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644
The Divine Name YHWH

How is It Properly Pronounced?

Introduction

A number of claims have been made in the Messianic community as to how the Divine Name of Elohim (God) should be pronounced. Since the Masoretes removed it from over 7000 passages of the Tanakh (Old Testament) that forms the ground text for virtually every modern and older English translation of the Bible, replacing it with either the Hebrew 'Adonai' ('Lord, 'Master') or 'Elohim' (God) (and sometimes 'haShem' - 'The Name'), our own versions have simply translated one of the two substitute words, 'LORD' or 'God'. In only four places in the English King James Version (NKJV) does the name 'Jehovah' appear. But is this actually His Name? Or is it an invention by the translators or by the Masoretes?

The Creator's Memorial

If we are to take Scripture at its word, the actual Name of our Heavenly Father is rather important, because it is a memorial to Him for ever:

    "Elohim (God) said to Moses, 'Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: 'YHWH-Elohim of your fathers, the Elohim (God) of Abraham, the Elohim (God) of Isaac, and the Elohim (God) of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My Name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations" (Ex.3:15, NKJV).

We are to Use the Name with Deep Respect

So sacred is this Name that the Third Commandment instructs us to treat it with the greatest of respect when we use it:

    "You shall not take the Name of YHWH your Elohim (God) in vain, for YHWH will not hold him guiltless who takes His Name in vain" (Ex.20:7, NKJV).

The Tetragrammaton

Scholars called the YHWH theonym, consisting of the four divine consonants, the Tetragrammaton, meaning the 'Four Letters'.

Commanded to Use the Real Name But Not in Vain

If we are not to take the Father's Name in vain, then obviously we must first use it, but to nevertheless use it with great care and respect. The words "in vain" means we are not to falsify it (by changing it into something else) or to use it casually or commonly. Whatever the consonants YHWH may actually be when vocalised properly, a child will tell you that it bears no resemblance whatsoever to the English generic words 'LORD' or 'God' which aren't even names but titles. That would be a bit like calling King David, 'Czar', the Russian for a King or an Emperor. You would never guess who 'Czar' was because the original name would have been mutilated beyond recognition. There have been many Russian Czars so which one would 'Czar' be referring to? You might be shocked to learn that the Russian 'Czar' comes from the Latin (Roman) 'Caesar', and that 'Caesar' was simply the last name of a man called Julius Caesar (the first Roman Emperor). That might not bother you too much until you learned that the Latin caesar means 'hairy'. You might, upon learning that, not be so flattered when someone called you, 'O mighty Hairy One'!

The Origins of LORD and God

Most think that substituting YHWH for 'LORD' or 'God' is innocuous enough since in English we use these words to signify 'Master' or 'Supreme Deity'. Nevertheless, not only are neither of these the Father's true Name which we are commanded to use in reverence and not too commonly, but in the same way that 'Czar' actually means 'hairy', so LORD is known originally to have been the proper name of a pagan house deity (from the Father's point-of-view, a filthy demon) called Larth, not forgetting that in those days kings were also regarded as deities! Likewise, the word 'God' was not originally a title but the actual name of the Father's arch-enemy, Satan, who was known as Jupiter by the Romans and Zeus by the Greeks, and were called Gad by Babylonian astrologers. The history of this diabolical name 'God' is even more shocking because Gad was associated with Baal ('Lord', 'Master') by the Canannites by coupling the two words together as Ba'al-Gad. This same name can be traced to the German Gott and to the Scandinavian Gud, Goda, Gode and finally to our English words Gade and GOD. It is also linked to an even older Indo-Germanic sourse word GHODH meaning 'sexual union', preserved with the same meaning in the Dutch and German word gade. It survives in English as another word, gadfly, meaning a 'constantly irritating person'. Remember also that one of the titles of Ba'al is 'Beelzebub' (Mt.10:25; 12:24,27) which means 'Lord of the Flies'. Given the association of flies with decay and disease, it is an appropriate epithet for Satan.

Inscribed in Stone's Immutability

Can you perhaps understand now why our Heavenly Father doesn't want to be worshipped as 'God' or 'LORD'? It may be nothing to you but dare you assume it is nothing to Him? Substituting YHWH for 'LORD' or 'God', and to then use it in common speech, is without a doubt to break the Third Commandment. And if this were not such an important matter, the Creator would not have gone to all the trouble to enshrine this and the other nine devarim (words) or mitzvot (commandments) by inscribing it into rock with His own finger! Indeed these Ten Commandments are the only part of Scripture He physically wrote Himself. Everything else came through human intermediaries. Those Tablets of Stone would have ensured that no name substitution could ever take place! YHWH was set in stone, not just penned on paper.

The Attempt to Conceal the True Name

These things being indisputably true, why did the Rabbi's go and obscure the Divine Name when they returned from the Babylonian captivity? And how are we to correctly pronounce the Name, which we are commanded to use respectfully, today? We learn from the Talmud - the teachings of the Rabbi's known as the 'Oral Torah' or Law', which they falsely ascribe to Moses - at least gives their reason: it was to ensure that anyone reading 'YHWH' from the Scriptures would not accidentally pronounce it and break one of their superstitious traditions. The Rabbi's were trying to conceal the true Name.

The Vowel Problem

You need to remember that the original Hebrew Tanakh (Old Testament) text contained no vowels at all, just consonants. A person reading the text knew 99.99% of the time what the correct vowels were simply because of their knowledge of the language and context. Though this is not a familiar practice to us who include vowels with consonants in our writing, it is not that difficult to reconstruct a text which has the vowels removed so long as you know the gist of the message. Thus were to I write, Tanakh-style, I RLLY HP Y CN NDRSTND WHT I M SYNG, you would probably figure out quite quickly that I wrote, "I really hope you can understand what I am saying". You will have noticed that I used the occasional vowel but that would not be cheating because in classical Hebrew some consonants could also be used as vowels. More about that in a moment - it's quite important, in fact, to knowing how the True Name is accurately pronounced.

