YHWH

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The Tetragrammaton

For Jewish people YHWH is the most holy name of God, as written in the ancient Hebrew language. The language has no vowels, so the pronunciation is not agreed on. However, most academics agree that "Yahweh" is the most accepted way to say it.

It has also been pronounced as "Jehovah" in English, or "Yehowa" in Hebrew as a substitute word for the tetragramaton. This is because Hebrew pointing, or vowel symbols, are often put under the YHWH, making יְהֹוָה. The vowels used come from the Hewbrew word for lord, "Adonay", which after the last captivity, was substituted and the vowels of "Adonai" forced into the tetragrammaton,incorrectly spelling God's Hebrew name as "YaHoWaH". It was never meant to be anything more than a substitute to avoid pronouncing the tetragrammaton.

Traditionally, religious Jews today do not often say this name aloud. This is because it is believed to be too holy to be spoken. However, they often use substitutes when referring to the name of their God. For example, they use HaShem ("The Name") or Shem HaMeforash (“the indescribable Name”).[1]

Today, the two Abrahamic religions Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity say that there is only one God, defined in the Judeo/Christian Scriptures as Yahweh almost 7,000 times, with the general name "Elohim" a distant second at 2,500 times. Obviously, Yahweh was spoken often by Jews. In the New Testament, Yahweh is present with the expanded name of Yeshua (Jesus), meaning "Yahweh(Ye) Saves(shua). Although Islam also believes in one god, Islam is not an Abrahamic religion as there is no evidence, especially archaeological, that Islam had any primary/doctrinal connection with Judaism or Christianity. Arabic Christians and their literature use a different name for God than "Allah".

Sometimes the four letters are called the Tetragrammaton, which is Greek for four letters

These four letters are usually JHWH in German, French and Dutch, and either YHWH, YHVH, JHWH or JHVH in English. In some English language Bibles, it is written in all capital letters as "LORD," as in Jewish tradition. Others, such as the Jerusalem Bible use "Yahweh". The Holman Christian Study Bible uses "Yahweh" when there is a reference to his name; God's Word Translation uses all of the Hebrew transliterations for the name of God.


The name Jehovah is used by the religious organisation of Jehovah's Witnesses based on early English Bible translations repeated by the KJV; Jehovah Witnesses today have begun to use the name "Yahweh".

In 2008, the Vatican reiterated a directive that the full name YAHWEH should not be used in Catholic liturgy out of respect for the Jews who never pronounce the full word and YHWH was to be used instead.[2]


Related pages[change | edit source]

References[change | edit source]

  1. Stanley S. Seidner,"HaShem: Uses through the Ages." Unpublished paper, Rabbinical Society Seminar, Los Angeles, CA, 1987.
  2. Catholic online, 26/8/2008