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"Jehovah" at Exodus 6:3
(1611 King James Version)

Jehovah (pronounced /dʒɨˈhoʊvə/) is an anglicized spelling of "the proper name of God".[1] It is a transliteration of Hebrew יְהֹוָה‎, a vocalization of the sacred Tetragrammaton יהוה, the name that, according to the Bible, God revealed to his people.[2] יְהֹוָה appears 6,518 times in the traditional Masoretic Text, in addition to 305 instances of יֱהֹוִה (Jehovih).[3 ] The earliest available Latin text to use a vocalization similar to Jehovah dates from the 13th century.[4]



The name Iehova at a Norwegian church.[5]

The Jehovah form of the Tetragrammaton is said to be testified by Semitic and Greek phonetic texts and artifacts of the early Christian era.[6][7] Others say that it is the pronunciation Yahweh that is testified in both Christian and pagan texts of the early Christian era.[6][8][9][10][11]

Some proponents of the rendering Jehovah, including Karaite Jews[12], state that although the original pronunciation of יהוה has been lost, well-established English renderings of other Hebrew personal names are accepted in normal usage, such as Joshua, Isaiah or Jesus, for which the original pronunciations may be unknown.[13]

According to a Jewish tradition developed during the third to second centuries BC, the Tetragrammaton is written but not pronounced. When read, substitute terms replace the divine name where יְהֹוָה appears in the text. It is widely assumed, as proposed by the 19th-century Hebrew scholar Gesenius, that the vowels of the substitutes of the name, i.e. "Adonai" (Lord) and "Elohim" (God), were inserted by the Masoretes to indicate that these substitutes were to be used.[14] When יהוה precedes or follows Adonai, the Masoretes placed the vowel points of Elohim into the Tetragrammaton, producing a different vocalization of the Tetragrammaton יֱהֹוִה, which was read as Elohim.[15] In accordance with this reasoning, the form יְהֹוָה (Jehovah) has been characterized as a "hybrid form",[6][16] and even "a philological impossibility".[17]

Early modern translators disregarded the practice of reading Adonai (or its equivalents in Greek and Latin) in place of the Tetragrammaton and instead combined the four Hebrew letters of the text with the vowel points that, except in synagogue scrolls, accompanied them, resulting in the form Jehovah.[18] This form, already in use by Roman Catholic authors such as Ramón Martí, achieved wide use in the translations of the Protestant Reformation.[19] In the 1611 King James Version, Jehovah occurred seven times.[20] In the 1901 American Standard Version, it was still the regular English rendition of יהוה, in preference to "the LORD".[21] It is also used in Christian hymns such as the 1771 hymn, "Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah".[22]


The most widespread theory is that the Hebrew term יְהֹוָה has the vowel points of אֲדֹנָי (adonai). Using the vowels of adonai, the composite hataf patah ֲ under the guttural alef א becomes a sheva ְ under the yod י, the holam ֹ is placed over the first he ה, and the qamats ָ is placed under the vav ו, giving יְהֹוָה (Jehovah). When the two names, יהוה and אדני, occur together, the former is pointed with a hataf segol ֱ under the yod י and a hiriq ִ under the second he ה, giving יֱהֹוִה, to indicate that it is to be read as (elohim) in order to avoid adonai being repeated.[23]

A 1552 Latin translation of the Sefer Yetzirah, using the form Iehouah for the "magnum Nomen tetragrammatum".

The pronunciation Jehovah is believed to have arisen through the introduction of vowels of the qere—the marginal notation used by the Masoretes. In places where the consonants of the text to be read (the qere) differed from the consonants of the written text (the kethib), they wrote the qere in the margin to indicate the desired reading. In such cases, the kethib was read using the vowels of the qere. For a few very frequent words the marginal note was omitted, referred to as q're perpetuum.[17] One of these frequent cases was God's name, which was not to be pronounced in fear of profaning the "ineffable name". Instead, wherever יהוה (YHWH) appears in the kethib of the biblical and liturgical books, it was to be read as אֲדֹנָי (adonai, "My Lord [plural of majesty]"), or as אֱלֹהִים (elohim, "God") if adonai appears next to it. This combination produces יְהֹוָה (yehovah) and יֱהֹוִה (yehovih) respectively. יהוה is also written ’ה, or even ’ד, and read ha-Shem ("the name").[23]

Scholars are not in total agreement as to why יְהֹוָה does not have precisely the same vowel points as adonai. The use of the composite hataf segol ֱ in cases where the name is to be read, "elohim", has led to the opinion that the composite hataf patah ֲ ought to have been used to indicate the reading, "adonai". It has been argued conversely that the disuse of the patah is consistent with the Babylonian system, in which the composite is uncommon.[23]

Vowel points of יְהֹוָה and אֲדֹנָי

The spelling of the Tetragrammaton and connected forms in the Hebrew Masoretic text of the Bible, with vowel points shown in red.

The table below shows the vowel points of Yehovah and Adonay, indicating the simple sheva in Yehovah in contrast to the hataf patah in Adonay. As indicated to the right, the vowel points used when YHWH is intended to be pronounced as Adonai are slightly different to those used in Adonai itself.

Hebrew (Strong's #3068)
Hebrew (Strong's #136)
י Yod Y א Aleph glottal stop
ְ .Simple sheva E ֲ Hataf patah A
ה He H ד Dalet D
ֹ Holam O ֹ Holam O
ו Vav V נ Nun N
ָ Qamats A ָ Qamats A
ה He H י Yod Y

The difference between the vowel points of ’ǎdônây and YHWH is explained by the rules of Hebrew morphology and phonetics. Sheva and hataf-patah were allophones of the same phoneme used in different situations: hataf-patah on glottal consonants including aleph (such as the first letter in Adonai), and simple sheva on other consonants (such as the 'y' in YHWH).[24]

Introduction into English

The "peculiar, special, honorable and most blessed name of God" Iehoua,
an older English form of Jehovah
(Roger Hutchinson, The image of God, 1550)

According to the Brown-Driver-Briggs Lexicon, the pronunciation Jehovah was unknown until 1520 when it was introduced by Galatinus, who defended its use. However, this deduction has been revised, as the term Jehovah can be traced back at least to the Pugio fidei of Raymund Martin, written in about 1270.[25]

In English it appeared in William Tyndale's translation of the Pentateuch ("The Five Books of Moses"),[26] published in 1530 in Germany, where Tyndale had studied since 1524, possibly in one or more of the universities at Wittenberg, Worms and Marburg, where Hebrew was taught.[27] The spelling used by Tyndale was "Iehouah"; at that time, I was not distinguished from J, and U was not distinguished from V.[28] The original 1611 printing of the Authorized King James Version used "Iehovah". Tyndale wrote about the divine name: "IEHOUAH [Jehovah], is God's name; neither is any creature so called; and it is as much to say as, One that is of himself, and dependeth of nothing. Moreover, as oft as thou seest LORD in great letters (except there be any error in the printing), it is in Hebrew Iehouah, Thou that art; or, He that is."[29]

The name Jehovah appeared in all early Protestant Bibles in English, except Coverdale's translation in 1535.[30] The Roman Catholic Douay-Rheims Bible used "the Lord", corresponding to the Latin Vulgate's use of "Dominus" (Latin for "Adonai", "Lord") to represent the Tetragrammaton. The Authorized King James Bible also, which used Jehovah in a few places, most frequently gave "the LORD" as the equivalent of the Tetragammaton. The name Jehovah appeared in John Rogers' Matthew Bible in 1537, the Great Bible of 1539, the Geneva Bible of 1560, Bishop's Bible of 1568 and the King James Version of 1611. More recently, it has been used in the Revised Version of 1885, the American Standard Version in 1901, and the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures of the Jehovah's Witnesses in 1961.

At Exodus 6:3-6, where the King James Version has Jehovah, the Revised Standard Version (1952),[31] the New American Standard Bible (1971), the New International Version (1978), the New King James Version (1982), the New Revised Standard Version (1989), the New Century Version (1991), and the Contemporary English Version (1995) give "LORD" or "Lord" as their rendering of the Tetragrammaton, while the New Jerusalem Bible (1985), the Amplified Bible (1987), the New Living Translation (1996, revised 2007), the English Standard Version (2001), and the Holman Christian Standard Bible (2004) use the form Yahweh.

Hebrew vowel points

Modern grammars of biblical Hebrew, such as Duane A Garrett's A Modern Grammar for Classical Hebrew[32] agree that the Hebrew vowel points now found in printed Hebrew Bibles were invented in the second half of the first millennium AD, long after the texts were written. This is indicated in the authoritative Hebrew Grammar of Gesenius,[33] and in encyclopedias such as the Jewish Encyclopedia,[34] the Encyclopaedia Britannica,[35] and Godwin's Cabalistic Encyclopedia,[36] and is acknowledged even by those who claim that the grammars are perpetuating "scholarly myths".[37]

Jehovist scholars, who believe pronounced /jəˈhoʊvə/ to be the original pronunciation of the divine name, argue that the Hebraic vowel-points and accents were known to writers of the scriptures in antiquity. Some members of Karaite Judaism, such as Nehemia Gordon, hold this view.[13] The antiquity of the vowel points and of the rendering Jehovah was defended by various scholars, including Michaelis,[38] Drach,[38] Stier,[38] William Fulke (1583), Johannes Buxtorf,[39] his son Johannes Buxtorf II,[40] and John Owen [41] (17th century); Peter Whitfield[42][43] and John Gill[44] (18th century); John Moncrieff [45] (19th century); and more recently by Thomas D. Ross,[46] G. A. Riplinger,[47] John Hinton,[48] and Thomas M. Strouse (21st century).[43]

