe properly without using His revealed, personal Name. His Name defines Him as well as the only worship that is uniquely His. His name is not just an identifier, it is His very identity and all that He is and does for His people. The only True Worship in the Bible is carried out through His personal Name.
What does this mean for those who mix His Name with the heathen titles in their congregations and from the pulpit? The same goes for their literature, prayers, and songs? How can you mingle true worship with false and think He’ll find that acceptable. G-d and L-rd are generic titles that apply anywhere to any worship traditions. They fit anywhere.
We learn in Revelation 7:3, 14:1, and 22:1-4 that the 144,000 faithful who are sealed in the end days are sealed with His Name in their foreheads. There is solid proof that His Name separates True Worshipers from false and will give them literal protection from tribulation in the latter days.
Notice what James told the people gathered at Jerusalem: “Simon Peter has declared how Elohim at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name” (Acts 15:14).
The heathens had to come out of their false worship and observe the true Name. True Worship and His Name go together like hand in glove and cannot be separated. It’s a match, not a mix.
Those who know the true Name but insist on using replacement titles are still in spiritual Egypt, in essence still sacrificing to the Queen of Heaven because they have not come to know the true Father, which comes from loving and using His personal Name.
If there is one truth that is clearly shown throughout Scripture it is this: His Name and True Worship go hand in hand, they cannot be separated. He prohibits man from substituting His Name just as He will not allow any worship other than what He prescribes.
By showing us in Jeremiah 44 that apostate worship is not allowed to call on His Name, He is also showing us that only in His Name can one worship in truth.
The true Name is not just a matter of His “knowing who we mean” when we worship or call on Him. It is more than simple identity. His Name is the difference between being in the truth and being outside the truth. It’s the difference between worship that pleases Him and worship that provokes Him once we know better.
This truth is as difficult for some to accept as it is for them to accept the Sabbath over Sunday. It is nothing more than 2,000 years of boiler-plated tradition speaking. All they need to do is allow Yahweh to work with their hearts — show them the truth — and they will see the difference.
The prophet wrote: “O Yahweh, hear; O Yahweh, forgive; O Yahweh, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my Elohim: for your city and your people are called by your Name” (Dan. 9:19).
Names in our culture are mostly labels. Not so with Yahweh. His Name signifies the one and only true Heavenly Father as opposed to the false deities of apostate worship. His Name is a true means of identification, a link to the only true Creator.
The simple lesson for Israel and for us is this: Reject True Worship and you reject His Name. The reverse is also true: Reject His Name for a substitute, and you no longer have the authentic, True Worship of the Scriptures. The two are inseparable.
Danger in Name Apathy
Names and words are powerful in ways you may not have considered. Is there any danger to the notion that any name is acceptable in worship of our Heavenly Father?
Aside from keeping us from the truth, the typical nonchalance regarding the Heavenly Father’s Name and His uncommon worship is part of the general indifference that will open the door to the universal, false religion soon to take control. At the heart of this system will be a demon-backed religious leader who will demand worship on a worldwide scale, unlike anything in history.
A book called New Age Bible Versions details how the way is being paved for the great deception. It reveals that the newer translations of Scripture are taking important words and terms associated with pure worship and generalizing them to appeal to a broad spectrum of worshiper. The goal is to soften the edge and ultimately devalue obedience to Yahweh’s will. Highly publicized was the taking of male references to Yahweh in Bibles and religious song books and replacing them with such pronouns as “She” for “He” (reflective of the worship of the ancient, feminine goddess Sophia).
Ultimately, attempts will be made to include everyone of every faith under a single, global religion. To accomplish that, the wording in new Bibles will help to ease many into that false worship. As will pulpit messages that incessantly attack the law and obedience.
The move is insidious for now. Once churchianity is rendered even more pliable, however, the complete yielding to the demands of a one-world religion will come openly.
Paving the way for this universal religion is a reorienting of beliefs through the manipulation of words. Unaware of what is happening, the masses accept new terminology that moves them further and further from what truth they had. Altering wording changes conceptions.
Power in Names
Stop for a moment and consider names and their power, especially when revealed in the Scriptures.
Who was the first to call something or someone by name? Yahweh. Names were used not for the simple sake of identification, but for creation. Just as Yahweh can travel by thought, when it says that Elohim created, He didn’t work or fashion through physical labor and burning calories. He spoke it (actually, Yahshua as the Dabar or the Word spoke it). The term used for the object brought it into existence.
Things are what they are because of what they are named.
Names don’t just differentiate objects from one another, they create the object. Names are the parents of everything in the universe.
“Let there be light” (the Hebrew ore) and light came into being.
The Hebrew word for “name” is shem. The two letters shin and mem are at the core of neshamah, which is the Hebrew word for soul. The soul or essence of the human being is contained in his or her name.
In 1Samuel 25:25 we read, “As his name is, so is he.”
Titles That Thrill the Adversary
Turn to Luke 4:8. This is Yahshua’s response to Satan’s invitation to fall down and worship the Evil One:
“And Yahshua answered and said unto him, Get behind me, Satan: for it is written. You shall worship Yahweh your Elohim, and him only shall you serve” (Luke 4:8).
The KJV says “L-rd thy G-d.” The Aramaic or Hebrew, which Yahshua spoke, reads, “Yahweh your Elohim.” But even in the Greek, Yahweh’s Name would have remained unchanged.
If Yahshua had said “Lord thy God,” Satan would have been de-lighted. Why? Because this general term could refer to Satan himself. The Apostle Paul calls Satan the “god of this world” in 2Corinthians 4:4. In Matthew 12:24 Satan is called Beelzebub, which is another name for Lord of the fly or the manure god.
In effect our English translation says: it is written, you shall worship the lord god – which could just as well be Satan – and him only shall you serve. We can see how the Adversary de-lights when people are led to worship in these common titles today. Doing so removes them from the true Father and a false one is put in His place through a generic and incorrect identification.
Any time we are not worshiping Yahweh in His true Name, we are in danger of invoking false mighty ones manufactured by the Father of Lies himself— even if done in ignorance.
You change the name of the one you worship and you change WHO you worship and the WAY he is worshiped. By using generic terms you re-move yourself from the True Yahweh. It is not simply a matter of semantics; it is not simply a choice between two equivalent alternatives. It is a matter of true versus false identification – and proper worship versus erroneous worship!
That is why Yahweh characteristically introduces Himself by Name first, then specifies precisely what worship He expects:
“I am Yahweh: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to an-other, neither my praise to graven images” (Isa. 42:8). In Exodus 3, Yahweh tells Moses that His Name is Yahweh, then proceeds to explain how He will bring Israel out of the sin of Egypt. They would come to know True Worship, including the Holy Days, after they first learned His personal Name.
Power Through Words
We establish our beliefs through language. Language can inspire, convict, and challenge, as in the way Yahshua used it; or it can be used to manipulate and subjugate, as despots have done over the centuries through propaganda. Words can sway emotion and opinion, as in a good movie or a good book.
Even husbands, wives, and children know what the wrong word or the right word can mean in their relationships.
The use of general titles like god and lord promote universalism, which is exactly the opposite of the True faith. True Worship is narrow, specific, well defined, and includes the faithful identifying the True Father by name (Matt. 7:14).
The way of error leading to destruction is broad and many will be in it, Yahshua said (v. 13). One way this is accomplished is by the argument that it doesn’t matter what we call Him. Any name or title is acceptable.
As explained, titles like god and lord are general and apply to many different mighty ones, even to Satan him-self. Pagan idols as well are called by the same titles commonly used as names for the Heavenly Father.
Titles do not fix an identity. They are like the generic “human being.” To call on “G-d” is like calling your neighbor, “Hey you, human being…”
Today’s New Babel
Even the sacred Name of the Creator Himself can lose its significance when we allow others to manipulate with words and substitute names.
The human-centered, humanistic movement that began in the Renaissance is finally succeeding in eliminating the very language of sin, which de-rives from a higher power. We hardly ever hear in general society terms like “immorality,” “living in sin,” “fornication,” “virtuous,” and the like.
Today man has decided to set his own standards of what is right and wrong. Sin and any reference to it is out, because sin recognizes a Father above, and that runs head-long into the notion that man himself is all-knowing.
Our culture is building new Towers of Babel, where everyone speaks the same language of moral relativism. This movement is out to change the way people think by changing their language and how right and wrong are perceived.
Forces working behind the scenes have seized on the power of language to promote their own agendas.
Its all part of a revamping of Bible-based beliefs – to replace traditional and biblical morality with humanistic beliefs. This in turn will prepare the way for the universal Man of Sin.
Instead of biblical standards, we have today “political correctness.” As one author wrote, “Political correctness is an attempt to eliminate freedom of speech for those who hold traditional values and religious beliefs. It is overt social censorship designed to stifle the truth.”
But even greater implications are those that tamper with the very nature of Almighty Yahweh and His Word. Satan is out to obliterate Yahweh and the truth of Him in a final push to pre-pare for His own Antimessiah.
Not just everyday words but even the Word of Yahweh is being molested and modified for an unrighteous end. A recent report notes that a prominent publisher is packaging its Bibles for worldwide distribution with the insignia, “Good News for a New Age.”
Even more disturbing is how new versions are fiddling with the text itself.
Satan as G-d
Those who misunderstand the significance of words and names tell us that it doesn’t matter what you call the Heavenly Father. They say, “He knows who you mean” regardless. Oddly, however, those who tell us this exclusively employ the same “L-rd” and “G-d” titles, which by their universal use amount to false replacement names.
Having been removed from the Name Yahweh, which identifies the True Mighty One of this universe and the specific worship He demands, mod-ern worshipers have unwittingly ac-cepted a generic title that takes them away from the only True Worship connected with His Name as well.
Not surprisingly. Satan has usurped this title. New Age and satanic writings describe Satan in terms that sound biblical, calling Him the Divine God. saying Lucifer is God, the bringer of Light. the savior of the world.
This fact will help to fulfill the prophecy of Revelation 13:4:
“And they worshiped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshiped the beast, saying. Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?”
But how could it happen? Quite easily. The masses are already calling on their mighty one with the same terms and titles honored in both Christianity and Satanism.
Yahweh’s Unheeded Warning
A little more deception and they sim-ply transfer the titles from one being to another! By definition, titles can apply to any number of persons or beings.
Thus is the final fulfillment of Deuteronomy 32:17: “They sacrificed unto devils, not to Elohim; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not.”
There are many new “gods” coming up in this age of the New Age. Our society is becoming increasingly taken over by pagan worship and its many false deities.
But the biggest is yet to show. The very worship of the Antimessiah all starts with violating the warning in Exodus 23:13, which is just as applicable for us today as for Israel 3,000 years ago:
“And in all [things] that I have said unto you be circumspect: and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of your mouth.” (Ex. 23:13)
Yahweh knew clearly what He was doing by giving us this warning. He is Yahweh Almighty, the only True Father above. His Name identifies Him and defines Him, just as it does those He calls His People, by His Name.
Is it possible that with every breath you take you are breathing the name Yahweh? It has been said the Jewish sages associated the name with breath. The uniqueness of this two syllable form YaH-WeH can indeed be breathed, try it. Inhale “Yah” and exhale “weh,” or you can exhale Yah and inhale weh. The yod, heh, and waw (which make up the Tetragrammaton) are semivowel letters in Hebrew, commonly called matres lectionis, from the Latin “mothers of reading” and are consonants that are used as vowels. In Biblical Hebrew they are used for the unchangeable vowel combinations in Masoretic vowel pointing.
Ancient Jewish historian Flavius Josephus backs this up in his description of the inscription on the miter of the high priest: “A mitre also of fine linen encompassed his head, which was tied by a blue ribbon, about which there was another golden crown, in which was engraven the sacred name: it consists of four vowels,” The Wars of the Jews, 5.235. Could Josephus be indicating the name is an onomatopoeia (formation of a word from the sound associated with it)? I’m pretty convinced he is. I am also convinced they considered yod, heh, and waw as matres lectionis and I believe the Hebrew tells the story.
Vowels are spoken with the open mouth and to inhale and exhale air you must open your mouth. It is no accident that the Tetragrammaton is made up of semi-vowel letters.
Yahweh told Moses in response to his question, what shall I call You, in Exodus 3:14 said: “I Am that I Am.” I Am is from the verb of existence HaYah in Hebrew, which means to become, come to pass, as well as sustain. His name is attributed to life. Our very sustenance is the air we breathe. Maybe this is why David wrote: “I will bless Yahweh at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Psalms 34:1. To breathe is the very essence of life. Yahweh’s Holy Spirit is called the Ruach HaKodesh in Hebrew. Ruach literally means breath, wind or spirit.
Yahweh’s very breath filled life into the lungs of man, Genesis 2:7; 7:22.
In Psalm 150:6 Scripture says: “Let every thing that hath breath praise Yah. HalleluYah.” Psalm 150:6 retains the short form Yah in the Masoretic text. It is vowel pointed to “Yah” (yod, qamets, heh) twice in the text. The final heh in Yah contains a mappiq dot indicating the heh is to be pronounced as a full aspirated consonant “YaH,” rather than just the qamets vowel “Ya,” adding the breathy “h” sound to Yahh.
Many rabbis know the importance of the Tetragrammaton YHWH in relation to breath. The Jewish prayer book, the Siddur, teaches, “Nishmat kol chai tivarekh et-shimcha, YHWH elohenu” — “The breathing of all life, praises your Name, YHWH our Elohim.”
This is yet another proof of why the simplicity of the two-syllable name Yah-weh is authentic and why so many of the complex three-syllable variations cannot be breathed. In Genesis 2:7 Yahweh breathed into Adam the breath of life and made him live. “Nishmat khayyim (breath of life).” Khayyim is represented in the popular Chai symbol of the two Hebrew letters Het-yod, popular among Jews in the land of Israel and worn as necklaces symbolizing life.
