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Posted - 22 Jan 2006 :  21:45:35  Show Profile  Email Poster  Reply with Quote
A concerted effort has been underway for the past several generations to alter the pronunciation of the Divine Name, known as the Tetragrammaton, from Jehovah into the Egyptian slur, Yahweh. In spite of these efforts, there is compelling evidence to stick with the traditional pronunciation.

I have noticed that Pastor Wayman Mitchell often uses the name Jehovah. Pastor Mitchell is a man that moves in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and is often unaware of the prophetic nature of his preaching and teaching as he reveals scriptures during sermons. Mitchell is correct to pronounce Jehovah and not Yahweh, as we shall see.

After reading this article I became aware that many believers do not call Jesus (i.e. God) Jehovah, because they think the name associates them with the Jehovah's Witnesses. The J.W.'s even believe that Jehovah is the wrong name and the Yahweh is more accurate. But just because the Catholics believe in "Jesus", shouldn't make us look for an alternative because their "Jesus" is an idol. If someone steals you identity, that does't change who you really are.

Although a few elementary matters will be explained, this paper will assume that the reader has at least a basic knowledge of this issue. Therefore, those who read with a critical eye should not expect me to deal exhaustively with the technical issues, such as explaining in detail the points, the variations when the word occurs in certain combinations, its root construction, and so forth. On the other hand, the following demonstration will override most any discussions along these lines anyway, and will bring to light much that grammatical speculations and other assumptions can only prevaricate over. Thus, I will only be hitting the highlights - and generally at that - yet hopefully in such a way that even those who are not terribly familiar with this issue will still be able to keep up.

Finally, the information presented here is information that is not widely known in mainstream Christian circles, so I am confident that even those who feel comfortable with this issue will still find the data useful and enlightening. I should also mention that this treatise is intended to be primarily informational, not comprehensive, but as I said above, the following demonstrations speak volumes in and of themselves - much more, in fact, than all the grammatical and theoretical suppositions of modern biblical scholarship ever could. With that in view, let's proceed.

It must be noted also that the Potters House Church is fundamentally an evangelistic, soul winning church. While the fellowship upholds biblical doctrines, the fellowship has usually kept clear of divisive issues, or in other words, issues that don't really make any difference to doctrine or practice, but are "trivial" in a sense. To call God Jehovah, or Yahweh, is really a non issue. But for curiosities sake I hope to demonstrate that Jehovah is the true name of God. But if you still use Yahweh, I will not think any less of you, and hope you think no less of me. If you call Jesus Yeshua, or Jesus, it is no big deal to me, just a matter of phonetics.

Briefly, the Tetragrammaton is composed of four Hebrew consonants - YHVH or YHWH. The third letter in Hebrew is known as a vav and is pronounced by different proponents as either a V or a W, thus the two different spellings here. For purposes of this discussion, this particular distinction is irrelevant.

When the vowel points are added to these four consonants, the word is pronounced literally as Yehovah, or the Anglicized form, Jehovah. This is the straightforward pronunciation with the vowels. It is assumed by modern scholars that the vowels have been transferred from the word Adonai, which means Lord. This assumption has led modern scholars to believe that the vowels that are affixed to the Tetragrammaton are either not accurate or don't belong there. There is no evidence to support this assumption. In fact, the evidence goes the other way, as we shall see, for the actual evidence suggests that the vowels are accurate and that they do belong.

Before beginning our demonstration, it becomes necessary to dispel another popular myth, namely, that the Divine Name, that is, the Tetragrammaton, was never pronounced. For example, observe this assertion - "The Tetragrammaton was not pronounced at all..." Anchor Bible Dictionary, VI-1011

Modern biblical scholarship is bursting at the seams with myth. This is one of them. In fact, the Tetragrammaton was not only pronounced, it was pronounced frequently. There were, however, strict rules under which the Sacred Name was to be pronounced, and it was considered the greatest heresy to violate the Sacred Name by pronouncing it at the wrong time, or in the wrong place, or by the wrong person.

As the rules governing the pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton are not the focus of this paper, we will only give a few examples from the Rabbinical literature demonstrating that the Divine Name was pronounced somewhat frequently.

Speaking of Rahab the harlot - "What reward did she receive? Some of her daughters were married into the priesthood and bore sons who stood and performed service upon the altar and entered the sanctuary, where, uttering the INEFFABLE NAME OF GOD, they would bless Israel." Midrash Rabbah Numbers VIII:9

"In the temple they pronounced the DIVINE NAME as it is written, but in the country by its substitute." Mishna - Tamid 7:2, Talmud - Tamid 33b

"Some say also of the High Priest when he pronounced the DIVINE NAME on the Day of Atonement - from Jericho they could smell the odour of the compounding of incense." Mishna - Tamid 3.8, Talmud - Tamid 30b

