Does the name Jehovah actually exist in the original Hebrew language?

by Yizuman 105 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Yizuman


    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 “#”.

    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.

  • MidwichCuckoo

    My (very simple) thinking is that God's name has been 'lost' - and as there is only one true God, then His name is unnecessary. As YHWH = 'I AM', it appears (to me) not as a name, but as a statement. I also feel that if God wanted His 'name' to be venerated, there would be specific instruction to do so (where in actual fact it is a commandment to not take His name in vain - and, to me, that means trying to include it about 40 times in each prayer and using it willy nilly in common 'conversation' every other word - if you know what I mean). I also think that as God's 'name' is 'YHWH', then 'Jehovah' is a 'man made' god (1270 AD) replacing YHWH. Even as a JW, I always felt uncomfortable uttering 'Jehovah'. PS, just occurred to me (I'm slow, lol) - we pronounce YHWH as 'Yahweh', but as Hebrew is written right to left...are WE reading it backwards...?

  • Yizuman


  • glenster

    Harry Powell (Robert Mitchum) uses it in "The Night of the Hunter" (1955).

  • PSacramento

    The WT itself admits that Jehovah is not a literal translation of YHWH and that Jehovah is used because of its familiarity as one of the names of God.

  • undercover
    The WT itself admits that Jehovah is not a literal translation of YHWH and that Jehovah is used because of its familiarity as one of the names of God.

    The definition of irony: The Society puts out a brochure called, "The Divine Name That Will Endure Forever" and in that brochure admits that "...nobody for sure knows how the name of God was originally pronounced."

  • The Almighty Homer
    The Almighty Homer

    Another interesting thought is the name Jehovah is actually a false name created by Christendom.....ummm

    They really should have called themselves YHWH'S Witnesses. How would you feel and respond by someone not

    addressing you with your actual name ? Not even in the correct language !

    It would bother me and I'm not even a god.

  • Yizuman

    Important point to keep in mind, there is no letter "J" in the hebrew alphabet.


  • PSacramento

    The issue of the letter J is rather irrelevant, I mean we say jesus don't we?

    The issue is that Jehovah is NOT a translation of YHWH or Adonai or Elohim, but a translation ( if that) of All 3 or at least two fo them.

    I don't have that many issues with the term "Jehovah" at all, I do have issues with the WT saying that it is the divine name or putting so much emphasis on the "correct" and "real" name of God and then using "Jehovah".

  • cattails

    Jehovah is the English transliteration of the Hebrew letters for God's name.

    There is no "Jesus" in Hebrew or Greek, there's no Peter, those are English

    names. They are approximate transliterations of the names so that they fit

    in with English pronunciations... In Spanish the name of God is pronounced

    Hay-Oh-BAH, and Jesus as Hay-SOOS, and Peter is Pay-DROH.

    So the pronunciation isn't important if the people know who you're referring to

    and if that's the way it is traditionally pronounced in that particular language.

    So it may have been Yahweh in Ancient Hebrew, but it's ok to say Jehovah in

    modern English, and Jehová (pronounced Hay-Oh-BAH) in modern Spanish.

    The thing with the substitution of vowels doesn't matter, Hebrew pronunciation

    today isn't what it was in Abraham's, nor Moses, not even King David's day.

    Heck, English pronunciation today has changed from what it was through

    the centuries... (It's a you say toe-may-doe I say toe-mah-toe kind of thing).

  • PSacramento


    the issue is that "Jehovah" is NOT the english translation of YHWH, that is the point.

  • cattails

    PS, how is it not a translation? Who says it isn't a translation?

    Do people who say Jehovah mean the same entity as Ancient

    Hebrews who wrote the tetragram? I think certainly think so.

    Do people who say Jesus today mean the same person as those

    who pronounced the name in Greek, or Hebrew, or Aramaic or

    even Latin in Jesus own day? I think certainly think so.

    The pronunciation issue is a very misunderstood point and this

    thread is being discussed by people who persist in making stupid

    points. I'm really getting fed up with the nonsense.

  • PSacramento


    Did you read the first post ?

    Have you read the Watchtowers "The divine name that will endure"?

  • CrimsonBleu

    Jesus called 'Him' Father. He referred to his Father as God. Did Jesus call 'Him' Jehovah?

  • PSacramento


    Jesus was quite adamant about using the term "Father", he told us to pray using it, HE praye dusing it and sometime "Abba", he used it hwile dying o n the cross.

    It showed his very special relationship wiht God and showed that Jesus wanted US to have the same, very sepcial and personal relationship with God.

  • CrimsonBleu

    Yes, so I thought....

