Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, December 9, 2013 0 comments

Today’s word is the only word we’ve covered that’s not really a word. Yahweh is considered to be the name of God from the Hebrew Bible, but it’s really just an English interpretation of that word.

The name of God is known as the tetragrammaton, since it’s four consonants in the Hebrew language. Those consonants are yod (pronounced “yode”), he (pronounced “hey”), vav, and he. Those match up with the consonants we see in the word Yahweh, since the vav can be either a “w” or a “v.” There are usually vowels included with these consonants, but they’re different than what we see in the English-ized Yahweh.

So, why do I say that this word isn’t really a word? Well partly because Yahweh is a poor translation, but also because the Hebrew people believe that God’s name is so sacred it should never, ever be pronounced. For a long time, it was forbidden for a Jew to pronounce this word, which led to its real pronunciation being completely forgotten. The root of the tetragrammaton YHWH may come from the Hebrew verb “to be,” which has similar consonants. We could reference Exodus 3:14 here, when God says to Moses that He is “I am who I am.”

When reading in Hebrew and you come to the YHWH tetragrammaton, it is tradition to pronounce it as “Adonai,” which would mean “my Lord.” We don’t know for sure how to pronounce YHWH, and today most people continue the tradition of not attempting to pronounce it out of reverence for God. Orthodox Jews will instead say “hashem” when they come across YHWH, which means “the name” in Hebrew.

Either way, the name of God should be regarded as holy and majestic because God is holy. Even the best Hebrew scholars cannot understand and agree on the origin or pronunciation of the name of God, just as no human can fully understand God in all of His power and majesty. We must treat the name of God with the reverence it deserves. As is written in Exodus 20:7, “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”

On a lighter note, check out this video for a fun take on YHWH. Remember to regard the name of God in high importance, however it is pronounced.