Jehovah

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Jehovah is the personal name of God used in the Bible.

It is the best known English pronunciation of the Divine Name, although many Hebrew scholars prefer “Yahweh.” The oldest Hebrew manuscripts represent the Divine Name by the four consonants יהוה (read right to left), also known as the Tetragrammaton (from Greek tetra-, meaning “four” and gram’ma, meaning “letter”). They have been transliterated into English as JHVH or YHWH.

Although the consonants are known, the vowels associated with the Divine Name are not thus rendering the original pronunciation uncertain. In most Bible translations the titles GOD or LORD (note both are in all capitals) are used whenever the Divine Name appears in the original Hebrew text.

The Divine Name appears over 6,000 times in the Hebrew-Aramaic portion of the Holy Scriptures, but until the destruction of the Second Temple it was only pronounced by the Jewish high priest on Yom Kippur. Over time, the practice of substituting "Adonai" (Sovereign Lord) or "Elohim" (God) to avoid accidentally profaning the Name became Rabbinic tradition, and the name's true pronunciation was lost. The pronunciation "Jehovah" comes from inserting the Hebrew vowels of the word "Adonai" into the Latinized tetragrammaton ("JHVH") and likely bears little resemblance to how the Name was originally pronounced, although to consider this theory, we would also have to reconsider the pronunciation of Jesus, Jeremiah, Jehu, Jehoram, Joshua, and many other people and place names, to make sure that these names sounded closer to the original.

Contents

Meaning

Rooted in the imperfect state of the causative form of the Hebrew verb הוה (ha•wah, "to become"), the Divine Name indicates progressive action. This can be seen by the context of Exodus 3:14, 15. Moses inquires who he said say has sent him to the captive Israelites. Where some translations render God's response as, "I am who I am" (King James), other translations show the dynamic nature of the Divine Name by rendering the Hebrew text as "I Will Be What I Will Be" (The Torah) or "I Shall Prove To Be What I Shall Prove To Be" (New World Translation) indicating that rather than a simple statement acknowledging His existence, He indicates that He can do whatever is necessary to accomplish His purposes.

Origins

Originally Biblical Hebrew was written without vowels, the reader having been educated to know the appropriate vowels to insert when reading. As the proper pronunciation of Hebrew was being lost through lack of fluency a group of Hebrew copyists, the Masoretes invented signs to be placed around consonants to indicate accents and proper pronunciation of vowels.

When it came to copying the Divine Name, the Masoretes provided vowel points for יהוה so that it now appeared as יְהוָה, following the accepted tradition of using "Adonai" (Sovereign Lord) or "Elohim" (God) in place of the Divine Name.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, some scholars hold Jehovah dates only from the year 1520. However, writers of the sixteenth century, regardless of religious background, were familiar with the word. The name has been found as early as the 13th century in the "Pugio fidei" of Raymund Martin, a work written about 1270 (ed. Paris, 1651, pt. III, dist. ii, cap. iii, p. 448, and Note, p. 745).

With the publication of the King James or Authorized Version of the Bible in 1611 AD, the name Jehovah would become widely known; it appears at Exodus 6:3; Psalm 83:18; Isaiah 12:2; 26:4.

Translations Featuring

The following translations use Jehovah, either directly or in references:

  • The King James Bible (1611)
  • The Living Bible (Tyndale House Publishers, 1971)
  • The Bible In Living English (translated by Steven T. Byington, published by Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, 1972)
  • The Oxford Annotated Bible - Revised Standard Version (Oxford University Press, 1962)
  • American Standard Version (International Council of Religious Education, 1929)
  • The New American Bible - Michaelangelo Edition (Catholic Press, 1970)
  • The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, 1984)
  • Young's Literal Translation
  • Darby's Translation
  • Psalm 83:18
    • That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth. (King James Version)
    • And they know that Thou -- (Thy name [is] Jehovah -- by Thyself,) [Art] the Most High over all the earth! (Young’s Literal Translation)
    • That they may know that thou alone, whose name is Jehovah, art the Most High over all the earth. (Darby Translation)

References

  • Catholic Encyclopedia (1917 edition) - [1]
  • The Divine Name That Will Endure Forever (1984) - [2]
  • Angel Fire Yahweh [3],[4]
  • Encyclopedia Judaica Names of God [5]


External Links:

  • Bible Online – [6]
  • Hebrew-English Interlinear [7]
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