Where Did the Word "Jehovah" Come From?
Next to the true name of the Messiah, one of the most common misconceptions within Christianity is that G-d’s Name is “Jehovah.” However, does it make any sense at all that the G-d of Avraham, Yitzhak, and Ja'acov (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) would reveal Himself to them through a name that is grammatically impossible to say in their language? That's correct: it is impossible to say the work "Jehovah" in Hebrew (or Aramaic)—the letters to create those sounds simply do not exist in either the modern or ancient language of Israel and the Jews.
Well, then, where did the word “Jehovah” come from?
The Hebrew Scriptures (the books of the Tenakh or so-called “Old Testament”) were originally written almost totally in the Hebrew language, plus some sections in Aramaic, neither language containing any vowels, only consonants. However, there were a few of those Hebrew letters that would indicate that a vowel sound should be used. For example, the letter a (aleph), while actually a consonant, would let the reader know to insert an “ah” sound, and the letter w (vav), which was pronounced somewhere between the English “V” and “W” could also be pronounced like English “oo”. Let's see how this works, if you pronounce "W" like "oo" and remember to insert the appropriate vowel when you see “#”.
MWST P#PL SHWLD B #BL TW RD THS SNTNC FRLY #SLY WTHWT VWLS
Most people should be able to read this sentence fairly easily without vowels.
The Jews knew what vowel sounds to be used in the pronunciation of the words based on the construction of the sentence, the context, and their excellent memories. Since very few people could afford to have written copies of even small portions of the Scriptures, huge amounts of Scripture were accurately committed to memory.
Between the sixth and tenth century after the birth of Messiah, a group of Scribes know as the Masoretes added a system of vowel points to enable the preservation of the original pronunciation. Their version of the Scriptures is know as the Masoretic Text.
The Name by which G-d revealed Himself to the patriarchs and to Moses was the Hebrew word for “I AM” or “I AM THAT I AM” — meaning something similar to “The One Who exists by His own power.” This Name was spelled hwhy , the Hebrew equivalent of “YHWH” (yod, heh, vav, heh) and was considered too sacred to pronounce. This four-letter word is also know as the Tetragrammaton (meaning “four letters”). When reading the Scriptures or referring to the Sacred Name (HaShem), the Jews would substitute the word “Adonay,” which means “Lord.”
To indicate this substitution in the Masoretic Text, the Masoretes added the vowel points from the word “Adonay” to the Sacred Name, and came up with a word that would look to them something like YaHoWaH.
Since there was no such word in the Hebrew language, the reader would be forced to stop and think about what he was reading, and thus would avoid accidentally speaking the Sacred Name aloud.
Later, some Christian translators mistakenly combined the vowels of “Adonay” with the consonants of “YHWH” producing the word “YaHoWaH.” When the Scriptures were translated into German during the Reformation, the word was transliterated into the German pronunciation, which pronounces “Y” as an English “J” and pronounces “W” as an English “V” — or “Jahovah.” Then in the early 17th century when the Scriptures were being translated into English with the help of some of the German translations, the word was again transliterated as “Jehovah,” and this this unfortunate accident has carried over into many modern English translations.
The term is now recognized by all proficient Bible scholars to be a late hybrid form, a translation error, that was never used by the Jews.
- Webster's Collegiate Dictionary :
- “Jehovah — False reading of the Hebrew YAHWEH.”
( “Jehovah,” Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, 1973 ed. )
- Encyclopedia Americana :
- “Jehovah — erroneous form of the name of the G-d of Israel.”
( Encyclopedia Americana, vol. 16., 1972 ed. )
- 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,” The New Encyclopedia Britannica, vol. 12, 1993 ed. )
- The Jewish Encyclopedia :
- “Jehovah — a mispronunciation of the Hebrew YHWH the name of G-d. This pronunciation is grammatically impossible.”
( “Jehovah,” The Jewish Encyclopedia, vol. 7, 1904 ed. )
- The New Jewish Encyclopedia:
- “It is clear that the word Jehovah is an artificial composite.”
( “Jehovah,” The New Jewish Encyclopedia, 1962 ed. )
According to the Encyclopedia Judaica, p. 680, vol. 7, “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.”
I simply cannot understand why so many Gentile Christians insist on clinging so tenaciously to so many things that have been clearly demonstrated to them to be wrong, in both their vocabulary and in their dogma, unless it is (God forbid) through the anti-Semitism that has thoroughly infiltrated the Gentile “church” since the third century, through indifference, and through a willing disobedience to the will of the Most High.