The Proper Name of the CREATOR

Part 1: Introduction

 

By Ken Burns

 

The subject of the proper name of the CREATOR of the heavens and the earth is one of the most important and exciting topics in the Bible. Your investment of time in studying this section carefully will be well worth every moment.

The CREATOR’s Proper Name Is Important to Him!

When you want to get to know someone, one of the first things you usually want to know is his or her name. And peoples’ names tend to be very important to them. The Bible indicates in many ways that the proper name of the CREATOR of the heavens and the earth is very important to Him also.

    Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain (Exod. 20:7, emphasis added)

    And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD (Lev. 19:12, emphasis added)

    Because he hath set his love upon me [i.e., the LORD], therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. (Ps. 91:14, emphasis added)

    Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD (Ps. 105:3, emphasis added).

    He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name (Ps. 111:9, emphasis added).

    And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes (Ezek. 36:23, emphasis added)

    So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let them pollute my holy name any more: and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One of Israel (Ezek. 39:7, emphasis).

The CREATOR’s Proper Name is Yahweh

    Somewhere between the fifth and the second centuries bce a tragic accident befell God: he lost his name. More exactly, Jews gave up using God's personal name Yahweh, and began to refer to Yahweh by various periphrases: God, the Lord, the Name, the Holy One, the Presence, even the Place. Even where Yahweh was written in the biblical text, readers pronounced the name as Adonai. With the final fall of the temple, even the rare liturgical occasions when the name was used ceased, . . . [David J. A. Clines, “Yahweh and the God of Christian Theology,” Theology 83 (1980), pp. 323-30].

In the Bible, the CREATOR of the heavens and the earth specifically tells us His proper name many times. That name in the Hebrew Old Testament is represented by four Hebrew letters-Yod-Heh-Waw-Heh (or YHWH)--and these four letters are sometimes called the tetragrammaton (“four-letter writing”).

The four Hebrew letters YHWH (Yahweh) occur 6,824 times in the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible according to the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance (<http://www.blueletterbible.org/index.html>); i.e., 6,519 times as Yehovah (Strong's #3068) and 305 times as Yehovih (Strong's #3069).

Appendix 32 of The Companion Bible (http://www.therain.org/appendixes/app32.html) also notes 134 places in the Hebrew Old Testament where the Sopherim--Hebrew for "counters" or "scribes"--changed YHWH (Yahweh) to adonai ("Lord"). YHWH (Yahweh) occurs 6,828 times in the Hebrew Old Testament from which the NIV was translated [The Hebrew-English Concordance to the Old Testament (HECOT, p. 630)]. In fact, YHWH is one of the 35 most frequently occurring terms in the Hebrew Old Testament!

As to the pronunciation of the four Hebrew letters YHWH, Kenneth L. Barker states:

    There is almost universal consensus among scholars today that the sacred Tetragrammaton (YHWH) is to be vocalized and pronounced Yahweh. [Barker, “YHWH Sabaoth: ‘The Lord Almighty,’” The NIV: The Making of a Contemporary Translation <http://www.gospelcom.net/ibs/niv/mct/9.php>, emphasis added]

And the Encyclopaedia Britannica adds:

    Although Christian scholars after the Renaissance and Reformation periods used the term Jehovah for YHWH, in the 19th and 20th centuries biblical scholars again began to use the form Yahweh. Early Christian writers, such as Clement of Alexandria in the 2nd century, had used a form like Yahweh, and this pronunciation of the tetragrammaton was never really lost. Other Greek transcriptions also indicated that YHWH should be pronounced Yahweh [Encyclopędia Britannica  (<http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?eu=79806&tocid=0>), “Yahweh,” emphasis added]

As to the meaning of the Creator’s proper name YHWH, “Yahweh,” Exodus chapter three provides important information:

    [11] And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?

    [12] And he said, Certainly I will be [ehyeh] with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.

    [13] And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?

    [14] And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM [ehyeh asher ehyeh]: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM [ehyeh] hath sent me unto you.

    [15] And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, the LORD [YHWH, Yahweh] God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.

    [16] Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, The LORD [YHWH, Yahweh] God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt  (Exod. 3:11-16, KJV, emphasis added).

