The Holy Name in the Original Hebrew/Greek

We often hear or read statements that we have no proof thatfde the holy name appeared in the original Greek, or we are challenged to produce a scripture from the original Greek wherein we might find the holy name.

The problem with this kind of argument is that we do not have the original Greek; all we have are copies of the original Greek — not the original Greek. One cannot prove anything either way by the original Greek, since we do not have the original Greek in order to prove what was originally written.

On the other hand, there is no record of Jehovah giving anyone authority to change the name of Jehovah (Yahweh) to forms of the Greek words Kurios, Theos, or Dunamis. Jesus never claimed such an authority, and Jesus claimed to come in the name of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  (Greek and Hebrew words are given with English transliterations throughout; we do not claim the transliterations represent the original pronunciation of the Hebrew or Greek words involved, which no one earth today knows for sure.)

The prophecy states that the Messiah would come in the name/authority of Yahweh (Jehovah), not the name/authority of a God by the name of Kurios. Jehovah said to Moses concerning the Messiah: “He shall speak in my name.” (Deuteronomy 18:19) That the very name is involved is shown in Deuteronomy 18:20, since it speaks of a prophet who would speak in the name of other gods. Thus, it is indeed vital that Jesus be recognized as coming in the name and authority of Jehovah, not Kurios. “Blessed is he who comes in the name of Jehovah!” (Psalm 118:26) “Kurios” (Lord) does not identify the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It is a common title used not only of men, but also of false gods. Thus, if Jesus said he came in the name of Kurios, one could wonder who he meant. Consequently, we have no doubt that that Jesus did not join with the rebellious Jews by substituting and taking away from his scriptural reference the most important name in the universe in Matthew 23:39, or any other place. No one in the scriptures has ever been given authority to change the name of the Most High to Kurios, or Theos, or Dunamis, etc.

To use the word KURIOS, LORD, as a proper name of a God, is similar to replacing Baal (Lord, Master) for Jehovah. Jehovah spoke of the time when the fathers “forgot my name for Baal [Lord].” (Jeremiah 23:27) Isn’t this what is happening with changing the holy name to the a different name, such as KURIOS (LORD)?

Later, rather than replacing Jehovah with forms of Baal, the Jewish leadership began to again seek to cause the people to forget the most holy name by claiming it would be blasphemy to speak his name orally (except in certain sacred places and occasions), and thus proposed orally replacing the holy name with Adoni (my Lord) or Adonai (literally my lords, being used as a plural intensive, thus meaning: Supreme or Superior Lord), rather than Baal (Lord, Master). Finally, sometime in the lifetime of Josephus, it appears that they went further in trying to get people to forget the most important name in universe by endeavoring to make it unlawful to speak the holy name at all. (In reality, the end result is that they were speaking the Holy name by words such as forms of the Hebrew words EL, ADON, or forms of the Greek words THEOS and KURIOS. Are we to think that Jesus or the Bible writers would join in such a conspiracy to remove the Most Holy name in the universe?

When Jehovah, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, stated and identified Himself by his name to Moses, what did he say? “This is my name forever, and this is my memorial to all generations.” (Exodus 3:15) He did not say that this will be my name for now, and later my name will be something else. He said it was his eternal name. He never gave anyone authority to change that name. Kurios does not identify the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, since that word could be also applied to false gods.

Exodus 3:15 – God said moreover to Moses, “You shall tell the children of Israel this, ‘Jehovah, 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 forever, and this is my memorial to all generations.” — World English Bible translation.

Many claim that they are substituting some ‘title’ so as to avoid speaking or mispronouncing the sacred name. Some claim that to mispronounce the Holy Name, or even to pronounce the Holy Name at all, is blasphemy. Such do not seem to realize that whatever “title” or “word” that they replace the Holy Name with does the very thing that they seek to avoid. In reality, what happens is that one speaks the name by the title or word that is used to substitute the Holy Name, such is absolute assurance that they do mispronounce the Holy Name as a “title” or other “word”, whatever that “title” or “word” that may be.  In other words, when one uses substitutes, such as “the Lord” (forms of Adon, Kurios), “God” (forms of El, Theos), etc.,  in reality, such do not actually avoid pronouncing God’s name, for they pronounce that name using forms of Adon “Lord”, forms of EL “God”, or with something else such as HaShem (the Name). In effect, by claiming to avoid pronouncing the holy name, they, in reality, end up changing the Holy Name to one of the titles of God, or to a description of the name, and thus end up pronouncing the name in that manner.

Additionally, there is nothing in the Bible that says that one should not pronounce the Holy Name in accordance with common pronunciation of his language, nor is there anything in the Bible that says that if one pronounces the Holy Name, it must be as it was originally pronounced in the ancient Hebrew. Recognizing that both “Jehovah” and “Yahweh” are common English linguistical variations that can be traced by the original Holy Name, we have every reason to conclude that both of these do in fact represent the true name of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in English.


Does the Holy Name Mean “The Eternal”?

