During the last few years, I have heard all sorts of opinions about the Name of God, how it should be pronounced, and the importance of its use. I have heard many different names used by many different groups, most of whom believe that they have the correct pronunciation, or true name. Some have even stated that the spirit has revealed the true name to them.
The above list of names in the title of this article, represents only a small sample of the plethora of names that I have seen used over the years to identify the Almighty. Many of the people believe that their choice is the only name that should be used. Some groups believe that if you do not call on their specific name, you are addressing another god, which they say breaks several commandments.
I have also witnessed groups that use their choice of the name as a sort of gnostic hammer, to pummel the less enlightened on every available occasion. I have spent the last four years or so, researching and reviewing this topic, and the information below is a condensed summary of my own personal findings.
The name Yahweh is the first rendering from YHWH that I will examine, because it has become so popular as of late. The pronunciation of Yahweh started to become popular in the scholarly circles around the mid to late 1800's. Before that time, Jehovah and other versions of it were the pronunciations most commonly used.
The pronunciation of Yahweh was derived, based on a scholarly reconstruction from various early Greek writings.
- These Greek transliterations of the Hebrew YHWH were reportedly based on an original Samaritan pronunciation. After researching this claim, it appears that the scholars may have only casually examined the possibility that the Samaritans, like the traditional Jews, may have substituted another title when they came upon YHWH written in their Scriptures, so as to not speak the Name.
- While the Jews substituted Adonay when they came across YHWH while reading in the text, the Samaritans may have substituted the title yaphe/yafe (yaw-feh' ~H3303), which means beautiful. This may be where some of the early Greek writers first encountered the name IABE, which is where the scholarly re-construction of Yahweh originated.
- One modern Samaritan group has stated that the pronunciation of the Divine Name as Yahweh is inaccurate based upon the Samaritan substitution of yaphe/yafe, which was actually their attempt to avoid reading the Divine Name aloud. It should also be noted, that nowhere in the Hebrew Biblical texts is YHWH actually pointed to be read as Yahweh.
- There are some groups that are so fervently convinced that the true name is Yahweh, that they have chosen to call their messiah Yahwehshua, or other variations, using the truncated form of Yah as a prefix.(Yahshua, Yahushua, Yahuwshua,Yahuashua, Yahvahshua, Yahoshua, etc). Their reasoning for this is rooted in the Scripture where Jesus is quoted, in John 5:43, as saying, “I have come in the name of My Father”. Due to this statement, they believe that He must then have part of the Fathers Name included in His Name.
- It should be noted that the many variations are not found in the Biblical Hebrew texts. What is found there, are the names Yehoshua (H3091) and the shortened form Yeshua (H3442-H3443). Because of this, many groups have alleged that the Masorites intentionally altered the vowel pointings, therefore, one must reference the unpointed proto Masoretic texts, or the paleo-Hebrew (derived from Phoenician script) for the correct pronunciation. It also should be noted that their chosen pronunciations can not be proven from those earlier unpointed Hebrew texts.
As a side note, I have noticed during my searching of the names in the Biblical Hebrew texts, that the proper names with the theophoric element of Yah or Yahu incorporated, use it as a suffix or ending, and not as a prefix. The common theophoric prefixes that are found in the Hebrew texts are Yeho, and the truncated form Yo. There are many Biblical Hebrew names that demonstrate these two prefixes. For example, from Strong's Concordance: Yehownathan (H3083), Yonathan (H3129), Yehowceph (H3084), Yoseph (H3130), Yehowshua (H3091).