Recall the phrase in the movie Fiddler on the Roof: “to life to life l’chaim.” In Jeremiah 23:36 we see the Hebrew phrase “Elohim khayyim Yahweh sebaowth Elohenu” or “Elohim of the living, Yahweh of Hosts our Elohim.”
Pronounce the tetragrammaton the way it is written: YHWH. Notice you can actually pronounce the name with just the four letters. It really is quite amazing! You really don’t even need the vowels to say the name. This is the beauty of these aspirate consonants that make up the name and how fascinating Yahweh’s name really is. From the first man Adam till now, no matter your religion, if you believe in the Bible, or an Atheist, the name of Yahweh will be on every ones lips until your last breath.
Nehemiah Gordon claims that the Hebrew word “gav” holds the key that unlocks the true pronunciation of the sixth letter waw, which almost all Hebrew linguists (including those at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem) believe anciently had a “w” sound. If he can prove that the sixth letter, also known as the vav was pronounced anciently as a “v,” then his claim that Yehovah, (Jehovah) holds more weight over the traditional scholarly consensus of the pronunciation Yahweh. His claim is that these two Hebrew words, one spelled with the soft bet “gav,” and the other spelled with waw “gaw,” clearly prove that this sixth letter had the original sound of “v.” He believes these two words are interchangeable, so according to him this is a major discovery that should rock the scholarly word to its core. Gordon has a history of speaking in hyperbole but in this case does he have validity?
According to Gordon: “The word for back in Hebrew is gav and gav can be written with a soft bet or with a vav, and the only way that can happen is if the soft bet and the vav have the same pronunciation.” So Gordon believes that this is proof of two variant spellings of the same word, back, and not two variant spellings of two different words.
The word Gav גַּב 1354 spelled with the soft bet (without the dagesh) occurs 13 times in the Hebrew Bible and only translates to mean “back” one time, in Ezekiel 10:12. The 12 other various translations of gav are mound, rim of a wheel, embossed shield, arch of eye, dome roof, and various meanings of something “rounded.” It would make sense that this word could be used used for back as well, since the human back can curve and be round.
The other Hebrew word Gaw גַּו 1458 spelled with the “waw” or commonly called “vav” in modern Hebrew, occurs three times, 1 Kings 14:9, Nehemiah 9:26, and Ezekiel 23:35. In every occurrence of this word it means just “back.” It seems pretty clear from the translations and the word root that gav and gaw are two distinct words with two distinct meanings.
We reached out to the Hebrew University language department regarding Gordon’s claims regarding the Gav-Gaw connection since he claims this is such an amazing and earth shaking discovery. Professor Adina Moshavi commented:
“I completely agree that the גב/גו alternation is not an adequate proof to the contrary. I have not looked into this issue, but I see that the lexicons derive the two words from different roots, implying that the phonetic identity of the two words in Tiberian Hebrew is not significant,” Adina Moshavi, PhD, Hebrew Language Department, Hebrew University, Jerusalem. More about Professor Moshavi
We also reached out to Steven Fassberg, PhD, professor at the Hebrew University and one of the world’s foremost experts in the Hebrew language and the study of the Dead Sea Scrolls in Israel. Regarding the gav-gaw question he replied: “gb (gav) is from the root gbb and gw (gaw) is from the root gww. Both are well attested roots in Semitic.” He continues…“There is no doubt whatsoever that vav was pronounced w in the Hebrew of the First Temple period and in Semitic languages.”
“Thank you for your question. There is no doubt that the original pronunciation was w There is some evidence that in some early Hebrew dialects there was a sound shift of w>v. There are two different prepositions go – inside and gab > on top.” Elitzur Bar-Asher Siegal, PhD, Department of Hebrew Language, Hebrew University, Jerusalem
So if both of these words are from different roots according to the lexicon and to some of the best Hebrew experts in the world, then how can Gordon claim that they are a variation of the same word? Is Gordon ignorant of these Hebrew word roots? Is he willingly misleading people? To make these outlandish claims one can only assume one or the other.
We could also use such flawed reasoning, let me give you an example. Lets look at the Hebrew words שָׂחַק sachaq “to laugh” 7832 and צְחַק 6711 tzchaq “to Laugh.” Both have different roots but similar sounds. So with the same logic used by Gordon, does this mean that the letters Sin (s) and the Tzade (ts) have the same pronunciation just because the sounds of these letters are similar? Is this some cutting-edge find that should implode Biblical Hebrew as we know it? Of course not, that would be ridiculous.
Gordon had made a challenge to prove the waw sound has a “w” sound. He said: “Can you please show me your manuscripts with the “w” pronunciation?” This is not hard to do. If you understand how the language works and how contractions work, we can easily prove the waw sound as a “w” literally hundreds of times in the Hebrew Bible through contraction. When a word contracts, as happens with many words, it gets easier to say as fewer letters and sounds are typically used.
Let’s look at the Hebrew word, Avihu אָבִ֖יהוּ which means “his father” in Judges 14:10. It contracts to Aviw אָבִ֣יו “his father,” as found in in Judges 14:3. Notice in the contracted form the heh (h sound) has been dropped and the Shureq vowel letter וּ (which has the sound of “u” as in ruler) contracts to a consonantal waw ו and loses the niqqud dot. Now pronounce Avihu in it’s contracted form without the “h” Aviu. The softer sound of w is now vocalized. You could phonetically spell it Aviw with the double u. This occurs 220 times from Genesis to Chronicles and clearly proves the sound of the “waw” anciently is tied to the “w” or “double u” sound of the וּ Shureq. The use of the letter waw in connection with the “o” vowel sound as in Shalom שָׁלוֹם is no accident. When pronounced fast you can hear that “w” sound in the word—try it, say Shalom several times rapidly (shalom, shalom, shalom, shalom)…hear that “w” sound? The lips are in the same position when making an “O” (וֹ) “U” (וּ) or “W” (ו) sound but not with the “v” fricative sound which needs the upper teeth and lower lip engaged. The v in Hebrew is not tied to the waw letter ו at all in biblical Hebrew but to the letter bet in Hebrew. The Bet has the sound of B with the dagesh dot בּ and V sound ב without the dagesh. The sounds B and V are very similar.
We can also see this with the word for brother, Akihu אָחִ֖יהוּ found in Jeremiah 34:9, contracted down to Akhiyw אָחִ֨יו where the heh is removed contracting the “hu” sound to the simple double U “w” sound in Jeremiah 34:14. This contraction also is seen hundreds of times in the Masoretic text. Now try saying Akihu several times really fast and you will hear the W sound in Akhiyw.
In our correspondence Professor Moshavi goes into greater detail regarding the connection to the “U” sound and why the waw could only be a semivowel, not a consonant like the v. She says: “I believe there are many ways to demonstrate that the waw was not originally pronounced as a bilabial ‘v’ as it is in Tiberian Hebrew. The fact that the waw is frequently used as a mater lectionis for a long u sound would be impossible to explain if it was pronounced v, like the bet rafeh, rather as the semivowel w. Furthermore, there are many Hebrew words where a historical dipthong aw, as evidenced from Semitic cognates, has been reduced to a long vowel, e.g., in hiphil perfect of w-initial verbs hawrid > horid ‘he brought down,’ or in the word yawm > yom ‘day.’ and alternations between a dipthong and a long vowel, e.g.,absolute , awwet vs. construct mot ‘death.’ Such correspondences are only understandable if the phonetic value of the waw was a semivowel,” Adina Moshavi, PhD.
With so much evidence at our fingertips it is hard to comprehend how so many can believe Gordon’s false claims regarding the Waw vs. Vav debate. The information discussed is just another proof that the name Yahweh is not just ancient, but it also fits the rules of Hebrew grammar and cutting-edge linguistics.
A Tight Collection Of Notes Regarding The Pagan Origins Of “God” And “Lord” and why rejection of them is most reasonable.
1) It is wrong to use anything besides the Sacred Name when reading a scripture that contains The Name. Substitutes not allowed.
2) The Scriptures transliterate names of pagan gods and kings. Thus, by example, Yah teaches transliteration.
3) For clarity, titles should be translated -> idea-for-idea, accurately rendering Yah’s Thoughts and Priorities.These are not issues. OK? The Issue:
We are commanded to not utter the names of pagan deities. We have reason to believe that names of pagan deities are a common part of the English vocabulary, and thus should be avoided in a devotional context.
Exo 23:13 And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect: and make no mention of the name of other elohim, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth.This author is focusing on the use of “other elohim” in a devotional context. Days of the week and other topics will not be addressed here. Further, we only summarize points relative to the common titles “god” and “lord”.Is it possible that pagan names have crept into worship?Admission: Word origin (etymology) usually has an element of uncertainty. When we trace a word or name to its possible origin, there is a chance we have missed something, or made a false connection. Conjecture abounds.
The names of deities do travel great distances. Mithra originated in Persia. Then the Romans brought Mithra to Central Europe, where his worship was mingled with Christian practices.
Ishtar originated in Assyrio-Babylonian mythology, and made her way to central Europe, as the sunrise goddess, Ēostre or Ostara. (Christians will deny this).
The name “god” originated somewhere in the eastern hemisphere, and has made its way all the way to Asia, where American territories and allies use it frequently.
Modern pagans in the USA (yes, they do exist) freely invoke the names of Egyptian, Babylonian and Teutonic deities.
It is certainly possible that the name of pagan deities would make their way across great distances. These deities travel with people, and people migrate great distances.
Could pagan names in our mouths be an issue today?
Without a doubt, the answer is Yes. In the last days, Yahshua tells his people, worldwide, to come out of Babylon. Babylon was global before global was cool.
Twice, Yahshua’s Revelation warns us about “names of blasphemy” associated with the beast. Note this is the plural form, “names”, and the beast is filled with them (Rev 17:3)
Combining these facts, Yahshua’s Revelation makes it a certainty that “names of blasphemy” is a matter of concern for his people worldwide at the end time.
Why would “names of blasphemy” apply to the command cited, above, from Exodus 23:13?
Connecting “names of blasphemy” to pagan names is easily done by looking at the interpretation that best fits the facts.
In Isaiah 66:1-3, Yahweh condemns a hypocrite, and (among other things) states the following in vs. 3b:“ … he that burneth incense, is as if he blessed an idol.
Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations.”
That clause, “he that burneth incense, is as if he blessed an idol” is translated in the Greek Septuagint as:
“… he that gives frankincense for a memorial, is as a blasphemer.”
(the above taken from http://www.ecmarsh.com/lxx/Esaias/index.htm)
Thus, the names of blasphemy are connected to blessing an idol, through the word “blasphemy” (Greek #988 and 989) in our Greek copies of Revelation and Isaiah. Though “blasphemy” has a handful of applications and interpretations, this one best fits the facts: The “names of blasphemy” in Yahshua’s Revelation are the names used in idolatrous worship around the world.
This connects Revelation to a systematic theology against these names, meaning, it is a continuation of ancient warnings. In addition to Exodus 23:13, we have:
Psa 16:4 Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another: their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips.
Hos 2:17 For I will take away the names of the Baals out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name.
If this is not the correct interpretation, then what are the “names of blasphemy”? Outside of Sacred Name teaching, no one seems to have a systematic theology for this issue, even though it emerges twice in Yahshua’s Revelation.
What is the problem with the name “god”?
We start with “god”, because it is easiest to demonstrate. Weakest data first and building from there.
Linguistic theory of the origin of “god” shows it is perhaps from the Sanskrit (Proto-Indo-European) root “gheu” meaning to call, or else to pour. It can go either way.
The meaning “call” is connected to the Hindu deity Indra through the epithet (secondary name) “khuta”, meaning “invoked one”. This is not necessarily a problem. After all, Yahweh is invoked too. But that idea does not accurately translate the word “elohim.” Other possible meanings and origins of “god” are even more problematic.
The alternate meaning, “pour”, is interpreted as either pouring a drink offering or pouring a molten idol.
The citation, below, from the Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Ed. Vol VI, begins at once with uncertainty.
The word, geotan, highlighted in red, will be important, as will be the Greek cuton.
The connection with molten images, suggested near the end, is most alarming, but deemed unlikely by the author. That is, unlikely until other data is considered.
At dictionary.com, under “ingot” we get this: 1350-1400; Middle English: literally, (something) poured in, equivalent to in- in-
+ got (e) a stream, Old English *gota, akin to gēotan to flow; cognate with German giessen, Gothic giutan, Old Norse gjōta to pour
From: ingot. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/ingot
Thus, the “got” in “ingot” means “to pour”. The form “geotan” appears above both in the speculative derivation for “god”, and for the “got” in “ingot”. It is eerily similar to “Godan”, one of the names of Wodin/Woden/Wodan.
While the “got” in “ingot” comes from a word meaning to pour, linguistic sources shy away from connecting god->got-> g,heu (pour) in Sanskrit. Thus, the Sanskrit/Proto-Indo-European data is both ugly and elusive.
Note the mention of the Greek “cuton”, above, meaning “cast” (as in molten metal). This Greek word is sounded like “khuton”. Though evidently cognate with Sanskrit “khuto”, that connection is rejected out of hand by the citation, above.
While the Sanskrit-origin path is unclear, (to scholars, anyway), an alternate explanation is the importation of “god” from the Semitic word “gawd” (H1408, 1409).In the Hebrew Scriptures, the word gad (or rather gawd) is usually a nice word with positive meanings. In the one case where it is part of a religious scenario, it is condemned, as it is the name of a deity.Isa 65:11 But yeH859 are they that forsakeH5800 Yahweh,H3068 that forgetH7913 (H853) my holyH6944 mountain,H2022 that prepareH6186 a tableH7979 for gawd (fortune),H1408 and that furnishH4390 the drink offeringH4469 unto that number meni (luck).H4507 (citation adapted from esword withStrong’s numbers).That alone should eject the word “god” from the vocabulary of the saints. At a minimum, the English “god” sounds JUST LIKE the name of a Babylonian deity of luck.
