A book on the pronunciation of God's Name

by Doug Mason 44 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • peacefulpete
    LOL! So you are saying that the 14 names listed 5 post up are completely inaccurate translations? If what you are saying is true then that would mean that any and all words in the Hebrew language that contain the letters:Y י H ה V are pronounced incorrect because they are forever at a loss as to what vowels to insert for them?

    Well...What can I say. Yes all the text was consonantal, it was familiarity with the language that allowed pronunciation, and pronunciation did no doubt drift with time and other language influences as a result, (for that matter this is true of all languages). This was why the Masoretes introduced vowel points as fewer people by that time were familiar with the pronunciation. Existing Hebrew texts render the DN in ways meant to prevent the reader from saying it aloud, at least accurately. It was represented as 4 dots (tetrapuncta), with PaleoHebrew to distinguish it from surrounding words or substituted with a half dozen alternate "names of God" such as Elohim or Adonai, or "Shema" was inserted. Also the Masoretes used a method marginal notes indicating the word in the margin was to be substitute for the one in the text. This method also resulted in the vowel points from Elohim or Adonai (depending upon the title before or following) being inserted into the YHWH creating a hybrid word deemed not blasphemous at the time. In the exact same spirit the theophoric names that contained the DN (that was forbidden to be read aloud) were similarly altered to prevent the reader from accidentally saying the DN. That clearly was not necessary for other words and names.

    As to why the why some scribes preferred one method? Times and whims of the scribes and community they lived in no doubt beared on the choice.

    From Wiki is a table illustrating the varying vowel pointing used in the one codex:

    Six Hebrew spellings of the Tetragrammaton are found in the Leningrad Codex of 1008–1010, as shown below. The entries in the Close Transcription column are not intended to indicate how the name was intended to be pronounced by the Masoretes, but only how the word would be pronounced if read without qere perpetuum.

    Chapter and verse Hebrew spelling Close transcription Ref. Explanation
    Genesis 2:4 יְהוָה Yǝhwāh [39] This is the first occurrence of the Tetragrammaton in the Hebrew Bible and shows the most common set of vowels used in the Masoretic text. It is the same as the form used in Genesis 3:14 below, but with the dot (holam) on the first he left out, because it is a little redundant.
    Genesis 3:14 יְהֹוָה Yǝhōwāh [40] This is a set of vowels used rarely in the Masoretic text, and are essentially the vowels from Adonai (with the hataf patakh reverting to its natural state as a shewa).
    Judges 16:28 יֱהֹוִה Yĕhōwih [41] When the Tetragrammaton is preceded by Adonai, it receives the vowels from the name Elohim instead. The hataf segol does not revert to a shewa because doing so could lead to confusion with the vowels in Adonai.
    Genesis 15:2 יֱהוִה Yĕhwih [42] Just as above, this uses the vowels from Elohim, but like the second version, the dot (holam) on the first he is omitted as redundant.
    1 Kings 2:26 יְהֹוִה Yǝhōwih [43] Here, the dot (holam) on the first he is present, but the hataf segol does get reverted to a shewa.
    Ezekiel 24:24 יְהוִה Yǝhwih [44] Here, the dot (holam) on the first he is omitted, and the hataf segol gets reverted to a shewa.

  • johnamos

    I know when I go back and read my post that I don't find that I explain clearly what I am trying to say, but I will try again.

    I am saying that Hebrew names that contain the SAME letters as the 4 for God's name use E O and A and spell out Jeho/Yeho and Jah/Yah/IAH which are said to be part of God's name. Then along with the additional letters they are compound with other words with meanings such as:

    [friend, shall live, will prepare, knew, contributed, judged, bestowed, high]

    Example, look at the following link and you can read through them all but first scroll almost to bottom to Joram (Jehoram/Yehoram) and read what's there and then look two above that at Jonathan and notice the clear break down of (יהו, Yeho) and (נתן, natan)


    That break down of Yeho is showing the first 3 of the 4 letters that represent God's name, the YHV and it is spelled to read YEHO. I don't see it showing (יהו, Yahw) as in YAHWEH, nor does it show (יהו, LORD) or (יהו, GOD)

    It shows that יהו is YEHO and with the second ה (H - 4th letter) added it would be AH as in the names that have the ה at the end and are spelled YAH/IAH

    YEHOah - YehoAH

    It is nonsense to think that the pronunciation for the YHVH of God's name is unknown being that all the Hebrew names that contain those letters are spelled and pronounced. Those names were/are peoples names and regardless of that fact that there became a time when the name of God would not be said aloud or written out with vowel points, the people who had/have those names with the יהוה in them would have kept writing and pronouncing their own name. Likewise, people who knew those with such names would have said them.