If we review the various ways that the Hebrew YHWH was rendered into the Greek language by some of the early writers, we can see that there are variables in the understanding of how the Name was to be pronounced. Below is a listing of the various ways that the ancient Greek writers transcribed the Hebrew Divine Name, showing their pronunciation in the English language:
- Ja or Jabe
When we examine some of the oldest Hebrew Biblical texts that are pointed with vowels, or niqqudot, we will find a number of different pronunciations if read as written. Some have theorized that certain vowels were written under YHWH so that the reader would be alerted to pronounce other titles such as Adonay or Elohiym instead of YHWH. I have also read some convincing arguments that contest that theory. Below are some of the various pronunciations, if read as written, that are found in the Leningrad Codex. This codex is from the Ben Asher family of texts, that are referenced in the OT translation of many of our modern versions, and is dated approximately 1008 ce:
- YeHWaH ~ Jeremiah 3:25
- YHoWaH ~ Genesis 18:17
- YeHoWaH ~ Genesis 3:14
- YHWiH ~ Psalms 68:21
- YeHWiH ~ Genesis 15:2, 8
- YeHoWiH ~ 1 Kings 2:26 , Judges 16:28
- YaHWaH ~ Psalms 144:15
You can verify the above vocalizations found in the Leningrad Codex by clicking "here".
Some of these can also be viewed in the Aleppo Codex, which is also from the Ben Asher family of texts dated approximately 980 ce, and can be found "here".
It should be noted, that in the later Ben Chayyim texts which the OT portion of the KJV and other reformation Bibles are based on, that YHWH is pointed as Yehowah in the majority of cases that it appears in the Hebrew text (approx 6500 times). It is pointed as Yehowih on a minor number of occasions (approx 300 times), when the title Elohiym follows YHWH in the text.
Many have argued that it is important to speak the true name citing various scripture verses as proof. Some people have proposed, that if you do not know or use the true name, then it is questionable whether you actually part of the family of God, and allude that one’s salvation may even be in question. A good analogy of this would be the men in Judges 12:6, who could not correctly pronounce Shibboleth, and so they were slain. When pressed on this issue, others will say that it is not an absolute, and that as long as you try to get it close, then it is acceptable. Those people will typically accept a much wider degree of variations in regards to the actual pronunciation. The fact is that many of those who profess the true name only concept, often times use a completely different name than their associates. In one such instance on a recent teaching tour, one of the two speakers putting on the presentation used Yahweh, while the other partner, who was billed as the Hebrew scholar on the tour used Yehowah.
It should be noted, that observant Jews typically do not write out or pronounce the Name.
This is based on their belief that you should avoid the possibility of defacing the Name as referenced in Deuteronomy 12:3-4, or taking the Name in vain according to the third commandment. In extra-biblical Jewish writings, it is even said that those who pronounce the Name, will lose their place in the world to come. Adonay (Lord) or HaShem (the Name) is usually substituted when they come upon YHWH written in the text while reading aloud. God and Lord are also used in some translations.
Some true name advocates have stated in their teachings, that because Ba'al means lord when translated from Hebrew to English, that if you read Lord/LORD aloud, you are actually calling on the Phoenician/Canaanite god Ba'al (H1168). It should be noted, that there is another ba'al (H1167) which is pronounced exactly the same, and is translated in some of our English Bibles as man (25 times), owner (14 times), husband (11 times), have (7 times), master (5 times) etc, and both listings of ba'al (H1167-H1168) are gendered as masculine nouns. Others state that the title God also originated from pagan sources.
Using their own eisegetical assertions, and armed with a Strong's concordance, they attempt to prove this by citing verses such as Isaiah 65:11-12. They assert that since Gad (H1409), is pronounced gawd, which they say sounds similar to God, then God therefore must be a pagan name. In their errant conclusion, they have failed to recognize two important facts. First, that one of the twelve tribes was named Gad, and that it merely means fortune in Hebrew. Second, that God is a title, the English equivalent of the Hebrew El, and is not a name. It should also be noted that in the Scriptures, God did not chastise Gad for using that supposedly pagan name. They also teach that using the term Lord God, is the same as calling on Ba'al Gad (H1171).
