The Name of God: Jehovah

A few days ago, a reader of this blog and a former student asked me to explain the origin of the name Jehovah. I always welcome questions from readers and when a question is of general interest, I try to write a post and provide an answer that will benefit the general public.

First, let me remind readers that I have already written several posts on the divine name. The following posts deal with the name of God:

Pronouncing the Divine Name – Part 1

Pronouncing the Divine Name – Part 2

Pronouncing the Divine Name – Part 3

Pronouncing the Divine Name: An Explanation

The name Jehovah is not the real name of God. Let me explain. The word Jehovah, a popular English name used by Christians to identify the God of the Old Testament, was not used until after 1278 A.D.

In the Hebrew Bible, the name of God is expressed by four consonants: YHWH. These four consonants are also known in academic circles as the Tetragrammaton. The name of God was revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai:

13 Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?”

14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”

15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’: this is my name for ever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations” (Exodus 3:13-15 RSV).

When God sent Moses back to Egypt to bring the people out of their oppression, God told Moses: “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The LORD has sent me to you’: this is my name for ever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations” (Exodus 3:15). In Hebrew the name “the LORD” is YHWH.

Over the centuries, the Jewish community has avoided using or pronouncing the divine name in public. Thus, when reading the name of God in Hebrew, the Masoretes wrote the four consonants YHWH and inserted the vowels of the Hebrew word Adonai, a word that means “the Lord.”

The name Jehovah is a hybrid name. The name was formed by the use of the Tetragrammaton YHWH with the vowels of Adonai and the result was YeHoWaH. This hybrid name became the basis for the Latinized name Jehovah.

The name Jehovah was not known until sometime after 1278 when a Dominican monk by the name of Raymundus Martini, a Spaniard, first used it in his book Pugeo Fidei. The name Jehovah appeared in English when William Tyndale translated the book of Moses in 1530. Thus, the name Jehovah is an artificial creation that was not used until the Middle Ages. It does not reflect an accurate rendering of the divine name in the Hebrew Bible and its use should be avoided.

Most Christian Bibles today follow the example of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, and of the Vulgate, the Latin translation of the Bible by Jerome. The Septuagint translated the Tetragrammaton YHWH by Kurios, “Lord” and the Vulgate rendered the divine name as Dominus, “Lord.”

The name Jehovah appears in the King James Bible in four places: Exodus 6:3; Psalm 83:18; Isaiah 12:2; and Isaiah 26:4. The poetic form of the name, Yah (or Jah in the KJV) appears in Psalm 68:4. The divine name appears in several passages in the Bible compound with other words: “Jehovahjireh” (Genesis 22:14 KJV), “Jehovahnissi” (Exodus 17:15 KJV), and “Jehovahshalom” (Judges 6:24 KJV).

Most modern English translations follow orthodox Jewish tradition and avoid using the divine name. Instead, these translations substitute the word “the LORD” for the name Yahweh. The following are the usages of the divine name in most English Bibles:

1. The word “God” translates the Hebrew name Elohim.

2. The word “GOD” translates the divine name Yahweh.

3. The word “Lord” translates the Hebrew word Adonai.

4. The Word “LORD” translates the divine name Yahweh.

I respect my Jewish readers who refrain from using the divine name as a way of honoring God. This reluctance to use the divine name reflects their love and reverence for God and a recognition of the holiness of God’s name. Instead of using the divine name, they use “Adonai,” and “Hashem,” a Hebrew word meaning “The Name.”

As a Christian, however, I believe that this reluctance to pronounce the divine name goes contrary to God’s own wishes. God said to Moses:

“Say this to the Israelites: Yahweh, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever; this is how I am to be remembered in every generation (Exodus 3:15 HCSB).

God clearly tells Moses that he wants to be remembered forever by his name. However, if we do not call God by his name, how can people know him by his name?

The Psalmist wrote: “Sing to God! Sing praises to His name. His name is Yahweh.” (Psalm 68:4 HCSB).

The Psalmist also wrote: “Proclaim with me the greatness of Yahweh, let us acclaim his name together (Psalm 34:3 NJB).

To sing praises to God’s name and to acclaim his name requires the worshiper to know God’s name and to use it and pronounce his name aloud.

The prophet Joel wrote: “Everyone who calls on the name of Yahweh will be saved” (Joel 2:32 HCSB). However, how can people call upon the name of God when the name of God is not used?

Christians should avoid using the name Jehovah because it does not provide an accurate translation of the Hebrew name for God. And, although I am going against the majority of Biblical scholars on this issue, I believe we should take seriously God’s desire that he wants to be remembered forever by his name.

If Christians and Jews are to use the divine name, it must be done so with reverence, for we must remember God’s own admonition: “You shall not misuse the name of Yahweh your God, for Yahweh will not leave unpunished anyone who misuses his name” (Exodus 20:7 NJB).

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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60 Responses to The Name of God: Jehovah

  1. Jeremy says:

    I find that my Bible study participants get a kick out of this for some reason when I explain it to them. And, for some other reason the question just seems to come up every so often.

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  2. Jeremy,

    I find the same problem both in churches and in private conversations. Even in my classes there are some students who have never heard that Jehovah is not the real name of God.