The Men who Jumbled up the Vowels

To prevent those reading the Torah (Teaching, Law) in their new pointed (with vowels added) Tanakh (Old Testament) text from pronouncing the word correctly out aloud and violating the Talmudic taboo, the Rabbis deliberately scrambled up the vowels in their new pointing system. They removed the original vowels, which they knew very well (though it had probably not been spoken out aloud for 70 years), and extracted the vowels from Adonai ('Lord', 'Master') and added them to YHWH! From this they created the bastard word 'Yehovah' which in the course of time became mutated in European languages like French to 'Jehovah'.

Consonant Dispute: Y or J, W or V?

There is no letter 'J' in Hebrew so we know that the first consonant, yod, is not pronounced like the first letter of the English word 'jam' (or even 'Jesus' for that matter). Likewise, the Hebrew letter waw, the third consonant in YHWH, is not a 'V' - it is in modern Hebrew but it was not in classical, biblical Hebrew. Accordingly some wrote the Divine Name YHWH as YHVH, which is also a mistake. I mention this in passing because you will find some messianics and others calling the Father 'Yehovah' and whilst the first consonant is correct, the third is not. Others, realising the vav error, accordingly call Him 'Yehowah'. Indeed, the word 'Jehovah' ('Yehovah', 'Yehowah') is grammatically impossible in Hebrew so as a word it was never spoken by the Israelites or their cohenim (priests) anciently.

The Blasphemy of Hovah

You'll hear many more renderings of the Name YHWH as we untangle this mess. Clearly Satan has gone to a lot of trouble to obscure our Heavenly Father's Name which we are commanded to use deferentially. Worse, from the point-of-view of those who love our Heavenly Father and wish to honour Him, there is a Hebrew word, howah (or hovah), and it means 'ruin', 'mischief' or 'perverse' (Strong’s #1943). Thus the obscene word 'Je-hovah' literally means that our Father in Heaven is the author of 'ruin', 'mischief' or 'perversion', descriptives that fit the Devil perfectly well but not the Creator! So it is absolutely not correct, as Jehovah's Witnesses maintain, to say that 'Jehovah' is simply our English equivalent of the Divine Name. Unless you are willing to claim that the Father's Name is also Satan's, no right-thinking believer can countenance the use of this vile, blasphemous demonic name.

Is 'Yahuah' the Correct Pronunciation

The reason I am writing this article today is because a very zealous and passionate Messianic wrote to me (many times) and claimed that the true vocalisation of YHWH is Yahuah and that the one we use (which I will reveal in a moment) was an invention of the Jesuits. He also claimed that this was "a matter of salvation" and that untold numbers of souls are being lost because they do not use it. Aside from the fact I do not believe the 100% accurate pronunciation of YHWH is a salvational issue, it has to be said that 'Yahuah' is not (like 'Yehovah'), grammatically possible because in Hebrew a waw, though it can be a consonant or a vowel cannot be both simultaneously. In pronouncing YHWH as Yahuah you are using the waw (or vav in modern Hebrew) first as a vowel and adding a second vowel after it, which is not allowed.

Judah and YHWH are not Related

Another error made by True Name seekers is assuming that the Hebrew word for Judah, Yahudah, is in some way related to YHWH's Name because it differs only by the insertion of a dalet ('d'). The assumption is made that by removing the dalet from Yahudah that you arrive magically at the Divine Name, which they believe to be 'Yahuah'. But the same grammatical problem remains as mentioned before. Every Hebrew word can be traced to a two or three letter root. So although in English it may appear that YHWH is simply Yahudah minus the dalet ('d') it has to be realised that the two words come from different roots altogether and are not related. Yahudah (Strongs #3063) comes from the root word 'Yadah' (Strongs #3034), yod-dalet-hay (YDH), whereas YHWH (Strong’s 3068) comes from the root hayah (Strong’s 3068), or in Hebrew hey-waw-hey (HWH). YDH and HWH are not the same words.

An Imaginary Rule

The Yahudah-to-YHWH rule is an imaginary one. It isn't permitted. Though there is obviously a connection to the word 'Yah' (the YH part of YHWH), there is no connection between the WH of YHWH and the DH of YHDH.

What of Yahu?

Many Hebrew words end with the suffix 'yahu' such as Eli-yahu (Elijah) and Yesha-yahu (Isaiah) and this has led other True Name seekers to make another false assumption, namely, that YHWH's name must start with Yahu, to which 'ah' may quietly be added at the end to make 'Yahuah'. The problem with this proposition is that the rules of Hebrew grammar have to again be violated to accomplish this piece of linguistic acrobatics.

Yah, Name of the Father

Let us rather now work with what we absolutekly know about the Divine Name and that is the identity of the vowel between the yod (Y) and the hay (H) - the 'YH' part of YHWH. There are many references to our Heavenly Father in the Tanakh (Old Testament) in the abbreviated form YAH as in the following verse:

    "Behold, Elohim (God) is my salvation (yeshua), I will trust and not be afraid; 'For YAH, YHWH ('the LORD'), is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation (yeshua)'" (Isa.12:2, NKJV).

The King James Version (KJV) even literally transcribes 'YH' as 'Jah' (though it should be 'Yah'):

    "Sing unto God (Elohim), sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH (YAH), and rejoice before him" (Ps.68:4, KJV).

The abbreviation YH (Yah) appears several times in Scripture:

    "Yah ('the LORD') is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation (yeshua)" (Ps.118:14, NKJV).

YH and YHWH

Notice that our English translations make no distinction between YH (Yah) and YHWH and render both, without any justification, as 'the LORD'. They are not identical even if they are very closely related.

Mar Yah, Kurios and Theos

The Aramaic Peshitta, which is the oldest Hebraic New Testament version, always translates YHWH as Mar Yah nearly 7,000 times, meaning, 'the Master Yah', which is its way of distinguishing between 'the LORD' who is the Father and 'the LORD' who is the Son, because the Greek New Testament rarely makes a distinction. Indeed, not untypically, the Greek New Testament, when translating a quotation from the Tanakah containing the Divine Name, YHWH, usually renders it simply as Kurios ('Master', 'Lord') or Theos (God), making for yet more confusion. So many of our theological problems arise out of those early translations from Aramaic or Hebrew to Greek.

