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YHWH - Jehovah or Yahweh
Almighty God was referred to by a number of names and titles in the Old Testament. Jews traditionally say there were seven names. One of these names was YHWH. The letters YHWH are named in Hebrew Yod-Heh-Waw-Heh. The Jewish Encyclopaedia states:
"Of the names of God in the Old Testament, that which occurs most frequently (6,823 times) is the so-called Tetragrammaton, Yhwh ( ), the distinctive personal name of the God of Israel. This name is commonly represented in modern translations by the form "Jehovah," which, however, is a philological impossibility." www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=52&letter=N; (as of 25/09/2005)
Prior to the time of Jesus, mainline Judaism came to believe that YHWH, the divine name of God, was too sacred to be uttered, and the ineffable name stopped being uttered aloud. Because written Hebrew contained consonants but no vowels, it is now unknown exactly how YHWH was pronounced by ancient Jews. However, there is consensus by scholars that God's name was rendered as Yahuweh or Yahweh.
"There is almost universal consensus among scholars today that the sacred Tetragrammaton (YHWH) is to be vocalized and pronounced Yahweh. Probably the name means literally "He is."" New International Version: The Making of a Contemporary Translation CHAPTER 9: YHWH Sabaoth: "The Lord Almighty" Kenneth L. Barker
Jews recognise the divine name in modern times as Yahweh. The Jewish Encyclopedia published between 1901 and 1906 by Funk and Wagnalls includes the divine name as Yahweh when translated into English.
"It is clear when examining the many sources that the pronunciation of YHWH can be recovered as YAHUWEH sometimes abbreviated as YAHWEH, YAHU or YAH. This is attested to by the Yahwitic names of the Masoretic text, the Peshitta Aramaic and the Marashu texts. The true pronunciation of YHWH is also preserved in ancient transliterations of the name written in Egyptian Hieroglyphics, cuneiform and Greek, all of which had written vowels. The restoration of the use of the name of Yahuweh with its correct pronunciation is as prophetically significant as the restoration of the ancient sect of the Nazarenes. Such a restoration of the name of Yahweh to his people is promised in scripture: For then will I turn to the people a pure language, That they may call upon the name of YHWH (Zeph. 3:9)"
The first half of the Tetragrammaton is commonly used as an abbreviation for God's name and is included in the a number of Biblical names. The shorten form of YHWH is Yah. The New World Translation Reference Bible states;
""As Jah." BHSftn(Heb.), ki Yah; M(Heb.), beYah´, "by Jah." Yah is the first half of the Tetragrammaton, YHWH. It occurs 49 times in M distinguished by a point (mappik) in its second letter and once, in Ca 8:6, without the mappik. TLXXSyVg, "Jehovah." See Ex 15:2 ftn, "Jah"; App 1A." New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures Footnote to Psalm 68:4
This is attested to by a number of English Biblical references. The word Hallelujah means 'Praise Yah" and shows that YH was pronounced as yah. The names Elijah, Isaiah and Jeremiah all end with Yah. On the other hand, Jehosaphat begins with the incorrect "Jeho" in place of Yah. This carries the same inaccuracy as Jehovah. The inaccuracy is due to Masorite additions from the nineth century C.E. The correct way to transliterate this name is Yahosaphat and is a combination of the word Yah, with the Hebrew 'shaphat', which means 'judge'.
"The form of J was unknown in any alphabet until the 14th century. Either symbol (J,I) used initially generally had the consonantal sound of Y as in year. Gradually, the two symbols (J,l) were differentiated, the J usually acquiring consonantal force and thus becoming regarded as a consonant, and the I becoming a vowel. It was not until 1630 that the differentiation became general in England."
The pronunciation of the name of God has been preserved in a number of other languages that do contain vowels. The Murashu texts were found at Nippur and date back to 464 B.C. These were written in Aramaic cuneiform script on clay tablets.
"... in which was engraven the sacred name: it consists of four vowels."