    Claude Mariottini

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  3. E says:

    IMO, much of the Old Testament and Psalms translates poorly when God is referred to by a title (i.e., "the Lord" or "the LORD") instead of by His proper name YHWH, as the Hebrew Scriptures in fact read. Hence, I think it is better to translate and read the word YHWH with the word "God" (or perhaps "GOD"), except where it's used in conjunction with Elohim (i.e., YHWH Elohim). "God" for most of us is what we consider God's name to be. "The Lord" or "The LORD" distances Him from being a person with a name to being a title and almost a thing.Either that (i.e., "God" or "GOD") or some pronunciation of YHWH – e.g., Yahweh.

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  4. E,

    You have a point there. I believe that the word Lord is too impersonal. The name God is too generic since the same word can be used for the God of the Bible and for the many gods of the nations.The truth is that many people today would feel uncomfortable in using the name of God in public. Thus, I believe that the present usage will continue for years to come.

    Claude Mariottini

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  5. E says:

    The truth is that many people today would feel uncomfortable in using the name of God in public. Thus, I believe that the present usage will continue for years to come.So, people feel comfortable calling Jesus their Savior (and calling Him their "personal Savior") and calling Him by His first name all the time, yet feel uncomfortable calling God by HIS name – even though in 1 Timothy it's GOD, not Jesus, who is repeatedly referred to as being our Savior, whereas Jesus is the one referred to as "Our Lord."I love our Christian idiosyncracies. They often defy logic. ;^)

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  6. E,

    I know. You right in what you say, but let us face it: many Christians are very slow to change.In class I use Yahweh and do so when I am teaching in church. I never use Jehovah and people appreciate when I tell them God's name. But, how do we convince people to change? That is the challenge.

    Claude Mariottini

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  7. E says:

    Dr. Mariottini:I read your 4 earlier posts about this subject, and in your 3rd one you wrote:God said: “I am YHWH, this is my name” (Isaiah 42:8). God also said: “This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation” (Exodus 3:15). Giving his name to Moses and to all Israel was an act of divine grace which demonstrated how serious God was in his desire to establish a personal relationship with his people. I was reminded of the Aaronic Blessing in Numbers 6:22-27, where the priests bless the Israelites by saying YHWH to them three times in as many blessings, and God says that thus they will "put" God's name on the Israelites so He will bless them. It seems to me that YHWH indeed wants His people to know and use and receive His name.Trivia: Seeing how the rabbi or cantor shaped his hands/fingers like the letter Shin (for the word "Name") when saying and giving this blessing in the synagogue as he extended his hands over the congregation (he was told not to look, but he did one time) was apparently how Leonard Nimoy came up with the split-finger Vulcan blessing/salute for Star Trek: "Live long and prosper" (a rough translation of the Aaronic Blessing). 🙂

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  8. E,

    Thank you for reminding me of the Aaronic Benediction. The benediction required the priest to use the divine name in blessing the people. This reluctance to use the divine name is a post-exilic tradition since the divine name appears about 7,000 times in the Hebrew Bible.

    Claude Mariottini

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Dr. Claude Mariottini,

    When we understand That Jesus Christ is Yahweh Manifested and that the Name “Jesus” is above all names then we will be honoring God in his highest name. Jesus told them before Abraham was I AM. At what name every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and in earth and things under the earth?Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory God the Father

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    • Lamed-Vavnik says:

      I am unclear professor, is the Christian understanding of the incarnation quite this simple? Is not the incarnation of God in Jesus of Nazareth more that the Christ is the second Person of Christianity’s triune God, rather than a simple manifestation of יהוה (HaShem)?

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      • Jason,

        Christians believe that God became a human being and lived among humans. This is how the Complete Jewish Bible translates John 1:1, 14:

        “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1 CJB).

        “The Word became a human being and lived with us” (John 1:14 CJB).

        In addition, the embodiment of God is mentioned twice in the Hebrew Bible: in Genesis 18 and Genesis 32.

        Claude Mariottini

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      • Lamed-Vavnik says:

        Yet would I be correct in saying that Orthodox Christianity has a more nuanced understanding than the simple equation of Jesus with God?

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      • Christians are unanimous in believing that God became a human being. This is what the New Testament says: “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16 ). And this is the reason the Apostle Paul calls Jesus: “Our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13 ).

        Christians believe that there is only one God. There was divine embodiment in the Hebrew Bible and there is divine embodiment in the New Testament.

        Claude Mariottini

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      • Lamed-Vavnik says:

        Yes, I do appreciate this. But my question is more concerned with the nuance of the credal formulae. That God became a human being (uncategorically stated) implied the lack of distinction between the persons Christians hold constitute the triune God.

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      • Lamed-Vavnik,

        Christians live with the paradox of the Trinity. We believe there is only one God who reveals himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. If Christians believe that Jesus is God in human form is because Scriptures declare that he is. For instance, John 1:18 says: “No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.”

        Claude Mariottini

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      • Lamed-Vavnik says:

        This has confused me a little. What then do you make of the formula: one God in three Persons? I have always been led to understand that the Nazarean is believed by his followers to be fully God and fully human, not the Father and not the Spirit but God the Son. Would that be an accurate understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity?

