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Question

A visitor asks: I read so many conflicting opinions about God's name.
Is God's name Jehovah or Yahweh or what?

Bible Bell's Reply
Early in their relationship, Moses asked God to reveal His name.
God readily complied with Moses' request by giving Him not one but TWO names of God...
  Then Moses said to God, "Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they say to me, 'What is His name?' what shall I say to them?" Ex 3.13
  • Name #1 - The first name that God told Moses about was Hayah.
  • Hayah is a Hebrew word meaning I AM.
  • Part One of this analysis discusses Hayah.
  God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, 'I AM (hayah) has sent me to you.'" Ex 3.14
  • Name #2 - The second name that God told Moses about was YHWH.
  • YHWH is a Hebrew word for which we have only the four consonants. We do NOT have the vowels.
  • Ergo, we aren't quite sure what YHWH means, or how to pronounce it.
  • Part Two of this analysis discusses YHWH.
  Moreover God said to Moses, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: 'The LORD (YHWH) God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.'" Ex 3.15

Part One: God's name: Hayah - I AM

Jesus often referred to Himself by God's name, "I AM" (Hayah).

 

Jesus said...

  • I AM the bread of life John 6.35a
  • I AM the light of the world. John 8.12a
  • I AM the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, yet he shall live. John 11.25a

(See also John 8.57-58, 9.5, 10.7, 10.9, 10.11, 10.14, 14.6, 15.1, 15.5)

NOTE: The New Testament of your English-language Bible is a translation of Bible manuscripts written in Koine Greek.

  • Where those Greek manuscripts record words spoken by Jesus, they are themselves a translation of His actual words.
  • It is our OPINION that Jesus primarily spoke Aramaic, a Semitic language closely related to Hebrew.
  • As the basis for the preceding opinion, we note that the Lord's actual words (in Aramaic) were recorded in some cases, as shown by the four examples alongside.
  Jesus took the child by the hand, and said to her, "Talitha, cumi," which is translated, "Little girl, I say to you, arise." Mk 5.41

At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "
Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" which is translated, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" Mk 15.34

When Jesus looked at him, He said, "You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called
Cephas" (which is translated, A Stone). John 1.42

(
Jesus said...) No one can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Mt 6.24
  • Accordingly, it is our studied OPINION that, when Jesus referred to Himself as "I AM," He said Hayah -- the name of God.
  Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM." John 8.58
  • The Jews were well aware that Jesus was calling Himself Hayah -- God's name. This fact is clearly demonstrated by their violent reaction to His words.
  Then they took up stones to throw at Him John 8.59a
Of course, Jesus was perfectly within His rights to call Himself "I AM" (Hayah).

He was, IS, and always shall be God.
  (We are...) looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ Titus 2.13

Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:
God was manifested in the flesh 1 Tim 3.16a

Shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus referred to Himself as "I AM" (Hayah) one final time...

  • The event took place one evening in the Garden of Gethsemane, when Judas brought an armed troop to arrest Jesus on trumped-up charges.
  • The leaders of the troop asked Christ if He was Jesus of Nazareth.
  • Christ simply replied, "I AM!"
  • Hayah !!!! The name of God Almighty, spoken from God's own lips, caused the troop to be flung backwards, onto their (uhh) posteriors.
  • This tired old world was fortunate indeed that our Lord ALLOWED Himself to be taken captive and slain, so that you and I might have eternal life in Him. Halleluyah!
  Then Judas, having received a band and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns and torches and weapons.

Then Jesus, knowing all things that were coming upon Him, went out and said to them, "Whom do you seek?"

They answered Him, "Jesus of Nazareth."

Jesus said to them, "I AM!" And Judas who betrayed Him also stood with them.

As soon as Jesus said to them," I AM," they went backward and fell to the ground. John 18.3-6

Part Two: God's name: YHWH

Now let's move to the subject of God's other name, YHWH.