  • peacefulpete

    The E and O are from Elohim. I realize there are a couple guys posting all over the internet claiming this is some secret being concealed. Its not. When the DN appeared in a theophoric name they did the same thing as when the DN appeared alone in the text.

    It's true,the pronunciation of YHWH may in fact not have been Yahweh (but it is the best current guess), it is possible it was some other sounds. BUT the appearance of E,O, and A in theophoric names do not suggest the pronunciation of YHWH as Yehowah/Jehovah as they are simply the vowel sounds from Elohim/Adonai.

    the people who had/have those names with the יהוה in them would have kept writing and pronouncing their own name. Likewise, people who knew those with such names would have said them.

    These theophoric names were most popular in the 7-8th century, 5-600 years before the DN taboo became fully in force. In cases where years later names were drawn from the OT, the then popular and accepted pronunciation was used, not some ancient one.

  • Earnest

    It is worth noting that it was specifically the rabbinical Jews who stopped pronouncing the divine name after the destruction of the second temple. The Karaites continued to use the divine name right up to the tenth century CE and even today. These were the Massoretes responsible for the writing of the Leningrad codex which is the primary basis for the Old Testament we now use.

  • Finkelstein

    Yahweh[Notes 1] was the national god of the Iron Age kingdoms of Israel (Samaria) and Judah.[3] His exact origins are disputed, although they reach back to the early Iron Age and even the Late Bronze:[4][5] his name may have begun as an epithet of El, head of the Bronze Age Canaanite pantheon,[6] but the earliest plausible mentions of Yahweh are in Egyptian texts that refer to a similar-sounding place name associated with the Shasu nomads of the southern Transjordan.[7] Some scholars believe that Yahweh was originally thought to be one of the seventy sons of El, who later killed his siblings and displaced his father El at the head of the Israelite pantheon.[8]

    In the oldest biblical literature, Yahweh is a typical ancient Near Eastern "divine warrior", who leads the heavenly army against Israel's enemies;[9] he later became the main god of the Kingdom of Israel (Samaria) and of Judah,[10] and over time the royal court and Temple in Jerusalem promoted Yahweh as the god of the entire cosmos, possessing all the positive qualities previously attributed to the other gods and goddesses.[11][12] By the end of the Babylonian captivity (6th century BCE), the very existence of foreign gods was denied, and Yahweh was proclaimed as the creator of the cosmos and the true god of all the world.[12]

  • OnTheWayOut

    Even joining a discussion on whether the "Divine Name" was pronounced as Yah Weh, Jehovah, Yoho, or Shithead allows you to reinforce within your mind the idea that there is a "Divine" being behind the name.

    He isn't there. Whatever is out there is not divine. It doesn't matter what a bunch of goat herders did to merge creation stories and myths and what way the name was to be pronounced.

    Rant over.

  • peacefulpete
    It is worth noting that it was specifically the rabbinical Jews who stopped pronouncing the divine name after the destruction of the second temple. The Karaites continued to use the divine name right up to the tenth century CE and even today.

    Sorry Earnest, neither point is correct. Notice these exerpts from the Encyclopedia Britanica and Wiki:

    After the Babylonian Exile (6th century bce), and especially from the 3rd century bce on, Jews ceased to use the name Yahweh for two reasons. As Judaism became a universal rather than merely local religion, the more common noun Elohim, meaning “God,” tended to replace Yahweh to demonstrate the universal sovereignty of Israel’s God over all others. At the same time, the divine name was increasingly regarded as too sacred to be uttered; it was thus replaced vocally in the synagogue ritual by the Hebrew word Adonai (“My Lord”), which was translated as Kyrios (“Lord”) in the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Hebrew Scriptures.