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      • Lamed-Vavnik,

        You are right. Jesus is God the Son. However, Christians do not believe in three gods but in one God.

        This paradox also exists in the Hebrew Bible. Take the case of the Angel of the Lord. In some cases, the Angel of the Lord is distinct from the Lord; in other cases the Angel of the Lord is the Lord himself. The same goes with the Spirit of God. I would say that it is better to say personalities than persons. The Angel of the Lord is a personality of the Lord which he uses to reveal himself to his people. I would say that the same applies to Jesus.

        Claude Mariottini

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lamed-Vavnik says:

        I am much happier with that explanation. Of course you realise that Tanakh Jews and Christians read the texts differently. What you, as a Christian take out of certain passaged, Jews will not read the same. Thank you for your explanation of the Trinity.

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      • You are welcome. Although we read the text differently, I am glad that we enjoy reading the same text.

        Claude Mariottini

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      • Lamed-Vavnik says:

        May the lights that shine in each of its words and letters continue to be a blessing to us both. Perhaps you might enjoy my own reflections. At present I am working through the Book of Genesis.

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      • Lamed-Vavnik,

        I will visit your blog and read your reflections on Genesis. Genesis is a great book and it has much to teach us.

        Claude Mariottini

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  10. Dear Anonymous,

    Amen to that.

    Claude Mariottini

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  11. I'm not sure how relevant Exodus 3 is, as I point out here.

    Joel

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  12. Joel,

    Thank you for pointing to your article. It is a good article and I recommend readers of this post to read what Joel wrote.In your post your wrote: I believe that a more likely scenario is that the tetragrammaton didn’t originally have a pronunciation.I have to disagree with your statement. If the Tetragrammaton did not have a pronunciation, why did God say that he was to be remembered by his name forever? How could people praise a name they could not pronounce?God's name had to be pronounced because many people in the Bible are named after God's name. The prophet Micah, for instance was named Who Is Like Yah? Thus, the name of God was pronounced by the people, even if Yah is an abbreviation of the divine name.

    Claude Mariottini

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  13. One thing that this post reminded me of was the fact that the desire to avoid using the divine name goes back to Judaism where many Jews went out of their way to not even write out the Divine Name – let alone speak it out loud. I've heard of cases of accidentally offending Jews by just reading the Name out loud. In some ways this may be good because it helps us to remember to reverence the name. I enjoy thinking about who God is – His Nature and His Character. Here is a great video and song that I think sheds much light on what the Old Testament is saying. "Theophanies" by Hazakim

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  14. Aaron says:

    Just as a note, Yahweh is not really certain. It's just a conjecture like the rest, and a very tentative one, I think, made by German critical scholarship about a century or so back. It's simply a Hif'il conjugation of an ancient root for the verb to be, meaning, "he made to be."However, in the theophoric elements where an older pronunciation has been preserved, we have the shortened "Yahu."In addition, there are texts in Akkadian (discovered after the conjecture of "Yahweh" was made) that actually preserve the name of God as it was spoken at the time of the Exile. They say "Yaua" (the "h" sound always disappears in Akkadian), probably a version of Yahuah or something like that. It doesn't seem likely that this would be exactly the pronunciation in earlier periods. Probably something like Yahuwa or Yahawi (or something in between) is a bit more likely if we refer to comparative semitic linguistics.In short, while it is certainly not anything like Jehovah as it is pronounced by most English speakers, we are no more certain that Yahweh is the correct pronunciation. Indeed, the only record we have with vowels from biblical times is quite different from either of them.

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  15. Aaron,

    Thank you for this very informative comment. I agree with you that the theophoric names preserve an abbreviation of the divine name. Names like Mikayah and Mikayahu (and many others) may give us a clue about how the name was pronounced.I think it is sad that the pronunciation of God's name was forgotten when God himself wanted to be known by his name.Again, thank you for the information your provided.

    Claude Mariottini

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  16. Marcus,

    Thank you for the video. It was very interesting.

    Claude Mariottini

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  17. nick says:

    Dr. Claude Mariottini,

    Hello dear sir,You said that "Jehovah" was not the real name of God. How would you pronounce names with "Jehovah" incorporated in names? Does one have to go back to the ancient Hebrew to be acceptable to God?For example:“Asaph became the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, Joram the father of Uzziah.” (New American Bible- Matthew 1:8)Here are a few more examples of Jehovah’s name incorporated in another name:Jehoaddah (literally YEHOADDA)Jehoaddan (literally YEHOADDAN)Jehoahaz (literally YEHOAHAZ)Jehoash (literally YEHOAS)Jehohanan (literally YEHOHANAN)Jehoiachin (literally YEHOYAKIN)Jehoiada (literally YEHOYADA)Jehoiakim (literally YEHOYAQIM)Jehoiarib (literally YEHOYARIB)Jehonadab (literally YEHONADAB)Jehonathan (literally YEHONATAN)Jehoram (literally YEHORAM)Jehoshabeath (literally YEHOSABAT)Jehoshaphat (literally YEHOSAPAT)Jehosheba (literally YEHOSEBA)Jehoshua (literally YEHOSUA)Jehozabad (literally YEHOZABAD)Jehozadak (literally YEHOSADAQ)Should one pronounce these names for instance, “LORDiakim” replacing “Jehoiakim” in the Bible do we? Or LORDshaphat in substitution for Jehoshaphat?If “Jehovah” is not “legitimate.” Then what about "Jesus" with a "J?" Did early Christians pronounce Jesus as we say it commonly today or most likely "Yeshua?" Can you be honest and tell me if you talk about other people in the Bible how do you normally pronounce their names? In Hebrew or English?Appreciate your thoughts.