The best known modern Bibles [such as the NIV, NASV, and the Revised Standard Version (RSV)] all differ from the KJV and agree with each other in their translation of the Hebrew words underlying “I AM THAT I AM” in Exodus 3:14:

    God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.f This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” (NIV)

    God said to Moses, “cI AM WHO cI AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, “cI AM has sent me to you.” (NASV)

    God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.”e And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” (RSV)

The NIV and RSV also offer alternative translations in their footnotes relating to verse 14:

    Or I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE (NIV, footnote “f”)

    Or I AM WHAT I AM or I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE (RSV, footnote “e”)

And the NIV and NASV provide information concerning the relationship between the term “I AM” which occurs three times in verse 14 and the term “the LORD” [YHWH] in verse 15:

    The Hebrew for LORD [in verse 15] sounds like and may be derived from the Hebrew for I AM in verse 14 (NIV, footnote “g”)

    [“I AM” in verse 14 is] Related to the name of God, YHWH, rendered LORD, which is derived from the verb HAYAH, to be (NASV, footnote “c”).

In the chapter titled “YHWH Sabaoth” quoted earlier, Barker points out the importance of Exodus chapter 3 relative to the meaning of “Yahweh”:

    . . . this verse [i.e., Exod. 3:14] is a divine commentary on--or exposition of--the meaning of the name Yahweh (v.15).

Scott Grant, in his article “Being Involved” which is posted on the Internet [<http://www.pbc.org/dp/grant/exodus/exo003.html>], states:

    God seems to indicate that his name is "I AM" (or "I WILL BE"), for he tells Moses to tell the people that "I AM" has sent him [verse 14]. This is the first-person singular form of the verb "to be." God has used it elsewhere already in this passage in conveying his nature. In Exodus 3:12, he says, "I will be with you." Although in the New American Standard translation, the name "I AM" and the verb "I will be" appear to be different tenses, they appear in the same Hebrew tense, and they are one and the same word. . . .

            . . . God twice identifies his name with a word translated "the Lord" (3:15, 16) [i.e., YHWH, Yahweh]. This word is likely the third-person singular form of the verb "to be" and means . . . "HE IS" or "HE WILL BE." The transliteration from Hebrew into English, near as we can tell, is "Yahweh" (emphasis added).

And the New English Translation’s discussion of Exod. 3:14 in note 47 states:

    The verb form used here [for “I am” in verse 14] is . . . ('ehyeh), the Qal imperfect, 1csg, of the verb "to be," hyh (haya). It forms an excellent paronomasia with the name [Yahweh]. So when God used the verb to express his name, he used this form saying, "I AM." When his people refer to him as Yahweh, which is the 3msg form of the same verb, it actually means "he is." Some commentators argue for a future tense translation, "I will be who I will be," because the verb has an active quality about it, and the Israelites lived in the light of the promises for the future. The Greek translation [of the Hebrew Old Testament known as the Septuagint or “LXX” (for the supposed 70 translators)] used a participle to capture the idea [i.e., ego eimi ho on, “I am he who is”]; . . . The simplest meaning is the English present tense [i.e., "I am"], which embraces the future promises. The point is that Yahweh is sovereignly independent of all creation and that his presence guarantees the fulfillment of the covenant. Others argue for a causative Hiphil translation of "I will cause to be," but nowhere in the Bible does this verb appear in Hiphil or Piel (<http://www.bible.org/>).

The meaning of the CREATOR's holy name Yahweh has been frequently discussed in scholarly literature through the years. If the reader would like to pursue this matter further, here are several additional sources for consideration: (1) “Yahweh,” Encyclopędia Britannica Article (<http://www.britannica.com>); (2) “Jehovah (Yahweh),” Catholic Encyclopedia (<http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/>); and (3)  our Appendix 1, The CREATOR's Proper Name is Yahweh!

Here are some key verses in which the CREATOR’s proper name Yahweh occurs:

    Abraham planted a tamarisk at Beersheba and there he invoked Yahweh, the everlasting God. [Gen. 21:33 Jerusalem Bible (JB)]

The KJV translates “there he invoked” as “called there on the name of” in verse 33 because the Hebrew Old Testament contains the word shem, “name.”

    And God also said to Moses, “You are to say to the sons of Israel: ‘Yahweh, the 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 for all time; by this name I shall be invoked for all generations to come (Exod. 3:15 JB)

    God spoke to Moses and said to him, “I am Yahweh. To Abraham and Isaac and Jacob I appeared as El Shaddai; I did not make myself known to them by my name Yahweh.” (Exod. 6:2, 3 JB)

    And let them know this: you alone bear the name Yahweh, Most High over the whole world (Ps. 83:18 JB).