A cogent connection between the central European “god” and the Semitic “gawd” is found in the name for the Almighty in Slavic languages in Eastern Europe, which is right next door to Central Europe. “Bog” is the name they use. And its fundamental meaning is “Rich”.
Even more, while the Semitic “gawd” also means “troop”, Slavic mythology has legends of “bogatyrs”, who were soldiers of fortune. The following table may clarify the connection.
The intellectual connection between the Semitic “gawd” and the Slavic “bog” lends weight to the likelihood of a deity having to do with “wealth” migrating around central and Eastern Europe.
It should be remembered that there is no literary evidence connecting “god” to Sanskrit. Those connections stated above by the pros are admittedly conjecture. They are unverified, but plausible.
The connection to the Semitic “gawd” is just as plausible, if not more so, with that connection to Slavic “bog”.
More importantly than the above, despite any origin, the Teutonic word “god” (and related words) always pointed to Germanic idols and false deities. First, keep in mind that pagan mythology and religion are related, but not the same thing. Religion calls into play devotional practices. In “Norse Mythology: A Guide to Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs” (2002) by John Lindow, page 147, the author speaks to the use of this word “god” in mythology.
It is significant that the word “god” is used almost always in a plural form in mythology, and that it appears in singular only in reference to the sun, or else an alternate pagan deity. But in religious practice, “god” is used for idols. Only in later, Christian times, is the word “god” brought screaming into a Monotheistic interpretation. This is explained in the following citation from the 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica:
The fact that “god” was always a pagan deity, and (if you prefer the Semitic root) the fact that “gawd” is the name of a known Babylonian deity, should cause us to remove this word “god” from our worship AT ONCE.
But these words were never pagan to me.
This statement suggests that if something is done in ignorance enough times, then it becomes sanctified. On the other hand, the great apostle said:
Act 17:30 And the times of this ignorance Elohim winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:The forgoing material may seem like a witch hunt. But the urgency to “Come out of her, my people” points to a need for diligent inquiry. There is something here to which Yahshua is alerting the end-time saints. And since Revelation is directed through 7 gentile assemblies, the focus should be on names used among the nations.
What is the problem with the word “lord”?
Let it be agreed that the word “lord” should not be rejected, merely because it was used as a substitute for the Holy Name.
Linguistic Theory says that “lord” comes from “hlaf-ward”, where:“hlaf” means loaf and “ward” means “keeper”, like a warden.
At this time, this author has nothing in analysis of the word, “ward”.
The word “hlaf”, for loaf, is more interesting. From http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=loaf
late 13c., from Old English hlaf “portion of bread baked in a mass of definite form,” from Proto-Germanic *khlaibuz, the common Germanic word for “bread” (source also of Old Norse hleifr, Swedish lev, Old Frisian hlef, Old High German hleib, German Laib, Gothic hlaifs “bread, loaf”).The Germanic root is of uncertain origin; it is perhaps connected to Old English hlifian “to raise higher, tower,” on the notion of the bread rising as it bakes, but (according to OED) it is unclear whether “loaf” or “bread” is the original sense. It is disguised in lord and lady. Finnish leipä, Estonian leip, Old Church Slavonic chlebu, Lithuanian klepas probably are Germanic loan words.
The words in Bold, above, draw the connection to the Latin word “Libum”, from which it is derived. A closer look at “loaf” reveals:
Old English hlāf; related to Old High German hleib bread, Old Norse hleifr,
Latin libum cake
So, what does “libum” mean? From: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/libum
ībum n (genitive lībī); second declension
1. pancake (sacred to the gods)
Other online sources (For example: http://www.latin-dictionary.org/libum) also show that this libum cake is sacrificed to the gods on one’s 50th birthday.
Here is the connection:
Libum (pagan sacrifice cake) -> hlieb (Old German for bread) -> hlaf (for loaf) + ward->hlaf+ward->lord
The last step is the hardest to accept. But if this is true, “lord” means a pagan sacrifice cake keeper. Yes, we are reaching back far, but the urgency of Yahshua’s Revelation compels us to test all things.
Isn’t the foregoing a stretch?
erhaps it is, in at least two(2) dimensions.
As is common with word evolution, “libum” is hidden in the word “lord” through centuries of contraction. Though this author is unwilling to use “lord” in worship, perhaps some will think the long evolution of this word has adequately cleansed it … Rather like those who think a sufficiently hot deep-fryer will cleanse the fried chicken made in the same vat as shrimp and crabs.More importantly, the transition from “hlaf-ward” to lord is a stretch. In Surnames as a Science (1883), Robert Ferguson expresses doubt over “Lord” coming from “hlaf-ward”, he states under LORD, LORDING (Kindle Locations 2847-2848):
We may take the above to be the same as an [Ango-Saxon] Lorta and Lorting, … And whatever may be the origin, it is certainly not [Ango-Saxon] hlaford, Eng. “lord.”
The connection from “hlaf-ward” to “lord” becomes abundantly absurd when considering the middle-English form “Lorde”, which is common in old Geneva Bibles, a sample of which is pasted below. It’s hard to see how
“hlaf-ward” would morph into “Lorde” with that “e” at the end.Psa 23:1 A Psalme of Dauid. The Lorde is my shephearde, I shall not want.The case against “lord” is much stronger than the “hlaf-ward” connection, owing to its evident cognate status with pagan deities from the past. The following is an expansion of material available in Elder Chris Koster’s work, “The Final Reformation” (also known as “Come Out of Her My People”, under the section on LORD, subsection (a) LARTH, which is the strongest evidence.Koster’s section will be pasted at the end, but material you can check will be provided first.There was a household idol from Roman days, which appeared in pairs. Singularly, one was called a “Lar” and when they started popping up in pairs, they were called “Lares”. The form Lar was also cognate with Larth.
Koster makes the following connection within an ocean of legitimate linguistic data:
Lar / Larth ->Lard ->Lord
Information on Lar and Lares is available in many places. You are invited to do n internet search on your own.
First consider the Lar connection to Larth. It was a common prefix name, meaning “Lord”, as shown here: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0059%3Aentry%3DLar1
Lār or Lars , Lartis, m.,
I.a prænomen of Etruscan origin (in Etruscan, usu: “the prefix of the first-born, while a younger son was called Aruns. The name Lar, Lars, or Larth was an honorary appellation in Etruscan, = Engl. lord): Lars Tolumnius, rex Veientium,” Cic. Phil. 9, 2; Liv. 4, 17, 1; 4, 58, 7: “ad Lartem Porsenam,” id. 2, 9 (nom. Lar, Charis. 110 P.).From: A Latin Dictionary. Founded on Andrews’ edition of Freund’s Latin dictionary. revised, enlarged, and in great part rewritten by. Charlton T. Lewis, Ph.D. and. Charles Short, LL.D. Oxford. Clarendon Press. 1879.Next …
The Middle English Dictionary (online) is a recent achievement. The entry of “lord” is located at this link: http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/m/mec/med-idx?size=First+100&type=headword&q1=lord&rgxp=constrainedThey list several variants of the word “lord” from Middle English:
lōrd (n.) Also lorde, lorte, lhord,
(errors) lor, lorlde & loverd,
(early) lovered, lowerd, lhoaverd, hloverd,
(errors) lover, lorverde & lard,
(early & N) laverd,
(early) lavord, lavard, laverred, lavert, laferd, laford, lhaferd, hlaverd, hlavord, hlaford, (error) laver &(early) leverd, læverd, leaverd, leoverð. Pl. lōrdes, etc. &
(?error) lōrde &
(early) hlāforde(n; pl.gen. lōrdes & lōrden(e & (early) lōverde, lāfordæ, hlāforden.The purpose of posting this list is to note and compare ancient spellings for “lord”. It is especially intriguing that forms deemed to be “error” are nearly identical to non-error forms. “lorde” is deemed an error, yet we see it plainly in the Geneva Bible. It is most significant to compare the existence of 1-syllable and 2-syllable forms, as though the parallel history of two different words are mixed up together.The citation from Koster’s book is here. (Downloadable PDF: http://www.sa-hebroots.com/koster.htm)(a) LARTH: There was an Etruscan house deity whose name was Lar, which signified “Lord”, also known as Larth, who later on became very popular in Rome and became known as Lares (plural), because as idol statues they were usually in pairs. This deity was invoked together with Janus, Jupiter, Mars, Quirinus and Bellona. The Greek equivalent of this name was Heros, which was another name for Zeus, as we have seen previously in this article. A feminine form was known as Lara, who was the beloved of Mercury, the Sun-deity. Another name for Zeus was Larissaeus, which also was another name for Apollo. Zeus was also known as or Lariseus, while Larasios was also a surname of Helios. Typical of the syncretism and polytheism of those days, we read of emperor Alexander Severus (222 – 235 C.E.) who “had images of Abraham, Christ and Alexander the Great among his household Lares.” These Lares are to be found in the East as well, seen in niches in Hindu houses. However, what is the analogy between Larth (Lar) and Lord? Firstly, all sources agree, that this Lar or Larth means: Lord. Secondly, it is well documented that “the” and “d” were virtually interchangeably used, varying from nation to nation. Thirdly, in Old English and Middle English it was common to find the “o” and “a” interchangeably used too. In the Middle English Dictionary, editor S.M. Kuhn, we read that lord was earlier spelt lard; that lor became lord; that lor was spelt lar in Old English (meaning: the action or process of teaching or preaching); that Lore-fader was also spelt Larfaderr or Larefadir or larfadir (meaning:teacher); that lorspel was lar-spel in Old English (meaning: that which is taught in religion); and that lor-theu was previously also spelt lar-theow, lardewe, lardewen, lauerd, lordeau (meaning: teacher or spiritual or theological teacher). Thus we can easily see the ease of identifying Lard, Lord, Larth, Lor, Lar, Lortheu, Lartheow, Lardewe with one another. In fact, it is easier to trace the origin of “Lord” according to this well documented evidence, rather than the commonly held belief that it originated from hlaf-weard.What is most compelling is that these lord-related word, beginning with the household idols used to “lord” over a home or public place, form a continuum of thought in the arena of master and teacher. This by far beats the mental gymnastics summoned to derive “lord” from “hlaf-word”.
Summary Points for “god”
“god” perhaps comes from a reconstructed Sanskrit root, likely meaning to pour a molten idol. We get this from the connection of “ingot” to the very same Proto-Indo-European root claimed by linguists. This would obviously be unacceptable.
If “god” comes from the reconstructed Sanskrit root “to invoke”, in itself, that would not be a problem. But that makes it an inaccurate translation of Elohim, which means “mightiest one” or “Almighty.” It’s hard to justify a word translation which obviously distorts a ubiquitous, Spirit-Breathed Description of Yahweh in The Scriptures.Or else “god” comes from the Semitic gad/gawd, condemned in scripture in the context of worship.
Or else it came belching forth directly from the bowels of Teutonic mythology, a word always pointing to an idol.
Regardless of your tack, “god” falls short of the intention to faithfully translate a title. In three of the four possibilities, it is unacceptable out-of-hand.
Summary Points for “lord”
Either ”lord” means “keeper of the pagan sacrificial loaf”, using “the hlaf-ward” derivation.
“lord” comes from the household deities named “Lar/Larth” singular and Lares plural. Through old-middle English, its evolution forms a continuum of thoughts in the realm of lord/master/teacher.What is a useful translation for “Elohim”?
In reference to Yah, the most literal way to convey the thought behind “Elohim” is “Almighty”. It is a perfect bulls-eye. In reference to pagan deities, this author has no concerns.
What about other languages, like Greek?
Though the handling of this matter in other languages is beyond the scope of this summary, the handling of Names and Titles in the Greek NT texts is striking. There are at least three (3) text types, which scholars enjoy arguing over. Regardless of textual type, the earliest ones ALL exhibit the “Nomina Sacra”, where we would expect to find Sacred Names and titles. This phenomenon is typically two or three letters of a name or title (an abbreviation) with a line drawn over it. E.g., ̅̅𝒌𝒔̅̅ for “kurios” The purpose of these devices is still a matter of debate. Because this practice is so ancient, we must learn why full-form “theos” and “kurios” never made it into the earliest Greek texts. Until that mystery is explained cogently, there is no compelling reason to leverage “theos” and “kurios” (which have their own questions) as an excuse to be undisciplined in modern times.
We have an end-time warning about names (plural) of blasphemy, coming to us from Yahshua through 7 gentile assemblies. The saints of all nations should be examining what they use to describe The Supreme Being. In English, the common terms lord and god have fallen short. Yahshua’s Revelation is most likely about this very thing. If not about this, what could it be, to merit such warning in the final Revelation?
One might cling to a more favorable theory about the origins of these words. But, who among us has the supernatural ability to know which one it is? It doesn’t matter: In no case, does “god” convey the inspired concept of “Elohim”, and both of the lord-derivations are unsatisfactory.
Psa 19:13-14 Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me:
then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Yahweh, my strength, and my redeemer. To the chief Musician.
Bible Translations Endorse the Sacred Name, but Avoid It.
“In regard to the divine name YHWH, commonly referred to as the Tetragrammaton, the translators adopted the device used in most English versions of rendering that name as “LORD” in capital letters…(New International Version)
This personal proper name, written with the consonants YHWH. was considered too sacred to be uttered; so the vowels for the words ‘my Lord’ or ‘God’ were added to the consonants YHWH, and the reader was warned by these vowels that he must substitute other consonants. (New English Bible).
While it is almost if not quite certain that the Name was originally pronounced ‘Yahweh,’ this pronunciation was not indicated when the Masoretes added vowel signs to the consonantal Hebrew text. (Revised Standard Version).