The Vatican’s Proclamation (Regarding Using the Holy Name)

A claim is made:
To go to the other extreme and say it doesn’t matter what you call either one of them due to peculiarities of your particular language along with known translation errors, and that it’s OK to continue in the error and chalk it up to your tradition, is unconscionable. God is love. He knows the heart.

We cannot totally agree with this; it would seem to claim something beyond what the Bible states, something that God never proclaimed, that one has to somehow find out, learn and speak His Holy Name in ancient Hebrew, as it was originally spoken in Hebrew, something for which we only have speculations. The idea of “known translation errors” is in itself speculation; these are not actually “known” translation errors, since when the ancients rendered names from one language to another, they usually did adopt a pronunciation for the name common to the language that the name was being adapted to. Names were not usually translated, but were rendered from one language to another by adapting the original pronunciation to sounds and general rules for names common to the language that the name was being rendered into. As a result, there may be many variations of one name as they are rendered into English, such as Joshua and Jesus.

Nevertheless, to demand that this or that speculation regarding the original pronunciation of the Holy Name would reduce God down to being petty about His name, demanding a certain pronunciation as it was in a certain language, which today we do not in reality “know” for sure how it was originally pronounced. Certainly, if Jehovah was demanding a certain pronunciation of his Holy Name, he would have saw to it that the pronunciation of His Holy Name as He wanted it to be pronounced would have been preserved and generally known. The very fact that we do not know for sure how it was pronounced indicates that Jehovah was not concerned about such pettiness.

Is it “error” that we have two common pronunciations of the name in English (Yahweh and Jehovah)? Both are based on linguistic derivations that can be traced back to the original Hebrew. We do not know for certain how these two pronunciations and spellings came about; what we have are the speculations of men as to how these pronunciations came about. “Jehovah” could be more in line with the original pronunciation than “Yahweh,” and there are those who present convincing arguments that this is so.

Likewise, how would the Greeks express the Holy Name in Greek exactly as it was pronounced in ancient Hebrew, since the Greeks did not even have the same phonemes? Even knowledge the true phonemes of Koine Greek are not certain today; the phoneme structure commonly used today for pronunciation of the Koine Greek is based on the work of Erasmus, who sought to reconstruct Koine Greek on phonemes often attributed to Classical Greek. Nevertheless, most Koine Greek scholars will tell you that we do not know of a certain how Koine Greek was pronounced, nor if the English phonemes supplied for such pronunciation via transliteration would actually produce the original sounds. In reality, no one on earth today can legitmately claim to know how ancient Koine sounded in all its variations; furthermore, pronunication of Koine Greek almost certainly varied with time, place, class, education, and so on.

Nevetheless, many scholars and authors often present their theories and speculations as fact, as though they “know” for a certain that what they are speculating upon is the actual truth.  Honesty, however, demands that we should be careful in this regard.

Likewise, with ancient Hebrew, no one on earth today knows for a certainty how it sounded; the original Hebrew had no written vowels for any word, which leads to even more uncertainty as to the original vowel sounds supplied for words. Nor can we be certain that the same vowel sounds were always supplied in the variations of usage. In English, for instance, the “I” in Christ is is pronounced with a “long I” sound; however, the first “I” in Christian is pronounced with a short “I” sound, which makes it sound more like a “long e”. When the Masoretes started their work of reconstruction and suppling “vowel points” around 600 AD, the Hebrew language had been a dead language for several hundred years. Various authors make all kinds of claims regarding the Masoretes, and what they did, and it is difficult in many cases to distinguish the many claims being made from the reality of what happened. For instance, did the Masoretes actually know and seek to restore the original vowel sounds, or did they simply seek to form some kind of method of standardization for pronunciation of Hebrew words?

We should note that the Masoretes supplied two different pronunciations of the Holy Name of God; it appears that in Hebrew names may be pronounced differently according to sounds in context. The same is true of Koine Greek, for we find the name we have standardized in English as “Jesus” (which is the same name as other English variations: Joshua, Jeshua, Yeshua, etc.) has at least three different pronunciations in Koine Greek. More than likely, however, none of the pronunications of the Son’s name in Koine Greek actually totally reflect the pronunciation of the original Hebrew.

We have not found any evidence presented by anyone that the pronunciation given by the Masoretes for the Holy Name is or is not, in fact, the way that it was pronounced by Abraham. All we have seen is the speculation that Masoretes changed the vowel sounds of the Holy Name, which according to the speculation, they did so as a reminder to the reader to not pronounce the Holy Name. This speculation continues to be widely repeated as though fact, even though it has been shown that this speculation is more than likely false. Until we can find some solid evidence that the Masoretes added vowel points of Elohim or Adonai into the tetragrammaton, as has been claimed, we will simply view this as speculation.

Another speculation is that when the Holy Name was brought into Greek, it was formed with vowels similar to our English IAOUE, but because the “O” became as though not pronounced, the name became similar to our English vowels IAUE, and that this was the four vowels that Josephus referred to when he spoke of the Holy Name as being four vowels. (Please note that the Greeks would have originally only had the sounds from the Hebrew, for they did not have the later developed vowel points of the Masoretes.) At any rate, it is from these four Greek vowels, used to represent the Holy Name, that we get the English form: “Yahweh.”