Jehovist writers such as Nehemia Gordon (1972-) have acknowledged that there is general agreement among scholars that the original pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton was Yahweh, and that the vowel points now attached to the Tetragrammaton were added to indicate that Adonai was to be read instead, as seen in the alteration of those points after prefixes. He wrote: "There is a virtual scholarly consensus concerning this name" and "this is presented as fact in every introduction to Biblical Hebrew and every scholarly discussion of the name".[49] Gordon disputed this consensus and wrote, "We have seen that the scholarly consensus concerning Yahweh is really just a wild guess", and went on to say that the vowel points of Adonai are not correct.[50] He argued that "the name is really pronounced Yehovah with the emphasis on 'vah'. Pronouncing the name Yehovah with the emphasis on 'ho' (as in English Jehovah) would quite simply be a mistake."[51]

Proponents of pre-Christian origin

Eighteenth-century theologian John Gill in his writing, A Dissertation Concerning the Antiquity of the Hebrew Language, Letters, Vowel-Points and Accents,[52] argued for an extreme antiquity of their use,[53] rejecting the idea that the vowel points were invented by the Masoretes. Gill presented writings, including passages of Scripture, that he interpreted as supportive of his Jehovist viewpoint that the Hebrew Scriptures must have included vowel-points and accents.[54] He claimed that the use of Hebrew vowel points, and therefore of the name Jehovah (pronounced /jəˈhoʊvə/), is documented from before 200 BC, and even back to Adam by citing Jewish tradition that Hebrew was the first language. He argued that throughout this history the Masoretes did not invent the vowel points and accents, but that they were delivered to Moses by God at Sinai, citing[55]Karaite authorities[56] Mordechai ben Nisan Kukizov (1699) and his associates, who stated that "all our wise men with one mouth affirm and profess that the whole law was pointed and accented, as it came out of the hands of Moses, the man of God,"[38] The argument between Karaite and Rabbinic Judaism on whether it was lawful to pronounce the name represented by the Tetragrammaton[55] is claimed to show that some copies have always been pointed (voweled)[48] and that some copies were not pointed with the vowels because of "oral law", for control of interpretation by some Judeo sects, including non-pointed copies in Synagogues.[57] Gill claimed that the pronunciation pronounced /jəˈhoʊvə/ can be traced back to early historical sources which indicate that vowel points and/or accents were used in their time.[58] Sources Gill claimed supported his view include:

Gill quoted Elia Levita, who said, "There is no syllable without a point, and there is no word without an accent", as showing that the vowel points and the accents found in printed Hebrew Bibles have a dependence on each other, and so Gill attributed the same antiquity to the accents as to the vowel points.[67] Gill acknowledged that Elia Levita, "first asserted the vowel points were invented by "the men of Tiberias", but made reference to Levita's condition that "if anyone could convince him that his opinion was contrary to the book of Zohar, he should be content to have it rejected." Gill then alludes to the book of Zohar, stating that rabbis declared it older than the Masoretes, and that it attests to the vowel-points and accents.[68]

William Fulke, John Gill, John Owen, and others held that Jesus Christ referred to a Hebrew vowel point or accent at Matthew 5:18, indicated in the King James Version by the word tittle.[69] [70]Fulke argued that the words of this verse, spoken in Hebrew, but then transliterated into Greek of the New testament, are proof that these marks were applied to the Torah at that time.[71] [72] John Lightfoot (1602-1675) claimed the Hebrew vowel points were of the Holy Spirit's invention, not of the Tiberians', characterizing the latter as "lost, blinded, besotted men".[73]

In Peter Whitfield's 1847 A Dissertation on the Hebrew Vowel-Points. Shewing that they are an Original and Essential Part of the Language, he examined the positions of Levita and Capellus, giving many biblical examples to refute their notion of the novelty of vowel points. In his introduction, he claimed that the Roman Catholic Church favored Levita's position because it allowed the priests to have the final say in interpretation. The lack of authoritative vowel points in the Hebrew Old Testament, he said, leaves the meaning of many words to the interpreter. The word "Masoretes" comes from Hebrew māsar, which means "to hand over", "to transmit".[74] Recalling this, Whitfield then gave 10 reasons for holding that the Hebrew vowel points and accents have to be used for Hebrew to be "clearly understood":

  • I. The necessity of vowel-points in reading the Hebrew language (pp. 6-46). Without vowels, he said, simple pronunciations so necessary in learning a language are impossible. He reproved as naiveté Levita's suggestion that the master could teach a child with a thrice-rehearsed effort (pp. 22-23). He gave several biblical examples as proving this necessity.
  • II. The necessity for forming different Hebrew conjugations, moods, tenses, as well as dual and plural endings of nouns (pp. 47-57). That both Hebrew verbs, including the seven conjugations, the moods and tenses, and the Hebrew nouns, with singular, dual and plural endings, are based on vowel diagnostic indicators is, he claimed, without controversy. The tremendous complexity of the Hebrew language without vowels argues against any oral tradition preservation inscripturated through the recent invention of vowels. Whitfield argued: "Whoever will consider a great many instances of these differences, as they occur, will own, he must have been a person of very great sagacity, who could ever have observed them without the points" (p. 48).
  • III. The necessity of vowel-points in distinguishing a great number of words with different significations which without vowel-points are the same (58-61). Whitfield gave many examples of the same consonants with different points constituting different words. The diacritical mark (dot) above the right tooth or the left tooth of the shin/sin letter makes a great difference in some words. He said that if he gave all the examples, he would need "to transcribe a good part of the Bible or lexicon" (p. 58).
  • IV. The inconsistency of the lateness of vowel-points in light of the Jew's zeal for their language since the Babylonian captivity (62-65). The Jews were zealous for their language, Whitfield observed, and they would not have been careless to let the inscripturated vocalization disappear through careless or indifferent oral tradition from the time of the captivity onward. He cited several ancient authorities describing the Jews' fanaticism about protecting the minuteness of their Scripture.
  • V. The various and inconsistent opinions of the advocates for the novelty of vowel-points concerning the authors, time, place, and circumstances of their institution (66-71). Whitfield argued that the advocates for the recent vowel system had a wide variety of suggestions. Concerning the authors, some maintained that the inventor[s] were the Tiberian Jews while others suggested that it was Rabbi Judah Hakkadosh (c. AD 230). Some said the points were invented after the Talmud (c. AD 200-500), by the Masoretes (AD 600), or in the 10th century or the 11th century. For the place some had posited Tiberias whereas others had suggested the Asia Minor.
  • VI. The total silence of the ancient writers, Jew and Christian, about their recent origin (72-88). Whitfield cited both early rabbins and Jerome as neglecting to refer to the late (post-Mosaic) origin of vowel-points.
  • VII. The absolute necessity to ascertain Divine authority of the Scripture of the OT (89-119). Whitfield affirmed that Scripture is based on words and words are based on consonants and vowels. If there are no vowels in the Hebrew OT originals, then there is no Divine authority of the Hebrew OT Scriptures, he argued, citing 2 Tim. 3:16. He then gave a vast listing of passages that change meaning when points are lost, and thereby undermining divine authority.
  • VIII. The many anomalies or irregularities of punctuation in the Hebrew grammar (120-133). This objection by Whitfield to the novelty of vowel-points was the many exceptions to vowel-point rules, anomalies and irregularities that demand a codified system for their exceptions to emphasize a particular point of grammar and truth.
  • IX. The importance of the Kethiv readings versus the Keri marginal renderings (134-221). The existence of Kethiv (Aramaic for "write") readings in the Hebrew text and Keri (Aramaic for "call") readings in the margin of Hebrew manuscripts showed, he said, that the rabbins were serious about preserving the original words, including the vowel-points, when a questionable word arose in a manuscript. The pre-Christian antiquity of the Keri readings in the margin demanded the pre-Masoretic antiquity of the vowel points.
  • X. The answer to two material questions (222-282). Whitfield responded to two of three significant questions in this section: 1) why does the LXX and Jerome's version differ from the Hebrew text in corresponding vowels on proper names? 2) Why the silence of the Jewish writers on the pointing prior to the 6th century of Christianity? and 3) Why were unpointed copies used in the Jewish synagogues? Briefly, he responded to the first questions by stating that the differences in the translations and the Hebrew pointed texts cannot be attributed to the vowels, since he said that the translators obviously did use the pointed copies, and that the Jewish commentators, coeval with the Masoretes, did in fact refer to the points. The third question, answered later in his book, was responded to by saying that there is no historical proof that unpointed copies were used exclusively in the synagogues.[43][75]

The 1602 Spanish Bible (Reina-Valera/Cipriano de Valera) used the name Iehova and gave a lengthy defense of the pronunciation Jehovah in its preface.[38]

Proponents of later origin

Despite Jehovist claims that vowel signs are necessary for reading and understanding Hebrew, modern Hebrew is written without vowel points.[76][76] The Torah scrolls do not include vowel points, and ancient Hebrew was written without vowel signs.[77][78]

The Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered in 1946 and dated from 400 BC to 70 AD,[79] include texts from the Torah or Pentateuch and from other parts of the Hebrew Bible[80][81] and have provided actual documentary evidence that, in spite of the above claims to the contrary, Hebrew was in fact then written without vowel points.[82][83] In fact, according to Menahem Mansoor's The Dead Sea Scrolls: A College Textbook and a Study Guide, the vowel points found in printed Hebrew Bibles were devised in the ninth and tenth centuries AD.[84]

Gill's view that the Hebrew vowel points were in use at the time of Ezra or even at the origins of the Hebrew language went against the consensus of Gill's own time,[85] and which presented the following grounds for rejecting his theory:

  • The argument that vowel points are necessary for learning to read Hebrew is refuted by the fact that the Samaritan text of the Bible is read without them and that several other Semitic languages, kindred to Hebrew, are written without any indications of the vowels.
  • The books used in synagogue worship have always been without vowel points, which, unlike the letters, have thus never been treated as sacred.
  • The Qere Kethib marginal notes give variant readings only of the letters, never of the points, an indication either that these were added later or that, if they already existed, they were seen as not so important.
  • The Kabbalists drew their mysteries only from the letters and completely disregarded the points, if there were any.
  • In several cases, ancient translations from the Hebrew Bible (Septuagint, Targum, Aquila of Sinope, Symmachus, Theodotion, Jerome) read the letters with vowels different from those indicated by the points, an indication that the texts from which they were translating were without points. The same holds for Origen's transliteration of the Hebrew text into Greek letters. Jerome expressly speaks of a word in Habakkuk 3:5, which in the present Masoretic Text has three consonant letters and two vowel points, as being of three letters and no vowel whatever.
  • Neither the Jerusalem Talmud nor the Babylonian Talmud (in all their recounting of Rabbinical disputes about the meaning of words), nor Philo nor Josephus, nor any Christian writer for several centuries after Christ make any reference to vowel points.[86][87]

Early modern arguments

In the sixteen and seventeenth centuries, various arguments were presented for and against the transcription of the form Jehovah.

