!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN"> The Names & Attributes of God: YHWH (YHVH/YHUH) / Jehovah

YHWH (YHVH/YHUH) / Jehovah
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Still don't understand why it's important to know God's name and titles?
The purpose of man — the reason we were created — is to worship and glorify God. "Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31). In order to truly worship and glorify God, we must not only know about Him, but we must know Him personally based on what we know about Him.

The word "glory" in the Greek New Testament is "doxa", which means an "opinion", "estimation", or "reputation" in which one is held. It refers to all that we give to God as praise, thanksgiving, obedience, reverence, and service — a "doxology" — because of who He has revealed Himself to be and all that He does (past, present, and future).

The name and titles God gave us about Himself in the Bible impart to us revelations of His character, His works, His extravagant love, and His relationship to us. It's in the knowing and understanding of His name and designations that we gain greater insight, love, respect, and reverence for who He is.

The Messiah has a name:

  • In Hebrew: Y'hoshua/Y'shua/Yeshua (pronounced "Yeh-hah shoo'ah" or "Yeh-shoo'ah") meaning "God (YHWH) is Your Salvation";
  • in Aramaic: Yêšû` (pronounced "Yá-soo'");
  • in Greek: (Iota Eta Sigma Micron Upsilon Sigma) (pronounced "Há-soos'"); or
  • in English: Jesus (pronounced "Jee-zus'").
  • You have a distinctive name. So, also, the God of the Bible has revealed Himself by a name. I believe, as Bible Scholar T. E. McComiskey so rightly wrote, "a blessing is lost when no attention is paid to the difference in usage of a title ("God" or "Lord") and the actual name of the God of Israel."

    The name YHWH is used more than any other name in the Bible
    Of all the identities God uses to reveal His characteristics to mankind, only one is His actual name; the others are primarily titles or designations disclosing all that He is and desires to be in His personal interactions with us. For example, my name is Linda, but I am also known as or called "Mother", "Mom", "Mama", "Sister", "Aunty", "Teacher", and "Pastor" by different people, depending on the level of our relationship. While all are valid "names" by which people know me, they are not my actual name.

    And so it is with the God of the Bible. His name, the one which occurs most frequently in the Biblia Hebraica (Hebrew Bible) is the Tetragrammaton (from the Greek "word with four letters"), which is spelled (in the Hebrew alphabet) Yod or Yud (Yod or Yud) Heh (Heh) Vav (Vav) Heh (Heh) or, reading right-to-left, Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh (Yod Heh Vav Heh). Most scholars have transliterated the Hebrew letters as "YHWH" or "YHVH"; but a few believe it should actually be "YHUH", as they maintain that the letter "V" did not exist or was not generally used until the last few centuries, and the letter "W" was literally a "double U". However, as "YHWH" is more familiar to most, I will use "YHWH" throughout this study. Regardless of which transliteration one uses, the Hebrew Tetragrammaton is the distinctive personal name of the God of Israel. YHWH (written as "LORD" or "LORD" in most English Bibles) means "the self-existent one" and denotes God's personal name and His eternality ("I AM"). It is often used in relationship to God as a personal Redeemer and Covenant-keeper. (Interestingly, "Yod" or "Yud" is the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet, and it is used only in references to YHWH.)

    Most translators and Hebrew scholars agree that the Tetragrammaton is a form of the Hebrew root "havah" which means "to be" or "to exist". Thus, YHWH becomes "He who brings into being".

    God desires us to understand the manner of His character; He wants us to know, not only His name, but to know Him THROUGH His name.

    Used more than any other name in the Bible, YHWH is first seen in Genesis 2:4 — "These are the births of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that YHWH Elohim [LORD God] made earth and heavens." (TS98)

    However, God did not reveal Himself to mankind as YHWH until He called Moses to deliver the children of Israel from Egypt.

    • Exodus 3:14-15 — "And Elohim said to Mosheh (Moses), 'I am that which I am.' And He said, 'Thus you shall say to the children of Yisra'el, "I AM (YHWH) has sent me to you."' And Elohim said further to Mosheh, 'Thus you are to say to the children of Yisra'el, "YHWH Elohim of your fathers, the Elohim of Abraham, the Elohim of Yitshaq (Isaac), and the Elohim of Ya'aqob (Jacob), has sent me to you." This is My Name forever, and this is My remembrance to all generations.'" (TS98) (emphasis added)
    • Exodus 6:2-3 — "And Elohim spoke to Mosheh (Moses) and said to him, 'I am YHWH. And I appeared to Abraham, to Yitshaq (Isaac), and to Ya'aqob, as El Shaddai. And by My Name, YHWH, was I not known to them?'" (TS98) (Note: This is another area of minor disagreement among Bible scholars. In most English Bibles, as well as the Complete Jewish Bible, the last sentence is assertive, not interrogative as shown in "The Scriptures" version. Given that God said He appeared to Moses' ancestors as El Shaddai, I believe this last sentence is assertive, not interrogative. But that is a personal choice and should not cause division in the Body of Christ.)