We will discuss possible meanings of YHWH in a moment. But first we have to explain some rather odd translating practices to you.

 

 

The verse shown alongside gives the first use of God's name, YHWH, in the Bible.

  • Notice that the King James Version translates YHWH as "LORD" -- all in capital letters.
  • The practice of representing YHWH by "LORD" is done in many translations, including but not limited to the KJV, NKJV, NIV, and NAS.
  These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD (YHWH) God made the earth and the heavens Gen 2.4, KJV

Of course, "Lord" is also a title of God...

  • When God is referred to as "Lord" (in caps and lower case) it translates the Hebrew word adonay, as shown alongside.
  • So LORD represents God's name, YHWH
  • Whereas Lord represents God's title, adonay.
  And Abraham replied, "Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord (adonay), although I am but dust and ashes. Gen 18.27

As you might expect, there are times when the Bible refers to God by both His title (adonay) AND His name (YHWH).

  • Not wanting to translate "adonay YHWH" as "the Lord LORD," the Bible's translators did what you see in the verse alongside.
  • That is, in cases such as that shown, the translators translated YHWH with the word GOD -- all in capital letters.
  Abram said, "O Lord (adonay) GOD (YHWH), what will You give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?" Gen 15.2

Thus, the Old Testament of many English-language Bibles has the following usages...

  • God (caps and lower case) almost always translates Elohiym, which means "mighty ones."
  • GOD (all in caps) translates YHWH.
  • Lord (caps and lower case) translates adonay.
  • LORD (all in caps) translates YHWH.
   

Now we are at last ready to seek out the POSSIBLE meaning and pronunciation of YHWH...

  • The Jewish people often read the Hebrew Bible aloud.
  • When they come to YHWH they do not pronounce it, because of the Third Commandment (quoted alongside).
  • Instead of pronouncing YHWH, they say "adonay," which is the Hebrew word for "Lord."
  You shall not take the name of the LORD (YHWH) your God (Elohiym) in vain, for the LORD (YHWH) will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain. Ex 20.7
  • Ergo: When Hebrew scribes copied the Bible's ancient manuscripts, they inserted the vowels a-o-a (from adonay) above God's name, YHWH.
  • Using our letters (rather than Hebrew letters) the result would have looked something like this... YaHoWaH
  • And now you know why our old Bible translations (such as KJV and ASV) use Jehovah as a possible representation of God's personal name.
   

Nowadays (in the year 2002, that is)...

  • Some Bible scholars think that YHWH is a form of Hayah (I AM) and should be pronounced Yahweh.
  • The extracted portions of Exodus 3.14-15, shown alongside, support this scholarly OPINION.
 

(God said to Moses...) Thus you shall say to the children of Israel...

  • HAYAH has sent me to you.
  • YHWH Elohiym is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.

Extracted from Exod 3.14 & 3.15

  • Additional support for pronouncing God's name as Yahweh is given by Psalm 68.4, quoted alongside.
  • Moreover, the oft-heard expression "Halleluyah" means... Praise Yah!
  • In Bible Bell's OPINION, Yahweh is probably a good representation of God's personal name.
  Sing to God, sing praises to His name; extol Him who rides on the clouds, by His name YAH (Yahh), And rejoice before Him. Psalm 68.4

Speaking of God's name, please be aware that...

  • The family and friends of Jesus probably never called Him Iesous (His name in Greek) or Jesus (His name in English).
  • Rather, Christ's family and friends most likely called Him by His Hebrew name, Yeshua.
  • P.S. Christ's Hebrew name is also spelled and pronounced Yehoshua. Yeshua is what most Hebrew believers use as the Christ's personal name.




In either case (Yeshua or Yehoshua) Christ's name means Yahweh is salvation.

Thus, the name Yeshua tells you two altogether beautiful facts about Christ...

  • He is Yahweh, the LORD God, AND
  • He is Yahweh, YOUR salvation!!!

Amen and amen.


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