Yah-YHWH and Yah'shua-YHWH: YHWH as Family

Why do passages like Isaiah 12:2 and Psalm 118:14 speak of "YH, YHWH" - or "Yah, YHWH", and not simply "YHWH"? The reason is that YHWH is a FAMILY NAME for the Elohimhead (Godhead) and can refer to either the Father (the 'Greater YHWH') or the Son (the 'Lesser YHWH') for both are addressed as 'YHWH'. Yah-YHWH refers to the Father and Yah'shua-YHWH refers to the Son.

Hallelu-Yah

So there is absolutely no question that the Father's shortened Name is "Yah" - indeed, it is used in every declaration of praise to the Most High by Christians and Messianics alike, for 'Hallelu-Yah' means "praise Yah" (e.g. Ps.150:1)! Even non-Messianics, who spell the word 'Halleujah' (or 'Alelujah'), pronounce it 'HalleluYah', don't they? You'll not find a Pentecostal pronouncing the 'jah' part in the same way that the 'j' in 'jam' is pronounced. That is because the original pronunciation has still (miraculously) been preserved in the English word 'Hallelujah' - to which I would say, "Hallelu-Yah" indeed!

Yah as Saviour

Notice too that the true Name of the Son, Yah'shua, contains the Name of the Father, Yah. His Name literally means, 'Yah (the Father) Saves' as is stated plainly enough throughout the Tanakh (Old Testament):

    "And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of YHWH shall be saved (delivered). For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance (salvation), as YHWH has said, among the remnant whom YHWH calls" (Joel 2:32, NKJV).

This passage is quoted in Acts 2:21 only 'YHWH' has been substituted by the Greek Kurios as this typical English translation shows:

    "'And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD (kurios > YHWH) shall be saved'" (Acts 2:21, NKJV).

Yah'shua as the Salvation of Yah

This is not a direct reference to Yah'shua (Jesus) even though it is the Son being pointed to as we see from a later passage:

    "Nor is there salvation (yeshua) in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12, NKJV).

The Father and Son Save as YHWH

The verses before clearly point to Yah'shua (Jesus) yet in their original citation they are pointing to Yah-YHWH the Father. How can both be true? Because Yah-YHWH is doing the saving through His Son Yah'shua-YHWH. They are echad (one). Paul in Romans 10:13 is similarly quoting Joel 2:32. There is never a sense that the Son is saving apart from the Father which would be impossible because the Tanakh (Old Testament) says:

    "'I, even I, am YHWH, and besides Me there is no Saviour. I have declared and saved, I have proclaimed, and there was no foreign god among you; therefore you are My witnesses,' says YHWH, 'that I am Elohim (God)'" (Isa.43:11-12, NKJV).

Again we read:

    "Yet I am YHWH your Elohim (God) ever since the land of Egypt, and you shall know no Elohim (God) but Me; for there is no Saviour besides Me" (Hos.13:4, NKJV).

I repeat, it it is Yah-YHWH (the Father) doing the saving though Yah'shua-YHWH (the Son).

The Origin of Yahu

So where does the name Yahu, which appears in certain names like Eliyahu (Elijah) and Yeshayahu (Isaiah), come from? In Hebrew, pronouns are added into the verb conjugation and Yahu simply means 'He is Yah'. Similarly, if you wanted to say 'Our Elohim' in Hebrew, the rules of grammar would render 'Elohenu'. The 'u' suffix in 'Yahu', meaning 'He is Yah', does not therefore lend any credance to a 'Yahuah' pronunciation. Indeed, not all pronoun-verb conjugations have a 'u' ending, as we see in the Hebrew for Nehemiah which is 'Nehemyah'.

YH is Yah, Not Yahu

There can therefore be no dispute that the first part of the Divine Name, YHWH, is pronounced 'Yah-' and not 'Yahu'. That is 100% certain. Neither could it have been 'Yeh' (or 'Je') as in 'Yehovah' or 'Jehovah'. This has led some to claim that the Name should be 'Yahovah' or 'Yahowah' but as we shall see now this is not correct either.

Whence the WH?

Determining the correct pointing for the 'WH' part of YHWH is not so easy to determine. About all we can say from the Scriptures is that the first consonant was a waw (W) and not a modern vav (V). So what we will do in the concluding part of this article is review the historical evidence and then deal with objections raised because the True Name was imitated by some pagans.

The Historical Evidence Reviewed:
Origen, Clement and Theodoret

The historical evidence demonstrates that the second part of the Divine Name, 'WH', was pronounced 'weh', the whole divine name being pronounced YAHWEH with the emphasis being on the second vowel, Yah'weh. In the first and second centuries both Jews and Christians alike pronounced the Divine Name as 'Yahweh', as is attested by the second century historian Origen. Though written slightly differently in the Greek lingua franca of the day, as 'IAOE', early Christian writers, such as Clement of Alexandria in the 2nd century, vocalised the Divine Name as 'Yahweh', showing that the pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton was never actually 'lost' as is claimed by some. Theodoret of Cyprus (5th Century AD) said that the Samaritans of his time spoke the sacred name clearly as 'Yahweh'. Fifteen centuries later they still call Him 'Iawe'.

Hammurabi and the Lachish Letters

In 1898 A.H. Sayce transliterated 3 cuneiform tablets dating back to the time of Hamurrabi that clearly said "Yahweh is Elohim" (Haley’s Bible Handbook, p.62). In the Lachish letters, that were found in 1938 and date back to the 6th century B.C. and were authored by Hoshaiah using carbon ink on clay ostraca (pottery, stone), and are the oldest Hebrew writing with the sacred name on record, again clearly prove that YHWH was pronounced 'Yahweh'. What is also very interesting about the Lachish letters is not only the fact that they are written in ancient Paleo-Hebrew (see illustration at the head of this article), but that they were also vowel pointed, something that is very rare for a document that ancient. The vowel pointing clearly shows the pronunciation of YHWH as YAHWEH.