  • undercover
    The pronunciation issue is a very misunderstood point and this thread is being discussed by people who persist in making stupid points. I'm really getting fed up with the nonsense.

    The pronunciation issue is you.

    From the Watchtower Society's own publication, The Divine Name That Will Endure Forever:

    How Is God's Name Pronounced?
    The truth is, nobody knows for sure how the name of God was originally pronounced. Why not? Well, the first language used in writing the Bible was Hebrew, and when the Hebrew language was written down, the writers wrote only consonants—not vowels. Hence, when the inspired writers wrote God's name, they naturally did the same thing and wrote only the consonants.
    While ancient Hebrew was an everyday spoken language, this presented no problem. The pronunciation of the Name was familiar to the Israelites and when they saw it in writing they supplied the vowels without thinking (just as, for an English reader, the abbreviation "Ltd." represents "Limited" and "bldg." represents "building").
    Two things happened to change this situation. First, a superstitious idea arose among the Jews that it was wrong to say the divine name out loud; so when they came to it in their Bible reading they uttered the Hebrew word 'Adho·nai' ("Sovereign Lord"). Further, as time went by, the ancient Hebrew language itself ceased to be spoken in everyday conversation, and in this way the original Hebrew pronunciation of God's name was eventually forgotten.
    In order to ensure that the pronunciation of the Hebrew language as a whole would not be lost, Jewish scholars of the second half of the first millennium C.E. invented a system of points to represent the missing vowels, and they placed these around the consonants in the Hebrew Bible. Thus, both vowels and consonants were written down, and the pronunciation as it was at that time was preserved.
    When it came to God's name, instead of putting the proper vowel signs around it, in most cases they put other vowel signs to remind the reader that he should say 'Adho·nai'. From this came the spelling Iehouah, and, eventually, Jehovah became the accepted pronunciation of the divine name in English. This retains the essential elements of God's name from the Hebrew original.

    Even as the Society tries to claim that Jehovah is the accepted pronunciation it admits it's wrong and is a mistranslation. Though the Society clouds the issue, the question remains, is Jehovah the correct translation or not? The answer is, it is not.

    The stupidity lies with one who sees the evidence of the mistranslation, yet continues to defend it as correct, or divine. Will you remain stupid now?

  • cattails

    Look Undie, I'm not the one misunderstanding anything about it here.

    When you translate a name you use whichever pronunciation is common in that language.

    If you translate Peter into Spanish then you get Pedro. Which one is the correct pronunciation?

    They are both correct, you *&%$!

    The traditional name in English for the Hebrew tetragram is Jehovah. As long as the four

    consonants are represented JHVH/YHWH then the name is translated, if you like the

    more scholastic Yahweh or the more traditional Jehovah is entirely up to you.

    Ancient Hebrew didn't use vowel markers only later were the vowel points added

    and sometimes the vowel points match (a bit) with Adonay or with Elohim, but a lot

    of the time they match with Shema, so the Adonay superstition is just some guy's

    explanation that suited his fancy.

    If you want to keep arguing about it go ahead. But I suggest you read up from more

    than the idiotic sources you're using now.

  • undercover

    cattails...See Yizuman's first post...he provided references that show that "Jehovah" is the incorrect translation. I quoted from a WT publication, which I admit most are idiotic, but I do it to show you that even the publishing corporation that advertises God's name as "Jehovah" admits that it was incorrectly translated.

    This is not the same as translating Peter into's more like translating Peter into Pator or Putir, both containing the original consonants but with the wrong vowels (purposely avoiding language change to make the point).

    The fact that people have come to accept "Jehovah" as a traditional pronunciation (of which the WT Society is of that group) does not mean that it is the correct pronunciation or translation.

  • PSacramento

    Undercover is quote correct and the WT admits this in their own writings.

    I went to see the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition and went with a few friends, a couple were jewish, one works for the Jewish research center in ancient hebew research and he brouth his uncle who isa rabbinic scholar ( I had met him before at a Jewish wedding) and we got to discuss YHWH since it appears in the DSS, we got into the correct name and pronunciation and he said, to which I agreed, the best we can do is specualte on how it was pronounced and written, we can make an educated Guess and if thatis GOOD enough for some, great, for him THE NAME deserves more respect than mere assumption and guesses ( He uses Lord).

    We spoke of Jehovah and Yahweh and he said ( I am parphrasing) while Yahweh MAY be closest to correct, Jehovah is at best a "popular rending" with no basis in hebrew or aramaic language,perhaps if we KNEW the correct spelling we can go from there, we don't and one hopes that the future will yield some proof...

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