Those who promote these concepts also promote many other name errors. Some have taught that when you say the English amen, instead of the Hebrew amein/omein, that you are actually calling on the Egyptian god Amen Ra. This is another example of how these groups try to mix languages and meanings to prove their theology. It should be noted that in the Spanish language, the present subjunctive plural form of amor which means love, is amen. Some teachers and their groups have also tried to promote other errant concepts by stating that Ge means earth or soil in Greek, and sus means swine or pig in Latin, so that when you say Jesus you are actually saying earth pig. They also teach that Jesus and Zeus are connected because the endings of these two names sounds similar phonetically, when in fact, there is no connection.
Those who promote these errors are usually quick to cite that YHWH has been conspiratorially removed by the church, and replaced with the term LORD almost seven thousand times in the majority of the English versions. It should also be noted, that many of the Jewish Bibles also use the titles Lord and God, while some also use Adonay (which means Lord), HaShem (the Name), and the letters YHWH which is left untranslated. Some have alleged that this is a Jewish conspiracy to hide or eliminate the Name as well. To the best of my knowledge, none of the Jewish translations spell out the Name when YHWH is found in the Hebrew text.
Those who promote this conspiratorial concept might be interested to know that there is actually a translation code that was followed by the King James translators, as well as other modern translators, so that English readers can actually understand how the Hebrew is relative to the English translation. It is as follows:
Elohiym is rendered as God
El is rendered as God
Elah is rendered as God
Eloah is rendered as God
Adonay is rendered as Lord
Adonay YHWH is rendered as Lord GOD
YHWH is rendered as LORD
YHWH Elohiym is rendered as LORD God
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh as I AM WHO I AM
I believe that much of this name confusion originated, due to the fact that English speaking people do not fully understand the meaning of the Hebrew word shem, which is often times translated as name in our English Bibles. I would like to discuss the Hebrew meaning of the word shem, found in Exodus 3:15, where God Almighty stated this:
"This is My Name forever"
The word shemiy, which is from the root word shem (H8034), is often translated into English as name. The word shem, has a much deeper meaning than just name in the Hebrew language. Shem can also mean likeness, authority, character, renown, report, memorial, mark, fame, rank, majesty, and a representation of who someone is.
Here are some examples of how shem or name is used:
22 And the thing was known to Mordecai, who told it unto Esther the queen; and Esther informed the king of it in Mordecai's name. (KJ2000)
1 Samuel 25:5
5 And David sent out ten young men, and David said unto the young men, Get you up to Carmel, and go to Nabal, and greet him in my name. (KJ2000)
1 Samuel 17:45
45 And David said to the Philistine, You come to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield. but I come to you in the name of the LORD of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, which you have defiled. (KJ2000)
10 They uncovered her nakedness. They took her sons and her daughters. And they killed her with the sword. And she was notorious among women, and they executed judgments on her. (JPS)
The word notorious above, is translated in the KJV as famous, and is written in the Hebrew text as shem.
Here is another example of how shem is used:
24 Proud, haughty scorner is his name, he who deals in proud wrath. (KJV)
It is highly unlikely that anyone had “proud, haughty scorner” as a proper name. This was used to show their character and actions.
Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, says the LORD, whose name is The God of hosts. (KJ2000)
For you shall worship no other god, for the LORD whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God; (KJ2000)
For your Maker is your Husband; the Lord of hosts is His name; and your Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; the God of the whole earth shall He be called. (KJ2000)
And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaks the LORD of Hosts, saying, Behold! The Man whose name is THE BRANCH; And He shall grow up in His place, and He shall build the temple of the LORD. (KJ2000)
When God Almighty said to Moses I AM WHO I AM (Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh), He was describing who He was, is, and will be. He is the Eternal, without beginning or end.
We are told by Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:33 that God is not the author of confusion. In Acts 22:14 we find that God appointed Paul to know His will, and to see the Just One, and to hear a voice out of His mouth, and that Paul would be a witness for Him to all men of what he had seen and heard. We are also told in Acts 9:15 that Paul was a vessel chosen by Christ, to bear His Name before nations and kings and the sons of Israel.