Discourses rejecting Jehovah

Author Discourse Comments
John Drusius (Johannes Van den Driesche) (1550-1616) Tetragrammaton, sive de Nomine Die proprio, quod Tetragrammaton vocant (1604) Drusius stated "Galatinus first led us to this mistake ... I know [of] nobody who read [it] thus earlier..").[14]
An editor of Drusius in 1698 knows of an earlier reading in Porchetus de Salvaticis however.[15]
John Drusius wrote that neither יְהֹוָה nor יֱהֹוִה accurately represented God's name.[88]
Sixtinus Amama (1593-1659)[89] De nomine tetragrammato (1628) [16] Sixtinus Amama, was a Professor of Hebrew in the University of Franeker. A pupil of Drusius. [17]
Louis Cappel (1585-1658) De nomine tetragrammato (1624) Lewis Cappel reached the conclusion that Hebrew vowel points were not part of the original Hebrew language. This view was strongly contested by John Buxtorff the elder and his son.
James Altingius (1618-1679) Exercitatio grammatica de punctis ac pronunciatione tetragrammati James Altingius was a learned German divine. [18]|

Discourses defending Jehovah

Author Discourse Comments
Nicholas Fuller (1557-1626) ? Nicholas was a Hebraist and a theologian. [19]
John Buxtorf (1564-1629) Disserto de nomine JHVH (1620); Tiberias, sive Commentarius Masoreticus (1664) John Buxtorf the elder [20] opposed the views of Elia Levita regarding the late origin (invention by the Masoretes) of the Hebrew vowel points, a subject which gave rise to the controversy between Louis Cappel and his (e.g. John Buxtorf the elder's) son, Johannes Buxtorf II the younger.
Johannes Buxtorf II (1599-1664) Tractatus de punctorum origine, antiquitate, et authoritate, oppositus Arcano puntationis revelato Ludovici Cappelli (1648) Continued his father's arguments that the pronunciation and therefore the Hebrew vowel points resulting in the name Jehovah have divine inspiration.
Thomas Gataker (1574-1654)[21] De Nomine Tetragrammato Dissertaio (1645) [22] See Memoirs of the Puritans Thomas Gataker.
John Leusden (1624-1699) Dissertationes tres, de vera lectione nominis Jehova John Leusden wrote three discourses in defense of the name Jehovah. [23]

Summary of discourses

In A Dictionary of the Bible (1863), William Robertson Smith summarized these discourses, concluding that "whatever, therefore, be the true pronunciation of the word, there can be little doubt that it is not Jehovah".[90] Despite this, he consistently uses the name Jehovah throughout his dictionary and when translating Hebrew names. Some examples include Isaiah [Jehovah's help or salvation], Jehoshua [Jehovah a helper], Jehu [Jehovah is He]. In the entry, Jehovah, Smith writes: "JEHOVAH ( יְהֹוָה, usually with the vowel points of אֲדֹנָי ; but when the two occur together, the former is pointed יֱהֹוִה, that is with the vowels of אֱלֹהִים, as in Obad. i. 1, Hab. iii. 19:"[91] This practice is also followed by many modern publications, such as the New Compact Bible Dictionary (Special Crusade Edition) of 1967 sponsored by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Peloubet's Bible Dictionary of 1947.

Usage in English

The following works render the Tetragrammaton as Jehovah, either exclusively or occasionally:

  • William Tyndale, in his 1530 translation of the first five books of the English Bible, at Exodus 6:3 renders the divine name as "Iehovah". In his note to this edition he wrote: "Iehovah is God's name... Moreover, as oft as thou seeist LORD in great letters (except there be any error in the printing) it is in Hebrew Iehovah."
  • The King James (Authorized) Version, 1611: four times as the personal name of God (in all capital letters): Exodus 6:3; Psalm 83:18; Isaiah 12:2; Isaiah 26:4; and three times in place names: Genesis 22:14; Exodus 17:15; and Judges 6:24.
  • Young's Literal Translation of the Holy Bible by J.N. Young, 1862, 1898 renders the Tetragrammaton as "Jehovah" 6,831 times.
  • A literal translation of the Old Testament (1890) and the New Testament (1884), by John Nelson Darby, renders the Tetragrammaton as "Jehovah" 6,810 times in the main text.
  • The American Standard Version, 1901 edition, renders the Tetragrammaton as "Je-ho’vah" in all 6,823 places where it occurs in the Old Testament.
  • The Modern Reader's Bible, 1914, by Richard Moulton, uses "Jehovah" at Ps.83:18; Ex.6:2-9; Ex.22:14; Ps.68:4; Jerm.16:20; Isa.12:2 & Isa. 26:4
  • The New English Bible, published by Oxford University Press, 1970; e.g. Gen 22:14; Exodus 3:15,16; 6:3; 17:15; Judges 6:24
  • The Literal Translation of the Holy Bible (1985) by Jay P. Green, Sr., renders the Tetragrammaton as "Jehovah" 6,866 times.
  • The Living Bible, published by Tyndale House Publishers, Illinois 1971; e.g. Gen 22:14, Exodus 3:15; 4:1-27; 17:15; Lev 19:1-36; Deut 4: 29, 39; 5:5, 6; Judges 6:16, 24; Ps 83:18; 110:1; Isaiah 45:1, 18; Amos 5:8; 6:8; 9:6
  • The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1961 and revised 1984: "Jehovah" appears 7,210 times, i.e. 6,973 in the Old Testament and 237 times in the New Testament.
  • In the Emphatic Diaglott (1864), a translation of the New Testament by Benjamin Wilson, the name "Jehovah" appears 18 times.

The Bible in Today's English (Good News Bible), published by the American Bible Society, 1976, uses "The Lord" in its translation, stating in its preface, "the distinctive Hebrew name for God (usually transliterated Jehovah or Yahweh) is in this translation represented by 'The Lord'." A footnote to Exodus 3:14 states, "Yahweh, traditionally transliterated as Jehovah." Recent translations into English use Yahweh, not Jehovah.[92]

The word Jehovah displayed at the Roman Catholic Church named St. Martinskirche, Olten, Switzerland, 1521.

Following the Middle Ages, many Catholic churches and public buildings across Europe were decorated with the name, Jehovah. For example, the Coat of Arms of Plymouth (UK) City Council bears the Latin inscription, "Turris fortissima est nomen Jehova",[93] derived from Proverbs 18:10.

Jehovah has been a popular English word for the personal name of God for several centuries. For this reason, some religious groups, notably Jehovah's Witnesses[94] and the King-James-Only movement, make prominent use of the name.

Greek and Latin sources

Neophytus Vamvas' most widely available translation of the Holy Bible in modern Greek

Under the heading "יהוה c. 6823", the editors of the Brown-Driver-Briggs Lexicon write that יְהֹוָה occurs 6,518 times in the Masoretic Text and that it is read as "Adonai" or "Elohim".[3 ]

Greek transcriptions similar to "Jehovah"

  • Ιουώ (Iouō): Pistis Sophia[95 ] (2nd cent.)
  • Ιεού (Ieou): Pistis Sophia[95 ] (2nd cent.)
  • Ιεηωουά (Ie-ee-ōoua): Pistis Sophia[96] (2nd cent.)
  • Ιευώ (Ievō): Eusebius[97] (c. 315)
  • Ιεωά (Ieōa): Hellenistic magical texts[98] (2nd-3rd centuries), M. Kyriakakes[99] (2000)
  • Ιεχοβά (like Jehova[h]): Paolo Medici[100] (1755)
  • Ιεοβά (like Je[h]ova[h]): Greek Pentateuch[101] (1833), Holy Bible translated in modern Greek by Neophytus Vamvas[102] (1850)
  • Ιεχωβά (like Jehova[h]): Panagiotes Trempelas[103] (1958)

Latin and English transcriptions similar to "Jehovah"

Excerpts from Raymond Martin's Pugio Fidei adversus Mauros et Judaeos (1270, p. 559), containing the phrase "Jehova, sive Adonay, qvia Dominus es omnium" (Jehovah, or Adonay, for you are the Lord of all).
Geneva Bible, 1560. (Psalm 83:18)
A Latin rendering of the Tetragrammaton has been the form "Jova", sounding very similar to "Jehovah".
(Origenis Hexaplorum, edited by Frederick Field, 1875.)

Transcriptions of יְהֹוָה similar to Jehovah occurred as early as the 12th century.

