The Name of God

Jehovah or Yahweh?

Two questions I am always asked after talks I have given in Singapore, England, Holland, Belgium, America, Ireland or wherever on Jehovah's Witnesses made me resolve to write this article. It appears that there is some concern among Christians as to the proper name of God.

Well before I get into this, please let me explain something very important. God does not condemn you for calling Him by the wrong name, your relationship with Him is what is more important. If you are truly a child of God, having repented of your sins, made the personal choice to make His Son Christ Jesus your Lord and Savior, and resolved to follow Him as led by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. That is what is much more important.

The name Jehovah is actually a mistake.

What do I mean by that?. Well God's name in the original language of the Old Testament is . That is YHWH when transliterated. Well the Jewish people and scribes of the Old Testament were very worried about breaking the third commandment, and not taking the name of the Lord in vain. At that time the Hebrew language didn't include the vowels in the writings. This was just introduced in the 10th Century as a series of dots and dashes under letters to indicate the vowels. So when they wrote God's Name in the scrolls of the Scriptures later, they put the there, but put the vowels for Adonai (Lord) underneath, to suggest the reader says "Lord" instead of the Holy Name Yahweh. It was copied in some versions of the Septuagint (LXX) as Kyrios (Lord in Greek). Other versions of the Septuagint used a transliterated form of just copying over the letters into Greek.. Later Latin versions used the first format and put Dominus (Lord in Latin) in place. This format of using the title Lord is still used in some translations of the Bible in English. The word Jehovah is a conflate of the Hebrew letters for Yhwh and the vowels from Adonai. The malformed word Jehovah came about through transliteration instead of translation.

This would be better illustrated if I gave the example of taking the letters of the country Germany = G, R, M, N, (y is a considered as a vowel here for simplicity!!). And took the vowels of the country Portugal =O, U, A. and put them together we get a new country called "Gormuna!"
Well a person called by the name of Galatinus wrote in his book De Arcanis Catholica Veritatis, (1516, volume II ) the first recorded mistaken transliteration of Yhwh and Adonai together making the Latin conflate word Iehoua. This then came into usage in Latin manuscripts. In 1530 the Biblical translator Tyndale translated Iehoua into Jehovah. He put this in his English version of the Bible. Subsequently this became the norm for translators. Much of Tyndale's translation was used in the making of the King James Bible, and it was copied across. So the mistaken name Jehovah came into popular usage.

The correct name of God according to the Hebrew is actually Yahweh. This has been correctly used in the New King James translation of the Bible. I would love to see His Name being used properly in worship and praise in churches. It pains me when I see books by Christian writers on the various titles of God, and the books are full of Jehovah-Tishri Jehova-Tsidku etc. If these people are going to write such books, they should do a little bit of research, it doesn't take much to see that Jehovah is a wrong name. It also pains me to hear worship songs to Jehovah, especially from people who do Messianiac praise and worship in Hebrew.

Secondly, our salvation is not dependent on getting God's name right, show me anywhere in the Scriptures that it says this and I will join the Jehovah's witnesses!. Even they know that Jehovah is a wrong name, look at the front couple of pages of their (per)version of the Bible the New World (mis)Translation!.

Shaun Aisbitt Sint Niklaas Oct 98

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