In light of the above statements found in Scripture, I believe that it is relevant to review how the apostle Paul, and even more importantly, how Jesus addressed God Almighty in the New Covenant writings:
32 Then everyone who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father in Heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, I also will deny him before My Father in Heaven. (LITV)
50 For whoever does the will of My Father in Heaven, that one is My brother and sister and mother. (LITV)
17 And answering, Jesus said to him, Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah, for flesh and blood did not reveal it to you, but My Father in Heaven. (LITV)
34 Then the King will say to those on His right, Come, the blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. (LITV)
29 But I say to you, I will not at all drink of this fruit of the vine after this until that day when I drink it new with you in the kingdom of My Father. (LITV)
17 Jesus said to her, Do not touch Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father. But go to My brothers and say to them, I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and My God, and your God. (LITV)
9 So, then, you should pray this way: Our Father who is in Heaven, Hallowed be Your name. (LITV)
36 And He said, Abba, Father, all things are possible to You; take this cup from Me. Yet not what I will, but what You will. (LITV)
15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery again to fear, but you received a Spirit of adoption by which we cry, Abba! Father! (LITV)
6 And because you are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba! Father! (LITV)
In closing, I would like to say that I knew my dad's first name all of my life, but I never addressed him using it, and that did not exclude me from being a member of his family. This was because the more intimate title of dad or father suited his character, and represented who he was, as well as more accurately defining the relationship that he and I had developed since my childhood. I am still always amazed at how the concepts that we often times experience here in the natural realm, can imitate God's own concept of our relationship with Him in the spiritual realm in so many ways.
If a woman was to marry a man, and even though she knew his name and all about his name, she spent no time learning about him, what he liked and wanted, and building an intimate personal relationship with him, what kind of a relationship would that really be? The Scriptures tell us that the assembly, made up of the body of believers, will one day be the Bride.
21 Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter into the kingdom of Heaven, but the ones who do the will of My Father in Heaven.
22 Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name do many works of power?
23 And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; "depart from Me, those working lawlessness!" (LITV)
In Acts 19:13-17, we are told that the sons of Sceva learned the hard way that it was
about more than just a name.
13 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon themselves to call over them who had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.
14 And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, who did so.
15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are
16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and
prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
17 And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. (LITV)
It is all about relationship, and King David as well as the Prophets clearly understood this:
16 Doubtless you are our Father, though Abraham is ignorant of us, and Israel from
acknowledges us not: you, O LORD, are our Father, our Redeemer; Your name is
8 But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you our potter; and we are all the work of your hand. (KJ2000)
1 Chronicles 29:10
10 Therefore David blessed the LORD before all the congregation; and David said, Blessed be You, LORD God of Israel, our Father, for ever and ever. (KJ2000)
10 Is there not one Father to us all? Has not one God created us? Why do we act deceitfully, each man with his brother, to profane the covenant of our fathers? (LITV)
1 Chronicles 17:13
13 I shall be a Father to him, and he shall be a son to Me; and I will not take My mercy away from him, as I took it away from him who was before you; (LITV)
1 Chronicles 22:10
10 he shall build a house to My name, and he shall be a son to Me, and I a Father to him; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever. (LITV)
1 Chronicles 28:6
6 And He said to me, Your son Solomon shall build My house and My courts, for I have chosen him as a son to Me, and I surely will be a Father to him. (LITV)
26 He shall cry to Me, My Father, You are my God, and the rock of my salvation. (LITV)
Have you not just now called to Me, saying, My Father, You are the friend of my youth? (LITV)
19 But I said, How gladly would I put you among the sons, and give you a pleasant land, a beautiful inheritance among the multitudes of nations! And I said, You shall call Me, My Father; and you shall not turn away from Me. (LITV)
The article above represents my opinion based on what I have learned through study, what I understand, and what I believe. As always, I would challenge everyone to research all that I have discussed, and prove it for your self.
For we are told:
1 Thessalonians 5:21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
Higher Truth (nom de plume)
Editor note: Scripture quotes from KJ2000 >The King James 2000 Version: JPS > Jewish Publication Society Bible; LITV > Literal Translation of the Holy Bible; KJV > King James Bible; Word # References > Strong's Concordance