God as YHWH

God as YHWH

 By Larry Fayer

A third word that is used for our God and translated as either “LORD” or “Jehovah” is the word YHWH.  Unlike the first two (ELOHIM and ADONAI), THIS WORD IS A SPECIFIC AND SPECIAL NAME USED ONLY IN REFERENCE TO THE GOD OF THE UNIVERSE.  It is His unique name and the word most often used when referring to our God in the Old Testament.  This word is used more than 7000 times throughout the Old Testament scriptures to name and identify the God we serve.

YHWH (which is a transliteration) is a combination of four consonants.  The way that English translations came up with the words they used is interesting.  We do not know how this name was pronounced by the Hebrews because it ceased to be pronounced by them after Babylonian captivity (in the 500’s BC).  The reason for this was that it was considered too holy to be uttered.  You might say that they had learned a lesson in respect after watching Israel disappear and Judah go into Babylonian captivity for a period of seventy years.

So, how did the word Jehovah come to be used?  It’s a fairly long and complicated piece of history but may be summarized in the following way:  The Masoretes (6-10th century AD) were a group of godly men who spent their lives making handwritten copies of the Bible.  Scholars often refer to their copies of the Scriptures as “The Massoretic Text.” They added the vowels from the name ADONAI and made the word look something like “YaHoWaH.”  The Y eventually became changed to J and the word became “Jehovah” in English.  So, the bottom line is that we are not sure how the name was pronounced originally and it is a guess to say it was close to Jehovah.  However, Jehovah has become the English replacement for the Hebrew word YHWH.  Personally, I would have preferred that English translations continue to use the word Jehovah instead of LORD. I think it would be less confusing for the English readers.

What we learn from Jehovah’s name is that he is the one and only God.  While there are many gods out there from A to Z, Aphrodite to Zeus, there is only one God that we should serve and his name is YHWH or Jehovah.  Jehovah is a distinct individual.  He is unique, like no other.  He is Creator of the universe and all that is in it.  The Bible describes Him as all-powerful, all-knowing and in all places.  He is involved in the lives of His people.  He abhors evil and punishes it.  He loves obedient holiness from His Creation and He rewards those who live life that way.  He has a host of angels who serve him.  

As Moses contemplated our God, he wrote the following words: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5 ESV).

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