With self-righteous indignation, the Watchtower Society (WTS) points to its restoration of the Hebrew Tetragram (HWHY = “Yahweh” = = = > “Jehovah”) wherever the English translator renders it as “LORD”.
The WTS complains that the use of “LORD” hides the fact that the Name (“Jehovah” for the WTS) is intended. However, with its call of “look over here, look over here”, the WTS diverts attention, probably unintentionally, from related information that it, in turn, does not reveal.
Not only does “LORD” hide “Yahweh” from open view, but the same happens with the word “GOD”. In this instance, the Name of this god is – in English – “EL”.
This god named EL was the chief god of the Canaanites. His goddess wife was named Asherah (or variants thereof). They had 70 sons, all gods, including Baal. Together, these gods were known as the “Elohim”.
EL (“God”) and his ELOHIM (“let us make”) are encountered in the first chapter of Genesis. At the time that chapter was written, the Israelites were dominantly polytheists.
Yahweh was not a member of the Elohim. While the Elohim came to the Israelites (hill-dwelling Canaanites) from the north, Yahweh came to the Israelites from the south – likely from the region of Moses’ father-in-law. Yahweh came as a warrior-god who controlled nature. Baal and Yahweh shared these characteristics.
The Israelites adopted Yahweh as their main and national god. They practised monolatry, meaning that they treated Yahweh as their dominant god while not denying the existence of other gods. They were aware of and worshiped other gods.
“In the Judges period, Israelite divinities may have included Yahweh, El, Baal, and perhaps Asherah as well as the sun, moon, and stars. During the monarchy, Yahweh, Baal, Astarte, and the sun, moon, and stars were considered deities in Israel. … The Queen of Heaven (Jer. 7:18; 44:18-19, 25) was the title of a goddess, perhaps Astarte, Ishtar (or, a syncretized Astarte-Ishtar) or, less likely, Anat.” (“The Early History of God: Yahweh and Other Deities in Ancient Israel”, page 182, Mark Smith.)
The Ten Commandments simply ordered them to ensure that they did not put any of these other gods “before” the god who was speaking to Moses.
Over time, the Israelites assimilated characteristics of other gods and goddesses into Yahweh. Some reassigned Asherah to Yahweh as his consort.
The disaster of the Babylonian Captivity and Exile provided the opportunity for the minority group that was intent on making Yahweh the one and only god. See, for example, “Second” Isaiah (from chapter 40 on). They moved from monolatry to monotheism.
The nation that emerged from the Exile is different to the nation that existed before. They transitioned from Israelites and Hebrews to Jews, with parties such as the Pharisees being created.
Next time you encounter the WTS’s cry of “look over here at what we have uncovered with ‘LORD’”, remember the facts about “GOD” (EL) that the WTS fails to uncover – facts that would be too uncomfortable for it.