By Dr.Al Garza. Taken from the book, “YH?H: The Name of God Hidden and Revealed; Jewish Sources Never Seen or Translated.” By Dr.Al Garza ISBN: 978-0692068748
YHWH vs. YHVH
There is an ongoing debate on the name of God and how to pronounce it. To this day many Christians and Christian scholars all believe God’s name is YaHWeH based on the 4 letter Tetragrammaton, YHWH. This belief is not from Jewish sources but from non-Jewish sources including pagan. I was taught and instructed that the closes we can come to knowing the name of God was by pronouncing it as Yahweh. It is believed the Jews did not know the name nor did they pronounce it during the time of Yeshua-Jesus or after. Even the name “Jehovah,” based on the 4 letters YHVH, is believed to be a name that was used only by Christians during the 16th Century. In Wikipedia, we find this explanation,
“The earliest available Latin text to use a vocalization similar to Jehovah dates from the 13th century….The Brown-Driver-Briggs Lexicon suggested that the pronunciation Jehovah was unknown until 1520 when it was introduced by Galatinus, who defended its use. ‘Jehovah’ was popularized in the English-speaking world by William Tyndale and other pioneer English Protestant translations such as the Geneva Bible and the King James Version. It is still used in some translations, such as the New World Translation, the American Standard Version, and Young’s Literal Translation, but it does not appear in most mainstream English translations, as the terms “Lord” or “LORD“: used instead, generally indicating that the corresponding Hebrew is Yahweh or YHWH. ”
The name “Jehovah” is a translation of the Hebrew, Yehovah. So why did the name “Jehovah” get used if Yahweh is the correct understanding of God’s name? Was Jehovah or Yehovah an invention by Christians like Galatinus? Was the name Jehovah unknown until 1520? And what is the correct Hebrew letter, the “w” for Waw or the “v” for Vav? I will show the evidence and Jewish sources that most scholars have never looked at and will set the record straight. The vast majority of Western scholars have never looked at the Jewish sources because they assume the Jews did not and do not know the name of God. Instead, they have relied on Christian and pagan sources to come to the conclusion that Yahweh is the closes if not the correct way to pronounce the name of God.
NOTE: Let me say for the record that even though we can not know for certain the name of God 100% I do believe we can know with almost complete certainty, 99.9%, how the Jews pronounced the name and even preserved it through passing on by tradition. We do not have an ancient tape recorder of Moses or the prophets saying the name, but we can see how the Jews read and pronounced the name of God with the vowel points in the Hebrew Bible. I will also show unseen and untranslated Hebrew documents explaining how the name should be pronounced and how it was hidden from the population.
WAW or VAV?
Before I begin dealing with the name of God I must first demonstrate and show that the sixth letter of the Hebrew alphabet was and is a Vav while the Waw comes from Arabic influence. This is important because the name Yehovah is a “v” sound and not with a “w” sound. Even though the majority of Western scholarship believe the opposite namely that the “w” sound or “waw” is the correct and ancient sixth letter of the Hebrew alphabet and the “v” sound or Vav is based on Yiddish/German influence. What does the evidence show regarding both letters?
It is a known scholarly fact that Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic are very similar Semitic Languages. The modern Hebrew “v” sound is equivalent to the Arabic “w” sound in words used in both languages. But how do we know how ancient Hebrew was pronounced? Scholars in the 18th and 20th century went around the world documenting the Hebrew language that was preserved in Jewish communities. All the Hebrew letters were accounted for in pronunciation except for one letter, the sixth letter Vav. According to the Hebrew Encyclopedia, the Jews that preserved the Vav and “v” sound were European Jews, Kurdish Jews, Syrian Jews, Egyptian Jews, Persian Jews, Moroccan Jews and Algerian Jews. The Jews who kept the Waw and “w” sound were the Yemenite Jews and Baghdadi Jews. There were three who kept both sounds and letters. The Libyan Jews, Tunisian Jew, and the Atlas Jews. These were Arabic speaking Jews, but when they read from the Torah, they read it using the Vav or “v” sound. Most of the Jewish communities listed under, keeping the Vav, spoke Arabic as their daily language with the “w” sound, but in their reading of the Torah, they read it with a “v” sound for Vav. Why would they do this if Waw is the correct sixth letter of the Hebrew alphabet?
A Rabbi named Benzion HaKohen wrote a book in 1981 called S’fat Emet (True Language). He believed that the sixth letter in the ancient Hebrew alphabet was a “waw” with a “w” sound. On page 51 of his book, he wrote something very interesting though.