See also


  1. ^ Preface to the New American Standard Bible
  2. ^ Exodus 3:15
  3. ^ a b Brown-Driver-Briggs Lexicon
  4. ^ Pugio fidei by Raymund Martin, written in about 1270
  5. ^ Source: The Divine Name in Norway,
  6. ^ a b c "Although most scholars believe "Jehovah" to be a late (ca. 1100 CE) hybrid form derived by combining the Latin letters JHVH with the vowels of Adonai (the traditionally pronounced version of יהוה), many magical texts in Semitic and Greek establish an early pronunciation of the divine name as both Yehovah and Yahweh" (Roy Kotansky, Jeffrey Spier, "The 'Horned Hunter' on a Lost Gnostic Gem", The Harvard Theological Review, Vol. 88, No. 3 (Jul., 1995), p. 318.)
  7. ^ "This [Yehowah] is the correct pronunciation of the tetragramaton, as is clear from the pronunciation of proper names in the First Testament (FT), poetry, fifth-century Aramaic documents, Greek translations of the name in the Dead Sea Scrolls and church fathers." (George Wesley Buchanan, "The Tower of Siloam", The Expository Times 2003; 115: 37; pp. 40, 41)
  8. ^ Jarl Fossum and Brian Glazer in their article Seth in the Magical Texts (in Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphie 100 (1994), p. 86-92, reproduced here, give the name "Yahweh" as the source of a number of names found in pagan magical texts: Ἰάβας (p. 88), Iaō (described as "a Greek form of the name of the Biblical God, Yahweh", on p. 89), Iaba, Iaē, Iaēo, Iaō, Iaēō (p. 89). On page 92, they call "Iaō" "the divine name".
  9. ^ Greek Magical Papyri Texts, Marvin W. Meyer, The "Mithras" Liturgy. In the Introduction he says that the magical formula "IAO" seems derived from or imitative of the Semitic word "Yahweh". The same explanation of the word "Iao" in pagan magical texts is given by Franz Cumont (quoted in David Livingstone, The Hidden History of Western Civilization, p. 178. And Kristin De Troyer, in The Names of God, Their Pronunciation and Their Translation states that "IAO can be seen as a transliteration of YAHU, the three-letter form of the Name of God" (p. 6).
  10. ^ Stephen Flowers Hermetic Magic: The Postmodern Magical Papyrus of Abaris (1995), p. 95
  11. ^ Eerdman's Dictionary of the Bible (2000), p. 1402
  12. ^
  13. ^ a b Nehemia Gordon, The Pronunciation of the Name
  14. ^ "יְהֹוָה Jehovah, pr[oper] name of the supreme God amongst the Hebrews. The later Hebrews, for some centuries before the time of Christ, either misled by a false interpretation of certain laws (Ex. 20:7; Lev. 24:11), or else following some old superstition, regarded this name as so very holy, that it might not even be pronounced (see Philo, Vit. Mosis t.iii. p.519, 529). Whenever, therefore, this nomen tetragrammaton occurred in the sacred text, they were accustomed to substitute for it אֲדֹנָי, and thus the vowels of the noun אֲדֹנָי are in the Masoretic text placed under the four letters יהוה, but with this difference, that the initial Yod receives a simple and not a compound Sh’va (יְהֹוָה [Yehovah], not (יֲהֹוָה [Yahovah]); prefixes, however, receive the same points as if they were followed by אֲדֹנָי [...] This custom was already in vogue in the days of the LXX. translators; and thus it is that they every where translated יְהֹוָה by ὁ Κύριος (אֲדֹנָי)." (H. W. F. Gesenius, Gesenius's Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1979[1847]), p. 337)
  15. ^ For example, Deuteronomy 3:24, Deuteronomy 9:26 (second instance), Judges 16:28 (second instance), Genesis 15:2
  16. ^ R. Laird Harris, "The Pronunciation of the Tetragram," in John H. Skilton (ed.), The Law and the Prophets: Old Testament Studies Prepared in Honor of Oswald Thompson Allis (Presbyterian and Reformed, 1974), 224.
  17. ^ a b Jewish Encyclopedia: article YHWH
  18. ^ 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica: article Jehovah (Yahweh)
  19. ^ In the 7th paragraph of "Introduction to the Old Testament of the New English Bible", Sir Godfrey Driver wrote, "The Reformers preferred Jehovah, which first appeared as Iehouah in 1530 A.D., in Tyndale's translation of the Pentateuch (Exodus 6.3), from which it passed into other Protestant Bibles." By comparison, the Latin Vulgate of St. Jerome renders the name as Adonai at Exodus 6:3
  20. ^ At Gen.22:14; Ex.6:3; 17:15; Jg.6:24; Ps.83:18, Is.12:2; 26:4. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Iowa Falls: Word, 1994), 722.
  21. ^ According to the preface, this was because the translators felt that the "Jewish superstition, which regarded the Divine Name as too sacred to be uttered, ought no longer to dominate in the English or any other version of the Old Testament".
  22. ^ The original hymn, without "Jehovah", was composed in Welsh in 1745; the English translation, with "Jehovah", was composed in 1771 (Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah).
  23. ^ a b c Jewish Encyclopedia of 1901-1906
  24. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia: article Jehovah
  25. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg "Jehovah (Yahweh)". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.  
  26. ^ Only three copies of his Five Books of Moses survive, and the best copy is kept at the British Museum.
  27. ^ Westcott, in his survey of the English Bible, wrote that Tyndale "felt by a happy instinct the potential affinity between Hebrew and English idioms, and enriched our language and thought for ever with the characteristics of the Semitic mind." See Dahlia M. Karpman's, "Tyndale's Response to the Hebraic Tradition" (Studies in the Renaissance, Vol. 14 (1967)), pp. 113, 118, 119.
  28. ^ The first English-language book to make a clear distinction between I and J was published in 1634. (Richard M. Hogg, The Cambridge History of the English Language (Cambridge University Press 1992 ISBN=0521264766, p. 39). It was also only by the mid-1500s that V was used to represent the consonant and U the vowel sound, while capital U was not accepted as a distinct letter until many years later (Laurent Pflughaupt, Letter by Letter: An Alphabetical Miscellany (Princeton Architectural Press ISBN 9781568987378) pp. 123–124).
  29. ^ William Tyndale, Doctrinal Treatises, ed. Rev. Henry Walter (Cambridge, 1848), p. 408.
  30. ^ In the 7th paragraph of Introduction to the Old Testament of the New English Bible, Sir Godfry Driver wrote, "The early translators generally substituted 'Lord' for [YHWH]. [...] The Reformers preferred Jehovah, which first appeared as Iehouah in 1530 A.D., in Tyndale's translation of the Pentateuch (Exodus 6.3), from which it passed into other Protestant Bibles."
  31. ^ Exodus 6:3-5 RSV
  32. ^ Duane A. Garrett, A Modern Grammar for Classical Hebrew (Broadman & Holman 2002 ISBN 0-8054-2159-9), p. 13
  33. ^ Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar (1910 Kautzsch-Cowley edition), p. 38
  34. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia, article Punctuation
  35. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th edition, article Hebrew
  36. ^ Godwin's Cabalistic Encyclopedia, Third Edition (Llewellyn 1994), p. xviii
  37. ^ Thomas M. Strouse, Scholarly Myths Perpetuated on Rejecting the Masoretic Text of the Old Testament. The writer mentions in particular Christo H. J. Van der Merwe, Jackie A. Naude and Jan H. Kroeze, A Biblical Reference Grammar (Sheffield, England:Sheffield Academic Press, 2002), and Gary D. Pratico and Miles V. Van Pelt, Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publ. House, 2001)
  38. ^ a b c d e (In Awe of Thy Word, G.A. Riplinger-Chapter 11, page 416)Online
  39. ^ Tiberias, sive Commentarius Masoreticus (1620; quarto edition, improved and enlarged by J. Buxtorf the younger, 1665)
  40. ^ Tractatus de punctorum origine, antiquitate, et authoritate, oppositus Arcano puntationis revelato Ludovici Cappelli (1648)
  41. ^ Biblical Theology (Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1996 reprint of the 1661 edition), pp. 495-533
  42. ^ A Dissertation on the Hebrew Vowel-Points. Shewing that they are an Original and Essential Part of the Language, (Liverpoole: Peter Whitfield, 1748)
  43. ^ a b c,+1748&hl=en&gl=us&sig=AFQjCNHvvPvD5AlbbkqQ4zRqjlgic-Q-4g
  44. ^ A Dissertation concerning the Antiquity of the Hebrew Language, LETTERS, VOWEL POINTS, and ACCENTS (London: n. p., 1767)
  45. ^ An Essay on the Antiquity and Utility of the Hebrew Vowel-Points (Glasgow: John Reid & Co., 1833)
  46. ^ The Battle Over The Hebrew Vowel Points, Examined Particularly As Waged in England, by Thomas D. Ross Online
  47. ^ (In Awe of Thy Word, G.A. Riplinger-Chapter 11, page 413-435)Online
  48. ^ a b
  49. ^ Nehemia Gordon, The Pronunciation of the Name,pp. 1-2
  50. ^ Nehemia Gordon, The Pronunciation of the Name,p. 8
  51. ^ Nehemia Gordon, The Pronunciation of the Name,p. 11
  52. ^ John Gill, "A Dissertation Concerning the Antiquity of the Hebrew Language, Letters, Vowel-Points and Accents", Vol. 3, p. 429.
  53. ^ A Dissertation Concerning the Antiquity of the Hebrew Language, John Gill, pp. 499-560 [1]