    My name is Yahweh, I will not yield my glory to another, nor my honour to idols. (Isa. 42:8 JB)

    Now listen, I am going to make them acknowledge, this time I am going to make them acknowledge my hand and my might; and then they will know that Yahweh is my name. (Jer. 16:21 JB)

Appendix 1

The CREATOR’s Proper Name is Yahweh!

We will now go into considerable detail about the proper name of the CREATOR of the heavens and the earth, Yahweh. Please review this material carefully, as it will answer many questions you may have had about the GOD, the CREATOR.

The CREATOR’s Proper Name Is Yahweh

In the main body of this work, we presented statements by scholars indicating that the proper name of the CREATOR of the heavens and the earth is YHWH, Yahweh. Here are several more:

    Yahweh, the proper name of the God of Israel [Francis Brown, with the Cooperation of S. R. Driver and Charles A. Briggs, The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew and English Lexicon (n.p.: Christian Copyrights, 1983), “YHWH” (spelled in Hebrew letters), p. 217 (“BDB”)]

    The Reader will immediately notice that the personal name of the biblical God appears in this volume as “YHWH” [Everett Fox, The Five Books of Moses (New York: Schocken Books, 1995), p. xxix]

    The personal name of God is Yahweh. [David J. A. Clines, “Yahweh and the God of Christian Theology,” Theology 83 (1980), pp. 323-30)]

The CREATOR’s Name Is Not “God”

Perhaps you are like many people who have been taught or believe that “God” is God’s name, so to speak. The word “God”--as used in the KJV (and in the NIV) in reference to the CREATOR of the heavens and the earth--is really a title. This can be seen clearly from verses such as the following:

    And I will make thee swear by the LORD [Yahweh], the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell: (Gen 24:3; emphasis added)

    And the LORD [Yahweh] appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham's sake. (Gen 26:24; emphasis added)

    And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD [Yahweh] your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. (Exod 6:7; emphasis added)

    And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God.
    And they shall know that I am the LORD [Yahweh] their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the LORD [Yahweh] their God. (Exod 29:45, 46; emphasis added)

The Hebrew word translated “God” in Genesis 1:1 and in the verses immediately above is elohim, Strong’s number 430 (pronounced “el-o-heem'”). This plural Hebrew noun occurs 2,606 times in the Hebrew Old Testament text from which the KJV was translated [BLB, (www.blueletterbible.org)], and 2,600 times in that from which the NIV was translated (HECOT, p. 98). Elohim is translated as the singular English word “God”--as a plural of majesty or a plural intensive with a singular meaning--more than 2,300 times in both the KJV and the NIV, beginning with Genesis 1:1. And it is by far the word most commonly translated “God” in the Old Testament.

The New Bible Dictionary explains the Hebrew word elohim as follows:

    Though a plural form (elohim), Elohim can be treated as a singular, in which case it means the one supreme deity, and in [English versions] is rendered “God.” Like its English equivalent, it is, grammatically considered, a common noun, and conveys the notion of all that belongs to the concept of deity, in contrast with man (Nu. 23:19) and other created beings. It is appropriate to cosmic and world-wide relationships (Gn. 1:1), because there is only one supreme and true God, . . . [I]t approaches the character of a proper noun, while not losing its abstract and conceptual quality. . . .

            Strictly speaking, Yahweh is the only “name” of God  (New Bible Dictionary, 2d ed., organizing ed., J. D. Douglas., under “God, Names of,” pp. 429-30.)

And Barker states in The NIV: The Making of a Contemporary Translation:

    God himself identifies his name as Yahweh in Exodus 3:15; 6:3. Strictly speaking, all other “names” are either generic terms (e.g., Elohim, “God”) or apellative [sic] titles or epithets (e.g., Adonai, “Lord”) [Barker, “YHWH Sabaoth: ‘The Lord Almighty’” (<http://www.gospelcom.net/ibs/niv/mct/9.php>)]

(For more information on the occurrences and meaning of the Hebrew word elohim, see BDB, p. 43.)

The CREATOR’s Name Is Not “the Lord”

Since the CREATOR’s name is actually Yahweh, why did the KJV and many modern versions (such as the NIV and the NASV) translate YHWH as “(the) LORD” in Isa. 42:8 and nearly all other places?