“The letter Vav is pronounced by all the Jews of Ashkenaz (Central and Eastern Europe) as well as all the Sephardim in Europe and the Italian [Jews] like [the English letter] V. So too is its pronunciation by the Sephardim in the lands of the East who do not speak Arabic such as Turkey and Persia. However, the Jews in the Arabic speaking lands are divided, a large portion of them always pronounce it like [the English letter] W and the Arabic Waw, such as the Jews of Yemen and Babylon. And the rest of the lands [with Arabic speaking Jews]…pronounce some of the Vavs as V others as W, namely, a Vav with a dagesh or a Vav that is part of the root such as David, Mitzvah (commandment) they pronounce as a V. However, connective Vav (and) such as chamishah We-esrim (five and twenty), Yitgadal We-yitkadash (may he be magnified and sanctified), We-al Ha-Chasidim (and concerning the righteous), We-al Sh’erit (and concerning the remnant) the Vav is [pronounced] like W…”
This simply means that when the Jews who use both Waw and Vav, namely Libyan Jews, Tunisian Jews, Atlas Mt Jews [Samaritans too], they use one for the prefix “and” as “w” sound and the “v” sound when the letter is part of the root of a word like David. They do not say Dawid when reading the name but say David with a “v” sound. We can see the Arabic influence starting to take over in these four Jewish communities who use both in Torah readings.
Another strong piece of evidence comes from the Academy of the Hebrew Languages in Jerusalem. Here are some of the top Hebrew scholars in the world who, when needed, will invent a modern Hebrew word from an ancient Hebrew word. They confirm that the Arabic language influenced the Jewish communities that preserved the Waw and the ones that preserved both Waw and Vav.
If we look at the possible differences between Hebrew and Arabic, we find a Rabbi named Judah Ibn Kuraish in the 10th Century who said in his R’sallah, page 25, “There is no difference between [Arabic] and Hebrew except…” The Rabbi then listed six letters that are pronounced differently in Arabic and Hebrew and Vav is not one of them. Rabbi Judah was an Arabic speaker as well. This does show that Arabic speaking Jews did pronounce the Vav as a “w” sound. But as the Academy of the Hebrew Language in Jerusalem stated that Arabic did have an influence on the Jewish Arabic speaking communities.
We need to remember that in Hebrew we do have a “v” sound in the form of the Hebrew letter “Bet.” The Bet with a dagesh (a dot in the letter) in it is pronounced with a “b” sound while without the dagesh (no dot in the letter) it is pronounced Vet as a “v” sound. Every Hebrew scholar agrees with this Hebrew letter being both a “b” and “v” sound. So nobody should ever say that Hebrew does not have a “v” sound because that is simply not true with the Hebrew letter Bet. The soft form of the Hebrew letter Bet is with a “v” sound. For example, the name Jacob in Hebrew is Ya’ kov with a soft Bet “v” sound at the end.
For me, I believe the strongest evidence comes from the Hebrew Bible itself. In the book of Ezekiel, there is a Hebrew word for “back.” The Hebrew word is “gav.” It is spelled with the Hebrew letter “Bet” (soft Bet “v” sound) and the with the Hebrew letter “Vav.” We see this homonym in Ezekiel 23:35 and in Ezekiel 43:13. In Ezekiel 23 we see the Hebrew “gav” with the Hebrew “Vav,” and in Ezekiel 43 we see the Hebrew soft “Bet” with a “v” sound. Both verses can be seen in the Aleppo Codex. This would not work if the sixth Hebrew letter were a Waw or “w” sound. Another verse in the Aleppo Hebrew Bible comes from 1Kings 14:9, and Nehemiah 9:26 (Leningrad Codex).
Another Jewish source for the “Vav” comes from the Mishnah, Israel around 200 CE. There is a city mentioned called “Yavneh, ” and it is spelled with both a soft Bet “v” sound and the Hebrew letter Vav “v” sound. You can see both of these spellings in the Mishnah, RH 4:2 (MS.Kaufmann A50 76v) and in the Mishnah, Avot 4:4 (MS.Kaufmann A50 171v). This can also be seen in the Mishnah for the Hebrew word Avazim or geese in English. It is spelled with both the soft Bet “v” sound and the Vav “v” sound.
Lastly, there are Liturgical Hebrew Poems by Elazar Kalir and Yanai in the 6th Century in Israel who wrote using the soft Bet “v” sound and the Vav “v” sound in their prayer poems. This would not work if the Vav were a “w” sound. Hebrew was a spoken language all the way up the 10th Century as attested by Rabbi Eli Ben Judah the Nazirite in Tiberias who said he use to listen to the speech of the simple people and of the masses (in Hebrew) and investigating the language expressed in speech. He did this with his Hebrew Bible to see if there were any contradictions in the rules of Hebrew being spoken. In the Hebrew poem by Kalir, we can see the example being used with the Hebrew word Levi (Levite) with a Vav and the Hebrew word Navi (prophet) with a soft Bet “v” sound. Again, This could not work in Hebrew poetry with a Waw or “w” sound. The other poet Yanai in Israel used the Hebrew Y’chaveh (tell) with Ye’aveh (swell) using the Vav “v” sound and the soft Bet “v” sound. This can be seen at Cambridge University Taylor-Schechter H 17-4. More examples can be given by these poets, but you get the point.
Now, there was a Jew named Ibn Ezra from the 12th century who did not agree with Kalir’s poem and his use of the soft Bet “v” sound with the Vav “v” sound. Ezra in his Commentary on Ecclesiastes 5 says that Kalir’s use of Levi and Navi are impoverished and meager for connecting the two in his rhymes. Now we must understand the Ezra was an Arabic speaking Jew who did not understand the rhymes of Kalir because Ezra used Waw and not Vav in his poetry.
The majority of evidence for the Vav goes back to the all non-Arabic speaking Jewish communities (20 century), most Arabic speaking Jewish communities (20 century). The Hebrew Bible in the book of Ezekiel, 1Kings, and Nehemiah. The Mishnah (3rd century). The Jewish poets of Elazar Kalir and Yanai (6th century). While the Waw evidence comes from some of the Arabic speaking Jewish communities listed above (20th century). Ibn Ezra (12th century). Sa’adiah Gaon (10 century) and Judah Ibn Kureish (10th century). There is no evidence for the Waw going back beyond the Arabic language in any Jewish sources. The evidence for the Vav goes back to the Hebrew Bible as listed above in connection with the Hebrew soft Bet “v” sound. We can safely say that the Vav, for YHVH, was used in ancient Hebrew instead of the Waw, for YHWH, based on the evidence cited while the Waw being used in ancient Hebrew, as believed, comes from Arabic influence.
THE ORIGIN OF “YAHWEH”
According to the vast majority of Western Hebrew scholars, the origin of the name of Yahweh comes from the preservation of the name from Samaritans. The scholars believe that the Jews stopped using the name before the 1st century CE and only the Samaritans preserved the pronunciation. Again, let us see what Wikipedia has to say.
“In his Hebrew Dictionary, Gesenius supports “Yahweh” (which would have been pronounced [jahwe], with the final letter being silent) because of the Samaritan pronunciation Ιαβε reported by Theodoret, and that the theophoric name prefixes YHW [jeho] and YH [jo] can be explained by the form “Yahweh””
It is interesting to note that Theodoret, who lived in the 5th century, was not familiar with the Hebrew language. When working on translations, he relied on the Syriac, the Greek, and the Septuagint. It is not clear how Theodoret heard and translated the name used by the Samaritans, namely the Greek word Ιαβε. There are over 30 Greek names used for God, and only one of them can be traced back to a Jewish source in the DSS (Dead Sea Scrolls). It is not Ιαβε. What scholars have done is look at non-Jewish sources to determine the name of God. Such sources are Christian Greek, Pagan Greek, Samaritan Greek, Gnostic Coptic and Akkadian. From the 33 Greek names, the scholars picked one, Ιαβε, to identify the name of God, Yahweh, with the help of Theodoret who was not familiar with Hebrew.
The very first person to actually use the name Yahweh was a Christian named Gilbert Genebrard in 1599 in his Chronographiae page 77. Gilbert relied on Theodoret’s Greek Ιαβε to translate back to Hebrew as Yahweh from the Latin form Iove. This is how the name Yahweh came into existence. But did the Samaritans really speak and preserve the name of God? The evidence will surprise you.
One of the earliest records of the Samaritans and the name of God comes from Josephus, Antiquities Book 12 Chapter 5 Section 5. In this section of the book, we read the following,
(257) “When the Samaritans saw the Jews under these sufferings, they no longer confessed that they were of their kindred; nor that the temple on Mount Gerizzim belonged to Almighty God. This was according to their nature, as we have already shown. And they now said that they were a colony of Medes and Persians: and indeed they were a colony of theirs. (258) So they sent ambassadors to Antiochus, and an epistle, whose contents are these:—“To king Antiochus the god, Epiphanes, a memorial from the Sidonians, who live at Shechem. (259) Our forefathers, upon certain frequent plagues, and as following a certain ancient superstition, had a custom of observing that day which by the Jews is called the Sabbath. And when they had erected a temple at the mountain called Gerizzim, though, without a name (ἀνώνυμον anonumon), they offered upon it the proper sacrifices. (260) Now, upon the just treatment of these wicked Jews those that manage their affairs, supposing that we were of kin to them, and practiced as they do, make us liable to the same accusations, although we are originally Sidonians, as is evident from the public records. (261) We, therefore, beseech thee, our benefactor and savior, to give order to Apollonius, the governor of this part of the country, and to Nicanor, the procurator of thy affairs, to give us no disturbance, nor to lay to our charge what the Jews are accused of, since we are aliens from their nation and from their customs; but let our temple which at present hath no name (ἀνώνυμον anonumon) at all, be named the Temple of Jupiter Hellenius (Διὸς Ἑλληνίου Dios Helleniou). If this were once done, we should be no longer disturbed but should be more intent on our own occupation with quietness, and so bring in a greater revenue to thee.”
The Samaritans were not Jews but were Gentiles and foreigners. They had adopted the way of the Jews when they were brought into the land and were enemies of the Jews, Ezra chapter 4 and 2Kings 17. Now, if you notice what Josephus says about the Samaritans in the highlighted parts, you will see that they did not pronounce the name of God but had a Temple on Mount Gerizzim without a name, anonumon in Greek. And when they saw the Jews being persecuted by the Romans they sent a letter to the governor saying they were aliens from their nation and their customs. Then the Samaritans go on and say, “…let our temple which at present hath no name (ἀνώνυμον anonumon) at all, be named the Temple of Jupiter Hellenius (Διὸς Ἑλληνίου Dios Helleniou)” Did you catch that? Their current Temple has no name, and they want the Roman God Jupiter Hellenius to be its name. Before this, the Samaritans referred to God as Shema in Aramaic which means “The Name.” But what does Jupiter have to do with the name Yahweh? If we go back to Gesenius regarding the name Yahweh, we continue to read something amazing.
“To give my own opinion, I suppose this word [Yahweh] to be one of the most remote antiquity, perhaps of the same origin as Jovis, Jupiter, and transferred from the Egyptians to the Hebrews.” Gesenius’ Hebrew Chaldee Lexicon Old Testament Scriptures, translated by Tragelles, 1857, page 337.
The Samaritans did speak the name of the Greek God Jupiter. According to Latin scholars, the name Jupiter/Iuppiter is a compound of Iou=God and pater=father or more literally, “Father Yahweh/god.” So is it possible that the Samaritans, who worshipped the Roman God Jupiter, also used the Greek Ιαβε and the Latin form Iove for which we get the name, Yahweh? And is this what Theodoret was reading when he read the name from the Greek, Ιαβε? The evidence seems to point to this explanation and Gesenius seems to agree. The example below shows how to pronounce the Latin “Iove” for Yahweh.
The “I” is pronounced as a double “EE” sound as in the word sheep.
The “O” is pronounced as an “AH” sound as in the word father.
The “V” is pronounced as a “W” as in the word whale.
The “E” is pronounced as “EH” as in the word pet.
There is a coin from Shechem (Nablus), showing the Roman period Samaritan Temple to Jupiter Hellenius (the Greek Jupiter) at the top of Mount Gerizim. This pagan Temple was dedicated to Jupiter during the time of the Maccabee wars, destroyed by one of the Maccabee kings, and then rebuilt by emperor Hadrian. This is the same Hadrian who ordered the Jews not to speak the name of Yehovah and also built a temple to Jupiter on the Temple Mount. Hadrian wanted the Jews to honor Father Ιαβε (Iove/Yahweh), better known today as Jupiter.
THE NAME IN JEWISH SOURCES
“The Brown-Driver-Briggs Lexicon suggested that the pronunciation Jehovah was unknown until 1520 when it was introduced by Galatinus, who defended its use.” (Wikipedia)
The above quotation is a true statement. I have that Lexicon of BDB and have checked for myself and have noted its accuracy on page 218 in BDB. All the major Western Hebrew scholars agree with BDB about Galatinus and the pronunciation of Jehovah or Yehovah in Hebrew. But was the name really unknown until 1520 CE and its pronunciation? What did Galatinus really have to say regarding the name Jehovah?
“‘…these four letters…if they are read as punctuated…(as you yourself well know) they make Iehova.’ However the Jews did not dare to pronounce it as it was written, but put worth in its place Adonai, which is the same thing as Lord.” (Galatinus, De Arcanis Catholicae, Veritatis 1518, folio 48b)
This was written to a German scholar named Reuchlin who had a Hebrew copy of the Old Testament with the complete vowels under the Hebrew letters “YHVH” for the pronunciation of Yehovah. You can see this in the Hebrew manuscript Codex Reuchlinianus, Joshua 21:1. Well, it is true that Galatinus is the earliest Christian source to use the name Jehovah, he did not invent the name because he states clearly that it was well known from the Hebrew texts as “Yehovah” when writing to Reuchlin. The belief that Jehovah is a Christain invention is still held and taught today. A well-known scholar, Robert J. Wilkinson, made this comment in his book, Tetragrammaton: Western Christians and the Hebrew Name of God on page 46 about the name Jehovah as being “…the distinctly Christian ‘Jehovah.'” and that NO Jews ever believed it was “Jehovah/Yehovah.” Was and is this true? Did no Jew ever believe and say that the name of God was Jehovah/Yehovah? Are there Jewish or Rabbinical sources that say clearly that the name of God is Yehovah? Let us check those sources and see if Dr.Wilkinson is correct.
ADONAI NOTE: There is a belief that that the name Yehovah in Hebrew has the vowel pointing of the title “Adonai.” (The vowel pointings are the dots and dashes underneath and above the Hebrew letters.) This is referred to as a Hybrid form in Hebrew. There are over 200 places in the Hebrew manuscripts that have the complete vowels for the pronunciation of “Yehovah.” The majority of the other times there is a single vowel missing which makes it impossible to pronounce. But, the vowel pointings for Yehovah are not always the same as the vowel pointings for Adonai. There are only a few cases of this type of hybrid form. With the vowel pointing of Adonai, the name would be pronounced Yahovah and not Yehovah. Scholars call this an impossible hybrid form of Hebrew with the Adonai vowels. For an example of a hybrid form in Hebrew, you can look at Jeremiah 42:6 in the Aleppo manuscript and see the Hebrew word “anu” for “we,” and in the margin of the text it says to read it as “anachnu.” The vowels for anachnu are in the shorter word of anu. We see this type of language slang in English with words like can’t for can not or wouldn’t for would not. This type of change in words is called colloquialism. So in Hebrew, we can see the more formal word in the margin without vowels and then see in the more informal word in the text by seeing the vowel points that are supposed to be in the formal. So the reader would know that the informal word in the text should be read the formal way that is in the margin. We see this type of hybrid form again in 2Kings 18:27 were we read two Hebrew curse words being used in the text and in the margin we see the replacement words being used instead. Those replacement words don’t have vowel points because they are inserted into the words in the text to read. This again tells the reader to not read the curse words in the text but to read the replacement words in the margin.
So with the word, Yehovah, scholars believe that the vowels for Adonai are the ones in the name Yehovah in Hebrew making it Yahovah. The problem with this view is that we do not find the same vowels in Yehovah as we do in Adonai. In fact, we only find that type of impossible hybrid form in a few cases (see the Hebrew manuscript in the Russian Library, EVR II B3). The majority of the time the word Yehovah has a different vowel in the first Hebrew letter than Adonai. The scholars’ view does not make sense at this point because if the scribe wanted to put the vowels for Adonai, they would have put them there just like the other hybrid examples above. Nothing was stopping the scribe from doing this type of hybrid form with Yehovah. This simply means that the scribes knew that the vowels for Yehovah were the actual vowels for YHVH in pronouncing his name and not the vowels for Adonai, which they could have easily put in the hybrid form to make it Yahovah. There is no evidence for a hybrid form of Yehovah from Adonai within the Hebrew texts.
Back to Jewish Sources
One Jewish source that is normally overlooked is found in the Talmud regarding the transmission of the name of God once every seven years. This source is not considered among Western scholars because they do not believe the Talmud to be accurate. The Talmud states that the Sages transmit the four-letter name of God to their disciples once in a seven-year period, (Babylonia Talmud, Kidushin 71a, Rabbi Bar Bar Chanah, 250-300 CE.) Other Rabbis would disagree with Rabbi Chanah and say the name was transmitted not once but twice in a seven-year period. This discussion in the Talmud does show that during the 3rd to the 4th century the name of God was being spoken and taught by the Rabbis to their disciples. But there is another Jewish source 1000 years later that confirms the Talmud. There was a book written in 1225, in Hebrew, and was finally published in 2004. The book was called, Book of the Divine Name by Eleazar Roke’ach or Worms. This manuscript was kept a secret by Rabbis before being published for the public to see in a book form. This Rabbi, Eleazar Roke’ach, explains how he received the name of God and how he transmitted to his disciples.
“Y”Y (Yehovah) is the unique honorable and terrifying name…it may only be transmitted to the modest…It may only be transmitted over water…Before the Rabbi teaches his disciple, they must wash in water and immerse in 40 se’ah [of water], donning white clothes. They must fast on the day they learn it, standing in water up to their ankles. The Rabbi will then open his mouth in awe and say, ‘Blessed are you Y”Y (Yehovah), our God, king of the universe. Y”Y (Yehovah) God of Israel, you are one, and your name is one. You commanded us to hide your great name, for your name is terrifying. Blessed are you Y”Y (Yehovah), and blessed is your glorious name forever, the honorable and terrifying name, Y”Y (Yehovah) our God. …Blessed are you Y”Y (Yehovah) who reveals his secret to those who fear him. The Rabbi and his disciple shall place their eyes upon the water and say, ‘…The sound of Y”Y (Yehovah) upon the water.'(Psalm 29:3)…”
The quote above has never been translated into English before until it was discovered by a Hebrew scholar, Nehemiah Gordon. He translated and posted the key parts to this quote to show that there was a tradition of transmitting the name of God down throughout the centuries. This tradition was also confirmed by another Hebrew scholar named Joseph Dan in his book, History of Jewish Mysticism and Esotericism, vol.6 page 561.
Another piece of rare evidence for speaking the name comes from an original autograph manuscript that has never been copied, translated or published. It was written by Joseph Ibn Tzayach in the 15th century and discovered and partly translated by Nehemiah Gordon. It reads as follows,
“Question #43: A certain sage has been uttering the name according to its letters, and a certain Rabbi rebuked him for this. But [the sage] was stubborn in his actions.”
This question to a Rabbi declares that a sage was speaking the name of God and was rebuked by a Rabbi for it but would not stop. The very name of God was well known throughout the centuries. The name was not only transmitted to disciples but was also spoken by Rabbis and even when rebuked by other Rabbis for doing so. But what was the actual name that was being spoken? Do the Rabbis tell us how the name was spoken?
THE NAME “YEHOVAH” IN JEWISH SOURCES
As we have just discovered, there were Rabbis who kept the name of God hidden by transmitting the name YHVH only to their disciples through a water ceremony. But the question now remains is what is the actual name of “YHVH” with vowels? Did the Rabbis believe the name to be Yehovah? Believe it or not, there were 16 Rabbis who did believe that the name of the Almighty was and is Yehovah! These Rabbis are dated from 1300 to the 1800s. We just read earlier from Western scholars that no Jews believed the name of God was Yehovah but that it was Yahweh. And that “Yehovah” was a Christian name for God. So let us see if this is true from Rabbinic sources.
The first source comes from the Tikunei Zohar, c.1300 regarding the secret of the vowels and where they are hidden.
“The secret of the vowels of YHVH, and the secret of the word ‘only in your fathers did YHVH set his love (chashak)‘ (Deuteronomy 10:15) is ‘because he has set his love (chashak) upon Me, therefore will I deliver him…[because he has known my name]’ (Psalm 91:14)”
The first thing we need to understand is that the vowels were a secret. The Jews did not go around yelling the name of using the name in a conversation like we do today. The secret vowels are hidden in a word in Deuteronomy 10:15 and in Psalm 91:14. Only in Hebrew will you understand and see the secret he is referring to in the verses. The common word in both verses is the Hebrew word chashak for love. Now, the normal Hebrew word for love is ahavah. The Hebrew chashak has a meaning of a burning or a longing type of love while ahavah has more of a meaning of respectful manner in treating someone well. But what does chashak have to do with the secret vowels of YHVH?
The Zohar turned the Hebrew word for love, chashak, into an acronym. That acronym being for the vowels Cholam, Sheva, and Kamatz. The very names of the three vowels found in the name YHVH which allows the name to be pronounced as Yehovah! The Zohar confirms the Hebrew manuscripts that contain all three vowels in the name YHVH and not the vowels for Adonai as we discussed earlier.
The next Rabbi to tell us how the name should be pronounced is Rabbi Menachem Tziyoni in the 14th century. In his commentary book on Exodus 3:15 he states the following,
“There is also a secret here received by tradition in the vowels of ‘this is my name forever (le’olam), for they are the vowels of the Great Name.” (New York, Jewish Theological Seminary, MS.1030, folio 46a)
Again, you will only see this secret of the vowels in Hebrew. What are the vowels that Menachem is referring to in the passage? Remeber, this is the passage where God reveals his name to Moses. The word forever in Hebrew, le‘olam, has the very same vowels mentioned. The vowels of the Great Name are Cholam, Sheva, and Kamatz! Again, the very same vowels mentioned in the Zohar for Yehovah. The Great Name Rabbi Menachem is referring to is Yehovah! We have two separate and independent witnesses for this understanding of the vowels for YHVH. Then, Menachem goes on to say,
“It’s mnemonic is ‘Who in Heaven (Shachak) can measure up to You…’ (Psalm 89:6)”
The word for “Heaven”, Shachak, in the passage, is not the more common word in Hebrew, as in the Hebrew word Shamayim for Heaven. And what is Shachak? It is representing the vowels for YHVH, namely Cholam, Sheva, and kamatz. Again, turning the Hebrew letters YHVH into Yehovah. And finally, Menachem finishes with another strong statement.
“‘I will guard the testimony of your mouth, [referring to Le’olam, YHVH]’ (Psalm 119:88) What is ‘the testimony of your mouth’? The palate is the cholam, the teeth are the sheva, and the tongue is the opening, which is the kamatz…thus far the words of the man who revealed the secret to me.”
The secret of the vowels was hidden in Hebrew words that contained them. The Hebrew words like le’olam, shachak, and chashak. These are not the vowels for Adonai and are not the vowels to pronounce Yahweh. These are the vowels for Yehovah. There should be no doubt that Rabbi Menachem believed and taught in secret the vowels for YHVH as he received them. You can also see the manuscript about how he received it in secret in Munich, Bayerische StaatBibliothek, HSS Cod.Hebr. 76-fol.56a-55a.
The next Rabbi we can look at is named Shabbethai Sofer (the scribe) who was the greatest grammarian in the 17th century who collected and corrected the Hebrew prayer books. He wrote a letter to another Rabbi on September 14, 1608, where he states the following,
“Is it not known…the saying of the sages [referring to the Babylonian Talmud, Pesachim 50a] ‘In This World, it is written YH[VH] and read Ado[nai]. In the World to Come, it will be written YH[VH] and read YH[VH].’…And behold, when it is read as YH[VH], in the World to Come then its vowels will be Shach“ak. (Sheva , Cholam, and Kamatz)
Once again we read the very same vowels being used to pronounce the name of YHVH as Yehovah. There can be little doubt about this usage of the vowels Sheva, Cholam, and Kamatz for YHVH. Now, the famous Rabbi who Shabbethai Sofer was writing to, namely Rabbi Meir Mahar”am of Lublin 1608, gave a response to Shabbethai. This response is historical regarding the vowels and the name of YHVH.
“Know, my beloved, how extremely difficult it is to put things like this in writing and even more so a letter sent about from place to place…[concerning] the vowels of the Tetragrammaton, which are Sheva Cholam Kamatz…I found in the words of my grandfather…our teacher Rabbi Asher [Lemel], head of the Beth Den of Krakow…he wrote a holy book…called Emek Ha Brachah, but because of its immense holiness it was never printed…that it not be used by those who are not worthy.”
At this point, Rabbi Meir Maha”am quotes his grandfather, Asher of Krakow and says,
“This is what it says in chapter 34: …[concerning] the Tetragrammaton…its vowels received from Sinai are Sheva Cholam Kamatz…”
This is a quote from a lost book that has yet to be found. Once again it confirms the exact vowels for the Tetragrammaton, YHVH. The name should be pronounced as Yehovah. Now, at the end of this letter Rabbi Meir Maha”am makes a request. He states the following,
“I have one request, that you hide this letter in a pure and holy place and not allow it to be passed around here and there…”
Obviously, his disciples did not keep his wishes. After he died he disciples collected all his writings and put it out as one of his responses collection. These Hebrew letters and all the others listed here can be viewed in Hebrew in a database that has collected them. In moving forward to a more modern Rabbi we come to Rabbi Samuel David Luzzatto (Shad’ al) of 1834. This Rabbi was aware of the many different names for YHVH including Gesenius belief of the name Yahweh. The Rabbi writes,
“Many have researched how this name was read…and what its original vowels were…it seems to me, that the vowels with which it is vocalized in most places [YHVH with the vowels Sheva Cholam Kamatz] are the original vowels…The kamatz of Yah[The first two letter, YH] changes to Sheva when the word elongated.”
Rabbi Luzzatto is confirming once again the secret that was kept regarding the real vowels behind the name of YHVH, Yehovah. He knew Gesenius’s beliefs and others who were trying to figure out the correct way to pronounce the name of God. He even corrects the basics of Hebrew grammar regarding the shorter version of YHVH, YH with Kamatz, and how it changes to its true form, the Sheva, when it is elongated. Some examples are as follows.
This is basic Hebrew grammar that the Rabbi is explaining regarding the shorter version of the name Yah and how the vowel changes when elongated. So Yah becomes Yehovah. And yet another more modern Rabbi named Jacob Bachrach in 1890 also explained the true vowels against the vowels of Adonai as some Western scholars have and still believe. He writes,
“If the vowels in the Tetragrammaton were indeed the vowels of Adonai, precision would have required putting a Chataf-Patach under the Yod for the Aleph of Adonai…the vowels Sheva, Cholam, Kamatz specifically belong to the Unique Name alone. There is not a single vowel here that comes from or remains from, a reference to the title Adonai, or even hints at it. With these vowels, the priests in the Temple used to call on the Unique Name the way it is written …These vowels…are its own vowels intended for the Kohanim in the Temple to call [on the name]…The way [The Name] is written, with its letters and vowels Sheva Cholam Kamatz, are eternal, for if there was a Temple standing today…even now the Kohanim would be calling on it the way it is written, with its letters and these vowels, and so too the High Priest ten times on Yom Kippur…According to the rulings that have come down to us, there is no prohibition from the Torah to speak the Name the way it is written. However, the custom not to pronounce the Name the way it is written is very old…thus…it is not right to [pronounce the Name], but there is no prohibition from the Torah…”
Once again we read the true vowels that belong to YHVH and how the vowels of Adonai were not considered in Hebrew or part of the grammar in Hebrew. There are a total of 16 Rabbis who confirm the name of YHVH as Yehovah and not Yahweh. 14 of the Rabbinic sources are written in Hebrew and have never been translated or viewed before by Western scholars. This explains the misunderstanding to try and dismiss the name Jehovah or Yehovah as being a Christian name for God. This is far from the truth as we have seen and read.
The sources I have provided have been verified by viewing the digital photos displayed by Nehemiah Gordon who brought all this to light concerning the Jewish sources for the name Yehovah. I feel it is my duty as a Biblical Scholar and believer in Yeshua-Jesus, who is my Jewish Messiah, to share these findings. My hope is that the true name of God be brought to light and into the world so that we may glorify his holy and mighty name, Yehovah forever, amen and amen.
“They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘Yehovah is my God…And Yehovah will be king over all the earth. On that day Yehovah will be one and his name one.” Zech.13:9, 14:9
4 thoughts on “What is The Name of God?”
Thanks a lot for this article!
Have you ever done anything like this on the name Yahuwah?
Sveral years ago we met refugees from Ethiopia with an Amharic Orthodox Bible (Semites) which speaks about the name Yahuwah. Also the Ethiopian Oromos (Kushites) confirmed us that they have always used the name Yahuwah for God but it is not in the Oromo Bible.
There are also a lot of names in the Jewish Bible that have “yahu” in their names.
So it would be great to receive a reply!
Wishing you all the best…
thank you for the comment. There is no such name as Yahuwah in Hebrew without violating the Hebrew grammar. The “Yah” is typically is a suffix ending to a name or word in Hebrew like HalleluYah. But as a prefix, you will find the “Yeho” at the beginning of a name like Yehoshua, Yehoshafat, etc. This is consistent with Hebrew grammar and so is YeHoVaH as the name of God.
I hope this helps and thank you.
Dr. Al Garza
Simpler and cleaner is ‘Yahuah’ as transcription from transliteration YHUH (not YHWH, YHVH, nor JHVH, etc.) Why contorted ‘w’ sound? It also help remove confusion btw ‘w’ and ‘v’, however diachronically people try to prove one over the other. Wish they had a recorder so that we can find out the real sound.
I am sorry but your understanding of the name as “YHUH” or “Yahuah” has no Hebrew foundation and goes against the Hebrew grammar and the Hebrew itself.