Yahweh or Yahvah / Yahveh?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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