The Name of God

Aractus 21, July, 2010

Many people know that I don’t consider Wikipeda to be of much use as an authoritative encyclopaedia. This is true of God’s Name. In fact, they have several pages – Tetragrammaton, Jehovah and Yahweh when they should only have one.

I feel the need to explain this because I’m going to reveal what God’s name actually is and how to say it, according to 3500 years of Jewish knowledge and tradition. That is, from the point when God revealed his name to Moses.

The Wikipedia article on the Tetragrammaton begins by citing the Tetragrammaton as “YHWH”; this is simply not true. The Tetragrammaton is written as: Yod, Heh, Vav, Heh. Or it is rendered as Yodh, He, Wawe He, in Old Aramaic script. It is not four English letters. That’s one way of reppresenting it, but that’s all.

The Jews know, and have always known since Moses how to say God’s Name. This is proven by the fact that in the 9th or 10th century the Masoretes perfected a system of adding vowel points to the Hebrew text. This is the overwhelming view of scholars. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls assisted greatly with all future translations of Hebrew texts and shows that indeed Hebrew used to be written without the Masoretes vowel points. These were added to preserve the texts. Another feature of the Dead Sea Scrolls is that the Tetragrammaton is usually written using the Ancient Paleo-Hebrew Script, but the scrolls themselves are written (mostly) in the modern script.

I’m establishing this to show the position that the vowel points for “Adonai” (Lord) were added to JHVH, as is claimed by Wikipedia, are unfounded. Furthermore, while the Masoretes did indeed write the vowel points six different ways, more than 6,500 occurrences (the overwhelming majority) are the same, whereas the variant appears a mere 300 times. The main vowel is schwa, which is completely absent in the “Yahweh” pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton. The other vowel is o – also absent.

Flavius Josephus, the first century Jewish Historian, undoubtedly knew how to pronounce God’s Name. In fact he records that it consists of four vowels. This is because he knew that in Hebrew writing there were four letters that could potentially be pronounced as vowels, and three of them are Yod, Heh and Vav. However Heh could only be a vowel at the end of a word. This produces [I/Y]H[O/U][A]. This is extremely close to the actual pronunciation of God’s Name. You can prove this by using a name we know how to pronounce correctly – Judah, or in Hebrew Yod-Heh-Vav-Dalet-Heh, then simply drop the Dalet, the pronunciation would be Yehuah, except for the fact that two vowels can not be said together, hence Vav has to also appear as a constant, this renders: Yehuwah. By the way, “Y” is also a constant, so it is more pleasing to write it like this: Jehuwah (Y is used more as a vowel than as a constant in English). This does take care of both the “o” and “schwa” vowels indicated by the Masoretes text.

I know I’m no scholar, but I’ve come to the Jehovah translation very easily, and with a deep understanding of the pronunciation. [I/Y/(Je)]H[(O)/U:(W)/V][(A)] (“Je” as pronounced “Ye”, with a slight hint of the first constant). In case you’re wondering, Josephus is not the only one to have said that the Tetragrammaton consists of vowels.

We’re going to have a look at the Islamic name of god “Allah”. The Islamic view is that the Tetragrammaton is not God’s Name, it’s only his Title. Like “Dr” or “Rev”. They also think they know more about Hebrew than the Jews. Even though their religion started in AD 610. The Jewish tradition has always been that God’s Name is Holy and it is in written form in their scriptures but it is not to be spoken out of fear for blasphemy. That’s an oral tradition, not a written tradition. The written tradition is different – nothing with God’s Name on it could be destroyed, that’s the written tradition. It could be stored, it could be hidden, but they wouldn’t dare destroy it.

Islam teaches that the Tetragrammaton means Adonai (Lord). This is clearly not true, as I’ve already mentioned – the dead sea scrolls (for the most part) have the Tetragrammaton written in ancient text surrounded by modern text, why would they treat a “Title” so specially? All of this evidence is ignored by Islam. They think therefore that the Name of God was lost by the Jews. Which is ridiculous. Islam is a “Sacred Name Movement” just as the Jehovah Witnesses are.

We’re now going to move on to the “Yahweh” transliteration. This understanding assumes that the Jews indeed “forgot” how to pronounce God’s Name and assumes that the Masoretes deliberately altered the Name of God in its written form.

This understanding is fundamentally flawed. Firstly, you can arrive at Jehovah (or as it would be spelled today Yehowah) from the pre-Masoretes material very readily. There’s a mountain of evidence that supports it: the spelling, written clues from Josephus and others, similar Hebrew names we know how to pronounce through transliteration (like Judah), the very fact that God’s Name was indeed known and spoken by Ancient Jews in the Bible. It was NEVER a Jewish tradition to refrain from writing God’s Name in scripture, it was only ever a spoken tradition; it was a well established tradition and there was absolutely no need to, or use in, placing incorrect vowels onto the Tetragrammaton. Christians are the ones who made it a written tradition, not Jews. Christians are the ones who substituted “LORD” in Writing when the Jews were happy to leave the Name of God to be READ but not to be SAID. Christians are the ones who created that written tradition, not Jews. Therefore the idea that the Jews were doing it is ridiculous.

The Masoretic vowels that were added to the Old Testament were accurate, it has been confirmed mostly through names of either people or places that were transliterated into other languages. This is the strongest evidence. Judah, as I previously mentioned, in one such name that we know how to pronounce through this method, it is spelled with only one additional letter, and it has the same vowel points as the Tetragrammaton.

Here is how the claim is made – the Tetragrammaton has “borrowed” its vowels from Adonai (Lord), and the Jews forgot how to say it. The shortened version “YH” is pronounced “Yah”, and about this there is little contention. There are, however, two opposing views on how it is derived – one is that it’s the first letters, the other is that it’s the first and last letters. This moves the “ah” either to the start or the end of God’s name. The claim is then made that early Christian Church leaders in the first and second centuries of Christianity give clues. The problem here is that we know the Jews knew how to say God’s name at the same time, and therefore their “clues” should be given higher weighting as evidence when against gentile Christians with no Jewish history regarding this matter. Christians were not even able to preserve their own authoritative copies in Hebrew of the Old Testament, why else is it that we use the Masoretic Text, written some 1,000 years after Christ died by Jewish scribes? Yet despite this, they claim early gentile Christians in the first two centuries of Christianity with no Jewish or Hebrew knowledge or tradition (even their Old Testament texts were in Greek not Hebrew) had a better understanding of how to say God’s Name than the Christians in the late 1400’s who used the Hebrew texts as the basis for their Old Testament, and clearly had a better understanding of the Language. The Jews didn’t forget how to say all the names in the OT, and they didn’t forget how to say God’s Name either.

You’re probably asking how could the Jews know when they weren’t allowed to say it? It’s simple. They taught it one syllable at a time, being careful never to say God’s full Name. If the first syllable was really “Yah”; which everyone agrees was the shortened version of God’s Name, then they could not have said it, and therefore could not have taught on it. Therefore it had to have been “Yeh”. Christians have forgotten their history; Jehovah is God’s correct name, and it has been known by Christians for centuries. It is not based on misinformation. Today it would be spelled Yehowah to convey the original pronunciation. It has three syllables, not two.

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