Monday, April 16, 2012

The Name of God - Jehovah vs Yahweh

When I created my mirror blog called ‘Thirsting for Jehovah’, I did a little bit of research into whether I should use ‘Yahweh’ or ‘Jehovah’ in the title. Yahweh was my original choice, but I quickly found that ‘Yahweh’ is dangerously erroneous. I say dangerous because it seems that ‘Yahweh’ is a perverse creation of liberal atheist critics within Bible scholarship, and from what I’ve learnt these same scholars are responsible for some rather dubious translations in most modern Bibles, I highly recommend you explore this website for more about this.

Below is a composite article that I stitched together from two separate web-articles. I highly recommend reading the original full-length articles (links are at the bottom of this page) which are fully referenced and far more thorough. Alternatively there is a small summary version on my other blog.

You will notice that the two authors render the English translation of Hebrew name of God slightly differently, one uses JHVH and the other YHVH. The reason for this will become apparent in end segment of the article, but is inconsequential anyway.

"The Psalmist David proclaimed, “O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!” (Ps. 8:1). Certainly the Lord’s name is excellent, but what is this excellent name? Some state dogmatically that the Hebrew tetragrammaton JHVH was originally pronounced “Yahwe.” Others say that it should be rendered ‘Iabe or ‘Iao or Jaho. Orthodox Jews substitute the word Ha-Shem (“The Name”) into their commentaries to avoid taking the name of the Lord in vain. The Masoretic Hebrew Text behind the Authorized Version renders the vocalization of the tetragrammaton as Jehovah. This has been the accepted pronunciation of JHVH for at least the last four hundred years in the Western world. Scripture, translations, commentaries, prayer books, theological works, hymns and Christians at large have utilized this standardized pronunciation Jehovah.
Yet recently in scholarly circles the notion has been advanced that the pronunciation Jehovah should be replaced with Yahweh. Is it important that believers know the correct vocalization of the Lord’s special Old Testament name? How will believers “sing praise to the name of the LORD” (Ps.7:17), if they do not know how to pronounce it?"

"This popular movement to replace the name of God, Jehovah, with the name Yahweh is being pushed especially hard among those in the Identity and Christian patriot movements, and especially among the alternative news community prominent on the shortwave, which some Christians perceive of as being a source of more purer form of broadcasted Christianity. There are exceptions, but overall this is nonsense because the shortwave Christian broadcasts are frequently every bit as commercialized (just different products) and apostate as the "Christianity" that is broadcasted on TV.

"This movement to alter God's name with absolutely nothing that resembles scriptural, textual, or linguistic support, has misled huge numbers of Christians into denying the Bible and accepting the work of Bible-scoffing atheists who have dominated the academic field of biblical studies since the mid-nineteenth century."

The History of the Pronunciation of JHVH

"The traditional history for the pronunciation of the name for JHVH assumes that the original correct pronunciation was lost, if ever given. Some have claimed that God never inspired a pointed, vocalized original Hebrew text. Others, building upon this initial view, have posited that the Lord gave an oral tradition of vocalization for the unpointed consonantal text, but the vocalized pronunciation was lost. For instance, Oehler stated, “The Jews maintain that the knowledge of the true pronunciation of the name has been entirely lost since the destruction of the temple.” Josephus affirmed that the name was originally given to Moses (Ex. 3:14) and that he, Josephus, was not permitted to enunciate it. Maimonides (AD 1135-1204) averred that the sacred name was pronounced at blessings and by the high priest on the Day of Atonement during the early years of the Second Temple, but later was exchanged for ‘adonai’ after the death of Simon the Just (3rd century BC).

"The Bible is replete with the teaching that God will perfectly preserve His Words. The Lord has promised to preserve all of His inspired, canonical Words through His ordained institutions for all generations subsequent to the inscripturation of these Words. Therefore, He has preserved His OT Words, consonants and vowels, jots and tittles, including the inspired vocalization of His name, the tetragrammaton. Since The Lord God has preserved the proper pronunciation of JHVH, scholars have no need to restore their vocalization of it, and, as history, philology, and critical scholarship have demonstrated, they are incapable of restoring authoritatively the pronunciation of JHVH.

"In rejecting the preserved Words of Scripture, including the inspired vowel pointing for JHVH, critical scholars are left with several non-authoritative means to attempt to discern the “correct” vocalization of the Lord’s tetragrammaton. These means are historical documentation, comparative philology, and rationalism."