"Our Rabbis taught: Ten times did the high priest pronounce the NAME on that day: Three times at the first confession, thrice at the second confession, thrice in connection with the he-goat to be sent away, and once in connection with the lots." Talmud - Yoma 39b

"And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. What does `great' imply? R. Joseph said in the name of Rab: He magnified Him by pronouncing the INEFFABLE NAME." Talmud - Yoma 69b

"Any benediction in which the DIVINE NAME is not mentioned is no benediction." Talmud - Berachoth 40b

"During the Second Temple period the TETRAGRAMMATON was pronounced during the ceremony of blessing the people by the priests and in other prayers, but only in the Temple. Outside of it the substitution Adonai (Lord) was used." The Classic Midrash - Tannaitic Commentary On The Bible, Reuven Hammer, Paulist Press, p 168

"NAME, the TETRAGRAMMATON, as written in the verse here, must be pronounced by the priests. The word Adonai meaning Lord is substituted for the actual NAME of God when the blessing is recited outside the Temple." The Classic Midrash - Tannaitic Commentary On The Bible, Reuven Hammer, Paulist Press, p 223

There are many other references, but these few demonstrate that the Tetragrammaton was pronounced during and before the times of Jesus. Thus, the assertion that "the Tetragrammaton was not pronounced at all" is pure myth - an habitual occurrence in modern biblical scholarship - yet, it is a myth that is unfortunately perpetuated ad nauseam, in spite of conclusive evidence to the contrary.

In the 19th century a converted Jew and Massoretic scholar, Christian Ginsburg, undertook a detailed study of the Massoretic text. In this study, he traced the pedigree of the Scriptures and noted how the Jewish guardians of the Hebrew text took safeguards in order to make sure the Tetragrammaton was not accidentally pronounced at the wrong time or by the wrong people or in the wrong place

"There are, however, a number of compound names in the Bible into the composition of which three out of the four letters of the Incommunicable Name have entered. Moreover, these letters which begin the names in question are actually pointed Jeho, as the Tetragrammaton itself and hence in a pause at the reading of the first part of the name it sounded as if the reader was pronouncing the Ineffable Name. To guard against it an attempt was made by a certain school of redactors of the text to omit the letter He so that the first part of the names in question has been altered from Jeho into Jo." Christian Ginsburg, Introduction To the Massoretico- Critical Edition Of The Hebrew Bible, p 369.

Ginsburg then goes on to demonstrate from the text and the Masorah that the following names were shortened so as not to accidentally pronounce the Tetragrammaton at the wrong time, or in the wrong place, or by the wrong person.

In other words they took the HO out of every name that started with the Name Jehovah, because they were worried they were going to say Jehovah's Name by mistake, thus proving that JEHO was the actual start of the Tetragrammaton, which is nothing like Yahweh.

JEHOachaz became - JOachaz JEHOash became - JOachaz JEHOzabad became - JOzabad JEHOhanan became - JOhanan JEHOiachin became - JOiachin JEHOiakim became - JOiakim JEHOiarib became - JOiarib JEHOnadab became - JOnadab JEHOnathan became - JOnathan JEHOseph became - JOseph JEHOzadak became - JOzadak JEHOram became - JOram

Thus, it is clear how the ancient Jews viewed the correct pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton, for without exception the first two syllables in the above names are identical in pronunciation to the traditional pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton.

In the movie The Passion, when Christ was on the cross he talked to John and Mary, He called John YOhannon (JOhannon). This is historically accurate because the name JEHOhanan became JOhanan, because the Jews were afraid of breaking the Law in Ex 20:7

Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

Further, the above names, as Ginsburg notes, are all derivatives of the Tetragrammaton. Like father, like son. The first two syllables in these names was pronounced the same way the Tetragrammaton was pronounced, which is why the Jews took safeguards to shorten these names in the first place. If the Jewish guardians of the Hebrew Scriptures did not consider Jehovah to be the correct pronunciation of the Ineffable Name, the above exercise in shortening the names would have been superfluous.

As an aside, it will be seen that the above names all appear in both forms in the Old Testament. In other words, both the longer forms appear, and the shorter forms appear, which merely proves that the names originally appeared in their longer forms before they were shortened, exactly as the Masorah and the text reveals, and as Ginsburg demonstrated.

Further still, it would of course be ludicrous to suppose that the vowel points for these names were transferred from Adonai, which is the assumption leveled at the Tetragrammaton. In other words, these names share the same vowel points as the Tetragrammaton, yet it would be blasphemy to assert that the vowel points from Adonai were transferred to these names. Thus, the assertion that these vowels were transferred to the Tetragrammaton is equally ridiculous. Of course, we are not asserting that there is no relationship between the points; what we are questioning is their origin. For example, Adonai and Elohim are almost certainly later derivations and thus succeeded the Tetragrammaton, not the reverse, but that is another subject entirely, as the permutations are quite complex.