    According to Rabbi Abraham ibn Daud, in his Sefer HaQabbalah, the Karaite movement crystallized in Baghdad in the Gaonic period (circa 7th–9th centuries) under the Abbasid Caliphate in what is present-day Iraq. This is the view universally accepted among Rabbinic Jews. However, some Arab scholars claim that Karaites were already living in Egypt in the first half of the 7th century, based on a legal document that the Karaite community in Egypt had in its possession until the end of the 19th century, in which the first Islamic governor ordered the leaders of the Rabbinite community against interfering with Karaite practices or the way they celebrate their holidays. It was said to have been stamped by the palm of 'Amr ibn al-'As, the first Islamic governor of Egypt, and was reportedly dated 20 AH (641 CE).

  • Earnest

    Thanks for your comments, peacefulpete,

    It has already been discussed on this forum that copies of the Septuagint prior to the second century CE do not translate the tetragrammaton with Kyrios ("Lord"). Likewise, while there is evidence that some regarded the divine name as too sacred to pronounce prior to the second century, the fact that a Greek version of the name (Iao) was in use at the time of Christ indicates it was still in regular use.

    Regarding the Karaites, the same Wikipedia article you quoted from says :

    According to Mordecai ben Nissan, the ancestors of the Karaites was a group called Benei Ṣedeq during the Second Temple period. Historians have argued over whether Karaism has a direct connection to the Sadducees, dating back to the end of the Second Temple period (70 CE), or whether Karaism represents a novel emergence of similar views.

    Whether Karaism as a movement arose in the seventh century, or existed in one form or another since the destruction of the second temple, it remains true that they were still using the divine name in the tenth century CE.

    While rabbinic Judaism with its emphasis on oral tradition was the prime successor to what had existed before destruction of the second temple, there would have been many from other groups who retained their identity and were not bound by rabbinic tradition. These would include the predecessors of the Karaites.

  • peacefulpete

    And JWs claim to date to Adam. The Karaites with their particular theology and separate identity dates to the 7-9th century. Whether they had "roots" in first century is kinda a slippery argument, anyway I can't find any evidence they (or their roots) defiantly pronounced the DN at any point prior to the Medieval establishment as a separate group. If not they would not have any special insights regarding the pronunciation being hundrds of years after the prohibition. Interestingly, it seems only some minority of Karaites view it acceptable today:


    Some, such as the Karaites Jews in Khorasan (Persia) viewed it in Medieval times as a Mitzvah to do so because the name appears some 6800 times throughout the Tanakh (the Jewish Bible).[40] Today, publicly uttering the Tetragrammaton (4 letter name) of God in Hebrew is a controversial issue among Karaites and indeed all Jews. Virtually all traditional Karaites view the pronunciation of God's name to be blasphemous, and adhere to the rabbinic tradition of substituting "Adonai", when coming across YHWH while reading.[41] Other Karaites and some of those coming from a rabbinic background like Nehemia Gordon and Ḥakham Meir Rekhavi, as well as some joiners to the people of Israel through Karaite Judaism such as James Walker and Daniel ben Immanuel, do not consider the pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton to be forbidden.

    This Nehemiah Gordon seems to be the central figure in his splinter group, it kinda creeps me out how JWs post on his website praising him.

  • peacefulpete

    It might bear on t he topic, a brief mention on Wiki again:

    As indicated in Exodus 23:19 among other places, a kid may not be boiled in its mother's milk. In addition to numerous other problems with understanding the ambiguous nature of this law, there are no vowelization characters in the Torah; they are provided by the Masoretic tradition. This is particularly relevant to this commandment, as the Hebrew word for milk is identical to the word for fat when vowels are absent. Without the oral tradition, it is not known whether the violation is in mixing meat with milk or with fat. Karaites maintain the vowels of the text have been preserved by the Masorites who themselves were Karaites.

    Interesting, no? Here the Karaites are deferring to the Masoretes' vowel pointing in a matter not possible to be determined otherwise.

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