The Name Jehovah in the OT

"The preserved vocalization of JHVH is Jehovah as represented by the Masoretic Hebrew text. The Authorized Version (1611) and the American Standard Version (1901) translate the tetragrammaton as LORD and the Hebrew name ‘adonay’ as Lord, differentiating the two Hebrew words. The AV transliterates JHVH in Ex. 6:3, Psalm 83:18, Isa. 12:2 and 26:4 as JEHOVAH, with the last two references reading literally Jah Jehovah. David’s reference to Jah is transliterated JAH in Ps. 68:4. The writers of Scripture coupled both Jehovah and Jah with ‘elohim’ (God) in various places throughout the OT (cf. Gen. 2:4 and Ps. 68:18, respectively). The translators of the AV have given English speaking people a consistent presentation and biblical understanding of the vocalized tetragrammaton Jehovah."

Myth of No Vowels

"Now we must deal with the common myth and that is that there are no vowels expressed in the Hebrew text. This is a convenient line of nonsense for the scholars who want to change the text to fit their own views, but it is a dishonest line. Elaborate diacritic marks, called pointing by English-speaking Hebrew scholars, provide extensive information for vowels, doubled letters, stops, and other phonological features. Bible "correctors" are either ignorant of this fact or they pretend that they do not exist. Those who are aware of them and argue that they may be ignored because they were introduced into the text by the Massoretes at a later date are giving themselves free rein to alter virtually every word in the entire Hebrew Old Testament.

"Not only do these biblical detractors deny God's promise to forever preserve his word, every “jot and tittle”, but they open the door for Bible manipulation that has no other criteria than personal judgment or fancy. If we are to deny the Masoretic reading we can do no end of mischief to the text by inserting our own vowels, doubled letters, and stops. This allows us to change positives into negatives, passives into actives and vice versa, statement verbs into causative verbs and vice versa, to convert verbs into nouns and vice versa, and to even change the entire meaning of the verb itself. Many words could have several or even a dozen different varied meanings by toying with the pointing. Furthermore, some diacritics indicate different letters entirely. A dot over the right side of a shin indicates an SH, while a dot over the left side of it indicates an S. A dot inside of a vav is pronounce like a long U while a dot over the vav turns it into an O, so the removal or addition of such a dot is fair game to the Yahweh crowd.

"A number of other letters have similar features of changing their sounds according to the presence or position of a dot. If we are to ignore the vowel pointings, we are equally justified in changing S to SH and vice versa, or many other consonant changes, since the Massoretes were responsible for the consonant identifying diacritics as well. Suggestions to alter the text is a common method of attacking the Bible that has been employed by Bible-scoffing scholars in academia for over 100 years

"It is amazing to see this being done by people who claim to honor the Bible. Dr. G.A. Riplinger, in her tome, ‘In Awe of His Word’, points out that ignoring the vowel marks in the Hebrew allow Jews and atheists to remove future references to our Saviour from the Old Testament by toying with these vowels. For this reason vowelless Tanakhs (Hebrew name for Old Testament) are sometimes used. In fact, if the Masoretic diacritics are ignored, there is scarcely a word in the entire Bible, if there is any at all, that cannot be altered or changed completely. Why is it that alleged Bible-believers think that it is wrong to change words in the Bible into entirely different words, but it is alright to ignore the reading of the Hebrew text and alter the name of God without any evidence to support their altered reading other than the opinion of 19th century atheists? In fact, they are changing it when linguistic evidence shows that the pronunciation that they are using is wrong."

God, Lord and Jehovah

"We have to deal with the issue of why the KJV, and most ancient and modern versions of the Bible, do not translate this name as Yehova or Jehova in all but a few verses (Ex 6:3, Ps 83:18, Isa 12:2, Isa 26:4). In Jewish tradition the word for Lord, Adonai, is uttered wherever his name YHVH appears. The tradition of translating this occurrence as LORD in all caps is understood to represent YHVH, but is used to show respect for him as a superior. Wherever the actual word for "Lord" appears in a verse alongside YHVH, Elohim was uttered, hence the diacritics E-o-i. This is done so that he is not referred to as Lord Lord (as would be in Exodus 20:7).

"This practice should not be difficult to understand, but apparently in the modern day where etiquette and formality have been cast aside, it is not understood at all. We know God the Father's name, but that does not mean that is the name that we should use casually as we would an equal. Jesus did not even do that when he addressed God The Father. Nowhere do we find an occurrence of Jesus referring to God The Father by his personal name. We are supposed to be using Jesus as the model for our behavior, not 19th century atheist scholars and white supremist Identity cult members.

"At this point it should not be necessary to explain why the name Jehovah was used in these passages instead of LORD; God's name is purposely being identified in them. The Exodus passage above is where this name of God is introduced to the Israelites for the first time. The Psalm 83 is also mentioning that it is his name, and the Isaiah verses are referring to a name of God, Lord Jehova (YHVH is not pointed like Elohim as it is in other occurrences where the name is not being emphasized). These passages indicate how God might be introduced to someone who does not know him or recognize him as Lord; they are not invitations to address him by his name as you would an equal.