Yahweh or Yahuweh contains four 'vowels', being pronounced as ee-ah-oo-eh, whereas Jehovah only contains three.
History of the word Jehovah
It is interesting to understand how the word Jehovah was derived, as the history of the word shows why the word is incorrect. In an unfortunate stroke of the pen the Watchtower Society chose to adopt the rendition of YHWH that has least resemblance to the original name and incorporates the very reason the exact pronunciation is unknown.
"The form Jehovah is of late medieval origin; it is a combination of the consonants of the Divine Name and the vowels attached to it by the Masoretes but belonging to an entirely different word. The sound of Y is represented by J and the sound of W by V, as in Latin. The word "Jehovah" does not accurately represent any form of the Name ever used in Hebrew."
Revised Standard Version pp.6-7
In the Hebrew Bible the Jews wrote the consonants of the Tetragrammaton as YHWH, but out of reverence for the sacred name of God (or out of fear of violating Exod. 20:7; Lev. 24:16), they vocalized and pronounced it as Adonai or occasionally as Elohim. It is unfortunate, then, that the name was transliterated into German and ultimately into English as Jehovah (which is the way the name is represented in the American Standard Version of 1901), for this conflate form represents the vowels of Adonai superimposed on the consonants of Yahweh, and it was never intended by the Jews to be read as Yehowah (or Jehovah).
"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 "?ere" (marginal reading of the Masorites: = "Adonay") with the consonants of the "ketib" (text-reading: = "Yhwh")"
The first time the Tetragrammaton appeared in an English Bible was on the title page of William Tyndale's Bible translation of 1525,
where it was written as Iehouah. This was an interlace of YHVH and Adonai. The King James Version also originally used Iehouah,
influenced by the Ben Chayim codex. The King James Bible changed the spelling to Jehovah for the 1762-1769 edition.
"To give the name JHVH the vowels of the word for Lord [Heb. Adonai], is about as hybrid a combination as it would be to spell the name Germany with the vowels in the name Portugal - viz., Gormuna. The monstrous combination Jehovah is not older than about 1520 A.D."
The Watchtower argues that Jehovah is acceptable as it is a translation.
""Yahweh" is obviously a transliteration, whereas "Jehovah" is a translation, and Bible names generally have been translated rather than transliterated." Awake! 1973 March 22 p.27
As already seen, this is not accurate as Jehovah is also a transliteration, but of two separate words. By combining the consonants from YHWH with the vowels from Adonai or possibly Elohim the word Jehovah incorporates the very reason the original pronunciation was lost.
"Even though the modern pronunciation Jehovah might not be exactly the way it was pronounced originally, this in no way detracts from the importance of the name. While many translators favor the pronunciation Yahweh, the New World Translation and also a number of other translations continue the use of the form Jehovah because of people's familiarity with it for centuries."
When translating between languages the pronunciation of names change and so it may not be essential that in English the divine name is pronounced as God originally spoke it to Moses. However, it is ironic that the word Jehovah mixes God's name with the very superstition that caused it to stop being used in the first place. Every time the word Jehovah is pronounced it is a reminder of this very superstition
"Through the Theocratic organization of his anointed witnesses he has been clearing up the Bible truth more and more and thus purifying their speech. So now they talk and live in harmony with the language of the approaching new world. And here, in this year of 1950, his providence brings forth this New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures as a further purification of the speech of his people. He has graciously provided it as a further powerful means for turning to the peoples a "pure language"." Watchtower 1950 September 15 p.320
One might assume then that the Watchtower would prefer to use the accurate version of God's name, rather than the superstitious rendition. The word Jehovah is not an accurate form of the divine name. It can be argued that it is the common pronunciation in English and it is not important to use the name in its correct version. It is strange though that the version chosen actually incorporates the very reason that the divine name stopped being used in the first place.
Paul Grundy 2005 - 2013
607 / 1914 / Seven Times