In fact, the Tetragrammaton is older than Adonai, as it appears much earlier in the biblical record, indicating - in complete accordance with entropy and the effects of sin - that Adam and the early patriarchs knew God in his Ineffable Majesty - which is to say, they knew Jesus Christ, who was both Jehovah Preincarnate and later Jehovah Incarnate - in his Ineffable Majesty. The earliest patriarchs' knowledge of Jesus Christ in his Ineffable Majesty was in stark contrast to the later inhabitants of earth when the image of God became more and more degraded in the minds and hearts of men due to the corrupting influences of sin, such as in the days of Noah.

It is instructive to note that the modern Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (TWOT), after going to great lengths to promote the slur, Yahweh, is forced into the following admission

"Actually, there is a problem with the pronunciation Yahweh. It is a strange combination of old and late elements."

In other words, they can't find the evidence to support their attempt to overturn the Masoretic decrees, and up until the past couple of hundred years, the Masoretic decrees were acknowledged as having been handed down since Moses and Ezra.

A driving force in modern scholarship's assumptions concerning the Tetragrammaton is a papyrus fragment belonging to a corpus of papyri known as the Elephantine Papyri. These papyri were written in Aramaic and found in Elephantine, Egypt, an island in the Nile opposite Aswan. These documents are purported to have been written in approximately the 5th century BC. One of these contains one word in which the first three letters of the Tetragrammaton - YHV - appear.

From this discovery, and factoring in grammatical assumptions, modern scholars have assigned the pronunciation Yahweh to the Tetragrammaton. This, of course, is purely a guess, as is admitted

"The pronunciation of yhwh as Yahweh is a scholarly guess." Anchor Bible Dictionary, VI-1011.

The same source continues with the standard laissez-faire of modern biblical scholarship, which is to peremptorily deny the Hebrew text any authority when compared to the Egyptian and Assyrian literature, even though the Hebrew text has demonstrated unerring accuracy as opposed to the gross inaccuracy of the Egyptian and Assyrian literature. (See "The Veracity Of The Old Testament: A Scientific Validation") Accordingly, concerning the appearance of three letters of the Tetragrammaton in one of the Elephantine papyri, the same source asserts

"The spelling of the divine name yhw (with three consonants) found in the papyri PRESUMABLY represents a form older than the biblical yhwh." Anchor Bible Dictionary, IV-1003. (emphasis added).

Presumably? Of course. That's how the myths of modern biblical scholarship are fueled.

Due to the pervasive cultic elements found in the Elephantine papyri, they quickly admit

"But these texts show combinations of the name Yahweh which cannot be reconciled with what the biblical texts establish as a norm of the faith in Yahweh..." Ibid.

Modern scholarship has no evidence for the pronunciation of Yahweh whatsoever. The assertions are all based on assumptions - which are in turn based upon other assumptions, ad nauseam - none of which can be substantiated. Furthermore, the born again Christian knows - and the evidence testifies - that the first words ever written by man were simply

"In the beginning God..."

The assertion that the Hebrew text is somehow not as old as, or somehow inferior to, other literature, including the Egyptian and the Assyrian, is also pure myth, just like most everything else in modern biblical scholarship.

In closing, the historical and traditional evidence for the pronunciation of Jehovah is preponderant, some of which has just been demonstrated.

Modern scholarship's endeavors to continually alter God's Word and all its components can be summed up in these words

"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." 2 Timothy 4:3-4

Although not a doctrinal issue, but a phonetical issue, it is interesting how much critics twist history to fit in their assumptions.

Let the born again Christian who can clearly see the Pre-Incarnate Christ, even Jehovah, walking in the garden in the cool of the day, stick to the old paths, as it is written

"Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls." Jeremiah 6:16

Therefore I can confidently proclaim that Jesus is Jehovah.

Like I have stated, this is a trivial issue, and one that usually causes unnecessary debate, but I put this here not for debate, but because usually we only hear one sided arguments regarding textual criticism.

Post Scriptum:

The Name Jehovah, (Heb Yehovah) is always translated as LORD in capital letters in the KJV, and the Name Jehovee as GOD in capital letters. Jehovah is translated as Jehovah four times, where the Name appears twice. LORD and GOD Capitalized are distinguished from Elohim and Adonai. Elohim is translated as God, with a small "od", and Adonai is translated as Lord, with a small "ord".

Jehovah (LORD & GOD): is God's personal Name. Adonai Lord means: "master" or "sovereign" Elohim God means: "the strong and powerful God" or the "Almighty God" Elohim is Plural. Any Hebrew word that ends in "im" is plural, but not always translated in English as plural. Thus many scholars conclude that Elohim is a representation of the triune God.

Once you know the difference it can make the names of God clearer.

An illustration of this is in Joshua 7:7

And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord GOD, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan!

With an understanding of the Hebrew Names of God we can read: And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord sovereign Master Jehovah, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to the strong and powerful Almighty triune God, we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan!

What do you think.
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