Q. I agree that His name is YHWH, but my question is, why does Strong’s transliterate it “yehôvâh”?
A. Great question. Strong’s renders the name based on the Masoretic vowel points. Since the vowel points are taken from Adonai, it transliterates to Yehovah. Not realizing this, early translators of the Bible rendered this name “Jehovah,” based on these added vowel points.
Historically, many Jews stopped pronouncing the name after the 3rd century, BCE. The Encyclopedia Britannica and Jewish Talmud testify to this fact:
“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.
“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,” Babylonian Talmud, Yoma 39b, footnote, p. 186.
As explained above, the Jews avoided using the name Yahweh by employing the vowel points from Adonai. Interestingly, where Adonai and the Tetragrammaton appeared in close proximity, they would also often use the vowel points from Elohim. Strong’s makes note of this in OT:3069, where it renders YHWH as “Yehovih” and states, “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.”
This provides conclusive proof that the Jews tampered with the vowel points of the Tetragrammaton. This was due to their insistence that the actual pronunciation was too holy to pronounce. Therefore, to prevent this, they concealed the name by artificially adding the vowel points from Adonai and Elohim to YHWH. By doing this, the reader would know to read Adonai or Elohim instead of Yahweh. Only later did some begin incorrectly pronouncing the name with the added vowel points.
According to Professor Steven Fassberg, who received his PhD from Harvard and teaches Hebrew at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, “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” (email correspondence between YRM and Professor Fassberg).
In addition to Strong’s and Professor Fassberg, nearly all other biblical scholars confirm that Yehovah, often spelled Jehovah, was derived from the vowel points from Adonai. Consider the following references:
“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).
“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).
Based on the above, scholarship verifies that Yehovah (Jehovah) was the result of combining the vowel points from Adonai with the four letters of yod-hey-waw-hey of the Tetragrammaton. Therefore, any attempt to justify Yehovah is to ignore the preponderance of evidence.
For additional information, read our online booklet: The Yehovah Deception.
Also, watch Pastor Randy Folliard’s message, “Exposing the Erroneous Name Yehovah.”