    From the choice of words in the above-referenced Scriptures, it's obvious that God desires us to understand the manner of His character; that He wants us to know, not only His name, but to know Him . . . through His name!

    Exodus 14:4 further supports the view that the name YHWH embodies certain aspects of God's character that no other name or title can do. It says: "'...and the Mitsrites (Egyptians) shall know that I am YHWH.'" (TS98) It isn't likely that God intended in this declaration that they would simply learn the name of the Hebrew God. There is a strong element of Divine self-disclosure within it, that YHWH is not a god, but is the God!

    How do you pronounce YHWH?
    There is considerable debate among scholars, linguists, and students alike as to the correct pronunciation of God's formal name. Some say the name is pronounced just as it is written [Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh], while others add vowels to make it "Jehovah" or "Yahweh". And still others claim, because Hebrew is more a spoken language than a written one, that the name should be pronounced "ye'hôvâh". The fact is, however, that no one today knows for sure how to pronounce the name. I maintain that, if YHWH had wanted us to insert vowels or vowel sounds in the pronunciation, He would have included them when He revealed His name to humankind. Since He didn't, I believe the name is pronounced exactly as He revealed it to us in the Hebrew, "Yod-Há-Väv-Há'".

    Traditional Judaism also supports this rendering and teaches that the four-letter name of God, YHWH, is forbidden to be uttered except by the High Priest in the Holy Temple on Yom Kippur. Throughout the entire Yom Kippur service, the High Priest would pronounce the name YHWH "just as it is written" in each blessing he made. When the people standing in the Temple courtyard heard the name, they would prostrate on the Temple floor. Since the Temple in Jerusalem does not exist today, this name is never said in religious rituals by Jews; thus, the correct pronunciation is currently disputed (the Complete Jewish Bible renders it "Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh").

    Personal Testimony
    When I came to this conclusion concerning the pronunciation of His name, I pondered out loud, "Is that Your name, Lord? 'Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh'?" Immediately the room became so bright that I had to close my eyes, I was knocked to a prone position, and all I could do was tremble and cry as I was overwhelmed by the presence of the Most High God! I couldn't look. I was afraid to look! All I could do was lie there for about 3 hours, completely and helplessly enveloped in His holiness and so sorrowfully aware of my utter wretchedness...

    So, is that the correct pronunciation of His name? I don't know. I'm convinced, not only because of the experience I had, but because of what I said earlier: It seems logical that if YHWH had wanted us to insert vowels in His name, He would have used them when He spoke His name to Moses the first time.

    Regardless of which pronunciation or transliteration one uses, however, I am deeply grateful that our Elohim doesn't let our awkward fumbling of His name come between us, but He still welcomes us into His presence and showers us with His extravagant love and mercy! And the fact remains, while there are many spiritual beings called "god" and "lord", there is only one known by the personal name "Yahweh", "Jehovah", or "Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh"!

    God obviously wants us to know His name, most likely for what it reveals about who He is and who He WANTS to be to each of us.

    Some people render the four-letter name as "Jehovah". Here's why...
    God's personal name was so sacred to most Jews that they didn't want to speak it or even write it for fear of violating the commandment in Leviticus 22:32 — "You shall not take the name of YHWH your God in vain, for YHWH will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain," (Exodus 20:7) and "You shall not profane My holy name, but I will be made holy [m'kaddesh] among the children of Israel. I am YHWH who makes you holy [YHWH-M'Kaddesh]." (TS98)

    Thus, the Jewish practice was to read "Adonai" (Hebrew "Adonay") Adonai in place of "YHWH". "Adonai" means "Master" or "Sovereign Ruler" and generally denotes authority and exalted position. And whenever the Hebrew compound name "YHWH Adonay" appeared, they read "Adonay Elohim" ("Adonai-Elohim") to avoid the duplication of "Adonay" (The name "Elohim" contains the concept of might, creative power, rulership, and sovereignty. It denotes the power and pre-eminence [conspicuous glory] of God).

    To remind the reader that he was not to pronounce the name "YHWH" (YHWH) but instead was to read the word as "Adonay" (Adonai), they placed the vowels of Adonay (a, o, a) under the Tetragrammaton YHWH, thus creating YaHoWaH. The first translators who transcribed YHWH's name had no reason to believe that the vowels of YaHoWaH yielded an imprecise designation, so they transcribed it as "YaHoWaH", just as it was written in the Hebrew Scriptures.

    Today the English transcription "Jehovah" (and sometimes Yehovah) is used by many English-speaking Protestant Christians, by Jehovah's Witnesses, and by people of other languages whose Bibles were influenced by the English King James Version (KJV) or the American Standard Version (ASV). Most modern scholars and theologians, however, agree that "Jehovah" is a philological improbability, based on the widespread belief that the written form YaHoWaH (read normally "Yahovah") was only intended to remind the reader of the Hebrew Bible to say, "Adonay."