"Here modern versions like the RSV really blew it with "I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them." Numerous other modern versions make similar errors. The ever foolish NIV has: "I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them." It should be noted that these verses are serious evidence of the superiority and efficiency of the King James Bible translators. These occurrences of YHVH are different in the way that they are presented and the KJV translators and others before them recognized them as such. The RSV and other modern version "translators" had the KJV as a reference, which they all used, and they still failed to recognize it."


"Those who are opposed to the KJV and call God by name Yahweh are not only giving an erroneous pronunciation of his name according to the pointing of the text, but according to the pronunciation of the Hebrew itself. As Gail Riplinger astutely points out in her ‘Awe of Thy Word’, the Hebrew vav is pronounced as V not W. This error came about due to the misreading of German Hebrew grammars, which use W for the English V (note: the German V is pronounced like the English F). If these Bible "correctors" want to ignore the Hebrew text and pronounce his name as suggested by 19th century atheistic mythologists, they should use the name Yahveh so that at least they would appear less ignorant. It always puzzled me to hear atheistic scholars at Harvard pronounce the name as Yahweh when the same scholars would always pronounce the vav as a V every other place that they use it. Apparently this perversion of his name has become so well established within the Bible-scoffing and Bible-correcting communities that even those who know better mispronounce even the perverted variation of his name. It confused me that they would pronounce it as if it were an Arabic word instead of Hebrew word until I understood the purpose of the corruption, which is the subject of the next section."

Yahweh the Storm God

"Kittel, like most biblical scholars within the academic community today, was a believer in the storm god theory. Storm gods of Near Eastern and Vedic mythology were responsible for storms and disease. Riplinger quotes from an article that he wrote in The New Schaff:
"The origins of Yahweh appears that this cult was established before Deborah...Thus Yahweh appears as an old deity of Sinai, revered in untold antiquity as a weather-god..."." Riplinger also points out theat the early perversion of the name of God was used by a Catholic in the fifth century who did not know Hebrew by the name of Theodoret who confused it with a Syrian Jabe. Later, prominent atheist scholars such as Driver of Brown, Driver and Briggs Hebrew Dictionary fame (the text that James Strong plagiarized for his concordance's dictionary), proposed connections with deities from Aramaic and Babylonian texts named Yaho, Ya-hu, or Yave. Riplinger also provides a list of reference of critics who proposed that the God of the Bible's name was derived from various Canaanite gods with names such as Yav.

"Many etymologies have been suggested for the meaning of the name YHVH. Another verb havah (spelled the same, but with a different set of meanings) means to blow. It could be theorized that the name YHVH means "he who breathes life into living things." An intensive meaning of this same verb means to blow furiously or to storm. This meaning can be used by modern scholars to support their storm god theory, which shows the possible mischief that can be created through imaginative etymologies. Riplinger refers to the suggestion of some atheist scholars that Yahwe means to destroy. This is in line with the storm god theory, that is that it comes from another similar Semitic root that means to destroy, hence they suggest that God's name means the destroyer.

"This is not the only example of God's name being perverted by modern atheist scholars. I was taught that a possible meaning of God's name of El Shaddai could be "god of the Mountains" being derived from an Ugaritic word meaning mountain. The common Semitic root shadd means to be mighty, powerful, violent, and the like. It appears in Hebrew and Arabic. In Ugaritic it appears that there is a word that means mountain that contains the same radicals. It could be an unrelated word, or it could actually mean volcano, which is a violent or powerful mountain, but in any event there is no reason to connect the Ugaritic meaning with the Hebrew word. The biblical word's meaning is very obvious by examining the Bible, and even the modern versions know that Almighty is the proper translation. A simple verse comparison is all that it is needed, since the Bible contains its own definitions of its words. Only scholars who want to reduce God to a tribal storm god like those of the Mesopotamian and Hittite cultures suggest El Shaddai is the name of an Ugaritic storm god. The same storm god that they also call Yahweh."

Y to J Issue

"The final issue that must be addressed concerns the conversion of Y to J. This is such an utterly silly and ignorant criticism that I find it embarrassing that there are actually Christians that present it as an argument. Y becomes a J in every name in English, French, and Spanish. In English the J is pronounced like J in Japan, while in French it is pronounced like S in pleasure, in Spanish it is pronounced like an H, in German it is pronounced like Y. This is a phonological and orthographical issue, not a theological one. There is no theological issue at stake in how one language interprets a certain phoneme. In every case of a name in Hebrew that begins with a yod (Y) it is pronounced with the appropriate phoneme for that language. This came about through phonological and orthographical changes in the developments of those languages. Even Hebrew itself went through huge phonological and orthographical changes in its long history. God's name is not a magic word to be chanted for power as the name cult seems to suggest for both the names of God and Jesus. My name comes from a Hebrew word meaning given by God, which begins with a Y in Hebrew. It is Jean (zhan) in French, Juan (hwan) in Spanish, Giovanni in Italian, Hans in German, Yani in modern Greek, Ivan (eevan) in Russian, Yahya or Hanna (with a heavy H) in Arabic, and other variations exist in other languages. They all translate as John and I have no trouble adapting to any of them within the respective cultures and there is no reason for me to be insulted by any of these names. On the other hand, being addressed by a made up name based on a pagan deity would insult me.