    Nick Batchelor

    Florence, Italy

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    • TovahbenYisrael says:

      Yeshua….probably or simply another way to hide and cloak the name of the Father since Hebrews used Yah or El at the beginning and ending of their names to give credit to the Father.Yahshua or Yahoshua would be correct,and it was a fairly common name name,Remember Moshe(Moses)Yahshua(Joshua)early christians??absolutely not!!Followers of the way or a sect of the Nazarenes,they were never called christians or christ like since the word did’nt exist until or around 118 c.e.Bishop Ignatiuos of antioch.Letter j came into plat in the 14th-15th century.hmmmmm Jesus?>???don’t think so.

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      • Tovah,

        You wrote: “Followers of the way or a sect of the Nazarenes, they were never called christians or christ like since the word did’nt exist until or around 118 c.e.Bishop Ignatiuos of antioch.”

        Before you make a statement like this you should do a little research. The Book of Acts, written in the 1st Century, says that “it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called ‘Christians.’
        (Act 11:26).

        In 59 CE, King Harod Agrippa II said to Paul, “Are you so quickly persuading me to become a Christian?” (Act 26:28).

        So, Tovah, your statement is not correct: the followers of the Way were called Christians in the middle of the first century, not in the second century.

        Claude Mariottini

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  18. Nick,

    Thank you for visiting my blog and for your comments.You have to understand that Jehovah is an English word that does not exist in Hebrew, as I explained in my post.The Hebrew names composed with "Jeho" comes from the Hebrew form of the divine name. In Hebrew the name is Yahu, as in Mikayahu, Yeremyahu.To say, as you wrote, "LORDiakim" is just not acceptable because this kind of transliteration was never done.You have to remember that in biblical times, the divine name was pronounced. The problem is the reluctance of our Jewish brothers and sisters to pronounce the divine name today.

    Claude Mariottini

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  19. nick says:

    Hello Mr. Claude Mariottini,

    Good day to you. I would like to clarify something you said that did not accurately bring out the full information about the Divine Name, YHWH, in the Greek Septuagint (LXX).The Divine name, YHWH, was in the Greek Septuagint. As time went by we start to see the replacement of the name in the LXX manuscripts. A pattern can definitely be seen.Actually, the LXX copies even at the time of Christ did include the Tetragrammaton (YHWH) It continues to be hotly debated whether or not they would have used it in their writings, the original autographs which we no longer possess.What we do know for a certainty is the Divine Name (YHWH) was used in every century from the First Century B.C.E to the Fifth Century CE.The manuscript evidence reveals that the Tetragrammaton was the only form used in the LXX during the first century. There is no evidence of the Tetragrammaton being completely substituted during this period.Here is a list of LXX versions that I am presently aware of that contain the Tetragrammaton: • 4Q LXX Levb. • Ambrosiano O 39 sup. • Aq Burkitt. • Aq Taylor. • LXX IEJ 12. • LXX P. Fouad Inv. 266. • LXX P. Oxy. VII.1007. • LXX VTS 10a. • LXX VTS 10b. • Sym. P. Vindob. G. 39777.The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (Volume 2, page 512) says:“Recent textual discoveries cast doubt on the idea that the compilers of the LXX [Septuagint] translated the tetragrammaton YHWH by kyrios. The oldest LXX MSS (fragments) now available to us have the tetragrammaton written in Heb[rew] characters in the G[ree]k text. This custom was retained by later Jewish translators of the O[ld] T[estament] in the first centuries A.D.”In view of this, I hope you think it is appropriate to make the correction in your article showing there indeed is evidence for God's Name in the LXX (Greek Septuagint)Respectfully submitted,

    Nick Batchelor

    Florence, Italy

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  20. nick says:

    Dr. Claude Mariottini,

    Thanks for responding. My problem is when Bible translators remove God's name out of the Bible but it is hard to do that and substitute it in place with "Lord" in theophoric names.I well understand that "Jehovah" was not in Hebrew. Jehovah was NOT used as a TRANSLITERATION of YHWH but as an English TRANSLATION. Also, one cannot say Jehovah is “not the real name of God,” and say that “Yahweh” is. No one is arguing that “Yahweh” is a more closer pronunciation in HEBREW. As one blogger correctly brought out on your website, “It’s just a conjecture like the rest, and a very tentative one. Yes, even Yahweh is nothing more than a scholarly guess. More and more scholars believe it should be Yehowah or Yehovah since the Tetragrammaton most likely has 3 syllables.It would be good at this time to bring up the name “Jesus.” Since we do not know for certain how his name was pronounced in Hebrew in Biblical times would hesitate to use it or say it is not the real name of the Son of God? How do we see his name in the majority of English Bibles? His name was something like Yeshua (or perhaps Yehoshua). It certainly was not Jesus. When the accounts of his life were written in the Greek language, the inspired writers did not try to preserve that original Hebrew pronunciation. Rather, they rendered the name in Greek, Iesous.. Today, it is rendered differently according to the language of the reader of the Bible. Spanish Bible readers encounter Jesús (pronounced Hes•soos´). Here in Italy, where I have residence, Italians spell it Gesù (pronounced Djay•zoo´). And Germans spell it Jesus (pronounced Yay´soos).Must we stop using the name of Jesus because most of us, or even all of us, do not really know its original pronunciation? So far, no one is suggesting this. We like to use the name, for it identifies the beloved Son of God, Jesus Christ, who gave his lifeblood for us.Jesus is the English way, derived from the Greek language. So, as we say “Jesus” in the English language, we also say “Jehovah,” both being correct and acceptable when speaking English.Here are some examples of forms of the divine name in different languages below, indicating international acceptance of the form Jehovah.Awabakal – YehóaBugotu – JihovaCantonese – YehwowahDanish – JehovaDutch – JehovahEfik – JehovahEnglish – JehovahFijian – JiovaFinnish – JehovaFrench – JéhovahFutuna – IhovaGerman – JehovaHungarian – JehovaIgbo – JehovaItalian – GeovaJapanese – EhobaMaori – IhowaMotu – IehovaMwala-Malu – JihovaNarrinyeri – JehovahNembe – JihovaPetats – JihouvaPolish – JehowaPortuguese – JeováRomanian – IehovaSamoan – IeovaSotho – JehovaSpanish – JehováSwahili – YehovaSwedish – JehovaTahitian – IehovaTagalog – JehovaTongan – JihovaVenda – YehovaXhosa – uYehovaYoruba – JehofahZulu – uJehova-Continuing

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  21. nick says:

    The vital ‘issue is not whether “Yahweh” or some other form of the divine name is more correct in Hebrew. The point is whether you use the pronunciation common to your language. I will leave you with a comment from Francis Denio who studied and taught Hebrew for over 40 years. He says:"Jehovah misrepresents Yahweh no more that Jeremiah misrepresents Yirmeyahu. The settled connotation of Isaiah and Jeremiah forbid questioning their right. Usage has given them the connotations proper for designating the personalities which these words represent. Much the same is true of Jehovah. It is not barbarism. It has already many of the connotations needed for the proper name of the covenant God of Israel. There is no other word which can faintly compare with it. For centuries it has been gathering these connotations. No other word approaches this name in fullness of associations required. The use of any other word falls so far short of the proper ideas that it is a serious blemish in a translation." On the Use of the Word Jehovah, (JBL 46, 1927, 147-148)

    Sincerely,

    Nick

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  22. nick says:

    Hello Mr. Claude Mariottini,

    I know you prefer to use the two-syllable "Yahweh" in class but more and more scholars actually feel there is overpowering evidence that the Divine Name was a three-syllable name and most likely Yehovah or Yehowah.For example, Professor George Wesley Buchanan in his book Introduction to Intertextuality page 9 in a footnote says: "The correct pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton is either Yahohwah or Yahuwah. This can be shown from the use of the name in poetry and from proper names that include the Tetragrammaton, such as Yaho-nathan or Eli-Yahu." He believes this because Hebrew Poetry supports the fact that the Divine Name of God was pronounced in Three Syllables. Wherever God's Name was used in Hebrew Poetry – the corresponding word that was used to "Rhyme" with it – always had 3 syllables. It is one of the reasons why he said, “"The original form of the divine name was almost certainly three syllables, NOT two. The accumulated data points heavily in the direction of a "three" syllable word." (George W. Buchanan, "Some Unfinished Business With the Dead Sea Scrolls," RevQ 13.49-52 (1988), 416.)There are many other Scholars who seem to agree that there certainly was 3 syllables in the Divine name and it should be pronounced as such."the Tetragrammaton became Ye-Ho-VaH and later on, in Western languages, Jehovah…" (B.9.2: The Biblical Background; Gilles C H Nullens) "The tetragrammaton, YHWH, is therefore read I-eH-U-A (Iehoua), the equivalent of "YeHoWaH" in Masoretic punctuation. This means that the name is to be pronounced as it is written, or according to its letters."- (Won W. Lee professor at the Calvin College) published in the Religious Studies Review/ Volume 29 Number 3 July 2003 page 285)-continuing