  54. ^ John Gill, "A Dissertation Concerning the Antiquity of the Hebrew Language, Letters, Vowel-Points and Accents", Vol. 3, pp. 549-560.
  55. ^ a b c A Dissertation Concerning the Antiquity of the Hebrew Language, John Gill, p. 538-542 [2]
  56. ^ (In Awe of Thy Word, G.A. Riplinger-Chapter 11, page 422-435)Online,A Dissertation Concerning the Antiquity of the Hebrew Language, Letters, Vowel-Points, and Accents, by John Gill, p. 540 Online
  57. ^ A Dissertation Concerning the Antiquity of the Hebrew Language, John Gill, pp. 548-560 [3]
  58. ^ A Dissertation Concerning the Antiquity of the Hebrew Language, John Gill [4]
  59. ^ A Dissertation Concerning the Antiquity of the Hebrew Language, John Gill, p. 461-462 [5]
  60. ^ A Dissertation Concerning the Antiquity of the Hebrew Language, John Gill, p. 501 [6]
  61. ^ A Dissertation Concerning the Antiquity of the Hebrew Language, John Gill, pp. 512-516 [7]
  62. ^ A Dissertation Concerning the Antiquity of the Hebrew Language, John Gill, p. 522 [8]
  63. ^ A Dissertation Concerning the Antiquity of the Hebrew Language, John Gill, p. 531 [9]
  64. ^ A Dissertation Concerning the Antiquity of the Hebrew Language, John Gill, p. 535-536 [10]
  65. ^ A Dissertation Concerning the Antiquity of the Hebrew Language, John Gill, p. 536-537 [11]
  66. ^ A Dissertation Concerning the Antiquity of the Hebrew Language, John Gill, p. 544 [12]
  67. ^ A Dissertation Concerning the Antiquity of the Hebrew Language, John Gill, Volume 3, p. 499
  68. ^ A Dissertation Concerning the Antiquity of the Hebrew Language, John Gill, Volume 3, p. 531
  69. ^ The Merriam-Webster Dictionary gives one wide-ranging definition of "tittle" as "a point or small sign used as a diacritical mark in writing or printing".
  70. ^ pg. 110, Of the Integrity and Purity of the Hebrew and Greek Text of the Scripture; with Considerations on the Prolegomena and Appendix to the Late “Biblia Polyglotta,” in vol. IX, The Works of John Owen, ed. Gould, William H, & Quick, Charles W., Philadelphia, PA: Leighton Publications, 1865)
  71. ^ The Battle Over The Hebrew Vowel Points, Examined Particularly As Waged in England, by Thomas D. Ross, pp. 13-14 Online
  72. ^ A Dissertation Concerning the Antiquity of the Hebrew Language, John Gill, Volume 3, p. 435
  73. ^ The Battle Over The Hebrew Vowel Points, Examined Particularly As Waged in England, by Thomas D. Ross, pp. 16-17
  74. ^ American Heritage Dictionary of the English Languages
  75. ^ Liverpoole: Peter Whitfield, 1748), 288 pp., Whitfield's critical texts
  76. ^ a b Jewish Virtual Library: Vowels and Points
  77. ^ At Home with Hebrew
  78. ^ Page H. Kenney, Biblical Hebrew: an introductory grammar 1992
  79. ^ Old Testament Manuscripts
  80. ^ James C. VanderKam, The Dead Sea Scrolls Today, p. 30
  81. ^ The Dead Sea Scrolls Biblical Manuscripts
  82. ^ The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Graphological Investigation
  83. ^ William P. Griffin, Killing a Dead Language: A Case against Emphasizing Vowel Pointing when Teaching Biblical Hebrew
  84. ^ The Dead Sea Scrolls: A College Textbook and a Study Guide, pp. 75-76
  85. ^ Godfrey Higgins, On the Vowel Points of the Hebrew Language, in The Classical Journal for March and June 1826, p. 145
  86. ^ Higgins, pp. 146-149
  87. ^ Augustin Calmet, Dictionary of the Bible, pp. 618-619]<ref<[ B. Pick, The Vowel-Points Controversy in the XVI. and XVII. Centuries
  88. ^ See Gérard Gertoux, The name of God Y.EH.OW.AH which is pronounced as it is written I_EH_OU_AH, pp. 209, 210.
  89. ^ See page 8
  90. ^ In his work, Smith is commenting on the matter: "In the decade of dissertations collected by Reland, Fuller, Gataker, and Leusden do battle for the pronunciation Jehovah, against such formidable antagonists as Drusius, Amama, Cappellus, Buxtorf, and Altingius, who, it is scarcely necessary to say, fairly beat their opponents out of the field; "the only argument of any weight, which is employed by the advocates of the pronunciation of the word as it is written being that derived from the form in which it appears in proper names, such as Jehoshaphat, Jehoram, &c. [...] Their antagonists make a strong point of the fact that, as has been noticed above, two different sets of vowel points are applied to the same consonants under certain circumstances. To this Leusden, of all the champions on his side, but feebly replies. [...] The same may be said of the argument derived from the fact that the letters מוכלב, when prefixed to יהוה, take, not the vowels which they would regularly receive were the present pronunciation true, but those with which they would be written if אֲדֹנָי, adonai, were the reading; and that the letters ordinarily taking dagesh lene when following יהוה would, according to the rules of the Hebrew points, be written without dagesh, whereas it is uniformly inserted."
  91. ^ Image of it.
  92. ^ The New Jerusalem Bible (1985), the Amplified Bible (1987), the New Living Translation (1996), the English Standard Version (2001), and the Holman Christian Standard Bible (2004).
  93. ^ See Civic Heraldry and here. Also, Civic Heraldry of the United Kingdom)
  94. ^ Awake!, December 2007, p. 20, "How God’s Name Has Been Made Known", "The commonly used form of God’s name in English is Jehovah, translated from the Hebrew [Tetragrammaton], which appears some 7,000 times in the Bible." The Divine Name That Will Endure Forever, p. 7: "Nobody knows for sure how the name of God was originally pronounced. Nevertheless, many prefer the pronunciation Jehovah. Why? Because it has a currency and familiarity that Yahweh does not have." Awake!, January 22, 2004, cover series of articles "Do You Know God by Name?", mostly reproduced here. The Watchtower, September 1, 2008, "Why Use God’s Name if Its Pronunciation Is Uncertain?", p. 31. The Watchtower, July 15, 1964, p. 424, "What Is The Name?": "The vital point is not whether “Yahweh” or some other form of the Divine Name is more correct in Hebrew. The vital point is whether you use the pronunciation common to your language." All of these sources published by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society.
  95. ^ a b Charles William King, The Gnostics and their remains: Ancient and Mediaeval (1887), p. 285.
  96. ^ "This [ΙΕΗΩΟΥΑ] is in fact a very correct representation, if we give each vowel its true Greek sound, of the Hebrew pronunciation of the word Jehovah." Charles William King, The Gnostics and their remains: Ancient and Mediaeval (1887), p. 199, 200.
  97. ^ Praeparatio evangelica 10.9.
  98. ^ The Grecised Hebrew text "εληιε Ιεωα ρουβα" means "my God Ieoa is mightier". ("La prononciation 'Jehova' du tétragramme", O.T.S. vol. 5, 1948, pp. 57, 58. [Greek papyrus CXXI 1.528-540 (3d cent.), Library of the British Museum]
  99. ^ Article in the Aster magazine (January 2000), the official periodical of the Greek Evangelical Church.
  100. ^ Greek translation by Ioannes Stanos.
  101. ^ Published by the British and Foreign Bible Society.
  102. ^ Exodus 6:3, etc.
  103. ^ Dogmatike tes Orthodoxou Katholikes Ekklesias (Dogmatics of the Orthodox Catholic Church), 3d ed., 1997 (c 1958), Vol. 1, p. 229.
  104. ^ Dahlia M. Karpman, "Tyndale's Response to the Hebraic Tradition" (Studies in the Renaissance, Vol. 14 (1967)), p. 121.
  105. ^ a b See comments at Exodus 6:2, 3 in his Critical Remarks on the Hebrew Scriptures (1800). Also, Rev. Richard Barrett's A Synopsis of Criticisms upon Passages of the Old Testament (1847) p. 219.
  106. ^ a b At his work Pugio Fidei. At page 152 of Gérard Gertoux's book The name of God Y.eH.oW.aH which is pronounced as it is written I_EH_OU_AH is a photo of a bilingual Latin (or Spanish) text and Hebrew text [side by side] written by Raymond Martin in 1278, with in its last sentence "יְהוָֹה" opposite "Yohoua".
  107. ^ a b At his book Victory Against the Ungodly Hebrews. Gérard Gertoux, The name of God Y.eH.oW.aH, p. 153. See also [13]; George Moore, Notes on the Name YHWH (The American Journal of Theology, Vol. 12, No. 1. (Jan., 1908), pp. 34-52.
  108. ^ Charles IX of Sweden instituted the Royal Order of Jehova in 1606.
  109. ^ a b c Scholia in Vetus Testamentum, vol. 3, part 3, pp. 8, 9, etc.
  110. ^ For example, Gesenius rendered Proverbs 8:22 in Latin as: "Jehova creavit me ab initio creationis". (Samuel Lee, A lexicon, Hebrew, Chaldee, and English (1840) p. 143)
  111. ^ "Non enim h quatuor liter [yhwh] si, ut punctat sunt, legantur, Ioua reddunt: sed (ut ipse optime nosti) Iehoua efficiunt." (De Arcanis Catholicæ Veritatis (1518), folio xliii. See Oxford English Dictionary Online, 1989/2008, Oxford University Press, "Jehovah"). Peter Galatin was Pope Leo X's confessor.
  112. ^ Sir Godfrey Driver, Introduction to the Old Testament of the New English Bible.
  113. ^ See Poole's comments at Exodus 6:2, 3 in his Synopsis criticorum biblicorum.
  114. ^ The State of the printed Hebrew Text of the Old Testament considered: A Dissertation in two parts (1753), pp. 158, 159)
  115. ^ The First Twelve Psalms in Hebrew, p. 22.