Erroneously written and pronounced Jehovah, which is merely a combination of the sacred Tetragrammaton and the vowel in the Hebrew word for Lord, substituted by the Jews for YHWH, because they shrank from pronouncing The Name. To give the name YHWH the vowels of the word for Lord (Heb. Adonai) and pronounce it Jehovah, is about as hybrid a combination as it would be to spell the name Germany with the vowels in the name Portugal-viz. Gormuna.(Emphasized Bible).
Following an ancient tradition begun by the first translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek (the Septuagint) and followed by the vast majority of English translations, the distinctive Hebrew name for God(usually transliterated Jehovah or Yahweh) is in this translation represented by “Lord.” When Adonai, normally translated “Lord,” is followed by Yahweh, the combination is rendered by the phrase “Sovereign Lord. (Good News Translation).
The World English Bible main edition translates God’s Proper Name in the Old Testament as ‘Yahweh.’ The Messianic Edition and the British Edition of the World English Bible translates the same name as ‘LORD’ (all capital letters), or when used with ‘Lord’ (mixed case, translated from ‘Adonai’,) GOD. There are solid translational arguments for both traditions. (World English Bible).
There is yet another name which is particularly assigned to God as His special or proper name, that is, the four letters YHWH (Exodus 3:14 and Isaiah 42:8). This name has not been pronounced by the Jews because of reverence for the great sacredness of the divine name. Therefore, it has been consistently translated LORD. The only exception to this translation of YHWH is when it occurs in immediate proximity to the word Lord, that is, Adonai. In that case it is regularly translated GOD in order to avoid confusion. It is known that for many years YHWH has been transliterated as Yahweh, however no complete certainty attaches to this pronunciation. ”(New American Standard Bible).
Following is a compilation of sources confirming the pronunciation of the sacred Name “Yahweh.” While some maintain that the name is Yehovah or Jehovah, this form is a hybrid that developed through the practice of adding the vowel points from the Hebrew Adonai to the Tetragrammaton. Those vowels were not intended to be inserted into the Tetragrammaton, but were to warn the reader to use Adonai instead.
A Book About the Bible:
George Stimpson, p. 247. “Jehovah in that form was unknown to the ancient Israelites. In fact, Hebrew scholars say that Jehovah would have been impossible according to the strict principles of Hebrew vocalization. The God of Israel was known by a name approximately rendered into English as Yahweh.”
Wycliff Bible Dictionary:
Charles Pfeiffer, Ed., “God, Names and Titles of,” p. 694. “Yahweh was doubtless the approximate pronunciation of the tetragrammaton, the four-letter word YHWH, since transliterations into Gr. in early Christian literature have been found in the form of iaoue (Clement of Alexander) and iahe (Theodoret) pronounced ‘iave.’ The name is a variant connected with the verb haya, ‘to be,’ from an earlier form, hawa.”
The Oxford Companion to the Bible:
Bruce Metzger, Ed., “Names of God in the Hebrew Bible,” p. 548. “The Bible often refers to God by his proper name, which was probably pronounced Yahweh …In the Hebrew Bible, the consonants yhwh are usually to be read as Adonai…’my Lord,’ for the sake of reverence, and English versions represent the word by ‘Lord’ or (less often) ‘God’ in capital letters.”
The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary:
Allen C. Myers, Ed., “Yahweh,” p. 1075. “Although the meaning of the name remains subject to debate, Yahweh is most likely a verbal form of Heb. haya (perhaps originally hwy)…Because of the utmost sanctity ascribed to the name, Jews from postexilic times on have declined to pronounce it in public reading, and only the consonants were written (YHWH; the Dead Sea Scrolls use the archaic, ‘paleo-Hebrew’ script). Although the original pronunciation was thus eventually lost, inscriptional evidence favors yahwae or yahwe. The name is represented in the MT by the consonants with the vowel pointing for ‘adonay ‘Lord.’ From this derived ca, the sixteenth century the form ‘Jehovah’ (yehowah). In modern usage pious Jews often substitute the expression has-sem ‘the Name.’”
The Journey from Texts to Translations:
Paul D. Wegner, pp. 172-173. “The scribes reasoned that if they did not point the name Yahweh then it could never be treated lightly since his name would not really be known. Initially the real pointing was probably passed along by tradition, but in time it was lost. In Exodus 20:7 the name Lord is written in capital letters according to the convention of signifying the name Yahweh, but the name as it appears in the Hebrew text is hwhy (yehowa), in which appear the consonants from the name Yahweh (hwhy [yhwh]) and the vowels from the word Lord (ynda [‘idonay]). Proof for the fabricated nature of this word are the two vowels which appear on the waw, an impossibility in Hebrew. However, until the revival of the Hebrew language in western Europe scholars read the consonants YHWH (Germans would read them as JHVH) with the vowels of ‘adonay, thereby originating the incorrect form Jehovah. This word was then introduced into English by William Tyndale and was continued by the King James Version.”
Understanding the Old Testament:
Bernhard Anderson, “Definition: ‘Jehovah,’ ‘The Lord,’” p. 61. “The personal divine name YHWH…has had an interesting history. In the Old Testament period the Hebrew language was written only with consonants; vowels were not added until the Common Era, when Hebrew was no longer a living language. On the basis of Greek texts, which of course use both vowels and consonants, it is believed that the original pronunciation of the name was Yahweh. Notice the shortened form of the divine name in the exclamation, ‘Halleluyah’ — ‘Praise Yah.’
“However, because of its holy character, the name Yahweh was withdrawn from ordinary speech during the period of the Second Temple (c. 500 B.C.E. and later) and the substitute word — actually a title not a personal name — Adonai, or (The) Lord, was used, as is still the practice in synagogues. Scholars who translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek (the Septuagint) in the third century B.C.E. adopted this synagogue convention and rendered YHWH as (ho) kurios, ‘(The) Lord.’ From this Greek translation the practice was carried over into the New Testament.
“The word Jehovah is an artificial form that arose from the erroneous combination of the consonants YHWH with the vowels of Adonai — written under or over the Hebrew consonants to indicate that the substitute is to be pronounced. This hybrid form is often held to be the invention of Pater Galatin…but in actuality it can be traced back to a work by a certain Raymond Martin in 1270.”
The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible:
“Yahweh,” Vol. 4, p. 923. “YAHWEH. The vocalization of the four consonants of the Israelite name for God which scholars believe to approximate the original pronunciation.”
The Zondervan Pictoral Encyclopedia of the Bible:
“Yahweh,” Vol. 5, p. 1021. “Yahweh…meaning debated but often tied to the root meaning to be, become. The word Yahweh is a vocalization of the four consonants in the way many scholars think this covenant name for God was pronounced in OT times.”
“Jehovah, ” Vol. 16, p. 8. “An erroneous pronunciation of the name of the God of Israel in the Bible, due to pronouncing the vowels of the term ‘Adonay,’ the marginal Masoretic reading, with the consonants of the text-reading ‘Yahweh’…”
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia:
“God, Names of,” Vol. 4, p. 241. “The English form ‘Jehovah’ arose by a Latinized combination of the four consonants (YHWH) with the vowel points that the Masoretes used to show that they meant the reader to say ‘Adonai’ when reading the tetragrammaton. That is, they left the consonants for ‘Yahweh’ in the text but put with them the vowels for ‘Adonai’…Though the older English versions sometimes used this hybrid form with compound names (such as ‘Jehovah-Jireh’ [Gen. 22:14]), usually the divine name has been rendered by ‘the Lord,’ following the ancient Greek translations of the OT, which commonly rendered Yahweh by kyrios.”
The Encyclopedia of the Lutheran Church:
“Yahweh,” Vol. N-Z, p. 2537. “The probable pronunciation of the OT four-lettered word YHWH, the most profound and sacred of the Hebrew names for God. The name is interpreted in Ex. 3:14 as ‘I am who I am.’ The name was held in such high regard that the Jews were forbidden to pronounce it and read the word ‘Adonai’ (i.e., lord) instead. When the Hebrew masoretes added the vowel points to the consonantal text, they used the vowels of Adonai with the four consonants YHWH; this was transliterated in the early versions as Jehovah. This form of the word became quite popular, but it should be remembered that such a word never existed.”
The New Brown, Driver, and Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament:
pp. 217-218. “Yahweh, the proper name of the God of Israel … The pronunciation Jehovah was unknown until 1520, when it was introduced by Galatinus; but was contested by Le Mercier, J. Drusius, and L. Capellus, as against grammatical and historical propriety.”
Insight on the Scriptures:
Vol. 2, p. 5: “Jehovah,” (Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1988). “Correct Pronunciation of the Divine Name. ‘Jehovah’ is the best known English pronunciation of the divine name, although ‘Yahweh’ is favored by most Hebrew scholars.”
Did you know?
“hovah” (Je-hovah) means ruin, and in Scripture is translated calamity, wickedness, perverse thing, iniquity, naughty, and mischievous. (Strong’s Hebrew and Aramaic Dictionary Nos. 1942 and 1943).
Psalms 145:21: My mouth shall speak the praise of Yahweh: and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever.
Praise His Name Yahweh
Psalm 69:30 I will praise the name of Elohim with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.
Call on His name Yahweh
Psalms 80:18: So will not we go back from thee: quicken us, and we will call upon thy name.
Psalms 99:6: Moses and Aaron among his priests, and Samuel among them that call upon his name; they called upon Yahweh, and he answered them.
Confess His name Yahweh
II Chronicles 6:24-25: And if thy people Israel be put to the worse before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee; and shall return and confess thy name, and pray and make supplication before thee in this house; 25) Then hear thou from the heavens, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest to them and to their fathers.
Declare His name Yahweh
Exodus 9:16 And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.
Hebrews 2:12: Saying I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the assembly will I sing praise unto thee.
Exalt His name Yahweh
Pslams 34:3 O magnify Yahweh with me, and let us exalt his name together.
Glorify His name Yahweh
Psalms 86:9: All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Yahweh; and shall glorify thy name.
Psalms 86:12: I will praise thee, O Yahweh my Elohim, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore.
Honor His name Yahweh
Psalms 66:2: Sing forth the honour of his name: make his praise glorious.
Magnify His name
II Samuel 7:26: And let thy name be magnified for ever, saying, Yahweh of hosts is the Elohim over Israel: and let the house of thy servant David be established before thee.
Remember His name Yahweh
Exodus 3:15: And Elohim said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, Yahweh Elohim of your fathers, the Elohim of Abraham, the Elohim of Isaac, and the Elohim of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.
Sing to His name Yahweh
Psalms 68:4: Sing unto Elohim, sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name YAH, and rejoice before him.
Trust in His name Yahweh
Isaiah 50:10 Who is among you that feareth Yahweh, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of Yahweh, and stay upon his Elohim.
Not to take his name in vain (3rd Commandment)
Exodus 20:7 Thou shalt not take the name of Yahweh thy Elohim in vain; for Yahweh will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
Abraham called on the name Yahweh
Genesis 12:7: And Yahweh appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto Yahweh, who appeared unto him. 8) And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto Yahweh, and called upon the name of Yahweh.
David called on the name Yahweh
Psalms 116:13: I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of Yahweh.
Psalms 116:17: I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of Yahweh.
The name Yahweh a memorial unto ALL generations
Exodus 3:15: And Elohim said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, Yahweh Elohim of your fathers, the Elohim of Abraham, the Elohim of Isaac, and the Elohim of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.
His people will KNOW his name Yahweh
Isaiah 52:6: Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak: behold, it is I.
No more called Baal (my LORD)
Hosea 2:16: And it shall be at that day, saith Yahweh, that thou shalt call me Ishi; (Husband) and shalt call me no more Baali. (My LORD) 17) For I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name.
Do NOT forget his name Yahweh
Psalms 44:20: f we have forgotten the name of our Elohim, or stretched out our hands to a strange El; 21) Shall not Elohim search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart.
Jeremiah 23:26: How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart; 27) Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal (LORD).
Yahweh’s name called on from the Beginning
Genesis 4:26: And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of Yahweh.
The following is a compilation of scholarly sources confirming the pronunciation of “Yahweh.” While some maintain that the name is Yehovah or Jehovah, this form is a hybrid that developed through the practice of adding the vowel points from the Hebrew Adonai to the Tetragrammaton.
Insight on the Scriptures, Vol. 2, pg. 5: “Jehovah,” Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, 1988. “Correct Pronunciation of the Divine Name. ‘Jehovah’ is the best known English pronunciation of the divine name, although ‘Yahweh’ is favored by most Hebrew scholars. The oldest Hebrew manuscripts present the name in the form of four consonants, commonly called the Tetragrammaton (from Greek te∙tra-, meaning ‘four,’ and gram’ma, ‘letter’). These four letters (written from right to left) are hwhy and may be transliterated into English as YHWH (or, JHVH).”
A Book About the Bible, George Stimpson, pg. 247. “Jehovah in that form was unknown to the ancient Israelites. In fact, Hebrew scholars say that Jehovah would have been impossible according to the strict principles of Hebrew vocalization. The God of Israel was known by a name approximately rendered into English as Yahweh.”
Wycliff Bible Dictionary, Charles Pfeiffer, Ed., “God, Names and Titles of,” pg. 694. “Yahweh was doubtless the approximate pronunciation of the tetragrammaton, the four-letter word YHWH, since transliterations into Gr. in early Christian literature have been found in the form of iaoue (Clement of Alexander) and iahe (Theodoret) pronounced ‘iave.’ The name is a variant connected with the verb haya, ‘to be,’ from an earlier form, hawa.”
The Oxford Companion to the Bible, Bruce Metzger, Ed., “Names of God in the Hebrew Bible,” pg. 548. “The Bible often refers to God by his proper name, which was probably pronounced Yahweh …In the Hebrew Bible, the consonants yhwh are usually to be read as Adonai…’my Lord,’ for the sake of reverence, and English versions represent the word by ‘Lord’ or (less often) ‘God’ in capital letters.”
