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Jehovah is a personal name of God used in the King James Version. It is an attempt to transliterate the tetragrammaton used in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament. In the modern Hebrew, or Masoretic, text this word is given as Yĕhovah. Medieval Jewish scholars inserted incorrect vowels into an ancient consonant-only text to prevent God's true name from being pronounced accidentally. The original pronunciation of the tetragrammaton is not known, but "Yahweh" is conventional among modern scholars. The 1611 KJV uses the Divine Name Jehovah in 4 places, though the Divine Name itself occurs around 7000 times in the Bible. A more recent Divine Name King James Bible restores the Divine Name to all 7000 places: "Restores the Almighty God's Divine Name, JEHOVAH, to 6973 places and, JAH, in 50 places ... Contains the Divine Name Concordance which lists 7023 occurrences of God's Divine Name." [1]


Until the destruction of the Second Temple, the divine name was pronounced by a high priest on Yom Kippur. Later on, the rabbis substituted adonai (sovereign lord) or elohim (God) to avoid accidentally profaning the divine name. The pronunciation "Jehovah" comes from inserting the Hebrew vowels of the word adonai into a Latinized tetragrammaton (JHVH). It bears little resemblance to the divine name as it was originally pronounced. Another view is taken by Dennio, who wrote: "Jehovah misrepresents Yahweh no more than Jeremiah misrepresents Yirmeyahu. The settled connotations of Isaiah and Jeremiah forbid questioning their right. Usage has given them the connotation proper for designating the personalities with which these words represent. Much the same is true of Jehovah. It is not a barbarism. It has already many of the connotations needed for the proper name of the Covenant God of Israel. There is no word which can faintly compare with it. For centuries it has been gathering these connotations. No other word approaches this name in the fullness [sic] of associations required. The use of any other word falls far short of the proper ideas that it is a serious blemish in a translation."


There are over six thousand examples of the tetragrammaton in scripture. English-language translations typically use an all-caps "LORD" or "GOD" to indicate where it occurs.

Early translations

The Vulgate, the Latin translation of the Bible used in the West used until the Reformation, gives the tetragrammaton as Dominus (lord). In William Tyndale's 1530 English translation of the Bible, the divine name is given as "Iehovah" in Exodus 6:3. The Geneva Bible of 1560, used by Shakespeare and by the Puritans, uses "JEHOVAH" as the name of God in Exodus 6:3 and in Psalms 83:18. It also gives the word as a place name in Genesis 22:14 and Exodus 17:15.

King James Version

In four cases, the KJV gives the divine name as "JEHOVAH":

  • "And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them." (Exodus 6:3)
  • "That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth." (Psalms 83:18)
  • "Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation." (Isaiah 12:2)
  • Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength." (Isaiah 26:4)

Modern translations

The name "Jehovah" is not used by major modern translations, including the Revised Standard Version (1952), the New International Version (1978), the English Standard Version (2001), or the Christian Standard Bible (2017). In a footnote, CSB explains that the divine name is "Yahweh." The other translations do not explain that God is revealing his divine name to Moses in Exodus 6:3.


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 should 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.


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.

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