"If these name cultists find the J so objectionable, why don't they refer to Elijah as Elaiyah, Jeramiah as Yeramaiyah, Jacob as Yakov, Jonathan as Yanatan, Jerusalem as Yerushaleem, and so forth. For that matter why don't they use the Hebrew pronunciation for all of the names in the Bible, such as Dahveed, Moshe (Moses), Shmu'el (Samuel), Sha'ul (Saul), Shlomo (Solomon), and so forth, if they consider the issue to be so important. Since those who call God by a name that is not even Hebrew at all (Yahweh), and since they do so without a scrap of evidence to override the very solid evidence to the contrary, why do they have any constraints at all about inventing whimsical pointings for other names in the Bible? Why not call David Dahwid, Duwad, Diwad, or Deewud. Or how about Da'ud as Arabic pronounces it?

"Some may wonder why I know so much about these Bible-scoffing atheists of the scholarly community. It is because I used to be one of them. This familiarity is a byproduct of years of intense comparative religion study without the Holy Spirit to guide me. The Bible cannot be understood without spiritual discernment, no matter how deeply one studies philology, archaeology, history, and allied fields of scholarship."


  1. Hola old man, you and I shall have a debate about this one. So you've quoted someone else's text and words.... reading this it almost makes it sound like your name is John, you used to be an athiest scholar, you've gone to Harvard, and now you're a christian..... that's just a by the by ;)

    I checked with our lovely pastor's wife, who actually knows Hebrew, and what you've quoted here is not quite the correct rendering either. If it's important for you to address God as Jehovah only, that's awesome, but reading it here, it comes accross as very dogmatic, judgemental and legalistic. I'm not sure if that was your intention?! You don't come across like that in person.
    As to the KJV translation being the only and most accurate version to read, I find it ironic that you got that quote off their own website. I've heard that bandied around for years now, and it's just not true. Logically, if you're learning another language, there are sometimes just pitfalls involved with translations. You cannot always find an exact match from one language to another, so therefore you render the idea as best as you can.
    French has contributed about 1/3 to our English language, and there are even big differences when explaining simple concepts like being hungry, and that is with these two languages having fairly close links. For a language like Hebrew or Greek, within a cultural timeframe so different from ours, there are going to be some things that just won't word for word be translatable. I fail to see how the most accurate rendering of Hebrew to English, can only be done in flipping old English. Between the NIV and the KJV, the biggest difference is that'thy'becomes a'your', or 'endeth' becomes 'end'.
    Also what on earth do white supremicist identity cults have to do with Bible translation? I was very weirded out that you randomly introduced that sentence, but didn't back it up or elaborate. That is a large claim to put forth unfounded, or without further research!!
    There's a huge difference between this and your last post.....your last post was your own words and writing, and a lot more like the person I speak to in real life..... this was very different, to say the least. Personally I like hearing your voice, not you just typing someone else's theories.
    How valid are these theories, and who are these people that you are quoting, and in what context? It is a very strong opinionated piece that you've put up here, but I'm left wondering where is the evidence to back these opinions up, and are they yours or someone else's!
    That is just my piece for the record.... told you we were going to argue :D
    Tehehehe you may reply at will :D

    Here is a copy of what ye old pastor's wife said:
    Fact is that the text in the original Hebrew manuscripts is not dotted (the dots express the vowels) so exactly how it was pronounced is only guesswork, even though you can attempt to figure out how it might have been by using genreal rules of phonology and comparisons.

    What we do have is the tetragrammon YHWH.

    In the masoretic text (it's a Hebrew text which first supplied vowels and which is generally considered pretty reliable) it is believed they supplied the vowels for 'adonay' so it could be pronounced, and instead of writing Yahowah, they used an e Yehowah for some reason i am not sure (using an a was taboo, i read but not sure why).

    So since in the masoretic text it was only guesswork what vowels to use, most scholars believe Yahweh is the most likely and original form, others disagree but we really don't know for sure.

    personally it doesn't really worry me one way or another too much, like i said ulitmately it is guesswork. but there are a number of different views and articles, if you type in 'masoretic text yehowah or jehowah', and you can read different opinions. i also have an article in about that in our theological dictionary of the OT, if you want to read that one.