The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, Allen C. Myers, Ed., “Yahweh,” pg. 1075. “Although the meaning of the name remains subject to debate, Yahweh is most likely a verbal form of Heb. haya (perhaps originally hwy)…Because of the utmost sanctity ascribed to the name, Jews from postexilic times on have declined to pronounce it in public reading, and only the consonants were written (YHWH; the Dead Sea Scrolls use the archaic, ‘paleo-Hebrew’ script). Although the original pronunciation was thus eventually lost, inscriptional evidence favors yahwae or yahwe. The name is represented in the MT by the consonants with the vowel pointing for ‘adonay ‘Lord.’ From this derived ca, the sixteenth century the form ‘Jehovah’ (yehowah). In modern usage pious Jews often substitute the expression has-sem ‘the Name.'”
The Journey from Texts to Translations, Paul D. Wegner, pg, 172, 173. “The scribes reasoned that if they did not point the name Yahweh then it could never be treated lightly since his name would not really be known. Initially the real pointing was probably passed along by tradition, but in time it was lost. In Exodus 20:7 the name Lord is written in capital letters according to the convention of signifying the name Yahweh, but the name as it appears in the Hebrew text is hwhy (yehowa), in which appear the consonants from the name Yahweh (hwhy [yhwh]) and the vowels from the word Lord (ynda [‘idonay]). Proof for the fabricated nature of this word are the two vowels which appear on the waw, an impossibility in Hebrew. However, until the revival of the Hebrew language in western Europe scholars read the consonants YHWH (Germans would read them as JHVH) with the vowels of ‘adonay, thereby originating the incorrect form Jehovah. This word was then introduced into English by William Tyndale and was continued by the King James Version.”
Understanding the Old Testament, Bernhard Anderson, “Definition: ‘Jehovah,’ ‘The Lord,'” pg. 61. “The personal divine name YHWH…has had an interesting history. In the Old Testament period the Hebrew language was written only with consonants; vowels were not added until the Common Era, when Hebrew was no longer a living language. On the basis of Greek texts, which of course use both vowels and consonants, it is believed that the original pronunciation of the name was Yahweh. Notice the shortened form of the divine name in the exclamation, ‘Halleluyah’ — ‘Praise Yah.’
“However, because of its holy character, the name Yahweh was withdrawn from ordinary speech during the period of the Second Temple (c. 500 B.C.E. and later) and the substitute word — actually a title not a personal name — Adonai, or (The) Lord, was used, as is still the practice in synagogues. Scholars who translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek (the Septuagint) in the third century B.C.E. adopted this synagogue convention and rendered YHWH as (ho) kurios, ‘(The) Lord.’ From this Greek translation the practice was carried over into the New Testament.
“The word Jehovah is an artificial form that arose from the erroneous combination of the consonants YHWH with the vowels of Adonai — written under or over the Hebrew consonants to indicate that the substitute is to be pronounced. This hybrid form is often held to be the invention of Pater Galatin…but in actuality it can be traced back to a work by a certain Raymond Martin in 1270.”
The New English Bible, Introduction, pg. xv, xvi. “The traditional text was originally written only in consonants, but in order to preserve what they regarded as the correct pronunciation of the words the Rabbis added vowel-signs to the text…One variation of this convention is of special importance, inasmuch as it affects the divine name. This personal proper name, written with the consonants YHWH, was considered too sacred to be uttered; so the vowels for the words ‘my Lord’ or ‘God’ were added to the consonants YHWH, and the reader was warned by these vowels that he must substitute other consonants. This change having to be made so frequently, the Rabbis did not consider it necessary to put the consonants of the new reading in the margin. In course of time the true pronunciation of the divine name, probably Yahweh, passed into oblivion, and YHWH was read with the intruded vowels, the vowels of an entirely different word, namely ‘my Lord’ or ‘God.’ In late medieval times this mispronunciation became current as Jehova, and it was taken over as Jehovah by the Reformers in Protestant Bibles.”
Revised Standard Version, Preface, pg. iv, v. “While it is almost if not quite certain that the Name was originally pronounced ‘Yahweh,’ this pronunciation was not indicated when the Masoretes added vowel signs to the consonantal Hebrew text. To the four consonants YHWH of the Name, which had come to be regarded as too sacred to be pronounced, they attached vowel signs indicating that in its place should be read the Hebrew word Adonai meaning ‘Lord’…The ancient Greek translators substituted the word Kyrios (Lord) for the Name. The Vulgate likewise used the Latin word Dominus. The form ‘Jehovah’ is of late medieval origin; it is a combination of the consonants of the Divine Name and the vowels attached to it by the Masoretes but belonging to an entirely different word… reasons the Committee has returned to the more familiar usage of the King James Version… the word ‘Jehovah’ does not accurately represent any form of the Name ever used in Hebrew…”
The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, “Yahweh,” Vol. 4, pg. 923. “YAHWEH. The vocalization of the four consonants of the Israelite name for God which scholars believe to approximate the original pronunciation.”
The Zondervan Pictoral Encyclopedia of the Bible, “Yahweh,” Vol. 5, pg. 1021. “Yahweh…meaning debated but often tied to the root meaning to be, become. The word Yahweh is a vocalization of the four consonants in the way many scholars think this covenant name for God was pronounced in OT times.”
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, “God, Names of,” Vol. 4, pg. 241. “The English form ‘Jehovah’ arose by a Latinized combination of the four consonants (YHWH) with the vowel points that the Masoretes used to show that they meant the reader to say ‘Adonai’ when reading the tetragrammaton. That is, they left the consonants for ‘Yahewh’ in the text but put with them the vowels for ‘Adonai’…Though the older English versions sometimes used this hybrid form with compound names (such as ‘Jehovah-Jireh’ [Gen. 22:14]), usually the divine name has been rendered by ‘the Lord,’ following the ancient Greek translations of the OT, which commonly rendered Yahweh by kyrios.”
The Encyclopedia of the Lutheran Church, “Yahweh,” Vol. N-Z, pg. 2537. “The probable pronunciation of the OT four-lettered word YHWH, the most profound and sacred of the Hebrew names for God. The name is interpreted in Ex. 3:14 as ‘I am who I am.’ The name was held in such high regard that the Jews were forbidden to pronounce it and read the word ‘Adonai’ (i.e., lord) instead. When the Hebrew masoretes added the vowel points to the consonantal text, they used the vowels of Adonai with the four consonants YHWH; this was transliterated in the early versions as Jehovah. This form of the word became quite popular, but it should be remembered that such a word never existed.”
Twentieth Century Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, “Yahweh,” Vol. 2, pg. 1195. “…It has become increasingly clear that no satisfactory attempt to recover the etymology and original meaning of the name ‘Yahweh’ can ignore the laws governing the grammatical, especially the phonetic evolution of Northwest Semitic. Thus attempts to derive the name from an original ya, yah, yaw, or yahu (popular among a large numbers of scholars since the discovery of the independent form YHW in the Egyptian papyri of the fifth century B.C. from Elephantine) appear now to be without sound philological foundation.”
The Emphasized Bible, (Joseph Bryant Rotherham), Introduction, pg. 23-25. “Why not in the form ‘Jehovah’? Is that not euphonious? It is, without question. Is it not widely used? It is, and may still be freely employed to assist through a period of transition. but is it not hallowed and endeared by many a beautiful hymn and many a pious memory? Without doubt; and therefore it is with reluctance that is here declined. But why is it not accepted? There it is–familiar, acceptable, ready for adoption. The reason is, that it is too heavily burdened with merited critical condemnation–as modern, as a compromise, as a ‘mongrel’ word, ‘hybrid,’ ‘fantastic,’ ‘monstrous.’ The facts have only to be known to justify this verdict, and to vindicate the propriety of not employing it in a new and independent translation. What are the facts? And first as to age. ‘The pronunciation Jehovah was unknown until 1520, when it was introduced by Galatinus; but was contested by Le Mercier, J. Drusius, and L. Capellus, as against grammatical and historical propriety.’ Next, as to formation. ‘Erroneously written and pronounced Jehovah, which is merely a combination of the sacred Tetragrammaton and the vowels in the Hebrew word for Lord, substituted by the Jews for JHVH, because they shrank from pronouncing The Name, owing to an old misconception of the two passages, Ex. 20:7 and Lev. 24:16…To give the name JHVH the vowels of the word for Lord [Heb. Adonai] and pronounce it Jehovah, is about as hybrid a combination as it would be to spell the name Germany with the vowels in the name Portugal – viz., Gormuna. The monstrous combination Jehovah is not older than about 1520 A.D.’ From this we may gather that the Jewish scribes are not responsible for the ‘hybrid’ combination. They intentionally wrote alien vowels–not for combination with the sacred consonants, but for the purpose of cautioning the Jewish reader to enunciate a totally different word, viz., some other familiar name of the Most High.”
World English Bible, preface, “The World English Bible main edition translates God’s Proper Name in the Old Testament as ‘Yahweh.’ The Messianic Edition and the British Edition of the World English Bible translates the same name as ‘LORD’ (all capital letters), or when used with ‘Lord’ (mixed case, translated from ‘Adonai’,) GOD. There are solid translational arguments for both traditions.”
Yehovah, this latecomer in the rendering of our Creator’s Name, has gained popularity within the Messianic and Hebrew Roots communities. However, there are serious linguistic flaws with this pronunciation.
Before discussing those, however, it’s important to understand the premise of those who advocate “Yehovah.” This rendering is based on late medieval Hebrew manuscripts of the Old Testament that show the four letters yod-hey-waw-hey [hwhy] with the vowel points from Adonai.
Within these manuscripts or codices there are several instances where the vowel points for “Yehovah” (English, “Jehovah”) are found. Based on this fact, it is theorized that the scribes who produced these manuscripts accidentally preserved the name “Yehovah” by not removing the vowel points. There are serious flaws with this hypothesis and logic as you will soon see.
For those who believe this was a scribal error, it’s important to realize that Jewish scribes were ultra-meticulous. After copying a text, scribes would painstakingly review the script for any errors. The thought that a scribe would overlook numerous instances of the same mistake is unthinkable. According to the Jewish Talmud, there were 20 steps a scribe would go through to ensure textual accuracy. Below are some of these steps:
The scribe must be a learned, pious Jew, who has undergone special training and certification.
All materials (parchment, ink, quill) must conform to strict specifications, and be prepared specifically for the purpose of writing a Torah scroll.
The scribe must pronounce every word out loud before copying it from the correct text.
The scribe may not write even one letter into a Torah scroll by heart. Rather, he must have a second, kosher scroll opened before him at all times.
A Torah scroll is disqualified if even a single letter is added.
A Torah scroll is disqualified if even a single letter is deleted.
Every letter must have sufficient white space surrounding it. If one letter touches another in any spot, it invalidates the entire scroll.
If a single letter is so marred that it cannot be read at all, or resembles another letter (whether the defect is in the writing, or the result of a hole, tear or smudge), the entire scroll is invalidated.
Each letter must be sufficiently legible so that even an ordinary schoolchild could distinguish it from other, similar letters.
The scribe must put precise space between words, so that one word will not look like two words, or two words look like one word.
The scribe must not alter the design of the sections, and must conform to particular line-lengths and paragraph configurations.
A Torah Scroll in which any mistake has been found cannot be used, and a decision regarding its restoration must be made within 30 days, or it must be buried.
Considering these extraordinary measures, it is unfathomable that a scribe would leave the same mistake multiple times in a Hebrew manuscript of the Old Testament. The logic that “Yehovah” arose due to Jewish scribal mistakes is seriously flawed. No scholar would accept this explanation.
Written One Way, Read Another
So how do we explain the instances where the vowel points for “Yehovah” are found in these ancient Hebrew codices? According to biblical scholars, following a Jewish tradition beginning after the 6th century BCE, The Masoretes, i.e., Jewish scribes from the 6-10th centuries CE, used an orthographic device known as Qere / Ketiv to conceal the name. Qere means, “what is read,” and ketiv means, “what is written.” It is found in existing Masoretic manuscripts dating to the 9th and 10th centuries, CE. There are several forms of Qere / Ketiv, including: ordinary, vowel, omitted, added, euphemistic, split, and qere perpetuum.
The ketiv that is most relevant is the vowel qere. In this this case, the consonants are unchanged, but different vowel signs are added and only the qere, i.e., what is read, is vocalized. The most notable example of this is with the Tetragrammaton or the four letters of the divine name. To ensure that the name was not pronounced, Masoretic Jewish scribes left the Hebrew consonants, but added the vowel points from Adonai, and on occasions Elohim. Following the Qere / Ketiv, the reader was to read Adonai or Elohim, depending on the vowel points used. It was never the intent of the scribes that the reader pronounce the vowel points with the consonants. Not realizing this, early translators of the Hebrew Bible transliterated the Tetragrammaton as “Jehovah.” Once scholarship realized that this was never the intent of the Hebrew text, they noted the mistake. Today, there are some who either don’t understand the Qere / Ketiv system or who are actively trying to mislead people by insisting that the pronunciation is Yehovah. However, as nearly all Hebrew scholars acknowledge, this name arose through a deliberate modification in the Hebrew text following a tradition of not pronouncing the Tetragrammaton, as noted by the below references.
“After the Babylonian Exile (6th century BCE), and especially from the 3rd century bce on, Jews ceased to use the name Yahweh for two reasons. As Judaism became a universal rather than merely local religion, the more common noun Elohim, meaning ‘God,’ tended to replace Yahweh to demonstrate the universal sovereignty of Israel’s God over all others. At the same time, the divine name was increasingly regarded as too sacred to be uttered; it was thus replaced vocally in the synagogue ritual by the Hebrew word Adonai (‘My Lord’), which was translated as Kyrios (‘Lord’) in the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Hebrew Scriptures,” Encyclopedia Britannica.
