Yahweh or Jehovah?
What is the correct Name for the One we worship, Yahweh or Jehovah? According to Insight on the Scriptures, a Jehovah’s Witnesses publication, the name “ ‘Jehovah’ ” is the best-known English pronunciation of the divine name” (vol. 2, p. 5). However, this same source also states, “ ‘Yahweh’ is favored by most Hebrew scholars” (ibid). The fact that names are not translated but transliterated, therefore the statement, “ ‘Jehovah’ is the best-known English pronunciation,” is factually and grammatically incorrect. The words “translation” and “transliteration” are often confused. Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary defines translate as, “to change from one language into another,” 1967, p. 1939. This same reference states this in reference to transliterate: “To write or spell (words, etc.) in the alphabetical characters of another language that represent the same sound or sounds.” An example of a translation is when Jerome translated the Old Testament from Hebrew to Latin. An example of transliteration is the name “Benjamin Netanyahu,” the Prime Minister of Israel. No matter where Benjamin Netanyahu travels his name is always “Benjamin Netanyahu.” Names are not changed or translated but transliterated. This same concept applies to the Name of our Creator. His Name was never pronounced “Jehovah.” Our Heavenly Father’s Name derives from the Hebrew letters yod-hey- waw-hey. These four letters are known as the Tetragrammaton (Greek “four letters”) and correspond to the English YHWH. Based on Hebrew and Greek manuscripts, the most accurate transliteration of YHWH is “Yahweh.”
Scholarship, regardless of language, overwhelmingly supports this name. Consider the following references:
- “The Lord. The Hebrew for his name is Yahweh (often incorrectly spelled ‘Jehovah’)” (NIV Study Bible, note at Exodus 3:15, 1998).
- “The prophets commonly used Yahweh for God, English sometimes as Lord, sometimes as Jehovah, the latter being a hybrid form which should be written Yahweh (YHWH)” (Harper’s Bible Dictionary, 1973).
- “Properly, the name should be pronounced; ‘Yahweh’ as it is spelled in many modern versions. In this paraphrase ‘Yahweh’ is translated either ‘Jehovah’ or ‘Lord’ ; (The Living Bible, note at Exodus 3:15, 1971).
- “Jehovah, n. 1530 Iehoua, borrowing of the New Latin, an erroneous transliteration of the Hebrew name YHWH, often represented as Yahweh” (The Barnhart ConciseDictionary of Etymology, 1995).
These are only a few references confirming Yahweh’s Name. There are countless others that provide the same information. Knowing this, why would anyone choose to use the name “Jehovah”? This hybrid name arose from combining the vowel points of Adonai with the Tetragrammaton. Additionally, Since the Hebrew and Greek languages are without a “J” sound, the name “Jehovah” is an impossibility in these ancient languages. Interestingly, the letter “J” was also the last letter to be added to the English alphabet. The original 1611 KJV did not contain the letter J. Instead, it used the letter I. For example, the name of the Messiah was spelled “Iesus.” While this too is not right, it illustrates the missing “J” from the original KJV. Does it matter that Jehovah is a hybrid of the Hebrew YHWH? Yahweh’s Name appears nearly 7,000 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. In Exodus 20:7, we are told not to take His Name in vain. The word “vain” comes from the Hebrew shaw, meaning “worthlessness.” When we ignore His Name we are breaking this commandment. Also, according to the Old and New testaments, those who call upon Yahweh’s Name will be saved, Joel 2:32 and Acts 2:21. Beyond the scriptural significance, people prefer being called by their personal names and not by a replacement someone may randomly choose. Our Creator is no different. He too desires to be called by His personal revealed Name, Yahweh. If you are not already doing so, we encourage you to begin honoring your Heavenly Father by calling on His revealed personal Name Yahweh and not settle for substitute names or titles.
Learn more about Yahweh Name through our booklet, including why it matters whether we use Yahweh or Jehovah, Your Father’s Name.
For more info on the origins of Jehovah please check out our article: The Yehovah Deception.
Watch: “The Yehovah or Yahweh Question” below.