THE DIVINE NAME

The Divine Name: Should We Refrain From Saying It?

“It is evident that the original pronunciation of God’s name is no longer known. Nor is it really important. If it were, then God himself would have made sure that it was preserved for us to use. The important thing is to use God’s name according to its conventional pronunciation in our own language.”- Watchtower

Many people of today starting from the second century don’t know the name of Almighty God. For them they call him as LORD or God. Just like that. Some write the word “LORD” or “God” if they are referring to Almighty God or the Sovereign Lord. The Jehovah’s Witnesses do use these terms but not as names of the Supreme Being but rather they call the Almighty God by his name “Jehovah.” LORD and God are not names. They are only titles. Just for example the word “president”. When we are referring to the president of a country or a company, we write the beginning letter in uppercase, i.e. President, making this as a proper noun. So we may write for example in this manner: “The President of the Philippines has arrived already.” or “The President of Development Bank of the Philippines supports the uplifting of the economy.” We do not write the first letter of the “president” in lowercase but instead in uppercase. This is the same also with the title “Chief Justice”. We often write it in that manner not “chief justice” because we refer to a respectable person, a well-known being of a particular place. Although sometimes we write it in lowercase, this only happens after we have introduced already the uppercase form of the first and sixth letter of Chief Justice or the President in the beginning of the sentences. And this is true also with the word “LORD” or “God”. We refer to the ultimate being – the most powerful in the universe. That is why it is written all in uppercase in other Bible. There are lords and gods in the Bible (written in lowercase), but these are not proper nouns. These are considered as common nouns. So by citing specific name of gods just like Baal and Zeus, this show a proper names were given to the gods. In New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, “God” and “Lord” were written as “God” and “Lord”. The name Jehovah was used to refer to Almighty or Supreme God. The name Jehovah appeared almost 7000 times in New World Translation and in the original Hebrew Bible and it was asserted by many scholars and different religions. Anyway, the question is “Does God really has a name? If yes, why can’t others find it in their Bibles? To answer these we must consider the history behind the lost of the Divine Name in other Bible. The lost of the Divine name occur after the second century C.E. The following paragraphs have quoted from the articles of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Watchtower’s website.

THE FIGHT AGAINST GOD’S NAME

His name was Hananaiah Ben Teradion. He was a Jewish scholar of the second century C.E., and he was known for holding open meetings where he taught from Sefer Torah, a scroll containing the first five books of the Bible. Ben Teradion was also known for using the personal name of God and teaching it to others. Considering that the first five books of the Bible contain the name of God more than 1,800 times, how could he teach the Torah without teaching about God’s name?

A relief depicting the execution of Hananiah ben Teradion

Ben Teradion’s day, however, was a dangerous time for Jewish scholars. According to Jewish historians, the Roman emperor had made it illegal under penalty of death to teach or practice Judaism. Eventually, the Romans arrested Ben Teradion. At his arrest he was holding a copy of Sefer Torah. When responding to his accusers, he candidly admitted that in teaching a Bible, he was merely obeying a divine command. Still, he received the death sentence.

On the day of his execution, Ben Teradion was wrapped in the very scroll of the Bible that he was holding when arrested. Then he was burned at the stake. The Ecyclopaedia Judaica says that “in order to prolong his agony tufts of wool soaked in water were placed over his heart so that he should not die quickly.” As part of his punishment, his wife was also executed and his daughter sold to a brothel.

Although the Romans were responsible for this brutal execution of Ben Teradion, the Talmuda states that “the punishment of being burnt came upon him because he pronounced the Name in its full spelling.” Yes, to the Jews, pronouncing the name of God was indeed a serious transgressions.

THE THIRD COMMANDMENT

Evidently, during the first and second centuries C.E., a superstition regarding the use of God’s name took hold among the Jews. The Mishnah (a collection of rabbinic commentaries that became the foundation of the Talmud) states that “one who pronounces the divine name as it is spelt” has no portion in the future earthly Paradise promised by God.

What was the origin of such a prohibition? Some claim that the Jews considered the name of God too sacred for imperfect humans to pronounce. Eventually, there was hesitancy even to write the name. According to one source, that fear arose because of a concern  that the document in which the name was written might later end up in the trash, resulting in a desecration of the divine name.

The Encyclopaedia Judaica says that “the avoidance of pronouncing the name YHWH . . . was caused by a misunderstanding of the Third Commandment. The third of the Ten Commandments given by God to the Israelites states: “You must not take up the name of Jehovah your God in a worthless way, for Jehovah will not leave the one unpunished who takes up his name in a worthless way.” (Exodus 20:7) Hence, God’s decree against the improper use of his name was twisted into a superstition.