According to the Jewish Encyclopedia (1901 version) and the Babylonian Talmud, after the death of Simeon the Just, 290 BCE, the Jews stopped pronouncing the Holy Name. The Babylonian Talmud states, “Tosaf Sotah 38a suggests that the Ineffable Name could be pronounced only when there was some indication that the Shechinah rested on the Sanctuary. When Simeon the Righteous died, with many indications that such glory was no more enjoyed, his brethren no more dared utter the Ineffable Name,” Yoma 39b, footnote, p. 186.
As confirmed by theJewish Talmud, hundreds of years before the birth of Yahshua the Messiah the Jews stopped pronouncing the divine Name and began concealing it by reading the vowel points from Adonai into the Tetragrammaton. The motivation behind this practice was not from irreverence but through a strong veneration for the Name. They were afraid that if it were pronounced, someone might misuse or blaspheme the Name. Part of this hesitation doubtless arose from their time in Babylon. While their reasoning was admirable, it is against the clear teachings of Scripture.
The Bible confirms the use of the Divine name in both the Old and New testaments, e.g. Genesis 12:8; 13:4; Exodus 3:15; Acts 2:21; and Romans 10:13. Clearly, our Heavenly Father’s Name was used by all believers. Additionally, the Bible states we’re to bless (Psalm 145:21), call (Psalm 80:18; 99:6; Isaiah 12:4), confess (2Chonicles 6:24-25; 1Kings 8:35-36), declare (Exodus 9:16; Psalm 22:22; John 17:26; Romans 9:17; Hebrews 2:12), exalt (Psalm 34:3); glorify (Psalm 86:9, 12), honor (Psalm 66:2), magnify (2Samuel 7:26), praise (2Samuel 22:50; Psalm 69:30), remember (Exodus 3:15; Psalm 45:17), sing (Psalm 68:4), and trust (Isaiah 50:10) in His Name.
Scholarship Explains “Yehovah”
The decision to hide or replace the Tetragrammaton with the invalid vowel points from Adonai is what led to “Yehovah” (“Jehovah” in English). Except for a few outliers, nearly all scholarship confirms this basic fact. Consider the following:
“In the early Middle Ages, when the consonantal text of the Bible was supplied with vowel points to facilitate its correct traditional reading, the vowel points for Adonai with one variation – a sheva (short ‘e’) with the first yod [Y] of YHWH instead of the hataf-patah (short ‘a’) under the aleph of Adonai – was used for YHWH, thus producing the form YeHoWaH. When Christian scholars of Europe first began to study Hebrew they did not understand what this really meant, and they introduced the hybrid name ‘Jehovah’” (Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 7, p. 680).
“The Tetragrammaton or Four-Lettered Name…which occurs 6,823 times, is by far the most frequent name of God in the Bible. It is now pronounced ‘adonai; but the church father Theodoret records that the Samaritans pronounced it as (Iabe), and Origen transcribes it as (Iae), both pointing to an original vocalization yahveh [The waw yields a ‘w’ sound, not a ‘v’]” (The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, vol. 5, p. 6).
“Jehovah, modern form of the Hebrew sacred name of God, probably originally ‘Yahweh.’ From c.300 B.C. the Jews, from motives of piety, uttered the name of God very rarely and eventually not at all, but substituted the title ‘Adonai,’ meaning ‘Lord,’ the vowels of which were written under the consonants of ‘Yahweh.’ In the Middle Ages and later, the vowels of one word with the consonants of the other were misread as Jehovah” (The Collegiate Encyclopedia, vol. 9, p. 580).
“Jehovah….What has been said explains the so-called qeri perpetuum, according to which the consonants of Jehovah are always accompanied in the Hebrew text by the vowels of Adonai except in the cases in which Adonai stands in apposition to Jehovah: in these cases the vowels of Elohim are substituted. The use of a simple shewa in the first syllable of Jehovah, instead of the compound shewa in the corresponding syllable of Adonai and Elohim, is required by the rules of Hebrew grammar governing the use of Shewa” (The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. VIII, p. 329).
“Jehovah, an erroneous pronunciation of the name of the God of Israel in the Bible, due to pronouncing the vowels of the term ‘Adonay,’ the marginal Masoretic reading with the consonants of the text-reading ‘Yahweh,’ which was not uttered to avoid the profanation of the divine name of magical or other blasphemous purposes. Hence the substitution of ‘Adonay,’ the ‘Lord,’ or ‘Adonay Elohim,’ ‘Lord God.’ The oldest Greek versions use the term ‘Kurios,’ ‘Lord,’ the exact translation of the current Jewish substitute for the original Tetragrammaton Yahweh. The reading ‘Jehovah’ can be traced to the early Middle Ages and until lately was said to have been invented by Peter Gallatin (1518), confessor of Pope Leo X. Recent writers, however, trace it to an earlier date; it is found in Raymond Martin’s Pugeo Fidei (1270)” (Encyclopedia Americana, vol. 16, p. 8.).
“The personal name of the [El] of the Israelites …The Masoretes, Jewish biblical scholars of the Middle Ages, replaced the vowel signs that had appeared above or beneath the consonants of YHWH with the vowel signs of Adonai or of Elohim. Thus the artificial name Jehovah (YeHoWaH) came into being” (Encyclopaedia Britannica, Yahweh, Micropedia, vol. 10).
“In the Hebrew Bible the Jews wrote the consonants of the Tetragrammaton as YHWH, but out of reverence for the sacred name of God (or out of fear of violating Exod. 20:7; Lev. 24:16), they vocalized and pronounced it as Adonai or occasionally as Elohim. It is unfortunate, then, that the name was transliterated into German and ultimately into English as Jehovah (which is the way the name is represented in the American Standard Version of 1901), for this conflate form represents the vowels of Adonai superimposed on the consonants of Yahweh, and it was never intended by the Jews to be read as Yehowah (or Jehovah)” (The Making of a Contemporary Translation, p. 107).
“Jehovah in that form was unknown to the ancient Israelites. In fact, Hebrew scholars say that Jehovah would have been impossible according to the strict principles of Hebrew vocalization. The God of Israel was known by a name approximately rendered into English as Yahweh,” (A Book About the Bible, George Stimpson, p. 247).
“Although the meaning of the name remains subject to debate, Yahweh is most likely a verbal form of Heb. haya (perhaps originally hwy)…Because of the utmost sanctity ascribed to the name, Jews from postexilic times on have declined to pronounce it in public reading, and only the consonants were written (YHWH; the Dead Sea Scrolls use the archaic, ‘paleo-Hebrew’ script). Although the original pronunciation was thus eventually lost, inscriptional evidence favors yahwae or yahwe. The name is represented in the MT by the consonants with the vowel pointing for ‘adonay ‘Lord.’ From this derived ca, the sixteenth century the form ‘Jehovah’ (yehowah). In modern usage pious Jews often substitute the expression has-sem ‘the Name,” (The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, Allen C. Myers, Ed., “Yahweh,” p. 1075).
“The scribes reasoned that if they did not point the name Yahweh then it could never be treated lightly since his name would not really be known. Initially the real pointing was probably passed along by tradition, but in time it was lost. In Exodus 20:7 the name Lord is written in capital letters according to the convention of signifying the name Yahweh, but the name as it appears in the Hebrew text is hwhy (yehowa), in which appear the consonants from the name Yahweh (hwhy [yhwh]) and the vowels from the word Lord (ynda [‘idonay]). Proof for the fabricated nature of this word are the two vowels which appear on the waw, an impossibility in Hebrew. However, until the revival of the Hebrew language in western Europe scholars read the consonants YHWH (Germans would read them as JHVH) with the vowels of ‘adonay, thereby originating the incorrect form Jehovah. This word was then introduced into English by William Tyndale and was continued by the King James Version,” (The Journey from Texts to Translations, Paul D. Wegner, pp. 172-173).
“While it is almost if not quite certain that the Name was originally pronounced ‘Yahweh,’ this pronunciation was not indicated when the Masoretes added vowel signs to the consonantal Hebrew text. To the four consonants YHWH of the Name, which had come to be regarded as too sacred to be pronounced, they attached vowel signs indicating that in its place should be read the Hebrew word Adonai meaning ‘Lord’…The ancient Greek translators substituted the word Kyrios (Lord) for the Name. The Vulgate likewise used the Latin word Dominus. The form ‘Jehovah’ is of late medieval origin; it is a combination of the consonants of the Divine Name and the vowels attached to it by the Masoretes but belonging to an entirely different word… reasons the Committee has returned to the more familiar usage of the King James Version… the word ‘Jehovah’ does not accurately represent any form of the Name ever used in Hebrew,” (Revised Standard Version, Preface, pp. iv-v).
“The probable pronunciation of the OT four-lettered word YHWH, the most profound and sacred of the Hebrew names for God. The name is interpreted in Ex. 3:14 as ‘I am who I am.’ The name was held in such high regard that the Jews were forbidden to pronounce it and read the word ‘Adonai’ (i.e., lord) instead. When the Hebrew masoretes added the vowel points to the consonantal text, they used the vowels of Adonai with the four consonants YHWH; this was transliterated in the early versions as Jehovah. This form of the word became quite popular, but it should be remembered that such a word never existed,” (The Encyclopedia of the Lutheran Church, “Yahweh,” Vol. N-Z, p. 2537).
“Why not in the form ‘Jehovah’? Is that not euphonious? It is, without question. Is it not widely used? It is, and may still be freely employed to assist through a period of transition. but is it not hallowed and endeared by many a beautiful hymn and many a pious memory? Without doubt; and therefore it is with reluctance that is here declined. But why is it not accepted? There it is–familiar, acceptable, ready for adoption. The reason is, that it is too heavily burdened with merited critical condemnation–as modern, as a compromise, as a ‘mongrel’ word, ‘hybrid,’ ‘fantastic,’ ‘monstrous.’ The facts have only to be known to justify this verdict, and to vindicate the propriety of not employing it in a new and independent translation. What are the facts? And first as to age. ‘The pronunciation Jehovah was unknown until 1520, when it was introduced by Galatinus; but was contested by Le Mercier, J. Drusius, and L. Capellus, as against grammatical and historical propriety.’ Next, as to formation. ‘Erroneously written and pronounced Jehovah, which is merely a combination of the sacred Tetragrammaton and the vowels in the Hebrew word for Lord, substituted by the Jews for JHVH, because they shrank from pronouncing The Name, owing to an old misconception of the two passages, Ex. 20:7 and Lev. 24:16…To give the name JHVH the vowels of the word for Lord [Heb. Adonai] and pronounce it Jehovah, is about as hybrid a combination as it would be to spell the name Germany with the vowels in the name Portugal – viz., Gormuna. The monstrous combination Jehovah is not older than about 1520 A.D.’ From this we may gather that the Jewish scribes are not responsible for the ‘hybrid’ combination. They intentionally wrote alien vowels–not for combination with the sacred consonants, but for the purpose of cautioning the Jewish reader to enunciate a totally different word, viz., some other familiar name of the Most High,” (The Emphasized Bible, [Joseph Bryant Rotherham], Introduction, p. 23-25).
“‘Jehovah’ is the best known English pronunciation of the divine name, although ‘Yahweh’ is favored by most Hebrew scholars. The oldest Hebrew manuscripts present the name in the form of four consonants, commonly called the Tetragrammaton (from Greek te∙tra-, meaning ‘four,’ and gram’ma, ‘letter’). These four letters (written from right to left) are hwhy and may be transliterated into English as YHWH (or, JHVH),” (Insight on the Scriptures, Vol. 2, p. 5: “Jehovah,” Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1988).
“Jehovah – ‘A mispronunciation (introduced by Christian theologians, but almost entirely disregarded by the Jews) of the Hebrew “Yhwh,” the (ineffable) name of God (the Tetragrammaton or “Shem ha-Meforash”). This pronunciation is grammatically impossible; it arose through pronouncing the vowels of the “kere” (marginal reading of the Masorites: = “Adonay”) with the consonants of the “ketib” (text-reading: = “Yhwh”)—“Adonay” (the Lord) being substituted with one exception wherever Yhwh occurs in the Biblical and liturgical books. “Adonay” presents the vowels “shewa” (the composite under the guttural aleph becomes a simple shewa under the yod), “holem,” and “kamez,” and these give the reading (= “Jehovah”). Sometimes, when the two names YHWH and Adonay occur together, the former is pointed with “ḥatef segol” under the י —thus, (= “Jehovah”)—to indicate that in this combination it is to be pronounced “Elohim.” These substitutions of “Adonay”and “Elohim” for Yhwh were devised to avoid the profanation of the Ineffable Name (hence is also written , or even, and read “ha-Shem” = “the Name”).’” (Jewish Encyclopedia, Emil G. Hirsch)
The above sources all confirm the fact that “Yehovah” or “Jehovah” arose from scribal additions to the Hebrew text. They added the vowel points from Adonai to the Tetragrammaton. Those who state that the name Yehovah is based on Hebrew manuscripts neglect to realize this crucial fact. The debate of Yehovah is not whether this name is found in Hebrew manuscripts, but how the name arose within these manuscripts. As scholarship overwhelmingly verifies, the name Yehovah arose from willful and deliberate alterations to the Hebrew text by Jewish scribes. For this reason, those promoting this name are simply following an old Jewish superstition designed to conceal the true name of our Creator, Yahweh!
A Late Rendition – Evolution of Je(ho)vah by the Masoretes.
From the book Pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton: A Historico-Linguistic Approach, we find this interesting scholarly explanation regarding the progression of the name Jehovah and the evolution of the “ho” sound from early Masoretic (Ben Asher) Manuscripts to the later Medieval Manuscripts.