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  23. nick says:

    continuing"The great name YHWH is vocalized "Yehowah" in Hebrew and "Jehovah" in English …..Numerous linguists have postulated that…this name was pronounced Yehowah in the first century…Jewish translators always favored the name "Jehovah" in their translations of the Bible (into English) "– Quoted From — M. Gérard GERTOUX; a Hebrew scholar, specialist of the Tetragram; president of the Association Biblique de Recherche d'Anciens ManuscritsI asked my friend who lived in Israel and knows Hebrew about this and he wrote me this, “It is interesting that the first part of the tetragramaton is preserved in many Biblical names as "Yeho", which is two syllables and not one, it occurring in many, many still commonly used Hebrew names. As far as the last part – which is never pronounced "eh" but instead "ah" in its use in Hebrew names, that indicates that the most likely ancient pronunciation (which happens to be the one still used by native Hebrew speakers today) is Yeho-vah. When you pronounce the Divine name in Hebrew it is not pronounced Yaweh, but Yehovah. While the vowel points used are in fact borrowed from Adonai, the pronunciation as found in Hebrew names is not, but is the pronunciation used from ancient times, the names have continued to be pronounced all during the thousands of years that Jews avoided pronouncing the Divine name.”In view of this, in class it would be good to explain this to students so they are at least aware of this if you haven't been. If you are fantastic.It is of interest that Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible tells us, “Yehovah – pronounced {yeh-ho-vaw'} – is the correct Hebrew rendering.”Even though I tend to agree with this, I am not dogmatic about it because it is still “a scholarly guess.”When it is all said and done, I think what Steven T. Byington said is what really matters. He said:"God's Name…the spelling and the pronunciation are not highly important. What is highly important is to keep it clear that this is a personal name. There are several texts that cannot be properly understood if we translate this name by a common noun like ‘Lord’…" (Steven T. Byington,The Bible in Living English (p. 7)There is no reason to shy away from using the Divine which is most likely in Hebrew, "Yehovah," or in English "Jehovah," in your congregation and in your personal prayers."I will declare your name to my brothers; In the middle of the congregation I shall praise you."(Psalms 22:22).

    Sincerely,

    Nick Batchelor

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  24. Nick,

    If you want to use the name Jehovah, go ahead and do so. No one is saying you cannot use this name that does not exist.

    Claude Mariottini

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  25. nick says:

    Hi Mr. Claude Mariottini,

    Does the name "Jesus," exist? What are you really saying? "Jesus," actually means "Jehovah is salvation," true?

    Sincerely,

    Nick

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    • TovahbenYisrael says:

      Again my friend…if there is no j in the hebrew aleph-bet!!Then there is no jesus!!!Yahshua….Yah saves or Yah is saving or Yah will save.

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      • Tovah,

        I agree with you completely.

        This is what the Complete Jewish Bible says about Yeshua:

        “You are to name him Yeshua, [which means ‘ADONAI saves,’] because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21 CJB).

        Claude Mariottini

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  26. Anonymous says:

    I agree with Dr. Mariottini in his preference for a chosen scholarly form for scholarly purposes, acknowleging other translations, yet ultimately honoring the living and pronounced theophoric element.The scripture where G-d called his name upon us – means theophoric names- pronounceable and identifiable. He [meaning Jesus] has empowered us to speak and act in his name – is yet another reference – so the name must be pronounceable and identifiable. Curious is the Jeho + name when the theorphoric part comes first, yet the name + yahu when the theophoric part comes last. Saying aah then ooh fast enoughbecomes au or ow but ultimately 'o'this is called elision. YahuHanan becomes YoHananThe name YahuHanan can just as easily be HananYahubut then we get HananYah the final u gets dropped by elisionthe third syllable could easily be a schwa – if you considerthe name sarah has to have the h on the end so we will say ahotherwise the name would be pronounced sar, not sarahsimilarly the V or W or U in the tetragrameton must have the H so it can be pronounced as U – as in sarah, the final h is not necessarily pronouncedYahav is not the intended pronunciation but simply Yahu Instead of looking at all the very late and hence precluded for our purpose of discovering original pronunciation, we should look to the names of G-d or the names of other Gods around the world from very ancient time – about 3,600 years ago.Scripture says that when G-d spoke at Sinai, the name was heard around the world. Taking this as a litteral geoseismic event, it is to be expected that peoples surviving the global event, as scripture says it was, would incorporate the name sound in that of their kings and gods. In every case from this time, Dr. Mariottini's living theophoric pronunciation is heard – Yahu variants include YauYakuIauYahouall pronounced essentially the sameIt is permissible to pronounce the name for purposes of education and edification and at Yom Kippur, each year, the name is indeed spoken properly, aloud, in full congregation. I think Dr Mariottini and all who are truly interested would do well to become educated, attend, and listen… and hear the Name there is another scripture that says faith comes by hearingIn this way it is possible to listen and hear across the centuries – and still in synagogues today

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  27. Dear Friend,

    Theophoric names appear many times in the Bible. However, the issue is whether we should pronounce the name of God and my answer is yes. It is true that we mau not know how the name was pronounced in antiquity, but Yahu is close to it.

    Claude Mariottini

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  28. B-Bob says:

    Perhaps the solution lay in not using "Jehovah" or "Jesus" since neither are "real names." Both modern pronunciations fall short of true Hebrew pronunciations. "J" is the latest addition to the English language and does not have the "Y", sound needed, as it still does in many other languages. (Hallelujah notable exception) Even Yesus would be an improvement. Maybe we could have a page that "Jesus" too is not His real name. Dr. Mariottini could you do that too? I bet many Christians do not realize that "Jesus" is not correct either. This seems to be more relevant than the name "Jehovah" which has already been cast aside by most scholars.