Surely, no one today claims that God would have someone burned at the stake for pronouncing the divine name! Yet, Jewish superstitions regarding God’s personal name still survive. Many continue to refer to the Tetragrammaton as the “Ineffable Name” and the “Unutterable Name.” In some circles all references to God are intentionally mispronounced to avoid violating the tradition. For example, Jah, or Yah, an abbreviation for God’s personal name, is pronounced Kah. Hallelujah is pronounced Hallelukah. Some even avoid writing out the term “God,” substituting a dash for one or more letters. For instance, when they wish to write the English word “God,” they actually write “G-d.”

Footnote: aThe Talmud is a compilation of ancient Jewish tradition and is regarded as one of the most sacred and influential written works of the Jewish religion.” – end of quote

So that is the reason why the divine name of God had not preserved until this day. But should we not use a name for God, wherein in fact He himself showed the importance of his name? In this article we will know whether Jehovah, the name of God used by Jehovah’s Witnesses is improper to use.

Well others don’t believe on the name Jehovah as the name of God. They say this is not the correct name of God because it is only invented by man. They say this is not the exact transliteration of the tetragrammaton (YHWH). Others also insisting that there is no letter “J” in ancient Hebrew therefore, it is not right to use Jehovah. Others say it is proper to use Yahweh than Jehovah. Let us see whether name Jehovah is not right to use.

The original scriptures of the Bible in Hebrew were written without vowels or written purely in consonants. The ancient Hebrew alphabet consists of 22 letters. There was no letter J in the ancient Hebrew alphabet. The Modern Hebrew alphabet consists also of 22 letters with no letter “J” and has “V” similar to “W” of the ancient Hebrew alphabet. Thus, other transliterations of tetragrammaton is YHVH or JHVH because “w” is no longer in the Modern Hebrew. (See the Modern Hebrew Alphabet.) And why YHWH has changed to JHVH specifically the first letter Y to J?

We know that some names in the Bible started in letter “J” such as Jesus, Jacob, John, James, Joshua, Jonathan, Jonah, Jeremiah and others. These names in Biblical Hebrew before were starting in letter “Y”. For instance, the name Jesus was probably pronounced as Yeshua or Yehoshua. Nobody knows the exact pronunciation of it yet we acknowledge the name Jesus in our time. We believe in the name Jesus though it is not the exact translation of his original name. Wouldn’t be the same also with the name Jehovah? To continue, Jeremiah was written as Yeremiyahu, Isaiah as Yeshayahu, Jonah as Yonah, Jacob as Ya’akov, John as Yochanan, Joel as Yoel and Joseph as Yosef. These starts all in letter “Y” in the Biblical Hebrew yet we recognize the transformations of these names in our modern time. So there is no reason to question the letter “J” in the name Jehovah. Also, Jah is the abbreviated form of Jehovah which is the same as Yah. Jehovah is one of the closer suggested pronunciation of Tetragrammaton with dots in the Leningrad Codex of 1008 – 1010 A. D. wherein the vowel points were added by the Masoretes in the first millennium C.E. These are the six Hebrew spellings of the tetragrammaton in Leningrad Codex: Yehovah – Genesis 3:14, Yehwah – Judges 16:28, Yehowih* – Judges 16:28, Yehwih* – Genesis 15:2, Yehowih – 1 Kings 2:26 and Yehwih – Ezekiel 24:24. They note that in this transliteration it is not intended to indicate how the name is pronounced, but only how the word would be pronounced if read like any other word.

The Leningrad Codex of 1008-1010 A.D.

Vowel points were added to the Tetragrammaton by the Masoretes, in the first millennium C.E.

Six different Hebrew spellings of the Tetragrammaton are found in:
The Leningrad Codex of 1008-1010 A.D. as shown below (note that the entries in the transliteration column are not intended to indicate how the name is pronounced, but only how the word would be pronounced if read like any other word):

Chapter & Verse Hebrew Spelling Transliteration Codex L. Link Explanation
Genesis 3:14 יְהֹוָה Yehovah [1] This is the most common set of vowels, which are essentially the vowels from Adonai (with the hataf patah reverting to its natural state as a shwa).
Judges 16:28 יְהוָה Yehwah [2] This is the same as above, but with the dot over the holam/waw left out, because it is a little redundant.
Judges 16:28 יֱהֹוִה Yehowih* [3] When the Tetragrammaton is preceded by Adonai, it receives the vowels from the name Elohim instead. The hataf segol does not revert to a shwa because doing so could lead to confusion with the vowels in Adonai.
Genesis 15:2 יֱהוִה Yehwih* [4] Just as above, this uses the vowels from Elohim, but like the second version, the dot over the holam/waw is omitted as redundant.
1 Kings 2:26 יְהֹוִה Yehowih [5] Here, the dot over the holam/waw is present, but the hataf segol does get reverted to a shwa.
Ezekiel 24:24 יְהוִה Yehwih [6] Here, the dot over the holam/waw is omitted, and the hataf segol gets reverted to a shwa.