    I am the LORD [Yahweh]: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images (Isa. 42:8 KJV).

    I am the LORD [Yahweh]; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols (Isa. 42:8 NIV).

To understand how the more familiar terms “[the] Lord” and “Jehovah” came to be substituted for the CREATOR’s name, Yahweh, we begin with the discussion of “Yahweh” in the Preface to the NIV:

    In regard to the divine name YHWH, commonly referred to as the Tetragrammaton, the translators adopted the device used in most English versions of rendering that name as “Lord” in capital letters to distinguish it from Adonai, another Hebrew word rendered “Lord,” for which small letters are used. Whenever the two names stand together in the Old Testament as a compound name of God, they are rendered “Sovereign Lord.” (quoted in the Interlinear NIV Hebrew-English Old Testament, p. xxxv).

The Hebrew word adonai-Strong’s number 136 (pronounced “ad-o-noy'”)-means “lord” (BDB, pp. 10, 11). It occurs 442 times in the Hebrew Old Testament underlying the NIV (HECOT, p. 29); and the NIV always translates it as some form of “lord” (i.e., “the Lord,” “Lord,” and “the Lord’s”), except where it is translated “Sovereign,” as explained in the NIV Preface quoted above. Adonai is translated as some form of “lord” in 433 of the 434 places where it occurs in the Hebrew Old Testament underlying the KJV. (It is translated “God” once in the KJV.)

You may have already anticipated the problem which the NIV, and other modern translations--including the NASV and the Revised Standard Version (RSV)--caused for themselves by choosing not to translate YHWH as the proper name “Yahweh.” When YHWH is used with adonai, the NIV (and other translations which took its tack) had to change the translation (and meaning) of adonai to “Sovereign” (or something else) in order to avoid an awkward translation like “Lord Lord.” We can see this clearly in the first two occurrences of adonai in the Hebrew Old Testament (where, in both cases, it is used together with YHWH).

    But Abram said, "O Sovereign LORD [adonai YHWH], what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?"

    But Abram said, "O Sovereign LORD [adonai YHWH], how can I know that I will gain possession of it?" (Gen. 15:2, 8 NIV)

To see the appropriate solution to this “dilemma” (which the NIV and other translations caused for themselves), we now turn to the Introduction of the Interlinear NIV Hebrew-English Old Testament [previously published as The NIV Interlinear Hebrew-English Old Testament (NIVIHEOT)]:

    The proper name of God . . . [YHWH] is translated “Lord” in the NIV and most other English versions. The NIVIHEOT consistently renders this name as “Yahweh.” This is the spelling and pronunciation generally acknowledged by Bible scholars. Further, according to Scripture, this is God’s special name, and it has no direct connection with the idea of lordship. Thus the use of the name Yahweh is a major-and, I think, meaningful-exception to the NIV. (pp. xx, xxi).

The New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) translation illustrates how the use of God’s name, Yahweh, in the English translation accurately and clearly sets forth the truth.

          "Lord Yahweh," Abram replied, "What use are your gifts, as I am going on my way childless? . . .

    "Lord Yahweh," Abram replied, "how can I know that I shall possess it?" (Gen. 15:2, 8 NJB)

Here is how the KJV translates adonai in these two verses:

    And Abram said, Lord GOD [adonai YHWH] , what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house [is] this Eliezer of Damascus?

    And he said, Lord GOD [adonai YHWH], whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it? (Gen. 15:2, 8 KJV)

The KJV uses the “device” here of translating YHWH as “GOD” in small capitals when it follows adonai (“lord”) in the Hebrew Old Testament. This is certainly no better than the NIV’s “device,” as YHWH also does not mean “God,” the English word normally used to translate the Hebrew word elohim in the Old Testament.

The CREATOR's name is not “the Lord.” It is Yahweh!

The CREATOR’s Name Is Not “Jehovah”

Before “Yahweh” became commonly accepted among modern biblical scholars as the best representation in English of the Hebrew word YHWH, several older translations and versions chose to translate it as “Jehovah.” Included in this group were the Darby Translation (DT, 1890), the Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible (YLT, 1898),  and the American Standard Version (ASV, 1901). These versions have recently become readily accessible through the Internet at sites such as “The Bible Gateway” (<http://bible.gospelcom.net/> and the “Blue Letter Bible” (BLB),  (<http://www.blueletterbible.org/>)]. We again look at Isa. 42:8:

    I am Jehovah, that is my name; and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images (DT).