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    • TovahbenYisrael says:

      Would not Yesus be a discredit to Yah???Why would we retain Sus??In honor of pagan diety??Yesus,hesus,praise zeus,I honor zeus???zeus is not my El or my Elohim.If we dishonor the son in name do we dishonor the Father???Just a question.

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      • Come on Tovah, you can do better that this.

        The Hebrew name of Jesus is Yeshua, a name that appears several times in the Hebrew Bible. In fact, there are ten people named Yeshua in the Hebrew Bible.

        Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name. The Greek name is Iesous. The name is not related to Zeus, the Greek god. In fact, many Jewish men were named Jesus.

        The New Testament mentions Jesus Barabbas (Matthew 27:16).

        In Jewish history, Jesus Ben Sira was the author of the Book of Sirach. His Hebrew name was also Yeshua.

        Josephus mentions a Jewish leader names Jesus ben Ananias.

        Thus, it is evident that your argument that the Greek name of Yeshua is related to Zeus, the Greek god, is completely false.

        Claude Mariottini

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  29. Bob,

    Thank you for visiting my blog and for your comment.What you propose is a good suggestion, but I believe you misunderstood the problem. Jehovah is not the correct translation of the divine name in Hebrew and should be abandoned. However, the name Jesus is a correct translation of the Greek and should remain as translated.If the New Testament used the Hebrew name of Jesus, then the name should be corrected. However, the name Jesus follows the proper translation of the name as the writers of the New Testament preserved the name of Jesus in their writing. Thus, no change is necessary.

    Claude Mariottini

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  30. B-Bob says:

    Dr. Mariottini, I can appreciate what you say. You say the issue is translation. But as you realize translation is for the correct meaning or understanding. When it comes to names- they are transliterated to give an approximate pronunciation for the original. So it appears then that the real issue may still involve pronunciation. JHVH and YHWH both preserve the meaning of the name and both are not pronounced like the "real name" was in Hebrew.

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  31. nick says:

    There justification for the use of "Jehovah" (which would be "Yehowah" or "Yahowah" when "de-Latinized" or "de-Anglicized") beyond the obvious ones of tradition and common English usage. It is very similar to the almost universal acceptance of "Jesus" except "Jehovah" is probably much closer to the original ("Yahowah"?) than "Jesus" is to the original "Yehoshua."

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  32. nick says:

    Regarding "Jesus," when this name was translated by Hebrew scholars themselves around 200 B.C. into Greek, it was rendered "IhsouV" ("Yesous") which was probably pronounced "Yay-soos" – Joshua 1:12, The Septuagint, Zondervan Publishing. So "Yeh-hoe-shoo-uh" became "Yay-soos" in the transliteration from Hebrew to Greek.Since the actual name of the successor to Moses (Yehoshua, sometimes abbreviated to "Yeshua") was identical to that of the Messiah, we find that name rendered "Yaysoos" in the original Greek of both the Septuagint and the NT manuscripts. For example, "Joshua" is originally written as "Yaysoos" at Joshua 1:12 (written IhsouV in the Greek – symbol font) and Hebrews 4:8. And "Jesus" is originally written as "Yaysoos" at Matt. 3:16 (also written IhsouV in the Greek).Then, when Rome became a world leader, the name was again transliterated, this time from the Greek into Latin. The "oo" sound of "ou" in the Greek was represented in Latin by the vowel "u" (which was written as "v"). So "Yaysoos" came to be written as "Iesvs" in Latin. Eventually, in the Middle Ages, the "Y" sound of the Greek "I" came to be written as either "I" or "J" (for the first letter of words, at least), and "Iesvs" became either "Iesvs" or, more ornamentally, "Jesvs." And, finally, the "v" came to be written as "u" and the name came into its final written form (in English) as "Jesus." (In fact, even the first editions of the King James Version still used the initial "I" instead of the equivalent "J" which shows that it was still pronounced "Yay-soos" in the English of 1611:"In form, J was originally merely a [more ornamental] variation of `I,' arising in the 14th century …. Not until the middle of the 17th century did this usage [the new pronunciation of the new letter `J'] become universal in English books; in the King James Bible of 1611, for example, the words Jesus and judge are invariably Iesus and iudge." – p. 4823, Vol. 13, Universal Standard Encyclopedia (Funk & Wagnalls), 1955."In the word `hallelujah' the j retains its early consonantal value of i or y." – p. 571, Vol. 15, The Encyclopedia Americana, 1957.

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  33. nick says:

    So even for some years after the KJV began using the new letter "J," the pronunciation of it was still "Y." But eventually (18th century?) we began to have "Jesus" (and other "J" words, including "Jehovah," "Jeremiah," "Jerusalem," "Joshua," etc.) with the modern English pronunciation of those letters: "Jee-suz." Nearly all modern English Bibles have purposely retained the earlier tradition concerning biblical names, and "Jesus" (and "Jeremiah," "Jerusalem," "Joshua," etc.) remains in all modern English Bibles.I believe there is nothing wrong with retaining this tradition even though it is not the original pronunciation of the name of the Messiah (Yehoshua) nor even the original Greek rendering of it (Yaysoos or possibly Yeesoos). "Jesus" is still an honest transliteration of the original proper name of the Messiah, however, and it is common to all speakers of English. (In like manner, although `Cristobal Colon' may be the original pronunciation, I don't think it's wrong to call the famous explorer `Christopher Columbus' in modern English.)In the same way the only proper name of God Himself, YHWH, which is used nearly 7000 times in the original writings of the Old Testament is sometimes transliterated as "Jehovah" in English (ASV, Young's, KJIIV, NWT, Byington, and, in some verses only, in NEB, MLB, KJV, and Living Bible) and, more rarely, as "Yahweh" (JB, NJB, and Rotherham). (Of course it is more often improperly rendered "LORD" in most places in most Bibles.)So which is the proper pronunciation of God's name – "Jehovah" or "Yahweh"? Well, many Bible scholars in more recent times have preferred "Yahweh" as the probable original Hebrew pronunciation. But there is still more to say for "Jehovah" in addition to the fact that it is the older, more traditional, and better-known form.

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  34. Anonymous says:

    Hello Claude:

    I have enjoyed the exchange between yourself and Nick. I found myself unable to refrain from adding my two sense (pun intended). To argue that the name Jehovah does not exist, is ridiculous. Of course it exists. It can be found in various buildings, coins, breastplates of armor, etc. Why even today in places like Haiti, it is employed in an everyday basis such as “Jehovah's Garage” or “Jehovah's corner store” . Obviously then it exists. To argue if it is an incorrect pronunciation is different. Even those who use the name Jehovah recognize that this is an English form of YHWH, the exact pronunciation of which has been lost. There are a good number of names, I would say most, that have an English form of a more ethnic equivalent. For example Peter is an English form of Petrous (Greek), its Semitic equivalent Cephas . John is English, Juan (Spanish), Giovani (Italian) Johannes (Dutch or German) Jehohanan (Hebrew). Yet they are universally recognized as the same name, with the same meaning, “God is gracious” or “Jehovah is gracious” in different languages. It could be said that the Hebrew form of this name is the only correct form, since it is the original. However no one would argue that the other forms of this name should not be used, or that they don't exist. Just as no one suggests the English name Jesus should not be used. Most, if not all, scholars recognize that “Gee-zuz” is not how Jesus name was pronounced by his friends and family. Yet they don't argue over how exactly it should be pronounced, or insist that “Jesus” is an illegitimate rendering. Why? They recognize that when the name Jesus is used, although English, it is understood who it is that is being referred to. The same reasoning can and should be used with the name Jehovah.

    Sincerely Judith (English), Yoo-Deet (Hebrew)

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  35. fleetwd says:

    I appreciate the dialog on the subject of God’s Name and have learned a few valuable insights from our host DR. CLAUDE MARIOTTINI.

    One factor in considering “The Name” that appears to be missing is that it is not a noun as are all other names but it is a verb. “To Be” or “I Am” both imply action of being. That the bible records the acts of God when referring to His name and it being remembered is no accident. Nor is it an accident that the one who comes in His Fathers name “I AM” not his own name Jn 5:43; Jn 8:53 does not set out to correct the proper pronunciation of YHWH. He instead fills-full the promised work of God thus earning the name above all names. When asked by John the Baptist’s disciples if he is the one or should we look for another, Jesus refers to the work he is accomplishing Mt 11:2-6; Lk 7:20-23. He also argues His work testifies to His identity to His opponents Jn 10:25&26; 37&38. So in conclusion the acts of God are bound-up in His identity and any discussion of “His Name” would be inadequate if His acts of creation and redemption are not part of the discussion.

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    • Claude Mariottini says:

      Fleetwd,

      Since the name of God is related to a verb of action, then God is known by what he does. Thank you for your comment.

      Claude Mariottini

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      • fleetwd says:

        Very well stated.

        It seems this is what is intended by the Hebrew scriptures when they include YHWH’s mighty acts when referring to His Name and the need to remember it, or perhaps them.

        I do not know of a single passage where His Name is unaccompanied by His mighty deeds.

        It also explains why the one who finally comes to do YHWH’s will in the body that is prepared for him inherits a name above all names. The deeds He does speaks for Him that He was sent to do them.

        Father and Son are bound up together through the acts of YHWH. They are either glorified, or despised, together as one.

        So those who insist on separating Father and Son in degrees of glory fail to see how the works of God are part and parcel of the Name and it’s power.

        fleetwd

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  36. Dr. Mariottini, Thanks for your good observations on Yahweh. Would you comment on the difference in meaning between ADONAI and adoni (my lord). It has been stated in commentary that the presences of adoni in Ps. 110:1 proves the Deity of Jesus. But is this really so, since adoni and adonai (the Lord God) are quite different in meaning and I presume that in reading they were distinguished long before the Massoretic pointing was inserted. I would enjoy your thoughts on this, please

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    • Claude Mariottini says:

      Anthony,

      Thank you for visiting my blog and for your request. You asked me to explain the use of Adonai in the Old Testament. What I will do is this: next week I will write a post and explain the meaning and use of Adonai and I will also comment on Psalm 110:1.

      Thank you for your good question. I welcome questions like the one you asked because the questions of readers give me an opportunity to write posts that are of interest to my readers.

      Claude Mariottini

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  37. Pingback: Studies on the Name of God | A disciple's study

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