    Today, the name "Adonai" is used almost exclusively in the Jewish scrolls and the Complete Jewish Bible as the proper name of YHWH. The Complete Jewish Bible only uses the actual Tetragrammaton or "Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh" four times:

    • Exodus 3:15 — "God said further to Moshe, 'Say this to the people of Isra'el: 'Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh ( YHWH ) [Adonai], the God of your fathers, the God of Avraham, the God of Yitz'chak and the God of Ya'akov, has sent me to you.' This is my name forever; this is how I am to be remembered generation after generation.'" (WEB)
    • Exodus 6:3 — "'I appeared to Avraham, Yitz'chak and Ya'akov as El Shaddai, although I did not make myself known to them by my name, Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh ( YHWH ) [Adonai].'" (WEB)
    • Exodus 34:6 — "Adonai passed before him and proclaimed: "YUD-HEH-VAV-HEH!!! Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh ( YHWH ) [Adonai] is God, merciful and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in grace and truth;" (CJB)
    • Leviticus 24:11 — "in the course of which the son of the woman of Isra'el uttered the Name [Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh ( YHWH )] in a curse. So they brought him to Moshe. (His mother's name was Shlomit the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan.)" (WEB)

    How many times does the name appear in the Old Testament?

    • The Jewish Encyclopedia says that the Tetragrammaton YHWH appears 6823 times in the Biblia Hebraica;
    • the American Standard Version (ASV) of the Bible uses the name "Jehovah" in place of "YHWH" 6886 times;
    • the King James Version (KJV) uses the word "LORD" (representing YHWH) 6681 times;
    • the Modern King James Version (MKJV) uses the name "Jehovah" in place of "YHWH" 6893 times;
    • the World English Bible (WEB) uses the name "Yahweh" 5794 times;
    • The Scriptures 1998 version (TS98) uses the Hebrew YHWH 6079 times; and
    • the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) uses "Adonai" in place of "YHWH" 6733 times and "Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh" four times.

    Regardless of which numbers are correct, the fact that the name appears about six thousand times in the Old Testament tells us loudly and clearly that YHWH / YaHoWaH / Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh obviously wants us to know His name, most likely for what it reveals about who He is and who He wants to be to each of us! It is important, also, to keep in mind that YHWH is the name that YHWH used in revealing Himself to His ancient people; and He never gave us permission to change it for our convenience! In reading the Scriptures with this new information, I pray that we all would develop an affection for the true name itself over such inferior titles as "God" or "Lord".

    • Exodus 3:15 — "And Elohim said further to Mosheh, 'Thus you are to say to the children of Yisra'el, "YHWH Elohim of your fathers, the Elohim of Abraham, the Elohim of Yitshaq, and the Elohim of Ya'aqob, has sent me to you." This is My Name forever, and this is My remembrance to all generations.'" (TS98) (emphasis added)
    • Psalm 102:15-16 — "And the nations shall fear the Name of YHWH, And all the sovereigns of the earth Your esteem, For YHWH shall build up Tsiyon [Zion], He shall appear in His esteem." (TS98)
    • Psalm 113:1-5 — "Praise Yah! Praise, O servants of YHWH, Praise the Name of YHWH! Blessed be the Name of YHWH, Now and forever! From the rising of the sun to its going down, The Name of YHWH is praised. YHWH is high above all nations, His esteem above the heavens. Who is like YHWH our Elohim, Who is enthroned on high?" (TS98)
    • Psalm 135:1-6a — "Praise Yah! Praise the Name of YHWH; Praise, you servants of YHWH, Who are standing in the House of YHWH, In the courts of the House of our Elohim, Praise Yah, for YHWH is good; Sing praises to His Name, for it is pleasant. For Yah has chosen Ya'aqob for Himself, Yisra'el for His treasured possession. For I know that YHWH is great, And our Master is above all mighty ones. YHWH has done whatever pleased Him, In the heavens and in earth..." (TS98)
    • Psalm 148:13 — "Let them praise the Name of YHWH, For His Name alone is exalted, His splendour is above the earth and heavens." (TS98)

    And finally . . . there is power in the name!

    • 2 Chronicles 14:11 — "And Asa called to YHWH his Elohim, and said, 'YHWH, there is no one but You to help between the mighty and the powerless. Help us, O YHWH our Elohim, for we rest on You, and in Your Name we go against this crowd. O YHWH, You are our Elohim, do not let man prevail against You!'" (TS98) (emphasis added)
    • Jeremiah 16:21 — "'Therefore see, I am causing them to know, this time I cause them to know My hand and My might. And they shall know that My Name is !'" (TS98) (emphasis added)

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    Go back to Bible References to the 'USE' of God's Name     Go to 'Adonai & Elohim'

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