• David Lee Brown

TETRAGRAMMATON



“For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord [YHWH], to serve him with one consent.” Zephaniah 3:9

The book of Zephaniah is a tapestry of woven prophecies of the pending judgement of the Southern Kingdom of Judah and the future Messianic 1,000 year reign of Christ. In the verse above he is prophesying about the return to a pure language or purified speech. That language will almost certainly not be Hebrew or English or any of their derivations. I would assume it would be the language or speech that God (Yahweh, YHWH) preprogramed into the first two humans, Adam and Eve. This first language is probably the same language of the Angels and heavenly host, but again, that is just speculation on my part. What we can know from scripture is that the pure language or speech will not be the Hebrew language of Zephaniah’s day.

We, in our infinite arrogance, have butchered other languages through translations of these languages into English. One pronounced butchering is of the personal name of God. In the original Hebrew, which used no vowels, the personal name of God was rendered YHWH. YHWH, the Tetragrammaton, is derived from the Greek tetra meaning 4 and gramma meaning letter. Upon good linguistic authority it is pronounced Yahweh (Yah-Way). Over the years YHWH became rendered into old English as IEHOUAH by William Tyndale in his 1530 English Bible translation. Then in his 1534 addition he rendered the name Iehovah. At this time the English language didn’t have a “J” but the stylized “I” looked like our modern “J” and was pronounced with a “Y” or “I” sound. There was also initially no “V” in the English language so “U” was substituted, but pronounced “V”. So, over time Iehouah, became Iehovah and then Jehovah, as it is currently rendered. The problem with the word rendered Jehovah is that it’s a made up word combining JHVH (the old English version of YHWH) with the vowels of the Hebrew words Elohim and Adonai, creating the hybrid word Jehovah, which dates back to about 1534 when it was rendered Iehovah, eventually pronounced with a “J” sound or Jehovah.

The 6,823 times the word YHWH is used in scripture it is usually rendered as God (Elohim), Lord (Adonai) or Jehovah, but usually God or Lord. This stems from the reluctance of using God’s personal name by many Hebrew scholars as it was written in the preserved manuscripts. When they read or taught from Hebrew they used Elohim and Adonai and their contemporaries like Tyndale translated the Hebrew into God and Lord. So, God’s name is Yahweh, not Jehovah. I’m not going to be too dogmatic about this, but the correct pronunciation of God’s personal name is Yahweh.

Use whatever name you’re comfortable with as long as you know who you’re talking about.


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