    I [am] Jehovah, this [is] My name, And Mine honour to another I give not, Nor My praise to graven images (YLT).

    I am Jehovah, that is my name; and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise unto graven images (ASV).

The Internet version of the Encyclopaedia Britannica  (<http://www.britannica.com/>), in its article on “Yahweh,” explains how the word “Jehovah” came into being as a translation of YHWH:

    Yahweh

    the God of the Israelites, his name being revealed to Moses as four Hebrew consonants (YHWH) called the tetragrammaton. After the Exile (6th century BC), and especially from the 3rd century BC on, Jews ceased to use the name Yahweh for two reasons. As Judaism became a universal religion through its proselytizing in the Greco-Roman world, the more common noun Elohim, meaning “god,” tended to replace Yahweh to demonstrate the universal sovereignty of Israel's God over all others. At the same time, the divine name was increasingly regarded as too sacred to be uttered; it was thus replaced vocally in the synagogue ritual by the Hebrew word Adonai (“My Lord”), which was translated as Kyrios (“Lord”) in the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament.

            The Masoretes, who from about the 6th to the 10th century worked to reproduce the original text of the Hebrew Bible, replaced the vowels of the name YHWH with the vowel signs of the Hebrew words Adonai or Elohim. Thus, the artificial name Jehovah (YeHoWaH)  came into being. Although Christian scholars after the Renaissance and Reformation periods used the term Jehovah for YHWH, in the 19th and 20th centuries biblical scholars again began to use the form Yahweh.

The KJV translated YHWH as “LORD” with small capitals in more than 6,500 of its 6,519 occurrences in the Hebrew Old Testament [BLB (http://www.blueletterbible.org/)]. In four of the remaining occurrences, YHWH was translated “GOD.” However, in four other instances--Exod. 6:3; Ps. 83:18; Isa. 12:2; and Isa. 26:4--the KJV translated YHWH, Yahweh,  as “Jehovah.” And YHWH, used in conjunction with another Hebrew word, is translated as a compound name including “Jehovah” three times in the KJV: Gen. 22:14; Exod. 17:15; and Jud. 6:24. We will now briefly examine each of the seven places where YHWH, Yahweh, is translated as a form of “Jehovah” in the KJV.

The first of the four places where “Jehovah” stands by itself in the KJV is in Book of Exodus.

    And God [elohim] spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the LORD [YHWH, Yahweh]:
    And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by
    the name of God Almighty [el shaddai], but by my name JEHOVAH [YHWH, Yahweh] was I not known to them (Exod. 6:2, 3; English words italicized in the original)

In verse two, the KJV translated YHWH as “the LORD” according to its normal pattern. However, in verse three, where God (elohim) specifically speaks of “my name,” YHWH is translated as “Jehovah.” The words “the name of” in the first part of verse three are in italics in the KJV to indicate that there were no corresponding Hebrew words in the Hebrew Old Testament text underlying the KJV. Thus Exod. 6:3 is not saying that “God Almighty”--el shaddai in Hebrew--is a name of the CREATOR. It is saying that the CREATOR's name is YHWH, Yahweh.

The second occurrence of “Jehovah” standing by itself in the KJV occurs in the Book of Psalms.

    That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH [YHWH, Yahweh], art the most high over all the earth (Ps. 83:18)

Here again we see that the CREATOR’s name is YHWH, Yahweh.

The last two places where “Jehovah” stands by itself in the KJV are both in the Book of Isaiah.

    Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH [YH YHWH] is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation (Isa. 12:2)

    Trust ye in the LORD [YHWH, Yahweh] for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH [YH YHWH] is everlasting strength (Isa. 26:4)

Strangely, in Isa. 26:4 above, YHWH is translated as “the LORD” in the first part of the verse and as “Jehovah” in the second part of the verse. YH (Yah)--Strong’s number 3050--is translated as “the Lord” in Isa. 12:2 and in Isa. 26:4 (the second “the Lord”). It is a shortened form of Yahweh (BDB, p. 219). The two separate words--Yah and Yahweh--are distinguished in Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EB) as follows:

    . . . For my might and melody is Yah Yahweh, and he hath become mine by salvation (Isa. 12:2b EB)

    . . . For in Yah Yahweh is a rock of ages. (Isa. 26:4b EB)

In each of the four verses above, the KJV broke with its normal pattern of translating YHWH as “the LORD,” but without real justification or explanation.