The Moabite Stone

The ancient Moabites also recorded the Divine Name Yahweh in the Meshe Stele or Moabite Stone made of basalt dated around 840 B.C., named after the Moabite king Meshe. It was discovered in Dhiban in 1868 by in what is today Jordan by Frederick Klein.

The Work of the Masoretes

The Masoretes, as we discussed earlier, worked to reproduce the original text of the Hebrew Bible from about the 6th to the 10th century AD, and replaced the vowels of the name YHWH with the vowel signs of the Hebrew words 'Adonai', or Elohim. Thus, the artificial name Jehovah (YeHoWaH) came into being. Although Christian scholars after the Renaissance and Reformation periods used the term 'Jehovah' for YHWH in the 19th and 20th centuries, biblical scholars again began to use the true form 'Yahweh'.

The Jerusalem Bible and Yahweh

The Roman Catholic Jerusalem Bible (JB), taking their lead from the consensus of the scholars, in 1974 published what was perhaps the first English Bible in modern times that incorporated the Divine Name as 'Yahweh'. Though it is a dynamic equivalent translation (like the New International Version - NIV) its literary style is excellent and on par with the equally excellent New English Bible (NEB). Unfortunately the JB retains the use of the Greek 'Jesus' and makes no attempt to use the Divine Name in its New Testament. The Roman Catholic Church has since withdrawn use of the JB, not because it isn't linguistically correct in using 'Yahweh' but because Jewish leaders took offence at the employment of the Divine Name and its continued use therefore became a stumbling block to Rome's new ecumenism with Judaism.

The Witness of Josephus and the Early Consensus

Titus Flavius Josephus (Yosef ben Matityahu), the famous first century Jerusalem-born Jewish scholar, historian and hagiographer of Levitical descent, stated that the pronunciation of YHWH is phonetically spoken like 4 vowels: Ee-ahh-ooh-eh (The Jewish War, vol.5, chapter 5), a sound that lies somewhere between 'Yah'weh' and 'Yah'wah'. The consensus of the time - when the apostles sub-apostostolic father (who knew the apostles) were alive - was therefore that the Divine Name was pronounced 'YAHWEH'.

When 'Yahweh' May Be Uttered by Jews Today

Though the Divine Name was purposefully hidden by the Rabbi's, it was actually spoken once a year by the Cohen Gadol (High Priest) at Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, within the Holy of Holies in the Temple. This restriction was later relaxed by the Rabbis who now sanction the pronunciation of the name by all Jews at the end of Yom Kippur at sunset. If you go to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem at sunset as the Talmudic Yom Kippur is ending you will clearly hear the correct pronunciation of YHWH as 'Yahweh' over and over again for about five minutes.

The Name Was Never Lost

In other words, though strict, unnecessary and unbiblical restrictions were placed by the Rabbis on the pronunciation of the Divine Name, the pronunciation was never lost, even during the 70 year-long Exile. Given the supreme importance of the Divine Name, in spite of the apostacies of the Jews, and given the meticulous way the Torah has been preserved, you would not expect the self-appointed Guardians to lose something so important. Moreover, the bastardisation of the Divine Name in the pointed text of the Masorete Tanakh (Old Testament) is not evidence that the pronunciation was lost but reveals a misguided attempt to prevent those reading the Torah out aloud from speaking the Divine Name at any time save during Yom Kippur according to their superstition. The argument that the Rabbis corrupted everything cannot be substantiated.

Attempts to Associate Yahweh's Name with Jupiter

Advocates of other pronunciations like Yahuah and Yehowah have, in defence of their position, attempted to discredit the true pronunciation of 'Yahweh' by mistakenly connecting the latter to the false Roman 'king of the gods', 'Jupiter'. The reason they try to do this is because a diminutive or shortened version of Jupiter is 'JOVE' in English which would have been written 'IOUE' and therefore pronounced in a way that sounds similar to Josephus' 'IAOE' or 'Yahweh'. But however similar these two words are, they are not the same.

Absurd and Blasphemous Attempts to Bespot the Divine Names

Similar attempts have been made by ultra-Messianics to falsely link 'Jesus' to 'Ye-Zeus', another name of Jupiter. But these amateur attempts at scholarship stretch credulity and militate against the known rules of linguistics. 'Jesus' may sound like 'Ye-Zeus' and 'IOUE' may sound like 'IAOE' but that no more links or associates them any more than the Swedish word 'fart' (meaning 'speed') has anything to do with an English word sounding the same (coming originally from the German furzen) but used to describe 'breaking wind'. One could argue that the English word connects to 'speed' in some way but that would be entirely disingenuous - there is almost certainly no relationship at all. I use this illustration as a warning not to fall for all the pop theology and amateur linguistics that abound on the internet. This is particularly important when it comes to the Creator's Name, don't you think?

How Yahweh Came to Be Used by Pagans

The final issue we must is address is why the name 'Yahweh' appears in pagan pantheons and cultures - isn't this evidence that the name is pagan in origin? For a start, no matter what name you subscribe to, you will find disparate groups using the same name with whom you might not want to associate with because they're apostate or heretical in other respects. Paganism, which is polytheistic (worshipping many gods) has never been averse to 'borrowing' deities from other religions and incorporating them into their own. This practice, called religious syncretism, was even practiced by the ancient Israelites themselves in times of apostacy. Thus you will find instances of YHWH being coupled with the pagan goddess Ishtar (roundly condemned in the Bible as a false deity) as His consort! Now obviously while this was a blasphemous act it in no ways invalidates the Name YHWH itself (however it was pronounced) nor does it mean that YHWH is of pagan origin. Today's occultic kabbalist Jews along, regrettably, (with not a few Messianics who ought to know better) claim to worship YHWH as do a number of other occult groups and yet their religion is wholly disjunctive with the YHWH of the Bible. Likewise Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons and other groups regarded as cults by mainstream evangelicals, would not insist that 'Jesus Christ' was 'cultic' simply because these groups use the same name.