This article incorporates text from the 1901–1906 Jewish Encyclopedia, a publication now in the public domain.


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Jehovah is a variant of the personal name of the single god in Judaism and Christianity. Other variations of it include Yahweh, YHWH, Yahwe, Yahveh, YHVH, Yahve, Wahvey, Jahvey, Jahweh, JHVH.



  • 6 And Jehovah went on to answer Job out of the windstorm and say:

 7 “Gird up your loins, please, like an able-bodied man; I shall question you, and you inform me.  8 Really, will you invalidate my justice? Will you pronounce me wicked in order that you may be in the right?

  • 2And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am Jehovah: 3And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.
  • 38 And Jehovah proceeded to answer Job out of the windstorm and say:

 2 “Who is this that is obscuring counsel By words without knowledge?  3 Gird up your loins, please, like an able-bodied man, And let me question you, and you inform me.  4 Where did you happen to be when I founded the earth? Tell [me], if you do know understanding. Job

  • Shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?
  • "YOU are my witnesses," is the utterance of Jehovah, "and I am God"
  • This is my Son, the beloved; listen to him.

About Jehovah

  • Men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth.
  • In the name of the great Jehovah, and the Continental Congress!

See also

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Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




Transliteration of Hebrew יהוה Causative form (Hiphil) of the verb "havah" (הוה) "to be / to become". "He causes to be" or "He comes to be". The word deliberately uses the vowel sounds from "adonai" (אדני) "lord".

Proper noun




  1. (religion) The personal name of God in the Hebrew Scriptures; in Hebrew, יהוה (YHVH)
  2. A Jehovah's Witness.
    • I've never had Jehovahs at my door, but the other day two Mormons came to my door.


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

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Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

Je·ho′vah the causative form, the imperfect state, of the Heb. verb ha·wah′ (become); meaning “He Causes to Become”.

The Creator of the universe and all things in it.

The special and significant name (not merely an appellative title such as Lord /Adonai) by which God revealed himself to the ancient Hebrews Ex 6:3. This name, the Tetragrammaton of the Greeks, was held by the later Jews to be so sacred that it was never pronounced except by the high priest on the great Day of Atonement, when he entered into the most holy place. Whenever this name occurred in the sacred books they pronounced it, as they still do, "Adonai" (i.e., Lord), thus using another word in its stead. The Massorets gave to it the vowel-points appropriate to this word. This Jewish practice was founded on an interpretation of Lev 24:16. The meaning of the word appears from Ex 3:14 to be "the unchanging, eternal, self-existent God," the "I am that I am," a convenant-keeping God. (Comp. Mal 3:6; Hos 12:5; Rev 1:4, Rev 1:8.)

The Hebrew name "Jehovah" is generally translated in the Authorized Version (and the Revised Version has not departed from this rule) by the word LORD printed in small capitals, to distinguish it from the rendering of the Hebrew Adonai and the Greek Kurios, which are also rendered Lord, but printed in the usual type. The Hebrew word is translated "Jehovah" only in Ex 6:3; Ps 8318; Isa 12:2; Isa 26:4, and in the compound names mentioned below.

It is worthy of notice that this name is never used in the LXX., the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Apocrypha, or in the New Testament. It is found, however, on the Moabite stone, and consequently it must have been in the days of Mesba so commonly pronounced by the Hebrews as to be familiar to their heathen neighbours.

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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Jehovah (Jewish Encyclopedia)

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: אֲדֹנָי = "Adonay") with the consonants of the "ketib" (text-reading: יהוה = "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 א becomes simple ( ְ ) under the י), "holem," and "kamez," and these give the reading ( יְהֹוָה ) (= "Jehovah"). Sometimes, when the two names ( יהוה ) and ( אדני ) occur together, the former is pointed with "hatef segol" ( ֱ ) under the י — thus, יֱהֹוִה (="Jehovah")—to indicate that in this combination it is to be pronounced "Elohim" ( אֱלֹהִים ). These substitutions of "Adonay"and "Elohim" for Yhwh were devised to avoid the profanation of the Ineffable Name ( hence יהוה is also written ’ ה, or even ’ ד, and read "ha-Shem" = "the Name ").

The reading "Jehovah" is a comparatively recent invention. The earlier Christian commentators report that the Tetragrammaton was written but not pronounced by the Jews (see Theodoret, "Question. xv. in Ex." [Field, "Hexapla," i. 90, to Ex. vi. 3]; Jerome, "Præfatio Regnorum," and his letter to Marcellus, "Epistola," 136, where he notices that "PIPI" [= ΠIΠI = יהוה ] is presented in Greek manuscripts; Origen, see "Hexapla" to Ps. lxxi. 18 and Isa. i. 2; comp. concordance to LXX. by Hatch and Redpath, under ΠIΠI, which occasionally takes the place of the usual κύριος, in Philo's Bible quotations; κύριος = "Adonay" is the regular translation; see also Aquila).

"Jehovah" is generally held to have been the invention of Pope Leo X.'s confessor, Peter Galatin ("De Arcanis Catholicæ Veritatis," 1518, folio xliii.), who was followed in the use of this hybrid form by Fagius (= Büchlein, 1504-49). Drusius (= Van der Driesche, 1550-1616) was the first to ascribe to Peter Galatin the use of "Jehovah," and this view has been taken since his days (comp. Hastings, "Dict. Bible," ii. 199, s.v. "God"; Gesenius-Buhl, "Handwörterb." 1899, p. 311; see Drusius on the tetragrammaton in his "Critici Sacri, i. 2, col. 344). But it seems that even before Galatin the name "Jehovah" had been in common use (see Drusius, l.c. notes to col. 351). It is found in Raymond Martin's "Pugio Fidei." written in 1270 (Paris, 1651, iii., pt. ii., ch. 3, p. 448; comp. T. Prat in "Dictionnaire de la Bible," s.v.). See also Names of God.

The pronunciation "Jehovah" has been defended by Stier ("Hebr. Lehrgebäude") and Hölemann ("Bibelstudien.," i.).

The use of the composite "shewa" "hatef segol" ( ֱ ) in cases where "Elohim" is to be read has led to the opinion that the composite "shewa" "hatef patah" ( ֲ ) ought to have been used to indicate the reading "Adonay." It has been argued in reply that the disuse of the "patah" is in keeping with the Babylonian system, in which the composite "shewa" is not usual. But the reason why the "patah" is dropped is plainly the non-guttural character of the "yod"; to indicate the reading "Elohim," however, the "segol" (and "hirek" under the last syllable, i.e., יֱהֹוִה ) had to appear in order that a mistake might not be made and "Adonay" be repeated. Other peculiarities of the pointing are these: with prefixes ("waw," "bet," "min") the voweling is that required by "Adonay": "wa-Adonay," "ba-Adonay," "me-Adonay." Again, after "Yhwh" (= "Adonay") the "dagesh lene" is inserted in בגדכפת, which could not be the case if "Jehovah" (ending in ה) were the pronunciation. The accent of the cohortative imperatives ( (image) ), which should, before a word like "Jehovah," be on the first syllable, rests on the second when they stand before ( יהוה ) , which fact is proof that the Masorites read "Adonay" (a word beginning with "a").

Bibliography: Schrader-Schenkel, Bibellexikon, iii. 147 et seq.; Köhler, De Pronunciatione Tetragrammatis, 1867; Driver, Recent Theories on the . . . Pronunciation, etc., in Studia Biblica, i., Oxford, 1885; Dalman, Der Gottesname Adonaj und Seine Gesch. 1889; Dillmann, Kommentar zu Exodus und Leviticus, p. 39, Leipsic, 1897; Herzog-Hauck, Real-Encyc. viii., s.v. Jahve.

This entry includes text from the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906.

Jehovah (Catholic Encyclopedia)

The proper name of God in the Old Testament; hence the Jews called it the name by excellence, the great name, the only name, the glorious and terrible name, the hidden and mysterious name, the name of the substance, the proper name, and most frequently shem hammephorash, i.e. the explicit or the separated name, though the precise meaning of this last expression is a matter of discussion (cf. Buxtorf, "Lexicon", Basle, 1639, col. 2432 sqq.).

Jehovah occurs more frequently than any other Divine name. The Concordances of Furst ("Vet. Test. Concordantiae", Leipzig, 1840) and Mandelkern ("Vet. Test. Concordantiae", Leipzig, 1896) do not exactly agree as to the number of its occurrences; but in round numbers it is found in the Old Testament 6000 times, either alone or in conjunction with another Divine name. The Septuagint and the Vulgate render the name generally by "Lord" (Kyrios, Dominus), a translation of Adonai—usually substituted for Jehovah in reading.


The Fathers and the Rabbinic writers agree in representing Jehovah as an ineffable name. As to the Fathers, we only need draw attention to the following expressions: onoma arreton, aphraston, alekton, aphthegkton, anekphoneton, aporreton kai hrethenai me dynamenon, mystikon. Leusden could not induce a certain Jew, in spite of his poverty, to pronounce the real name of God, though he held out the most alluring promises. The Jew's compliance with Leusden's wishes would not indeed have been of any real advantage to the latter; for the modern Jews are as uncertain of the real pronunciation of the Sacred name as their Christian contemporaries. According to a Rabbinic tradition the real pronunciation of Jehovah ceased to be used at the time of Simeon the Just, who was, according to Maimonides, a contemporary of Alexander the Great. At any rate, it appears that the name was no longer pronounced after the destruction of the Temple. The Mishna refers to our question more than once: Berachoth, ix, 5, allows the use of the Divine name by way of salutation; in Sanhedrin, x, 1, Abba Shaul refuses any share in the future world to those who pronounce it as it is written; according to Thamid, vii, 2, the priests in the Temple (or perhaps in Jerusalem) might employ the true Divine name, while the priests in the country (outside Jerusalem) had to be contented with the name Adonai; according to Maimonides ("More Neb.", i, 61, and "Yad chasaka", xiv, 10) the true Divine name was used only by the priests in the sanctuary who imparted the blessing, and by the high-priest on the Day of Atonement. Phil ["De mut. nom.", n. 2 (ed. Marg., i, 580); "Vita Mos.", iii, 25 (ii, 166)] seems to maintain that even on these occasions the priests had to speak in a low voice. Thus far we have followed the post-Christian Jewish tradition concerning the attitude of the Jews before Simeon the Just.

