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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Is it Jehovah or Yahweh?

Overview
Jehovah, though not as commonly used as God is still decently well known. However unlike God, which is often a title, Jehovah is the unique name of God, which is sometimes abbreviated at Jah. Some assert that it is a wrong translation of the Tetragrammaton (YHWH) and should be rendered as Yahweh, Yahwah, or the like because it more accurately reflects the original pronunciation. Others say that God does not need a name and therefore God or Lord is enough. But what is the truth of the matter?

Jehovah is not the original pronunciation, it may be close, yet it is not accurate. However, Yahweh, though favored by scholars, is not for certain the correct pronunciation, so although it is likely closer to the correct pronunciation it has not advantage over Jehovah. Secondly Jehovah is more frequently used in English as well are its counterparts in other languages (Jehovah in German, the J sounds like a Y in German).

But if Yahweh is closer to being correct should we not use that?
Not necessarily, for we do not say Yeshua or Iesous, but instead pronounce the Son on God's name as Jesus. So to with all the prophets and people of the Bible. Often times people who object to Jehovah on grounds of pronunciation do not apply their logic to the rest of the names of the Bible.

What about those who do?
I have seen a number of times people use the transliterations of Hebrew names which more closely reflect the original pronunciation. I do not disparage their efforts, yet we note that when the Christians wrote in Greek they wrote the names of the Hebrew prophets into Greek that is why in some Bibles Elijah is called Elias in the Christian Greek Scriptures, the same goes for Noah as Noe. If the Christians felt there was nothing wrong in calling them by translated names just as they called Yeshua by the name Ieosus we are not wrong in calling Jesus by the name Jesus. It is easier to call Noah by the name Noah in both testaments that transliterate both versions because we know him by the name Noah?

Well if we use the common name why not just call Jehovah "Lord?"
Because Jehovah does have a name! Lord is a title used by humans, other gods are called Lord and is not only the wrong pronunciation it is an error in the text. Lord denotes status and power, but God's name is intimate and has meaning, one that he chose for himself (it means "he causes to become.")

Further the claim that there is no other gods is not quite true. There are false gods, there is Satan "the god of this world" and the angels are also "gods." So we see that there is a need to distinguish Jehovah from lesser or nonexistent gods. Further it is presumptuous to say that we don't need to use God's name that Jehovah chose.

Conclusion
It does not matter which pronunciation you use, although I recommend Jehovah since it is more widely used and follows the custom of translating names into familiar sounds while preserving meaning. For example in English there is the name John, from the Latin Iohn which comes from Greek which comes from Hebrew which came from a longer Hebrew name which was then shortened, yet they all mean "Jehovah is gracious." Also the French Jean was translated into Irish as Sean (the S, in case you do not know, making a "sh" sound because they did not have a J sound). Is Sean an inaccurate transliteration of Jean? Hardly! So too Jehovah is not an in accurate transliteration of the Tetragrammaton. Yet in the end it is important to use God's name and to know its meaning.

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