Religious Hybridisation in the Ancient World

The ancient pagans had, as I said, many gods and were not at all shy in accepting the latest deity that came on the cultural scene. This was particularly true of a large cosmopolitan empire like Rome that had many nationalities and religions. This is one of the reasons that the Romans persecuted the Judahites so heavily because only the nation of Israel had a concept of a single deity. They were looked upon as poor and weak because they only worshiped one god. The pagans weren't even concerned that the new 'god' they were admitting to their pantheon might already be there but under a different name. Thus you will find the goddesses Ishtar, Semiramis, Diana, Athena and Aphrodite all worshipped as seperate entities even though they were originally one and the same. They were distinguished merely by the different names that were used in the different cultures and nations that worshipped her. None of these names sound phonetically alike and none are transliterations of the other name. It was just the common practice of pagan cultures to accept any new god and call him or her by the name of one of their old gods. It was by this means that pagan Mithraism came to be confused with Christianity and elements of the two exchanged with each other. The origins of Roman Catholicism may be seen to be the result of this hybridisation of religions.

Diffusion of the Divine Name in Pagan Cultures

When neighbouring pagan nations saw the power of Yahweh at work amongst the Israelites it would only have been natural for them to appease Him, as they supposed, by incorporating Him into their own pantheons and perhaps even changing His Name in the course of time. When the British went to India the Hindus, in the course of time, adopted 'Jesus' as one of their many millions of gods, but obviously did not honour or serve Him in the manner expected in the Bible. A Hindu friend of mine, who became a famous Sri Lankan cricketer, surprised me once when I found him reading the Gospel of John. To him Jesus (Yah'shua) was just another 'god' with good moral teachings. So we should not be surprised to find the Name Yahweh diffusing into other cultures and religions by a process of passive osmosis and 'cultural exchange'. The fact that these pagan cultures used His Name does not mean they were worshipping the true Elohim (God) of Israel but neither does it prove that 'Yahweh' was of pagan origin, let alone a more modern invention of the Jesuits. You can't tell whether a people are worshipping the true Elohim (God) simply by looking at the Name they worship - ultimately it boils down to the character of the Deity and what He expects of His servants (and what they themselves, in turn, become). It depends far more on the spiritual substance than the pronunciation of the Name even if the Name is not unimportant.

The Overwhelming Evidence Cannot Easily Be Dismissed

Whatever attempts are made by whose who wish to associate 'Yahweh' with a pagan deity, it does not alter the fact that every credible scholar and the overwhelming bulk of biblical, historical, archeological and linguistic evidence clearly points to the pronunciation of the only true Deity - the Elohim of Abraham, the Elohim of Isaac, and the Elohim of Jacob - as YAHWEH - not 'Jehovah', 'Yehovah', 'Yahowah', 'Yehweh', 'Yahuah' or any of the other variants being marketed as necessary for your salvation or acceptance by their groups. YAHWEH is the Name we are to call upon for our salvation through His Son YAH'shua which means 'Yah (the Father) saves'. I'll not disfellowship anyone who uses a different pronunciation to 'Yahweh' or claim they are unsaved simply because of the way they articulate a word with their larynx, lips and tongue, but I'll also proclaim the True Name and denounce those who cause believers to stumble over what is not so much a matter of salvation but of respect. What's important is you know Him and His Character through His Torah and through the Life and Cross of His Son.

Selection of Scholarly Authorities

1. Webster's Collegiate Dictionary:
"Jehovah — False reading of the Hebrew YAHWEH." (Jehovah, in Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, 1973 ed.)

2. Encyclopedia Americana:
"Jehovah — erroneous form of the name of the God of Israel." (Encyclopedia Americana, vol.16, 1972 ed.)

3. Encyclopedia Britannica:
"The Masoretes who from the 6th to the 10th century worked to reproduce the original text of the Hebrew Bible replaced the vowels of the name YHWH with the vowel signs of Adonai or Elohim. Thus the artificial name 'Jehovah' came into being." (Yahweh, in The New Encyclopedia Britannica, vol.12, 1993 ed.)

4. The Jewish Encyclopedia:
"Jehovah — a mispronunciation of the Hebrew YaHWeH the name of God. The pronunciation of Jehovah is grammatically impossible." (Jehovah, in The Jewish Encyclopedia, vol.7, 1904 ed.)

5. The New Jewish Encyclopedia:
"It is clear that the word Jehovah is an artificial composite." (Jehovah, in The New Jewish Encyclopedia, 1962 ed.)

6. The Encyclopedia Judaica I:
"The true pronunciation of the tetragrammaton, YHWH, was never lost. The name was pronounced Yahweh. It was regularly pronounced this way at least until 586 B.C., as is clear from the Lachish Letters written shortly before this date." (Encyclopedia Judaica, vol.7 p.680)

7. Encyclopedia Judaica II:
"The true pronunciation of the name YHWH was never lost. Several early Greek writers of the Christian Church testify that the name was pronounced 'Yahweh'" (Encyclopedia Judaica, Macmillan, New York: 1971, Ibid.)

Conclusion

I once lost a good friend because I refused to respect the fact that he had changed his name when he was in college because he was embarrassed by the one his parents had given to him. I had always known him by his old name and wouldn't adjust to his new one because, I reasoned, it was still the same person anyway and we had always been good friends. Likewise, most of us have been raised knowing the wrong Name of the Creator but there may come a time - like now - when we discover what His real Name is and why it's important to use it in the manner He wants. He's still the same Person I knew as 'God', 'Jehovah' and 'the LORD'; but a Name is a very personal and intimate thing and I could not continue using the false ones which had satannic connections in all good conscience any more. I wished to honour Him. Don't you? I still use the old ones in (parentheses) in my writings because I know many of my readers don't know the True Name yet and it's important that we first of all communicate using our shared vocabulary. But now, enlightened to the emet (truth), I proclaim His Name Yahweh, as commanded, because this is right and tov (good). I hope you will do the same.

"I am YAHWEH, that is My name;
and My glory I will not give to another,
nor My praise to graven images"

(Isaiah 42:8, NKJV)

Clearly His name is Yahweh, let us exalt His name together: "Hallelu-YAH!"