“Both Paul Kahle and Peter Katz believed Jehovah to have originated with a combination of vowels of ‘adhonay and shema’ with the consonants of the Tetragrammaton. Dr. Reisel concurs: ‘The sewa under the yod is in my view connected with the pronunciation shema (rendering for yhwh), from which the spelling yehouah < yehwah was derived, under the partial influence of ‘dhny.’ In early Masoretic (Ben Asher) MSS the common vocalization of the Tetragrammaton is yehwah in later (Medieval) MSS we find yehouah. This is the reason why many scholars view Jehovah (Yehovah) as an unnatural, artificial construction. Such arguments against the Jehovah-pronunciation would become null and void if it could be traced back to early North Israelite usage.” And this is the problem we see. Yehovah lacks any ancient manuscripts before the Masoretic times to back it up. The preponderance of ancient evidence clearly shows it must be discounted as a viable pronunciation.
Case of the Missing Vowel Point
Some will debate that the vowel points of Adonai and Yehovah are not the same. While this is technically true, this difference is due to Hebrew grammar. Wikipedia explains this process: “The vocalisations Yehovah and Adonai are not identical. The shva in YHWH…and the hataf patakh in [Adonai]…appear different. The vocalisation can be attributed to Biblical Hebrew phonology, where the hataf patakh is grammatically identical to a shva, always replacing every shva nah under a guttural letter. Since the first letter of ינדא is a guttural letter while the first letter of הוהי is not, the hataf patakh under the (guttural) aleph reverts to a regular shva under the (non-guttural) Yod.”
The above citation was sent to Professor Fassberg, Ph.D., at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and he concurred that the explanation was correct based on Hebrew grammar (for additional information on Professor Fassberg, see section “Waw or Vav?”).
Once a person realizes this fact, the argument that Yehovah does not contain the vowel points from Adonai is simply false. The hataf patakh (compound shwa) found under the aleph of Adonai and missing from the yod of Yehovah is the result of Hebrew grammar. Those who state otherwise in defense of Yehovah are not understanding the mechanics of the Hebrew language.
Another problem with those claiming that Yehovah is confirmed through the vowel points from Adonai is that we see alternative pronunciations of the Tetragrammaton based on Hebrew vowel points added by the Masoretes. For example, the Leningrad codex, a codex that many advocates of Yehovah rely on, contains additional Hebrew spellings. Below are six examples where the Divine name contains different vowel points (transliteration approximate):
Using the above vowel combinations you can prove the name Yahweh by simple deduction. If the name Yahweh holds the true vowels, you would not expect to see the “Yah” and “Weh” in any form by the Masoretes, as the entire function of Kativ Kere was to hide the name and amazingly this is exactly what we see.
The Adonai Preceding Yehovah Dilemma
Those who argue that the vowels for Yehovah have no relation to Adonai have some explaining to do. Within the Leningrad codex and the Aleppo codex (see image below) is it merely coincidence that when the Tetragrammaton is preceded by Adonai, it receives different pointing? If Yehovah contains the proper and correct vowels, then why do we see the pattern of inserting the vowels for Elohim in the Tetragrammaton when Adonai proceeds it? This is a serious dilemma for the Yehovah proponents and clearly proves a redundant pattern. This is one of those elementary concepts that slips past the unlearned but is well understood in scholarship.
As seen (on p. 15) in the Aleppo Codex in Judges 16:28, the name YHWH appears twice with two different sets of vowel points with the approximate renderings “Yehwoh” and “Yehohiw.” “Yehwoh” derives from the vowel points of Adonai and “Yehohiw” derives from the vowel points of Elohim. When the word Adonai was in close proximity in the text to YHWH, the Jews added the vowel points from Elohim to YHWH, indicating the reader was to read “Elohim.” This was to reduce redundancy with the Hebrew Adonai. Strong’s OT:3069 explains this process: “Yehovih (yeh-ho-vee’); a variation of OT:3068 [used after OT:136, and pronounced by Jews as OT:430, in order to prevent the repetition of the same sound, since they elsewhere pronounce OT:3068 as OT:136]” (for clarification, OT:136 correspondents to “Adonai” and OT:430 to “Elohim”). According to the Englishmans Concordance, OT:3069 is found a total of 615 times in the Hebrew Old Testament.
Those who support Yehovah do so entirely on the vowel points added by the Masoretes. However, as we find in the Leningrad and Aleppo codices, along with many others, there are several different renderings for the Tetragrammaton. How it is possible to reconcile that the Jews both preserved the name Yehovah and explain why they introduced these alternate Hebrew spellings? Those who believe that Yehovah is the correct pronunciation, their only recourse would be to state that these other spellings were mistakes. However, based on the Talmud, the thought of a Jewish scribe making such a mistake, especially to the Divine name, is unthinkable. Jewish scribal rules required that if a Torah Scroll was found to contain any mistakes it could not be used, unless the mistake was resolved within 30 days. If not, the scroll was to be buried. Knowing this, even if these alternative pronunciations were mistakes, to believe that they were all missed and allowed to remain in the text is incredulous.
The other explanation is that the Jews willfully concealed the name with the vowel points from Adonai (as seen in Genesis 2:4 within the Leningrad codex) and Elohim (as seen in Judges 16:28 of the Leningrad and Aleppo codices). Considering the implausibility that the Jews overlooked these alternative spellings, the only logical conclusion is that they were aware and added the vowel points to instruct the reader not to pronounce the Divine name and replace it with the words “Adonai” and “Elohim.” As a side note, the Masoretes would often add the vowel points from Elohim to YHWH when the Tetragrammaton preceded the word “Adonai.” This was to reduce redundancy within the text.
Waw or Vav?
Another linguistic impossibility with Yehovah is the use of the “v.” While some who support Yehovah will state that the sixth letter of the Hebrew alphabet was originally a “vav” and not a “waw,” pronounced as a “v” and not a “w,” most Hebrew scholars disagree. According to some linguists, the Hebrew vav arose from Ashkenazi Hebrew, which was influenced by the Germanic language.
Menahem Mansoor notes, “There are, generally speaking, two main pronunciations: the Ashkenazi, or German, originated by Central and Eastern European Jews and carried to all countries to which those Jews have emigrated (Western Europe, America, etc.): and the Sephardi, or Spanish, used by the Jews of Spanish or Portugese stock in Europe and America and also by Jews from Oriental countries. In all universities and through-out Israel, the Sephardi pronunciation has been adopted, since it is generally believed that this is the pronunciation nearest to the original…” (Biblical Hebrew, p. 33)
As noted by Menahem Mansoor, Sephardi is older than Ashkenazi and closest to biblical Hebrew. Unlike Ashkenazi, Sephardic and Yemenite Hebrew were never influenced by the Germanic language and therefore maintained a closer resemblance to ancient Hebrew.
Edward Horowitz in his book, How the Hebrew Language Grew, states, “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,” pp. 29-30. As Horowitz notes, the “vav” is a modern form of the older “waw.”
In addition, J.D. Wijnkoop,. literary candidate in the University of Leyden and rabbi of the Jewish Congregation in Amsterdam, states in his book, Manual of Hebrew Grammar, “Waw is a softly, scarcely audible pronounced w, which is produced by a quick opening of the lips,” (Forgotten Books, Classic Reprint Series, 2015, p. 3, original publication 1898).
Mansoor, Horowitz, and Wijnkoop all confirm that the sixth letter of the Hebrew alphabet was originally a waw and pronounced as a “w.” Horowitz also notes that the Yemenite Jews have a purer form of Hebrew as compared to modern Hebrew. Incidentally, during our 2016 expedition to the Holy Land, our Israeli archaeologist, a graduate of Hebrew University and archaeologist with the Israeli Antiquities Authority, confirmed that the pronunciation was Yahweh and stated that this is how his Yemenite wife would pronounce the Name and explained how Yemenite Hebrew is closer to biblical Hebrew with the use of the “waw” in place of the newer “vav.”
Dr. Steven Fassberg, who received his Ph.D. from Harvard and teaches at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem as a professor in the Hebrew language department, also confirms the use of the waw and the erroneous nature of Yehovah. He states, “The pronunciation you mentioned [i.e., Yehovah] is a mistake. The Hebrew consonantal text is YHWH and no one really knows how that was pronounced in Old Testament times. At a later date (the latter half of the 2nd millennium CE) Masoretes added vowel signs to the consonantal text. Whenever the Tetragrammaton was written, they added the vowel signs of the word ‘Adonay,’ which means ‘My Lord’ – there was a taboo on pronouncing the Divine name and one was supposed to read the word ‘Adonay – my Lord.’ Much later some started reading the vowel signs together with YHWH and came up with the nonsensical word Jehovah.
“There is no doubt that the original sound was w and not v. Sometime during the history of the Hebrew language there was a shift from w > v in pronunciation, probably already during the Mishnaic Period” (email correspondence).
In addition to serving as director of the Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Associated Literature from 2006-2009, he has also contributed to many articles and publications. Below are a few as noted on his online profile:
Revision and updating of the entries “Aramaic,” “Neo-Aramaic,” and “Semitic Languages,” in Encyclopaedia Judaica, eds. M. Berenbaum and F. Skolnik. 2nd ed. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007.
A Grammar of the Palestinian Targum Fragments from the Cairo Genizah. Harvard Semitic Studies 38. Atlanta, Georgia: Scholars Press, 1990. 322 pages.
Studies in the Syntax of Biblical Hebrew. Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1994. 202 pp. (in Hebrew)
The Jewish Neo-Aramaic Dialect of Challa. Semitic Languages and Linguistics 54. Leiden: Brill, 2010. p. 314
The Language of the Bible, 87-104 in Zipora Talshir, ed., The Literature of the Hebrew Bible: Introductions and Studies. Jerusalem: Yad Ben-Zvi Press, 2011 (in Hebrew).
Even though Professor Fassberg does not admit to the Divine name, he makes it absolutely clear that Yehovah is a mistake as it follows the old Jewish tradition of adding the vowel points from Adonai to the Tetragrammaton. He concludes by stating that Jehovah, i.e., Yehovah, is “nonsensical.”
He also explains that while the Jews combined the vowel points with the Divine name, the Jews were to read Adonai. Only later did some Jews incorrectly begin reading the vowel points with “YHWH,” phonetically enunciating Yehovah. Ironically, those who support Yehovah today are not only following a long-standing rabbinic tradition of concealing the Name, but doing so incorrectly based on the initial Jewish practice.
He also confirms here with absolute certainty that the waw pre-dates the vav. This again poses a significant problem for those who support Yehovah. Since the “vav” did not exist in biblical Hebrew, Yehovah would have been an impossibility. Only in modern Hebrew do we see the use of the “vav.”
In another email correspondence we asked Professor Adina Moshavi of the Hebrew University, why does the Hebrew University teach in their curriculum that anciently, the sixth letter of the Hebrew alphabet has a “w” sound rather than the modern Hebrew “v” sound?
She said: “…there are many ways to demonstrate that the waw was not originally pronounced as a labiodental “v” as it is in Tiberian Hebrew. The fact that the waw is frequently used as a mater lectionis for a long u sound would be impossible to explain if it was pronounced v, like the bet rafeh, rather as the semivowel w. Furthermore, there are many Hebrew words where a historical diphthong aw, as evidenced from Semitic cognates, has been reduced to a long vowel, e.g., in hiphil perfect of w-initial verbs hawrid > horid “he brought down”, or in the word yawm > yom “day”, and alternations between a diphthong and a long vowel, e.g., absolute mawwet vs. construct mot “death. Such correspondences are only understandable if the phonetic value of the waw was a semivowel.” Professor Adina Moshavi has a Ph.D. in Semitic languages and Literature, Biblical Hebrew syntax, Biblical Hebrew pragmatics, and is part of the faculty at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Hebrew Language Department.
However, even with such overwhelming evidence, there is one popular teacher within the Messianic community who attempts to support the use of the vav by stating that the waw arose through Arabic influence. While he states that this was confirmed by a “top expert,” he fails to identify this person. It should also be noted that Hebrew is far older than Arabic in fact Arabic is derived from Aramaic, which uses a “w” for the sixth letter. We should also note, the Aramaic square script alphabet was adopted by the Jews around the time of Ezra. According to scholars, the Arabic language does not predate the 4th century CE. The thought of a newer language influencing a pre-existing language in such a way is illogical. This person also states that the vav can be verified from a 6th century CE Hebrew poet Eleazar ben Killir. According to Professor Fassberg, the “v” as it pertains to vav, can be be verified by the Mishnaic Period (1st to 3rd century CE, see below). Therefore, knowing that the “v” existed by the 3rd century CE, it should not be a surprise to find a Hebrew document from the 6th century CE using the “v.” These co-called proofs for a “v” sound for the Hebrew waw is nothing but smoke and mirrors and contrary to the preponderance of scholarship.
Dead Sea Scrolls Rebuff “Yehovah”
Additional waw as found in Dead Sea Scrolls, but replaced with the holam in Masoretic codices.
There’s another issue with Yehovah and that is the use of the “o.” This letter derives from the holam, the vowel point that sits above the waw within the Masoretic manuscripts. The issue with this letter is that it’s not supported by the Dead Sea Scrolls. In many cases, when a holam appears in the Masoretic documents, the Dead Sea Scrolls reflect this sound through the use of the letter waw, which in biblical Hebrew was used as both a vowel and consonant. An example of this can been seen with the Hebrew elohim in Psalms 138:1. In this instance, the Dead Sea Scrolls contain an additional waw, which is replaced with the holam in the Masoretic codices. With this in mind, we should anticipate seeing an additional waw in the Tetragrammaton in some of the instances of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Surprisingly, though, there are no instances where the Tetragrammaton contains a second waw to reflect the “o” within the Dead Sea Scrolls. This lack of evidence strongly suggested that the holam or “o” within Yehovah is a recent addition. This is one more piece of evidence confirming that Yehovah is a counterfeit.