As to the earlier tradition, Josephus (Antiq., II, xii, 4) declares that he is not allowed to treat of the Divine name; in another place (Antiq., XII, v, 5) he says that the Samaritans erected on Mt. Garizim an anonymon ieron. This extreme veneration for the Divine name must have generally prevailed at the time when the Septuagint version was made, for the translators always substitute Kyrios (Lord) for Jehovah. Ecclus., xxiii, 10, appears to prohibit only a wanton use of the Divine name, though it cannot be denied that Jehovah is not employed as frequently in the more recent canonical books of the Old Testament as in the older books. It would be hard to determine at what time this reverence for the Divine name originated among the Hebrews. Rabbinic writers derive the prohibition of pronouncing the Tetragrammaton, as the name of Jehovah is called, from Lev., xxiv, 16: "And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, dying let him die". The Hebrew participle noqedh, here rendered "blasphemeth", is translated honomazon in the Septuagint, and appears to have the meaning "to determine", "to denote" (by means of its proper vowels) in Gen., xxx, 28; Num., i, 17; Is., lxii, 2. Still, the context of Lev., xxiv, 16 (cf. verses 11 and 15), favours the meaning "to blaspheme". Rabbinic exegetes derive the prohibition also from Ex., iii, 15; but this argument cannot stand the test of the laws of sober hermeneutics (cf. Drusius, "Tetragrammaton", 8-10, in "Critici Sacri", Amsterdam, 1698, I, p. ii, col. 339-42; "De nomine divino", ibid., 512-16; Drach, "Harmonic entre l'Eglise et la Synagogue", I, Paris, 1844, pp. 350-53, and Note 30, pp. 512-16). 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. Hence the question: What are the true vowels of the word Jehovah?

It has been maintained by some recent scholars that the word Jehovah dates only from the year 1520 (cf. Hastings, "Dictionary of the Bible", II, 1899, p. 199: Gesenius-Buhl, "Handwörterbuch", 13th ed., 1899, p. 311). Drusius (loc. cit., 344) represents Peter Galatinus as the inventor of the word Jehovah, and Fagius as it propagator in the world of scholars and commentators. But the writers of the sixteenth century, Catholic and Protestant (e.g. Cajetan and Théodore de Bèze), are perfectly familiar with the word. Galatinus himself ("Areana cathol. veritatis", I, Bari, 1516, a, p. 77) represents the form as known and received in his time. Besides, Drusius (loc. cit., 351) discovered it in Porchetus, a theologian of the fourteenth century. Finally, the word is found even in the "Pugio fidei" of Raymund Martin, a work written about 1270 (ed. Paris, 1651, pt. III, dist. ii, cap. iii, p. 448, and Note, p. 745). Probably the introduction of the name Jehovah antedates even R. Martin.

No wonder then that this form has been regarded as the true pronunciation of the Divine name by such scholars as Michaelis ("Supplementa ad lexica hebraica", I, 1792, p. 524), Drach (loc. cit., I, 469-98), Stier (Lehrgebäude der hebr. Sprache, 327), and others.

  • Jehovah is composed of the abbreviated forms of the imperfect, the participle, and the perfect of the Hebrew verb "to be" (ye=yehi; ho=howeh; wa=hawah). According to this explanation, the meaning of Jehovah would be "he who will be, is, and has been". But such a word-formation has no analogy in the Hebrew language.
  • The abbreviated form Jeho supposes the full form Jehovah. But the form Jehovah cannot account for the abbreviations Jahu and Jah, while the abbreviation Jeho may be derived from another word.
  • The Divine name is said to be paraphrased in Apoc., i, 4, and iv, 8, by the expression ho on kai ho en kai ho erchomenos, in which ho erchomenos is regard as equivalent to ho eromenos, "the one that will be"; but it really means "the coming one", so that after the coming of the Lord, Apoc., xi, 17, retains only ho on kai ho en.
  • the comparison of Jehovah with the Latin Jupiter, Jovis. But it wholly neglects the fuller forms of the Latin names Diespiter, Diovis. Any connection of Jehovah with the Egyptian Divine name consisting of the seven Greek vowels has been rejected by Hengstenberg (Beitrage zur Einleiung ins Alte Testament, II, 204 sqq.) and Tholuck (Vermischte Schriften, I, 349 sqq.).

To take up the ancient writers:

  • Diodorus Siculus writes Jao (I, 94);
  • Irenaeus ("Adv. Haer.", II, xxxv, 3, in P. G., VII, col. 840), Jaoth;
  • the Valentinian heretics (Ir., "Adv. Haer.", I, iv, 1, in P.G., VII, col. 481), Jao;
  • Clement of Alexandria ("Strom.", V, 6, in P.G., IX, col. 60), Jaou;
  • Origin ("in Joh.", II, 1, in P.G., XIV, col. 105), Jao;
  • Porphyry (Eus., "Praep. evang", I, ix, in P.G., XXI, col. 72), Jeuo;
  • Epiphanius ("Adv. Haer.", I, iii, 40, in P.G., XLI, col. 685), Ja or Jabe;
  • Pseudo-Jerome ("Breviarium in Pss.", in P.L., XXVI, 828), Jaho;
  • the Samaritans (Theodoret, in "Ex. quaest.", xv, in P. G., LXXX, col. 244), Jabe;
  • James of Edessa (cf.. Lamy, "La science catholique", 1891, p. 196), Jehjeh;
  • Jerome ("Ep. xxv ad Marcell.", in P. L., XXII, col. 429) speaks of certain ignorant Greek writers who transcribed the Hebrew Divine name II I II I. The judicious reader will peceive that the Samaritan pronunciation Jabe probably approaches the real sound of the Divine name closest; the other early writers transmit only abbreviations or corruptions of the sacred name. Inserting the vowels of Jabe into the original Hebrew consonant text, we obtain the form Jahveh (Yahweh), which has been generally accepted by modern scholars as the true pronunciation of the Divine name. It is not merely closely connected with the pronunciation of the ancient synagogue by means of the Samaritan tradition, but it also allows the legitimate derivation of all the abbreviations of the sacred name in the Old Testament.


Jahveh (Yahweh) is one of the archaic Hebrew nouns, such as Jacob, Joseph, Israel, etc. (cf. Ewald, "Lehrbuch der hebr. Sprache", 7th ed., 1863, p. 664), derived from the third person imperfect in such a way as to attribute to a person or a thing the action of the quality expressed by the verb after the manner of a verbal adjective or a participle. Furst has collected most of these nouns, and calls the form forma participialis imperfectiva. As the Divine name is an imperfect form of the archaic Hebrew verb "to be", Jahveh means "He Who is", Whose characteristic note consists in being, or The Being simply.

Here we are confronted with the question, whether Jahveh is the imperfect hiphil or the imperfect qal. Calmet and Le Clere believe that the Divine name is a hiphil form; hence it signifies, according to Schrader (Die Keilinschriften und das Alte Testament, 2nd ed., p. 25), He Who brings into existence, the Creator; and according to Lagarde (Psalterium Hieronymi, 153), He Who causes to arrive, Who realizes His promises, the God of Providence. But this opinion is not in keeping with Ex., iii, 14, nor is there any trace in Hebrew of a hiphil form of the verb meaning "to be"; moreover, this hiphil form is supplied in the cognate languages by the pi'el form, except in Syriac where the hiphil is rare and of late occurrence.

On the other hand, Jehveh may be an imperfect qal from a grammatical point of view, and the traditional exegesis of Ex., iii, 6-16, seems to necessitate the form Jahveh. Moses asks God: "If they should say to me: What is his [[[God (Catholic Encyclopedia)|God's]]] name? What shall I say to them?" In reply, God returns three several times to the determination of His name. First, He uses the first person imperfect of the Hebrew verb "to be"; here the Vulgate, the Septuagint, Aquila, Theodotion, and the Arabic version suppose that God uses the imperfect qal; only the Targums of Jonathan and of Jerusalem imply the imperfect hiphil. Hence we have the renderings: "I am who am" (Vulg.), "I am who is" (Sept.), "I shall be {who] shall be" (Aquila, Theodotion), "the Eternal who does not cease" (Ar.); only the above-mentioned Targums see any reference to the creation of the world. The second time, God uses again the first person imperfect of the Hebrew verb "to be"; here the Syriac, the Sumaritan, the Persian versions, and the Targums of Onkelos and Jerusalem retain the Hebrew word, so that one cannot tell whether they regard the imperfect as a qal or a hiphil form; the Arabic version omits the whole clause; but the Septuagint, the Vulgate, and the Targum of Jonathan suppose here the imperfect qal: "He Who Is, hath sent me to you" instead of "I Am, hath sent me to you: (Vulg.); "ho on sent me to you" (Sept.); "I am who am, and who shall be, hath sent me to you" (Targ. Jon.). Finally, the third time, God uses the third person of the imperfect, or the form of the sacred name itself; here the Samaritan version and the Targum of Onkelos retain the Hebrew form; the Septuagint, the Vulgate, and the Syriac version render "Lord", though, according to the analogy of the former two passages, they should have translated, "He Is, the God of your fathers, . . . hath sent me to you"; the Arabic version substitutes "God". Classical exegesis, therefore, regards Jahveh as the imperfect qal of the Hebrew verb "to be".