Acknowledgements

[1] Adapted and considerably expanded from an original study by Don Esposito based on the work of R.Clover (see Receommended Reading below, [1] & [2]), How is the Name YHWH Pronounced?

Recommended Reading

[1] R.Clover, Why the Heavenly Father's name is pronounced, "Yahweh" - key extract (see Appendix #3 for whole chapter) of [2] below
[2] R.Clover, The Sacred Name YHWH: A Scriptural Study, 3rd Edition, editors P.Carey, D.Tollefson, D.Allen, C.Runfola, J.Tollefson, & S.Guevarra (Qadesh La Yahweh Press, Garden Grove, California: 2002) - the complete 296 page study (NB Not all the practical applications of the conclusions of this otherwise superb study are necessarily those of this ministry)


APPENDICES

It was to be expected that this article would generate some controversy and so I anticipate adding a number of appendices over the course of time. In presenting new facts and arguments the overwhelming evidence, cited in the article above, that YHWH was pronounced 'Yahweh' and not in some other way, must not be fogotten. Every new idea or theory must always be tested in the light of what we already know and as we have seen the historical evidence is pretty certain.

Appendix #1. The Amun Temple in Soleb, Sudan

A source frequently quoted by the adherents of the 'Yahuah' (or 'Yehuah') is a 14th century BC sculpture found in the Sudan now believed to be the oldest recorded example of the Divine Name...in Egyptian. One scholar, Gerard Gertoux, from the Association Biblique de Recherche d'Anciens Manuscrits in France gives as his opinion the following vocalisation of Schneider's transcription t3-i3-sw-w y-h-w3-w:

    "ta'sha'suw yehua'w"

which means, "and of the bedouins those of Yehua'w".

Another researcher, Professor Jean Leclant, wrote:

    "It is evident that the name on the name-ring in Soleb that we discuss corresponds to the 'tetragrammaton' of the God of the Bible, YHWH."

He adds:

    "The name of God appears here in the first place as the name of a place." In a footnote he explains that place-names often are derived of the names of gods." (Jean Leclant, Le "Tétragramme" à l’époque d’Aménophis III, in Near Eastern Studies, dedicated to H.I.H. Prince Takahito Mikasa on the Occasion of His Seventy-Fifth Birthday, pp.215-219, 1991, Wiesbaden).

Gertroux was, however, only giving his opinion based on a number of assumptions and freely acknowledged that the pronunciation of the hieroglyphs could be interpreted in more than one way. This was, in any case, the Egyptian language and not Hebrew so there is no guarantee that the original pronunciation of YHWH was transliterated accurately or even could be transliterated accurately. We just don't know how it was pronounced. The proponents of the Yahuah/Yehuah claim in any case conveniently forget that the Egyptian name here ends in a W! You only have to see how the Name Yah'shua has evolved into the modern 'Jesus' through numerous transliterations from one language to another to know the problems facing archeologists in the deciphering of ancient languages that are now dead.

Accordingly the Egyptian sculpture in Sudan does not add any further knowledge as to the pronunciation of the Divine Name and whatever conclusions are drawn from it are largely guesswork and speculation.

Appendix #2. The Divine Name Must Have Three Vowels or Syllables?

The first objection I received to my article was the claim that the Divine Name must possess three vowels or syllables and that 'two' were not enough. As this requires the making of the kind of in-depth study that I do not have time for, I recommend in the first instance that our readers consult the work of R.Clover in [2] of Recommended Reading at the end of the main article above. Instead, I will focus on two or three important facets of the more relevent arguments that I feel are germaine to the objections raised concerning pointing.

When it comes to the rules evolved in relatively modern times - since the Masoretes who are responsible for the pointing of our present Tanak's (Old Testaments) - there are considerable difficulties to be overcome. Ethan R. Longhenry makes the following observation:

    "As time progressed, naturally, there were difficulties maintaining proper pronounciation: to solve the problem at first, three consonants were given a new role as vowel letters to indicate vowel types (called matres lectiones, 'mothers of reading'), and in the latter half of the first millennium CE, when Hebrew waned in Jewish culture, the group of Jews responsible for maintaining and handing down the text of the Hebrew Old Testament, the Masoretes, developed a system of vowel pointings used even today. Generally, the Masoretic pointing is accurate; it has been confirmed by transliterated names of people and places and also in other ancient documents. We must remember, however, that at the time of Christ the vowel letters were used haphazardly but otherwise vowels had to be supplied by the reader. This difficulty is compounded by the Jewish traditions regarding the Tetragrammaton. Early in Israelite history few if any had difficulties in saying the name of God-- YHWH-- as evidenced in direct speech in narratives (cf. Ruth 2:4)" [1]

The anti-messianic nature of the Masoretes, who are known to have manipulated the Tanakh (Old Testament) text (and especially the pointing) to steer Jews away from Yah'shua (Jesus), I have discussed elsewhere [2]. Though as Longhenry attests, the Masoretes were accurate in their pointing, it was not infallible, and there yet remain doubts as to the meaning of a number of words in the Tanakh (Old Testament).

Another useful pointer to the actual sound or pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton can be gleaned from the word's actual meaning and derivation:

    "It is important to first understand how YHWH is derived. Its first attested use is by God in His speaking with Moses in Exodus 3:14: "And God said unto Moses, "I AM THAT I AM:" and he said, "Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, "I AM hath sent me unto you.'"" In Hebrew, God calls Himself "'ehyeh asher 'ehyeh," [3] and charges Moses to tell Israel that 'ehyeh sent him to them. If we analyze "'ehyeh," we see that it is a first person common singular imperfect form of the verb "hayah," to be. This form was turned from a first person to a third person (from "I am" to "he is"), and we have a change of glides: w/y are often interchanged in Hebrew, and the form we see later is YHWH, which, if translated, would be closest to "He is," or "He will be." A non-altered third person masculine singular form of "hayah" would be "yihyeh." [4]

The phoenetic link between hayah/yihyeh and 'Yahweh' is immediately apparent. But by far the most important testimony - the 'Rosetta Stone' for understanding the actual pronunciation of haShem (The Name) comes from the so-called 'church fathers' and last, but not least, the great Josephus himself:

    "We have three accounts from the "church fathers" of the first few centuries of Christianity regarding the pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton. Clement of Alexandria, around 180 CE, relates the following: "Further, the mystic name of the four letters which was affixed to those alone to whom the adytum was accessible, is called "Iaoue," which is interpreted, "Who is and shall be." The name of God, too, among the Greeks contains four letters [Greek theos, where "th" is represented with theta-- ed.]," (Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata, V. 6). Theodoret and Epiphanius, both later, establish that they heard the name as "Iabe." From this information we confirm that the Tetragrammaton was pronounced "Yahweh," since we must recognize the phonological differences between Greek and Hebrew: Greek has no consonantal "y" and recognizes the letter as the vowel "i" (as "Yeshua" becomes "Iesous"); Greek has no "h" save rough breathings at the beginnings of some words and does not account for the letter; Greek has neither "w" nor "v," and it is very likely that a Greek listener (as were Theodoret and Epiphanius) would hear a "b" when a Jew said "v" (since in Hebrew b and v are separated by spirantization of the former only), and hearing "w" would sound like "ou."" [5].

Which brings us to the very interesting statement by Josephus who, speaking of the Cohen Gadol (High Priest) said:

    "On his head ... [he] wore a linen mitre wreathed with blue and encircled by a crown of gold, which bore in relief the sacred letters - four vowels" (The Jewish War, Vol.5, chapter 5).

Four vowels. Quite clearly the Jewish historian was referring to Greek vowels (the lingua franca of the Roman Empire) as his readership was non-Jewish. These, he says (and as I pointed out in the main article) are IAUE, showing the non-Hebrew (and especially Greek and Roman world) how the Tetragrammaton was pronounced, viz, 'YaHWeH'. The Romans, who had no 'u' in Latin, would have substituted the 'u' for 'v'. This was how the first mutation of the Divine Name began - from YaHWeH to YaHVeH, and through the long chain of further mutations to the modern 'JeHoVaH'.

A critic of this ministry's position today wrote to me in justification of his belief that the Divine Name is 'Yehovah':

    "My friends who just moved here from Israel have convinced me that it is not waw but vav in Yodh-He-Vav-He. [...] is an Israeli born man who speaks and reads Hebrew fluently, combining their opinion and Nehemiah Gordon's [6]. I'm convinced the pronounciation is Yehovah".

And by other reasoning processes, others are convinced it is 'Yahuah' and a string of other variants. What do you believe the emet (truth) is? What is the overwhelming evidence of history and linguistics? The fact that someone speaks modern Hebrew fluently is no measure of authenticity and one has to wonder what name they speak during the last five minutes of the Talmudic Yom Kippur when almost all Jews repeat the Name 'Yahweh'. Do you believe in 'Jehovah', which means 'Jeh is Perverse' or 'a Ruination', or Yahuah which means absolutely nothing at all and is grammatically impossible, or do you believe in Yahweh which means I am That I am?

Take your time, study R.Clover's brilliant thesis and decide Whom you are going to worship.

Appendix #3: Why the Heavenly Father's Name
is Pronounced 'Yahweh' by R.Clover

Lately, I have noticed that there are many using the form "Yahuah" or "Yahuwah" based on the fact that the name יהודה "Yahudah/Yehudah" (Judah) contains the same letters as יהוה with the exception of the ד Daleth (D) being added (Hebrew reads from right to left). In other words, Yahweh's name contains יהוה (Yod Heh Waw Heh) and the name of one of the sons of Israel (Judah) is יהודה (Yod Heh Waw Daleth Heh.)

They say that the Heavenly Father's name can be "made simple" by believing that since there is only one letter difference between the two names, we can learn the right pronunciation of the Heavenly Father's name by looking at how Judah's name is pronounced in Hebrew. 

But the truth is, we cannot determine the pronunciation of one Hebrew word by looking at how another word is pronounced with similar letters. This is because Hebrew words usually contain missing vowels. The reader has to supply the vowels based on their existing knowledge of the language. Thus, you can have numerous words where there is one consonant difference and yet they are pronounced completely different.

Here are a couple of examples in Hebrew where there is only one letter different than Yahweh's name, yet the pronunciation is different:

  1. The verb "Hama" (#1993) is found in Jer. 6:23, 48:36, 50:42 in the qal imperfect 3rd person masculine singular form, and is spelled יהמה but pronounced "Yehemeh." This is only one letter different than יהוה, yet the pronunciation is different.
     

  2. The Hebrew word "Hegeh" (#1897) is found in Job 27:4, Psalm 37:30 and 7 other verses in the qal imperfect 3rd person masculine singular form and is spelled יהגה, yet it is pronounced "Yehgeh." This is only one letter different than יהוה, yet the pronunciation is different.

If we removed vowels from two English words that had similar consonants, no one would argue that we can learn the vowels of one word by knowing the vowels of another. For instance "word," "ward" and "weird' would all have the same consonants (WRD) but different vowel sounds and different meanings.

In fact, there are examples in Hebrew of where two words with different meanings are spelled exactly the same way, yet they are pronounced differently. The word שאול, which is pronounced "Shaul" (King Saul's name) is spelled exactly the same as the word שאול, pronounced "Sheol." "Shaul" means "desired" but "Sheol" means "grave." The vowels and meaning are different, but the word is spelled the same. If שאול (Shaul) is spelled the same as שאול (Sheol), yet has different vowels, why would we believe that יהוה must automatically have the same vowels as יהודה ?

If the "Yahu" in "Yahu-dah" means "praise Yahweh," this would be a compound word with the "Yahu-" referring to Yahueh/Yahweh and the "-dah" coming from another word altogether. Thus, we really can't rely on the "Dah" pronunciation to arrive at the correct pronunciation of the final syllable in יהוה. It is derived from a different source.

The reason why Yahweh's name is upon His people is not because "Yahudah" contains part of Yahweh's name as some claim. All of Yahweh's people (including the other 11 tribes) are called by His name because of the elements seen in the priestly blessing:

Numbers 6:24-27 Yahweh bless you and keep you;
25
Yahweh make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you;
26
Yahweh lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace." '
27
 "So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them."