Flavius Josephus, the prominent Jewish historian who lived between 37 – 100 CE, also attests to the use of the waw or “w” within the Hebrew language. In describing the High Priest’s mitre or turban, he writes, “A mitre also of fine linen encompassed his head, which was tied by a blue ribbon, about which there was another golden crown, in which was engraven the sacred name: it consists of four vowels,” The Wars Of The Jews, Book 5, chapter 5, paragraph 7.
Besides the waw the other letters in the mitre were yod and hey, which formed the Tetragrammaton (yod-hey-waw-hey), that appeared on the High Priest’s mitre. Technically, the Hebrew language has understood vowels and these Hebrew letters are vowel-consonants with the following sounds:
Yod = “ee”
Hey = “ei,” “ay,” “ah”
Waw = “oh,” “oo”
Vowels are spoken with an open mouth, allowing unobstructed air flow, and consonantal sounds are produced with the mouth fairly or partially closed. We can see that in such consonants as v, f, s, and z, the airflow is obstructed and the sound is made by squeezing the air through a narrow space.
While “v” is considered a consonant, “w” can be both a vowel and consonant and categorized as a semi-vowel. The Standard American Encyclopedia states, “W represents two sounds: 1) The distinctive sound properly belonging to it is that which it has at the beginning of a syllable, and when followed by a vowel, as in was, will, woe, forward, housework, etc.; 2) at the end of syllables, in which position it is always preceded by a vowel, it has either no force at all (or at most only serves to lengthen the vowel), as in law, paw, grow, lawful; or it forms the second element in a diphthong, as in few, new, now, vow, in such cases it is really a vowel,” Vol. XIV, “W,” 1940.
Once a person understands how a vowel is formed and that Yahweh’s Name (YHWH) consists of four vowel-consonants, the question about the “vav” and “waw” is quickly settled. Since the “vav” produces a “v” sound, representing a consonant, and the waw produces a “w” sound, representing a consonant or vowel, the only possible option is the “waw.”
Early Church Fathers
While “Yehovah” does not appear in any manuscript before the 9th century, CE, there is evidence for “Yahweh” within Greek manuscripts dating to the 2nd century CE, and later. Consider the following sources:
“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’” (Encyclopaedia Judaica, vol. 7, p. 680).
“Early Christian writers, such as Clement of Alexandria in the 2nd century, had used the form Yahweh, thus this pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton was never really lost. Greek transcriptions also indicated that YHWH should be pronounced Yahweh” (Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th ed., vol. x, p. 786).
“The pronunciation Yahweh is indicated by transliteration of the name into Greek in early Christian literature, in the form iaoue (Clement of Alexandria) or iabe (Theodoret; by this time Gk. b had the pronunciation of v)…Strictly speaking, Yahweh is the only ‘name’ of God. In Genesis wherever the word sem (‘name’) is associated with the divine being that name is Yahweh” (Eerdman’s Bible Dictionary, 1979 p. 478).
“Such a conclusion, giving ‘Yahweh’ as the pronunciation of the name, is confirmed by the testimony of the Fathers and gentile writers, where the forms IAO, Yaho, Yaou, Yahouai, and Yahoue appear. Especially important is the statement of Theodoret in relation to Ex. lvi., when he says: ‘the Samaritans call it [the tetragrammaton] ‘Yabe,’ the Jews call it ‘Aia’…” (The New Schaff-Herzog Religious Encyclopedia, “Yahweh,” p. 471).
“I mentioned the evidence from Greek papyri found in Egypt. The best of these is Iaouee (London Papyri, xlvi, 446-483). Clement of Alexandria said, “The mystic name which is called the Tetragrammaton…is pronounced Iaoue, which means, “Who is, and who shall be”’” (Dr. Anson R. Rainy, Biblical Archaeology Review, Sept.-Oct 1994). Dr. Rainy is a professor of Ancient and Near Eastern Cultures and Semitic Linguistics at Tel Aviv University.
As confirmed through these references, the pronunciation of Yahweh was preserved in Greek by several church fathers. This included Clement of Alexandria, Origin, and Theodoret. It’s important to realize that these Greek documents contain vowels, ensuring the exact pronunciation, and that they pre-date the Hebrew manuscripts containing the pronunciation “Yehovah” by nearly 700 years.
In addition to early church writers, evidence for Yahweh is also found in The Nag Hammadi codices, dating from the 2nd to 4th century CE. This library of Gnostic writings was discovered in Upper Egypt, near Nag Hammadi, in 1945. In all, there are over 50 texts within this library. Since they are in Greek, as the church fathers, they preserve the pronunciation.
One such book is The Secret Book of John. Within this codex, it mentions the name Yahweh and notes, “Eloim and Yawe, two names of God in the Hebrew scriptures…. Yahweh is the name of God (based on the Tetragrammaton, the ineffable four-letter name)” (Dr. Marvin Meyer, The Nag Hammadi Scriptures, p. 127).
The Secret Book of John dates to the second century, as it was known to the church father Irenaeus. This was the same timeframe as Clement of Alexandria, who also confirmed the name. Even though Gnosticism was rightly deemed heretical by the early church, it is another witness to the pronunciation of Yahweh. The fact that these groups were at odds, but agreed on “Yahweh,” is significant and adds credence to this pronunciation. It verifies that “Yahweh” was widely recognized as early as the second century, nearly 700 years before any Hebrew manuscripts containing Yehovah.
There is perhaps evidence supporting Yahweh’s name as far back as Hammurabi (1810 – 1750 BCE), the first king of Babylon. According to Halley’s Bible Handbook on page 62, “Sayce announced (1898) that he had discovered, on three separate tablets in the British museum, of the time of Hammurabi, the words jahwe…is God.” Clearly, jahwe would be rendered “Yahweh.”
Additional evidence for the short form “Yah” may also be found in the Murashu texts dating back to 464 BCE (Aramaic cuneiform scripts on clay tablets) and ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, containing the first syllable of the Tetragrammaton and corresponding to IA or YA. This may offer additional evidence against the “yeh” in Yehovah.
It’s important to note that both of these sources contain vowels, which confirms the “yah” syllable before Jewish vowel pointing.
Akkadian Tablets Reveal “Yah”
Another strike against the “Yeh” prefix in Yehovah is that we find many Jewish names with the theophoric element “Yah” and “Yahu” dating to 572-477 BCE in Akkadian cuneiform tablets, a language cognate to Hebrew. Examples of such names include: Yahadil, Yahitu, Yahmuzu, Yahuazar, Yahuazza, and Yahuhin. YRM recently contacted several professors through email inquiring about these names and received the following responses. Professor Ran Zadok from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem who specializes in Mesopotamian, Iranian and Judaic Studies, confirmed, “It seems to me that the cuneiform spellings render approximately *Ya(h)w” (see similar rendering on the Dead Sea Scroll fragment below).
Professor Martin Worthington from Cambridge who specializes in Mesopotamian languages and literature, states, “…scholarly consensus has it that Yahwistic names are well attested in first-millennium Babylonia. As several scholars have observed, there is a strong tendency (though not an absolute rule) for the form to be yahu at the beginning of the name, and yama at the end of the name (though yama is actually yawa, since in this period intervocalic m is usually pronounced w). The cuneiform script does include vowels. The sign IA is a bit of a special case, since it can represent ia, ii, iu or ie. But in this case we also have spellings such as ia-a-hu, showing that the vowel is indeed ‘a’.” For additional study, refer to Documents of Judean Exiles and West Semites in Babylonia in the Collection of David Sofer by Laurie E. Pearce and Cornelia Wunsch.
In addition to these sources confirming the short form “Yahw” or “Yaho,” they also suggest that a shift occurred between “Yah” to “Ye” within the prefixes of Jewish names between the Neo-Babylonian and Achaemenid (572-477 BCE) and the Masoretic (6-10 century CE) periods. These names also offer indirect evidence for the prefix “Yah” within the Tetragrammaton and therefore casting doubt on the “Ye” within Yehovah.
The Smoking Gun
It’s surprising for some to learn that the short form of the name “Yah” (Yahweh = ee-ah-oo-eh) is found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Manuscript 4Q120-4QpapLXXLevb (See below) shows the Greek: Iota, Alpha, Omega, transliteration: YAW or Yahw. This clearly shows that the vowel pointing with “Yeh” is erroneous as it relates to the phonetic pronunciation of the name and supports the scholarly consensus that these vowel markings are a direct result of the later vowel pointing for Adonai added to the Tetragrammaton.
It’s important to understand that the “Omega” in Greek does not produce the sound of a “V” but a “W.” In phonetic terms, the Ancient Greek Ω or lowercase ω; is a long open-mid o, comparable to the vowel of the British word “raw.”
As noted in the book – The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English, pg. 472: “…It is worth noting that in Lev. iv, 27 (4Q120, fr. 20, 4) the Tetragram (the divine name YHWH) is rendered semi-phonetically as Iao, and is not replaced, as was customary later, by the Greek Kurios (Lord).”
It’s rather puzzling to see an attempt to use late manuscripts e.g. Leningrad Codex, Aleppo Codex (both 10 Century C.E. MSS) as proof for Yehovah, but which also have several other renderings like Yehohiw (with the vowels for Elohim inserted) written in the text. Yet, we see in the Dead Sea Scrolls three of the four parts of the Tetragrammaton (Yahw) going back to the 1st Century written in Greek with the vowels preserved. This is over 900 years before the Leningrad and Aleppo codices were written.
There are at least two instances where scholars accepted Yehovah but then later retracted their support in favor for Yahweh. After supporting Yehovah in its first edition, the Keil & DelitzschOld Testament Commentaries removed it from later printings. They stated, “…it must be conceded that the pronunciation Jahve [Yahweh] is to be regarded as the original pronunciation. The mode of pronunciation Jehova [Yehovah] has only come up within the last three hundred years; our own ‘Jahava’ [in the first edition] was an innovation” (Nehemiah to Psalm LXVII, p. 827).
Gesenius also initially accepted the Tetragrammaton with the vowel points from Adonai, but then later retracted his support for this hybrid and was noted within Gesenius Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon, “This opinion Gesenius afterward thoroughly retracted,” p. 337. Upon rejecting Yehovah, he supported the pronunciation Yahweh.
Both Keil and Delitzsch and Gesenius [1786–1842] , perhaps the most renowned linguistic scholar of his day and even in modern scholarship, rejected the inaccurate form Yehovah in favor of Yahweh. This withdrawal offers additional evidence for the erroneous nature of Yehovah.
Wilhelm Gesenius in his Hebrew Lexicon, the first edition published in 1810 and 1812, supported the pronunciation Yahweh (with the final letter being silent) as a result of the Samaritan pronunciation Ιαβε reported by early church theologian Theodoret (393–458/466 CE), and because the theophoric name prefixes YHW /jeho/ and YW /jo/, the theophoric name suffixes YHW /jahu/ and YH /jah/, and the abbreviated form YH /jah/ can be derived from the form Yahweh. The Dead Sea Scrolls Manuscript 4Q120-4QpapLXXLevb seen above in Greek rendering YAW, clearly illustrates the Masoretes later inserted the vowels for Adonai – ‘Yehovah’ by reading the Masoretic text in Leviticus 3:12. It’s interesting to point out that this later evidence was unaware to Gesenius and reaffirms his position.)
Gesenius referenced the 1707 book by Adriaan Reland which reprinted the views of a number of scholars on the proofs for and against the pronunciation “Yahweh” vs “Jehovah”, which allowed the readers to make their own determination based on the evidence. Already there was a move by scholars to support Reeland’s view that the pronunciation was indeed Yahweh (יַהְוֶה) and better represents how the Tetragrammaton was pronounced, rather than the previously believed Masoretic punctuation “יְהֹוָה” (Yehovah) thought correct by early Catholic scholars uneducated in the Hebrew language, who did not understand the orthographic device called Qere Ketiv, from which the English name Jehovah was derived. Another Masoretic Ketiv Kere punctuation, “יֱהֹוִה”, is used where the synagogue reader speaks Elohim, as he sees the vowels for Elohim inserted in the Tetragrammaton.
Weighing the Evidence
Let us weigh the evidence for Yehovah and Yahweh. First, we will consider Yehovah. According to a small number of individuals, the name Yehovah is found in Hebrew manuscripts dating back no earlier than the 9th century CE. And while they provide such late Hebrew manuscripts for this conclusion, they have no additional proof to offer. It’s also noteworthy that these manuscripts all include the vowel points or diacritical notes of the Masoretes or Jewish scribes.
The same is not true for Yahweh. The name Yahweh is confirmed by church fathers and Gnostic codices dating back to the 2nd century CE, nearly 700 years before Yehovah appears within any Hebrew manuscript. In addition, biblical and linguistic scholarship nearly universally agrees that Yehovah is an erroneous hybrid that arose by adding the vowel points from Adonai to the Tetragrammaton, a point that advocates of Yehovah disagree with, but have no scholarship to rebut. Modern scholarship also overwhelmingly is in agreement with the pronunciation Yahweh. Also, the “w” in Yahweh (Hebrew letter “waw”) is almost unanimously agreed upon by scholars to pre-date the modern “v” or “vav” within Yehovah. Credible biblical Hebrew classes like “Basics of Biblical Hebrew” from Zondervan and many others will teach this as fact in their curriculum.
The real issue with Yehovah is not that it doesn’t appear in Hebrew manuscripts of the Old Testament, but how it originated within those manuscripts. Therefore, whether a person claims one or a thousand manuscripts, the result is the same; this hybrid arose from willful and deliberate scribal modifications of the Tetragrammaton due to a belief that this Name was too holy to use, a claim that the Bible clearly refutes. This was done by adding the vowel points from Adonai and Elohim to the four letters of the Creator’s name. While this was done out of reverence for the name, such tampering is not biblically permitted. The Third Command warns of not using Yahweh’s name in vain. One way of using Yahweh’s name in vain is by replacing it with a counterfeit, such as Yehovah.
For additional information, watch the below videos exposing the hybrid Yehovah: