God? What’s in a Name

Moses and the Burning Bush

The average reader of the English Bible will come to the false conclusion that God does not have a personal name. It doesn’t help that the popular movie The Ten Commandments states that the Hebrew’s God had no name.

2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3  “You shall have no other gods before me. Ex. 20:2 -3

Notice that LORD is in all capital letters. This is there to indicate to the reader that the Lord’s name was there in the original Hebrew. Occasionally this is also done to the word GOD.

But he said, “O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” Gen. 15:8 

This happens when the Hebrew has both the word for “lord” and the personal name of God in the same sentence.

YHVH/Jehovah

God’s name is YHVH/YHWH in Hebrew. However, at some point the keepers of the Text the Jews became superstitious about pronouncing the name of God. So they began a tradition of saying Adona meaning lord and bowing whenever they read the word. Later when they were putting together the Masoretic Text they added vowel pointing to all the words. Because ancient Hebrew has no vowels and they were beginning to forget how to pronounce the words. When they came to YHVH they inserted the vowels for Adona or lord. Now when the first translations were made into European languages they didn’t know the Jews had done this. Latin being the paramount language of Europe for the centuries to come use a J to make a Y sound. This set the precedence for a J. And that is where Jehovah comes from. It is YHVH with the vowels from Adona. 

FYI: This is why all the names that in Hebrew start with a Y sound are spelled in English with a J, e.g. Jesus, Jacob, John, Jerusalem, Jezreel, etc. Hebrew has NO hard J sounds.

Pronunciation?

Next question is always, How is it pronounced? Well, to be honest, no one really knows for sure. It is most likely either Yahvah or Yahwah.

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13 thoughts on “God? What’s in a Name

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