Genesis chapter 22 contains one of the three places where the KJV translates YHWH as “Jehovah,” when it occurs in conjunction with another Hebrew word, to form a compound name. (These compound names are sometimes known as the “Jehovah titles.” See, for example, The Companion Bible, Appendix 4: “The Divine Names and Titles.”)

    And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh [YHWH + ra’ah]: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD [YHWH, Yahweh] it shall be seen [ra’ah] (Gen. 22:14)

The Hebrew verb ra’ah, “to see” [Strong’s number 7200 (pronounced “raw-ah'”)], is simply transliterated in English as “jireh” in the first part of the verse above, and tacked onto the end of “Jehovah” to form “Jehovahjireh.” In the second part of the verse, ra’ah is translated “it shall be seen.” Earlier in the same chapter, ra’ah is translated “will provide” in verse 8: “. . . God [elohim] will provide [ra’ah] himself a lamb for a burnt offering: . . .” The JB reflects this sense of ra’ah as “to provide” in its translation of verse 14:

    Abraham called this place ‘Yahweh provides’, and hence the saying today: On the mountain Yahweh provides.

Once the verb ra’ah is translated as a form of “provide” in its three occurrences in verses 8 and 14, one can begin to see the exciting parallel between this record and God’s later providing of His Son, Jesus Christ, as a sacrificial offering:

    For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

Exodus chapter 17 contains the second place where the KJV translates YHWH as “Jehovah,” when it occurs in conjunction with another Hebrew word, to form a compound name.

    And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovahnissi [YHWH + nes] (Exod. 17:15)

Here, the Hebrew noun nes [Strong’s number 5251 (pronounced “nace”)] is transliterated in English as “nissi” and added onto the end of “Jehovah” to form “Jehovahnissi.” Meanings of nes  include “something lifted up, standard,  signal, signal pole, ensign, banner, sign, sail” (Blue Letter Bible). The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon (BDB) states that nes in this verse has the meaning of a “standard, as rallying-point, . . . [i.e.,] my standard” (emphasis in the original). Thus, the meaning  of YHWH combined with nes in verse 17 above is “Yahweh my banner” or “Yahweh my standard.” The Schocken Bible, Volume 1, The Five Books of Moses (SB)--which uses “YHWH” in place of “Yahweh”--translates verse 17 as follows:

    Moshe built a slaughter-site [i.e., altar] and called its name: YHWH My Banner (Exod. 17:15).

Judges chapter 6 contains the final place where the KJV translates YHWH as “Jehovah,” when it occurs in conjunction with another Hebrew word, to form a compound name.

    And the LORD [YHWH, Yahweh] said unto him, Peace [shalom] be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die.
    Then Gideon built an altar there unto the LORD [
    YHWH, Yahweh], and called it Jehovahshalom [YHWH + shalom]: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites (Judges 6:23, 24)

The Hebrew noun shalom [Strong’s number 7965 (pronounced “shaw-lome'”)] is transliterated in English as “shalom” and added onto the end of “Jehovah” to form “Jehovahshalom.” Meanings of the shalom include “completeness, soundness, welfare, peace” (BDB). Shalom is usually translated “peace” in the KJV, and BDB indicates that it has that meaning in verse 24 (pp. 1022-23). Thus, the meaning of YHWH combined with shalom in verse 24 above is “Yahweh is (or perhaps “gives” or “sends”) peace.” The JB translates the verse as follows:

    Gideon built an altar there to Yahweh and called it Yahweh-Peace. This altar still stands at Ophrah of Abiezer (Judges 6:24 JB)

Thus we can see that the CREATOR’s name, Yahweh, could easily have been used in the seven unusual places where the KJV translated YHWH as “Jehovah.”

What about the So-called “Names of God?”

After this extended discussion of the CREATOR’s proper name, Yahweh, you may be wondering: “But I thought God had many names in the Bible.” Indeed, such books as The Names of GOD in Holy Scripture by Andrew Jukes (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1967) and Names of God by Nathan Stone (Chicago: Moody Press, 1944) would certainly lead one to believe that the Creator of the heavens and the earth had many names. Books with titles such as those just mentioned notwithstanding, scholars almost universally acknowledge that the CREATOR has only one proper name in the Old Testament--YHWH, Yahweh:

    Strictly speaking, Yahweh is the only “name” of God. In Genesis wherever the word sem (“name”) is associated with the divine being that name is Yahweh. When Abraham or Isaac built an altar “he called on the name of Yahweh” (Gn. 12:8; 13:4; 26:25) [New Bible Dictionary, under “God, Names of,” pp. 429ff.]

