This is God’s most sacred name, and it appears more than 6,800 times in the Old Testament. For more on its meaning read Yahweh: God’s Personal Name. So, why do some people use Yahweh and others Jehovah for this name?
German Translation Verses Original Hebrew
Ancient Hebrew was written without the vowels. This special name for God was written in Hebrew with the consonants YHWH. German translations used the vowels JHVH.
Misuse is Forbidden. Punishable by Death
As God’s sacred, personal name, God’s covenant people have used it with great care. Moses calls the Israelites to not misuse this sacred name in the 10 commandments in Exodus 20:7. Misusing this name was punished by death Leviticus 24:16. You can see the Jewish people picking up stones to follow through with this injunction in John 8:56-59, when they felt that Jesus was misusing the name of Yahweh by saying he was Yahweh.
Not Spoken Out Loud for About 900 Years
After the temple was destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70, the Jewish people stopped saying this name of God out loud. They didn’t want to profane the most sacred of God’s names. Whenever the text had YHWH, they substituted it with the name Adonai or “the Name.” Now, since Hebrew was written down without the vowels, and since the people did not say the word for about 900 years, when 10th century (A.D. 901-1000) Jewish scholars began to add the vowels in to written Hebrew, they weren’t quite sure which vowels to add.
Replaced with the vowels of Adonai.
Most scholars believe it should be pronounced yahWEH, but they initially just added the vowels for Adonai in to create YaHoWaH. Translating out of Hebrew and keeping the vowels of Adonai led to Jehovah being the translation placed in the early translations of the Bible- the King James Version.
How Can I Recognize When Yahweh is Used in the Bible?
Most translations will write Yahweh with the word LORD in all capital letters. If you see Lord in sentence case, then, you know it is a translation of Adonai or Elohim.
The Strong’s Reference for Yahweh is H3068
For a complete list of the use of this name in the Bible, click here.
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