The * indicates that the transliteration “e” indicates a Hatef Segol.

The name “Jehovah” first appeared in the translations of John Wycliffe of the King James Version in 1611. It appears in Exodus 6:2-3, Psalms 83:18 and Isaiah 12:2, 26:4. Before the name “Jehovah” was formed, the tetragrammaton was transliterated as Iehouah in Latin (consider the Geneva Version of 1608) then became Iehova. I guess the Bible names written in Hebrew were not all transliterated exactly just as we mentioned above. Jesus was probably pronounced as Yeshua or Yehoshua. No one knows the exact transliteration of it for there are no vowels in Hebrew language. The name Jesus was rendered as Iesous in Greek. But we accept the English translation of the name Jesus and other translations in other languages because of our faith. Our faith shows that the person who possess that name (whether it is translated accurately or not ) did really exist. Wouldn’t be right also to accept the name Jehovah because of our faith?

Today, Jesus is rendered differently according to the language of the reader of the Bible. Spanish Bible readers encounter Jesús (pronounced Hes·soos’). Italians spell it Gesù (pronounced Djay·zoo’). And Germans spell it Jesus (pronounced Yay’soos). If you will be on these countries would you not use these names because these are not familiar with you? Would you like to teach them the name Jesus in your own language rather than by using their own language?

The Bible says that God knows each one of the many billions of stars by name. (Isaiah 40:26).Would it not be proper also for himself to have a name that can be called by his people?

Here are the verses in the Bible that you can ponder to realize why the name of God is really important:

Jesus taught his followers to pray to God: “Let your name be sanctified.” (Matthew 6:9) And in prayer on the night before his execution, he said to his Father: “I have made your namemanifest to the men you gave me out of the world . . . Holy Father, watch over them on account of your own namewhich you have given me.”—John 17:6, 11, 26

“Everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will get away safe.”—Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21.

Only conscientious reading and studying of the Bible can provide you with insight into the kind of God that Jehovah is. He promises to protect those who show affection for him and his name. Regarding one who does so, God says: “Because on me he has set his affection, I shall also provide him with escape. I shall protect him because he has come to know my name. He will call upon me, and I shall answer him. I shall be with him in distress. I shall rescue him and glorify him. With length of days I shall satisfy him, and I shall cause him to see salvation by me.”—Psalm 91:14-16.

Thus, the disciple James remarked during a conference of the elders at Jerusalem: “Symeon has related thoroughly how God for the first time turned his attention to the nations to take out of them a people for his name. And with this the words of the Prophets agree.” (Acts 15:14, 15)

“At that time those in fear of Jehovah spoke with one another, each one with his companion, and Jehovah kept paying attention and listening. And a book of remembrance began to be written up before him for those in fear of Jehovah and for those thinking upon his name.—Malachi 3:16.

Jesus Christ teaching his disciples to pray: “You must pray, then, this way: ‘Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified.'”—Matthew 6:9, 10

I am Jehovah. That is my name; and to no one else shall I give my own glory.”—Isaiah 42:8

The present-day Hebrew and Arabic alphabets still consist of consonant letters only, Hebrew having 22 letters and Arabic 28. Some of these letters, however, acquired the added function of representing long vowels. Another method of indicating vowels in written Hebrew or Arabic is by adding dots or dashes placed below, above, or to the side of the consonant. This system for indicating vowels developed for Arabic, Hebrew, and Aramaic during the 8th and 9th centuries ad to ensure the correct reading of sacred texts, and avoid the multiple readings possible when vowels are missing. Bls, for example, could be read as bless, bliss, bills, or bales. Like Phoenician and other Semitic languages, Arabic, Hebrew, and Aramaic are written from the right to the left. Consider this translation of Hebrew in modern writings.

Here is a translations of a Bible verse from Hebrew words to English words of Deuteronomy 6:4 :

SHMAA YISRAEL YAH HOVEH ELOHEINU YAH HOVEH ECHAD
HEAR ISRAEL YAH IS OUR GOD YAH IS ONE

This is how it appears in the Hebrew Scrolls:

Read from right to left (so also the following)
Top line:
YHVH  Yisrael  Shmaa <{——-Bottom line:
echad YHVH Eloheinu <{——-

The HWH (hawah) or HVH (havah) means “to be” in which Jehovah’s Witnesses renders these as “causes to become” thus in my opinion the translations of a Bible verse in the preceding words can also be written in the short form of the name of God as “Hear Israel, Jah [who] causes to become(HWH) our God, is one Jah [who] causes to become. But in NWT it is written as “Listen, O Israel: Jehovah our God is one Jehovah.” This proves that Jehovah is one God and he shows himself as one person only and not in triune God. This is only my own mapping with the short form of the name Jehovah which is Jah and the verb hwh (hawah) which has a meaning of causes to become.

Here are the versions of Bible that uses the Divine name:

Restored Name King James Version OT – Uses the actual Hebrew Tetragrammaton throughout
NT – Uses Tetragrammaton and Hebrew letters for Y’Shua
The Scriptures – The ISR OT – Uses the actual Hebrew Tetragrammaton throughout
NT – Uses Tetragrammaton and Hebrew letters for Y’Shua
Hebrew Names Version of the World English Bible NT – Uses Yeshua and Hebrew Names for NT Books
Hebraic Roots Version NT only
James Trimm
NT – Uses Yeshua, Hebrew names and YHWH
Complete Jewish Bible – D Stern NT – Uses Yeshua throughout
Hebrew Bible (OT only)
(World English Bible version)
OT – Uses Yahweh throughout
The Tanach (OT) in Hebrew Uses the actual Hebrew rendering YHVH (Tetragrammaton)
The Tanach in Hebrew Uses the actual Hebrew rendering YHVH (Tetragrammaton)
The New Testament in Hebrew Uses the Hebrew letters/version for ‘Yeshua’
Jerusalem Bible 1971 Uses Yahweh throughout OT
Rotherham 1897 Uses Yahweh throughout OT
Restoration of Original Sacred   Name Bible 1970 Uses Yahweh throughout OT & many times in NT
Traina, Holy Name Bible 1963 Uses Yahweh throughout OT & many times in  NT
Anchor Bible Uses Yahweh throughout OT
Bible in Basic English 1965 Yahweh – Ex. 6:2, 3, 6; Ps.83:18 Jah – Isa. 12:2; Isa. 26:4
Berkeley Version 1963 Yahweh – Ps.147; Ps.8; Gen.22:14; Hosea12:5
Goodspeed & Smith The Bible Yahweh – Ex 3:16;  Ex 6:3
Ogden- The Basic Bible 1950 Yahweh – Ps.83:18
An American Tr. 1948 Yah  – Isa 12:2; Isa. 26:4
New World Translation Uses Jehovah throughout OT and 277 in NT
LeFevre, G.N. N.T. 1929 Uses Jehovah many times in NT
Roth N.T. 1963 Uses Jehovah many times in NT
Ballentine American Bible 5 Vols. N.T. 1901 Jehova NT 13 times
Wakefield, G. N.T. 1795 Jehovah NT – Rev. 19:1, 3, 4 & 6
Grant’s Numerical Bible Uses Jehovah throughout OT
Darby 1890 Uses Jehovah throughout OT
Taylor – The Living Bible 1971 Uses Jehovah throughout OT
Young – Literal Translation Uses Jehovah throughout OT
ASV 1901 Uses Jehovah throughout OT
Byington 1972 Uses Jehovah throughout OT
Sharpe 1865 Uses Jehovah throughout OT
Westminster Version Uses Jehovah throughout OT
American Baptist Publication Soc. Holy Bible – An improved Edition 1913 Uses Jehovah throughout OT
Bellamy Holy Bible (Pentateuch) 1818 Uses Jehovah throughout OT
Moulton 1914 Jehovah – Ps.83:18; Ex.6:2-9; Ex.22:14;  Ps.68:4; Jer.16:20 Isa.12:2; 26:4
N.E.B. 1970 Jehovah p.XVI Gen. 4:26; Ex.3:l5-16; Ex.6:3; 33:19; 34:5-6; 35:31
K.J.V. 1611 Jehovah – 4 times: Ex.6:2-3; Ps.83:18, (68:4) Isa. 12:2; 26:4
Revised English Version 1898 Jehovah – Ex.6:2-3; Ps.83:18
Dr. Conquest 1843 Jehovah – Ps.83:18
Polyglott – English Version 1836 Jehovah – Ps.83:18
Joseph Smith – Inspired Version 1936 ed Jehovah – Ps.83:18
Green J.P. King James & others Jehovah – Ps.83:18
Scott, T. 1816 Jehovah – Ps-83:18
Green, J.P. Modern K . J . 1962 Jehovah – Ps.83:18
Book of Mormon Jehovah – on last page only
Good News Bible “Lord” Jehovah Ex 6:3 footnote
Berkeley Version Bible in Modern English 1963 Jehovah – Gen 22:14; Ex 6:3 Ps 8:1,9; Ex 3:15; Yahweh – Hosea 12:5
Great Bible (Hexaplar Psalter)  1969 Jehovah – Ps-33:12
Iehoua Ps,83:18
Geneva Version 1608 Iehouah – Gen.22:14; Ps.83:18
Forms of the divine name in different languages, indicating international acceptance of the form JehovahAwabakal – Yehóa
Bugotu – Jihova
Cantonese – Yehwowah
Danish – Jehova
Dutch – Jehovah
Efik – Jehovah
English – Jehovah
Fijian – Jiova
Finnish – Jehova
French – Jéhovah
Futuna – Ihova
German – Jehova
Hungarian – Jehova
Igbo – Jehova
Italian – Geova
Japanese – Ehoba
Maori – Ihowa
Motu – Iehova
Mwala-Malu – Jihova
Narrinyeri – Jehovah
Nembe – Jihova
Petats – Jihouva
Polish – Jehowa
Portuguese – Jeová
Romanian – Iehova
Samoan – Ieova
Sotho – Jehova
Spanish – Jehová
Swahili – Yehova
Swedish – Jehova
Tahitian – Iehova
Tagalog – Jehova
Tongan – Jihova
Venda – Yehova
Xhosa – uYehova
Yoruba – Jehofah
Zulu – uJehova

People say that it is improper to pronounce the name of God. Why the Christendom believes in the name of Jesus though it is not the actual spelling of Jesus name? It was said that Jesus may probably pronounced as Yehoshua or Yeshua but why do we accept the name Jesus? It is because we believe on the personality of that person rather than his name. We do not pronounce it as in Hebrew but on how we pronounce it in our own language. Just as what the Watchtower mentioned above Jesus is pronounce in different languages. It is not always the same but different according to different languages spoken by people. What is Peter in Tagalog? Is it not Pedro? Is it the same in other languages? What about Paul is it not Pablo in Tagalog? Is it still Pablo or Paul in other languages? It is not. What about James in Tagalog? It is Santiago isn’t it? Is it still the same in other languages? So from these we can learn that it is not the pronunciation that matters but rather on the person who holds that name, his attributes and his own personality that define his name according to different languages. That is true also when it comes to the name of God – Jehovah. It does not matter if we pronounce it different from the original pronunciation of God’s name but on how we give importance to the carrier of that name and give much value on the personality, attributes and identity of Almighty God.       The Watchtower site emphasized this: “GOD himself tells us his name. He is recorded as saying: “I am Jehovah, that is my name.”* (Isaiah 42:8, American Standard Version) The name Jehovah is the best-known English form of the Hebrew name God gave himself. It may surprise you that this unique Hebrew name appears thousands of times in ancient Bible manuscripts. In fact, it appears more often than any other name mentioned in the Bible.

Some may answer the question, “What is God’s name?” by saying, “the Lord.” Really, though, that is no more informative than it would be to answer the question, “Who won the election?” by saying, “the candidate.” Neither provides a clear answer, since “Lord” and “candidate” are not names.

Why did God reveal his name to us? He did it so that we can come to know him better. To illustrate, a person may be called Sir, Boss, Dad, or Grandpa, depending on the circumstances. These titles reveal something about him. But the name of the person reminds us of everything we know about him. Likewise, titles such as Lord, Almighty, Father, and Creator call attention to different facets of God’s activities. But only his personal name, Jehovah, reminds us of everything we know about him. How can you really know God without knowing his name?

It is important not only to know but also to use that name. Why? Because the Bible tells us: “Everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.”—Romans 10:13; Joel 2:32.” – end of quote

 


 

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4 responses to this post.

  1. […] different forms of name of Godthat differs in pronunciation. You can check those forms of name in https://fromthesunrising.wordpress.com/2010/09/26/the-divine-name/ Moreover, the name Yahweh is recognized by the Watchtower because it is also a possible name of God […]

  2. […] The Divine Name The Divine Name: Should We Refrain From Saying It? “It is evident that the original pronunciation of God’s name is no longer known. Nor is it really important. If it were, then God himself would have made sure that it was preserved for us to use. The important thing is to use God’s name according […] […]

  3. […] the Common Era, the scribes substituted the words Ky′ri·os (Lord) and The·os′ (God) for the divine name, Jehovah, in copies of the Greek Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Scriptures. Other […]

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