Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Meaning of Yahweh?

Where Did The Word Jehovah Or Yahweh Come From?

Question : What does YAHWEH means?

Answer : The ancient Hebrew language that the Hebrew Scriptures were written in did not have vowels. In the original Hebrew, God’s name is given as "YHWH." This is known as the tetragrammaton. Because of the lack of vowels, Bible scholars debate how the tetragrammaton “YHWH” was pronounced. Instead, when reading, they substituted the actual tetragrammaton (which is only the consonants of the Divine Name “YHWH” since Hebrew is not usually written with vowels included) with the word Adonai (Lord). Even in the Septuagint (the Greek version of the Old Testament) the translators substituted Kurios (Lord) for the Divine Name. Eventually the vowels from Adonai (“Lord”) or Elohim (“God”) found their way into the consonants YHWH, thus forming “YaHWeH.” But this does not mean that was how God’s Name was originally pronounced.

Some have used these four initials "YHWH" to support their claim that God’s name is Yahweh or (Jehovah) by adding vowels to these four initials, but this is incorrect. The Hebrew alphabet contains no vowels and so to make them pronounceable translators artificially inserted some to form Jehovah or Yahweh. "Yahweh" is what is called a "tetragrammaton," meaning? It is not a name, but simply a collection of letters. It is "JHWH" and it is believed to be the name of God - but because the Jewish Scribe who are copiers of Scripture felt that the name of God was so special, and so powerful, that no one could truly use God's name casually during the intertestmental period of Israel, around 500 BC, the Jews became very concerned with not blaspheming the name of the Lord or accidentally taking the name of God in vain
(Leviticus 24:16; Exo 20:7), so they never used it except for one day each year on Yom Kippur when they spoke it 7 times in a Temple ceremony called Yom Kippur (Lev 16:1-34), the Day of Atonement after which they were never allowed to write it down, so they used "JHWH" as God's name without vowels. So when they wrote His name they used 4 initials to represent it. So rather than saying the name 'Yahweh', they would say Elohim instead, which is the Hebrew word for god. However, this did not solve the problem of what to do when one came across the name Yahweh during the reading of the Scriptures.

The Jews decided that when they came to the name “YHWH” they would say the Hebrew word adonay, which means “Lord.” To remind the reader to say “adonay,” and to maintain the presence of the intended word “YHWH,” they assigned the vowels of “adonay” into the consonants of “YHWH.” However, it was never done with an intention for this form be read aloud.

During the Middle Ages often dated from a.d. 476 to 1453. scholars began to read the consonants of “YHWH” with the vowels of “adonay,” which resulted in the word “Jehovah,” an artificial word bearing no relation to the name of the God of Israel in Biblical times. “Jehovah” is actually a much later (probably 16th century) variant in Latin and the Germans were the first to make this transfer and wrote in the Scripture the coined word Jehovah instead of Yehowah since j’s and w’s are pronounced as y’s and v’s. This vowel combination is composed of the abbreviated forms of the imperfect, the participle, and the perfect of the Hebrew being verb (English “is”) - thus the meaning of Jehovah could be said to be "he who will be, is, and has been."

They were translated into English as JHVH by scholars. The King James translators used LORD, all in caps, where ever the initials "YHWH" appeared.

Some Scriptures translate the term as "adonai" or "elohim" ["el" is the old hebrew for God - in fact, any name with "el" in it has a connection with God.] Because of the above Jewish belief we have seen above, it was forbidden to write the name of God at all in the Biblical Old Testament period, and it could only be spoken once per year on Yom Kippur after the people had been cleansed from their sins. When the Temple was destroyed around 70 AD, the Yom Kippur ritual was changed and God’s name was not spoken again. Scholars roughly say that the way it was was spoken was eventually lost to the memory of man in about 300 AD.

So we cannot know for sure the original pronunciation through which the Israelites called the name of God. YHWH (or JHVH) are the four initials Hebrew scribes used instead to stand for the name of God. “I am who I am” is not His name, but a declaration God made to Moses in describing his awesomeness to be all sufficiency to everyone who believes Him in every situation that arise. (In Hebrew it’s “Hayah aser hayah”.) He didn’t speak His name, but said, “I am who I am. Thus shall you say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:14). God was conveying through Moses to the people of Israel that He is self-existent and self-sufficient God of the whole universe whose very reason of existence is in Himself and not outside of Him or based on someone else.

When God says "I AM” he is speaking his name. In the Hebrew language that this verse was written in, the letters are yod, he, vav, he, from which we get YHWH. These four letters were very loosely transliterated into the English ‘Jehovah.’ However, there is no ‘j’ sound in the Hebrew. So, people say a better way of expressing accurately the name of God in English would be Yahweh.

Actually it was somewhere during the Middle ages it was determined that in the Hebrew language the four initials are pronounced Yodh, He, Waw, and He. Because of this some say Yahweh is more accurate. But the fact of the matter is that no one alive today knows God’s actual name.

The times that the name Yahweh appears in Genesis, it does not appear in isolation, rather it appears along with another name of God. It is not until Exodus that the name “Yahweh” appears in isolation. The statement in Ex. 6:3 can be understood clearly as a intentional way in which Moses the writer has expressed a clear point in emphasis. Moses has written the first five books of the Old Testament might have intentionally done this to make people understand that the God who is seen from the beginning as the Almighty Creator and self-sustaining God, is the same God who has promised His very presence to them always to guide them and keep them under His shepherding care personally. I mean Moses might have emphasized his readers that they are not different gods in Genesis and Exodus but the same God who is very present help in the time of their need.

Today in our New Testament times, Jesus is the name above all names (Phil. 2:9-11). Praise the Lord!


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