    God himself identifies his name as Yahweh in Exodus 3:15; 6:3. Strictly speaking, all other “names” are either generic terms (e.g., Elohim, “God”) or apellative [sic] titles or epithets (e.g., Adonai, “Lord”) [Barker, The NIV, chapter on “YHWH Sabaoth” (<http://www.gospelcom.net/ibs/niv/mct/9.php>)]

    Yahweh, the proper name of the God of Israel [Under “YHWH” (spelled in Hebrew letters), BDB, p. 217]

Yahweh is the personal, proper name of the CREATOR of the heavens and the earth!

The CREATOR’s Name in the New Testament

We have seen that the CREATOR’s proper name, Yahweh, occurs more than 6,800 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. But what about in the New Testament? A great place to start this discussion is by looking at the interesting word "Alleluia" used four times in the Book of Revelation.

    And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God:

    And again they said, Alleluia And her smoke rose up for ever and ever.

    And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia.

    And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. (Rev. 19:1, 3, 4, 6; emphasis added)

The English word “Alleluia” used in the four verses quoted above [Greek allelouia (Strong’s number 239)] is translated “Hallelujah” in the NIV, the NASV, and the RSV. Strong’s Concordance states that allelouia is of Hebrew origin and etymologically derives from the Hebrew verb halal, “to praise” [pronounced “haw-lal'” (Strong’s number 1984)], and from Yah (Strong’s number 3050), the shortened form or contraction for Yahweh. In other words, the Greek word allelouia means “Praise [ye] Yah(weh).” For example, look at the following verse from Ps. 104:

    Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless thou the LORD, O my soul. Praise ye [halal] the LORD [YH, Yah] (Ps. 104:35)

The Interlinear NIV Hebrew-English Old Testament translates the clause “Praise ye the LORD” in verse 35 as “Praise Yahweh.”

In addition to "Alleluia," there are many Hebrew personal names in the New Testament which include "Yah," the contraction or shortened form of Yahweh (including the well-known names "Matthew" and "John"). Some of these personal names will be discussed in more detail in a future article.

Another aspect of studying the use of the CREATOR’s name in the New Testament is to look at verses from the Old Testament that are quoted in the New Testament. For example:

    The LORD [YHWH, Yahweh] said unto my Lord [adon], “Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” (Ps. 110:1)

The second occurrence of the English word “Lord” in the verse quoted above is the translation of the Hebrew word adon--Strong’s number 113 (pronounced “aw-done'”)--and means “lord” or “master,” and is usually so translated in the KJV and other English versions such as the NIV. Now compare Psalm 110:1 with this verse from the Gospel of Luke:

    And David himself saith in the book of Psalms, The LORD [kurios] said unto my Lord [kurios], Sit thou on my right hand,
    Till I make thine enemies thy footstool. (Lu. 20:42, 43)

Even though the KJV put the first “LORD” in small capitals (which in the Old Testament would indicate that it was the Hebrew word YHWH, Yahweh), both occurrences of “Lord” in the verse 42 above are translations of the Greek word kurios--Strong’s number 2962 (pronounced “koo'-ree-os”). According to Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible, kurios means “lord, sir, master,” and it is usually translated as “lord” in the KJV.

You can probably already see the problem that arises in trying to track the CREATOR’s proper name through the New Testament. The Hebrew Old Testament consistently uses YHWH, Yahweh, for the CREATOR’s proper name and etymologically unrelated words for “lord” [including adon and adonai (which comes from adon)]. The Greek New Testament, however, uses kurios--the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew words adon and adonai--to represent both the CREATOR’s proper name Yahweh and the Hebrew word for “lord,” adon(ai).

The historical and other reasons why the CREATOR’s proper name, YAHWEH, does not occur in any publicly known manuscripts of the Greek New Testament are beyond the scope of this present discussion. In other articles in "The Proper Name of the CREATOR" series, I will present additional information on the proper name of the CREATOR in the Bible. For now, learning as much as you can about the use of the CREATOR’s proper name throughout the Bible will make for a very rewarding study.

In GOD's love,

Ken Burns

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