Here another question presents itself: Is the being predicated of God in His name, the metaphysical being denoting nothing but existence itself, or is it an historical being, a passing manifestation of God in time? Most Protestant writers regard the being implied in the name Jahveh as an historical one, though some do not wholly exclude such metaphysical ideas as God's independence, absolute constancy, and fidelity to His promises, and immutability in His plans (cf. Driver, "Hebrew Tenses", 1892, p. 17). The following are the reasons alleged for the historical meaning of the "being" implied in the Divine name:

  • The metaphysical sense of being was too abstruse a concept for the primitive times. Still, some of the Egyptian speculations of the early times are almost as abstruse; besides, it was not necessary that the Jews of the time of Moses should fully understand the meaning implied in God's name. The scientific development of its sense might be left to the future Christian theologians.
  • The Hebrew verb hayah means rather "to become" than "to be" permanently. But good authorities deny that the Hebrew verb denotes being in motion rather than being in a permanent condition. It is true that the participle would have expressed a permanent state more clearly; but then, the participle of the verb hayah is found only in Ex., ix, 3, and few proper names in Hebrew are derived from the participle.
  • The imperfect mainly expresses the action of one who enters anew on the scene. But this is not always the case; the Hebrew imperfect is a true aorist, prescinding from time and, therefore, best adapted for general principles (Driver, p. 38).
  • "I am who am" appears to refer to "I will be with thee" of v. 12; both texts seems to be alluded to in Os., i, 9, "I will not be yours". But if this be true, "I am who am" must be considered as an ellipse: "I am who am with you", or "I am who am faithful to my promises". This is harsh enough; but it becomes quite inadmissible in the clause, "I am who am, hath sent me". Since then the Hebrew imperfect is admittedly not to be considered as a future, and since the nature of the language does not force us to see in it the expression of transition or of becoming, and since, moreover, early tradition is quite fixed and the absolute character of the verb hayah has induced even the most ardent patrons of its historical sense to admit in the texts a description of God's nature, the rules of hermeneutics urge us to take the expressions in Ex., iii, 13-15, for what they are worth. Jahveh is He Who Is, i.e., His nature is best characterized by Being, if indeed it must be designated by a personal proper name distinct from the term God (Revue biblique, 1893, p. 338). The scholastic theories as to the depth of meaning latent in Yahveh (Yahweh) rest, therefore, on a solid foundation. Finite beings are defined by their essence: God can be defined only be being, pure and simple, nothing less and nothing more; not be abstract being common to everything, and characteristic of nothing in particular, but by concrete being, absolute being, the ocean of all substantial being, independent of any cause, incapable of change, exceeding all duration, because He is infinite: "Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, . . . who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty" (Apoc., i, 8). Cf. St. Thomas, I, qu. xiii, a. 14; Franzelin, "De Deo Uno" (3rd ed., 1883, thesis XXIII, pp. 279-86.


The opinion that the name Jahveh was adopted by the Jews from the Chanaanites, has been defended by von Bohlen (Genesis, 1835, p. civ), Von der Alm (Theol. Briefe, I, 1862, pp. 524-27), Colenso (The Pentateuch, V, 1865, pp. 269-84), Goldziher (Der Mythus bei den Hebräern, 1867, p. 327), but has been rejected by Kuenen ("De Godsdienst van Israel", I, Haarlem, 1869, pp. 379-401) and Baudissin (Studien, I, pp. 213-18). It is antecedently improbable that Jahveh, the irreconcilable enemy of the Chanaanites, should be originally a Chanaanite god.

It has been said by Vatke (Die Religion des Alten Test., 1835, p. 672) and J.G. Müller (Die Semiten in ihrem Verhältniss zu Chamiten und Japhetiten, 1872, p. 163) that the name Jahveh is of Indo-European origin. But the transition of the Sanscrit root, div—the Latin Jupiter-Jovis (Diovis), the Greek Zeus-Dios, the Indo-European Dyaus into the Hebrew form Jahveh has never been satisfactorily explained. Hitzig's contention (Vorlesungen über bibl. Theol., p. 38) that the Indo-Europeans furnished at least the idea contained in the name Jahveh, even if they did not originate the name itself, is without any value.

The theory that Jahveh is of Egyptian origin may have a certain amount of a priori probability, as Moses was educated in Egypt. Still, the proofs are not convincing:

  • Röth (Die Aegypt. und die Zoroastr. Glaubenslehre, 1846, p. 175) derives the Hebrew name from the ancient moon-god Ih or Ioh. But there is no connection between the Hebrew Jahveh and the moon (cf. Pierret, "Vocabul. Hiérogl.", 1875, p. 44).
  • Plutarch (De Iside, 9) tells us that a statue of Athene (Neith) in Sais bore the inscription: "I am all that has been, is, and will be". But Tholuck (op. cit., 1867, pp. 189-205) shows that the meaning of this inscription is wholly different from that of the name Jahveh.
  • The patrons of the Egyptian origin of the sacred name appeal to the common. Egyptian formula, Nuk pu nuk but though its literal signification is "I am I", its real meaning is "It is I who" (cf. Le Page Renouf, "Hibbert Lectures for 1879", p. 244). As to the theory that Jahveh has a Chaldean or an Accadian origin, its foundation is not very solid:
  • Jahveh is said to be a merely artificial form introduced to put meaning into the name of the national god (Delitzsch, "Wo lag das Paradies", 1881, pp. 158-64); the common and popular name of God is said to have been Yahu or Yah, the letter I being the essential Divine element in the name. The contention, if true, does not prove the Chaldean or Accadian origin of the Hebrew Divine name; besides the form Yah is rare and exclusively poetic; Yahu never appears in the Bible, while the ordinary full form of the Divine name is found even in the inscription of Mesa (line 18) dating from the ninth century B.C.
  • Yahu and Yah were known outside Israel; the forms enter into the composition of foreign proper names; besides, the variation of the name of a certain King of Hammath shows that Ilu is equivalent to Yau, and that Yau is the name of a god (Schrader, "Bibl. Bl.", II, p. 42, 56; Sargon, "Cylinder", xxv; Keil, "Fastes", I. 33). But foreign proper names containing Yah or Yahu are extremely rare and doubtful, and may be explained without admitting gods in foreign nations, bearing the sacred name. Again, the Babylonian pantheon is fairly well known at present, but the god Yau does not appear in it.
  • Among the pre-Semitic Babylonians, I is a synonym of Ilu, the supreme god; now I with the Assyrian nominative ending added becomes Yau (cf. Delitzsch, "Lesestücke", 3rd ed., 1885, p. 42, Syllab. A, col. I, 13-16). Hommel (Altisrael. Ueberlieferung, 1897, pp. 144, 225) feels sure that he has discovered this Chaldean god Yau. It is the god who is represented ideographically (ilu) A-a, but ordinarily pronounced Malik, though the expression should be read Ai or Ia (Ya). The patriarchal family employed this name, and Moses borrowed and transformed it. But Lagrange points out that the Jews did not believe that they offered their children to Jahveh, when they sacrificed them to Malik (Religion semitique, 1905, pp. 100 sqq.). Jer., xxxii, 35, and Soph., i, 5, distinguish between Malik and the Hebrew God. Cheyne (Traditions and Beliefs of Ancient Israel, 1907, pp. 63 sqq.) connects the origin of Jahveh with his Yerahme'el theory; but even the most advanced critics regard Cheyne's theory as a discredit to modern criticism. Other singular opinions as to the origin of the sacred name may be safely omitted. The view that Jahveh is of Hebrew origin is the most satisfactory. Arguing from Ex., vi, 2-8, such commentators as Nicholas of Lyra, Tostatus, Cajetan, Bonfrère, etc., maintain that the name was revealed for the first time to Moses on Mount Horeb. God declares in this vision that he "appeared to Abraham . . . by the name of God Almighty; and my name Adonai [Jahveh] I did not shew them". But the phrase "to appear by a name" does not necessarily imply the first revelation of that name; it rather signifies the explanation of the name, or a manner of acting conformable to the meaning of the name (cf. Robion in "la Science cathol.", 1888, pp. 618-24; Delattre, ibid., 1892, pp. 673-87; van Kasteren, ibid., 1894, pp. 296-315; Robert in "Revue biblique", 1894, pp. 161-81). On Mt. Horeb God told Moses that He had not acted with the Patriarchs as the God of the Covenant, Jahveh, but as God Almighty.

Perhaps it is preferable to say that the sacred name, though perhaps in a somewhat modified form, had been in use in the patriarchal family before the time of Moses. On Mt. Horeb God revealed and explained the accurate form of His name, Jahveh.

  • The sacred name occurs in Genesis about 156 times; this frequent occurrence can hardly be a mere prolepsis.
  • Gen., iv, 26, states that Enos "began to call upon the name of the Lord [Jahveh]", or as the Hebrew text suggests, "began to call himself after the name of Jahveh".
  • Jochabed, the mother of Moses, has in her name an abbreviated form Jo (Yo) of Jahveh. The pre-Mosaic existence of the Divine name among the Hebrews accounts for this fact more easily than the supposition that the Divine element was introduced after the revelation of the name.
  • Among the 163 proper names which bear an element of the sacred name in their composition, 48 have yeho or yo at the beginning, and 115 have yahu or yah and the end, while the form Jahveh never occurs in any such composition. Perhaps it might be assumed that these shortened forms yeho, yo, yahu, yah, represent the Divine name as it existed among the Isralites before the full name Jahveh was revealed on Mt. Horeb. On the other hand, Driver (Studia biblica, I, 5) has shown that these short forms are the regular abbreviations of the full name. At any rate, while it is not certain that God revealed His sacred name to Moses for the first time, He surely revealed on Mt. Horeb that Jahveh is His incommunicable name, and explained its meaning.
Portions of this entry are taken from The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907.
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