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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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