So in conclusion, to base the pronunciation of the Heavenly Father's name on how another name or word is pronounced is not sound reasoning and should be completely disregarded when seeking to understand how יהוה is pronounced.

Yehowah?

It's a surprise to me, but another pronunciation growing in popularity is "Yehowah." This is actually the Hebraic way of saying "Jehovah." The term "Jehovah/Yehowah" came about when the Masorite scribes placed the vowels for Adonai in between the letters of Yahweh's name. This was to show the reader that he was supposed to say "Adonai" instead of uttering the actual pronunciation of His name.

Those who support the "Yehowah" pronunciation often say that the scribes were not trying to hide the name, but were actually correct in their vowel pointing. Their evidence is that the first vowel point in "Yehowah" produces an "Eh" sound and not an "Ah" sound like the first vowel sound in "Ah-donai." This is true, but what else were the scribes to do since Yahweh's name already started with "ah" (as in Yah)? They felt that they had to change it from "ah" to "eh" just in case someone accidentally did pronounce the Father's name.

Nevertheless, there is a way to be certain that the scribes were actually inserting vowels to cause the reader to say "Adonai" rather than the actual pronunciation of His name.

If you have a strong's concordance, look up word number 3069. Notice that the vowel points underneath Yahweh's name are different than #3068, and produce the pronunciation: Yehowih (Yehowee).

Where did this come from? Well, in the Masoretic text (hebrew scriptures) "Yehowih" is found in over 300 instances. In each instance where "Yehowih" is found, the Hebrew word "Adonai" always precedes it. In every case, it says "Adonai Yehowih."

The reason for this oddity proves that the scribes were trying to get the reader to say "Adonai" when giving us "Yehowah." If the scribes had actually put "Adonai Yehowah" instead of "Adonai Yehowih" the reader would have had to say "Adonai Adonai" whenever they came across this phrase, a rather awkward situation. Therefore, they put the vowel points for "Elohim" (YeHoWiH) in Yahweh's name whenever "Adonai Yahweh" existed in the text so that the reader would say "Adonai Elohim" rather than "Adonai Adonai."

To me this easily proves that the intent of the vowel points inserted in Yahweh's name was not to supply a correct pronunciation of our Father's name, but rather to get the reader to say "Adonai" or "Elohim" instead. Thus, "Yehowah" (and it's companion "Yehowih") are not correct pronunciations of our Father's name, but are actually hybrids that combine the letters of Yahweh's name with the vowel sounds of two other words: Adonai and Elohim.

Yahweh

It is important to understand that in Hebrew, the verb form determines how the vowels sound. This is somewhat like English where the verb "Run" changes to "Ran" if past tense is intended, and "Running" if present tense is intended. But in Hebrew, certain letters are added and vowel sounds will change depending on whether it is 1st, 2nd or 3rd person, or whether it is masculine or feminine, or whether the word is intensive, causative, etc. 

Understanding this basic fundamental of the Hebrew language will help us to understand Yahweh's own explanation of His name in Exodus 3:14 

Exod. 3:13-14 - Then Moses said to Elohim, "Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them,`The Elohim of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they say to me,`What is His name?' what shall I say to them?"
14 And Elohim said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." (אהיה אשׁר אהיה 'ehyeh asher ehyeh') And He said, "Thus you shall say to the children of el,`I AM (אהיה 'ehyeh') has sent me to you.'"

Yahweh said to tell the people of Israel that His name is "I AM THAT I AM" or "Ehyeh asher ehyeh." We know that "ehyeh" is the way you pronounce "Hayah" (a verb meaning, "to be") in the first person form. So why then did He tell Moshe to call Him יהוה 'Yahweh' rather than אהיה 'Ehyeh' in the next verse?

Exod. 3:15 - Moreover Elohim said to Moses, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel:`Yahweh ( יהוה ) Elohim of your fathers, the Elohim of Abraham, the Elohim of Isaac, and the Elohim of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.'

Putting it simplistically, the form "Yahweh" is the 3rd person form of the same Hebrew verb, "Hayah." Yahweh was declaring who He is in saying "I AM" ("ehyeh") in Exodus 3:14, but when we refer to Him we say "HE IS, or He causes to exist" יהוה which is the 3rd person form, causative.

This understanding is supported in verses like:

Ezek. 37:6 - "I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am Yahweh."

Don't they already know He is Yahweh? What is He saying here?

Well, if we understand that יהוה is the 3rd person causative form of the verb "hayah", the Hebrew reader would understand that once He puts breath in them and they live, they would know that "I am 'He who causes to exist' (Ani Yahweh)."

All throughout history this has been the ultimate debate. Who is the author of all that exists? There are 73 scriptures where Yahweh makes this statement "you/they shall know that I am Yahweh". He wants us to have the understanding that HE IS, and HE WILL CAUSE YOU TO KNOW THAT HE IS BY WHAT HE DOES. This is how He introduced Himself to Yisrael, for "He who comes to Elohim must believe that HE IS" (Hebrews 11:6).

As far as I know, other proposed pronunciations (Yahuah, Yahuwah, Yehowah, etc) have no meaning at all in the Hebrew language, whereas it seems to me that Yahweh Himself in Exodus 3:14 was trying to attach a genuine meaning to His name. In the vast majority of cases, an "-ah" ending (with ה as the final letter) is actually a feminine ending in Hebrew.

Appendix Footnotes

[1] Ethan R. Longhenry, Understanding the Tetragrammaton: How is it Pronounced?
[2] See Old Testament Manipulation: Textual Crimes of the Talmudic Masoretes
[3] See The Name Ehyeh: A Name of Elohim
[4] Ethan R. Longhenry, op.cit
[5] Ethan R. Longhenry, op.cit
[6] An anti-messianic Karite Jew who, though exposing many Talmudic errors, promotes many errors of his own. He has ensnared many gullible Messianics and converted a few back to his version of Judaism

See the Subsite Yahweh for many more articles on this subject

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Last updated on 8 November 2013

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