We do not accept, however,  either the English form “Yahweh” or “Jehovah”  is in error, or the result of a mistake, but rather that both are linguistic derivations of the one Holy Name, and thus, both or genuine, true, forms of the Holy Name in English, just as Ehyeh is also a geniuine English form of the Holy Name. Ehjeh/Ehyeh (I am – active) and Yahweh/Jehovah (He is – active) are not two different names, they are simply two different verbal conjugations of the same Holy Name. — Exodus 3:14,15.

Thus, we have no reason to believe that is at all in error to pronounce the holy name in English as “Jehovah” or as as “Yahweh.” It most definitely, however, is in error to pronounce the Holy Name as “the Lord”, “God,” “Power,” “Hashem,” “The Name,” etc., since these totally change the Holy Name to mean something different.


Is “Jehovah” a “Fake” Word/Name?

It is often claimed that “Jehovah” is a fake name, or a fake word, since that word does not appear in the Bible, evidently referring to the Bible in Hebrew. By this reasoning, since none of the words in any English translation of exist in the Bible itself, to be consistent we should throw out any translation of the Bible. In other words, if “Jehovah” is a fake name, or a fake word, then any other name or word in English that we give anything in the Bible would also be fake. “Jehovah” is not anymore a fake word or name in English than are the words “Christ”, “Israel”, “Jacob,” “covenant”, “anointed”, etc. None of these words are found in the Bible as far as the Hebrew is concerned, thus, according to the reasoning given, all of these words must be “fake.” However, it is usually only concerning the Holy Name that most are concerned about, although there is nothing in the scriptures that say that the Holy Name must only be rendered with in the Hebrew, and not any other language. Most, however, in making the above claim, are not genuinely concerned about having the name given in English according to the original pronunciation (we cannot be 100% sure that we can obtain the original pronunciation of any Hebrew word), they argue this because they love their tradition above the Word of God that would change the Holy Name to “the Lord” or “God” or another word, which, in effect defeats the claimed purpose, since “the Lord” an “God” is also not found in the Bible; no one in the Bible ever said those words, and neither the Hebrew forms of the word for God (usually transliterated as EL), or forms of the Hebrew word for “Lord” (usually transliterated as “adon”) are ever said to the Holy Name.

In reality, in English both “Jehovah” and “Yahweh” are indeed real words, they are not fake words. In English, both “Jehovah” and “Yahweh” are used to represent God’s Holy Name from the Hebrew. They are both simply linguistic variations of the Holy Name, Jehovah being derived from the Masoretic Hebrew, while Yahweh is derived from some ancient Greek manuscripts. There is no command in the Bible that when translating we have to represent God’s name in other languages only in the language of Hebrew, which, to be entirely consistent, would require that we use no English characters at all, but rather the original Hebrew characters. Additionally, since the vowel points that were added several centuries after Christ are not part of the Bible as it was originally written, to be consistent with the line of reasoning presented, those vowel points are “fake”, and thus we should not use any transliteration of any Hebrew word using those vowel points, etc.

We have no genuine reason to think that Jesus never used God’s name. Nevertheless, to definitely state that he did not would require that we have the original manuscripts of the New Testament, which we do not have.

If Jesus did not use that name, and the copyists quoted him correctly as coming in the name of a God by the name of Kurios (meaning Lord), then the logical conclusion would be reject him as a false prophet, since he did not come in the name as prophesied.– Deuteronomy 18:15-19.

See also:
The Holy Name in the New Testament

Nevertheless, if the English word “Jehovah” is a fake word, then, to be consistent, one would have to say that every word and every name in any translation of the Bible into English are also “fake” words; indeed, it would mean that the translation of the Hebrew Bible into any other language at all would be consisting entirely of “fake” words.

Of course, Jesus never used the English word “Jehovah”; if speaking Greek, he would have used the word that expresses the Holy Name in the Greek language. If he was speaking Aramaic, he would have used the word that would express the Holy Name in that language. All the linguistic variations of any name are not separate names, but simply variations of the “same” name, and that is also true of the Holy Name. In English, both “Yahweh” (based on ancient Greek manuscripts), and Jehovah (based on the Masoretic Hebrew text) are variations of the same name that is expressed by the Hebrew tetragrammaton of the Holy Name.

Likewise, you will not find the word “Emmauel” used by any of the Bible writers. That English word did not exist in their time. Nor were the English words “Jesus,” “Yeshua,” “Yahshua,” “green,” “red,” “Christ,” “the Lord,” “God,” “Joseph,” “Matthew,” “Mark,” “John,” “anointed,” “Yahweh,” “Joshua,” etc.,  ever used by any Bible writer.

See also:
Was the Holy Name Only Given to the Nation of Israel?

See above was originally publish in March of 2013; updated and republished May 2013.

[Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words: With Topical Index]
[Dead Sea Scrolls Bible] [Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible]

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