Only by prayer will you know the name of God, by faith.
We must be humble slaves and we must accept that we might be wrong and that our work may be the result of wishful thinking. I wondered why there were spirit creatures using profanity, sexual language and sexual images with me while praying and not only that, at a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses at a memorial of Christ’s death. This has been happening for some time. I kept it quiet obviously because it is so unfathomable. However, there is no profanity when I pray using the name Yahweh, as I once did when I began actively seeking God 20 years ago.
Yahweh is holy. Spirit creatures will not utter any profane thing before him.
Yahweh (YHWH, יחוח)
Yahweh (YHWH, יחוח) The personal name of the only true God. His own self-designation. Yahweh is the Creator and, rightfully, the Sovereign Ruler of the universe. In Hebrew, the divine name appears as four consonants, יחוח. Those four Hebrew characters—transliterated YHWH—are known as the Tetragrammaton. The Hebrew Tetragrammaton, יחוח, is pronounced Yahweh and means “he who causes to be.”
This makes the explanation of Exodus 3:14 absolute. God was explaining his name as it is written in Hebrew. It is perfect.
Exodus 3:14b Tell the Israelites, he who causes to be has sent me to you.
Note: this is the only legitimate explanation of the vocalization of God’s name ever understood since it was lost. Particularly the bolded section.
So why do scholars say that the first vowel in the divine name is an “a” vowel – yahweh instead of yihyeh (or yihweh)?
The “a” vowel in the first syllable is quite secure. We know this because an abbreviated form of the divine name (“Yah” – always vocalized with “a”) appears in the Hebrew Bible nearly 50 times, mostly in Psalms (e.g., Exod 15:2; Exod 17:16 – note, this is the same book as the longer form; Isa 12:2; Isa 26:4 – along with the longer form; Psa 68:5; Psa 68:19). The most familiar form to readers is no doubt the phrase halelû-Yah (“praise Yah!”; e.g., Psa 146:10; Psa 147: 1).
The real controversial part of all this for scholars comes with the second syllable (scholars lead exciting lives). Here’s what must be accounted for:
1. The form itself must be the imperfect conjugation, since the “y” of the first syllable is prefixed to the verb root (hyh/hwh).
2. The first syllable must have an a-class vowel (“yah”) to account for the abbreviated form of the name noted above.
3. The second syllable must be an i-class vowel because of the verb root (lemma). The ancient Semitic root hwy also requires an i-class vowel in the second syllable.
There is only one morphological verb formation (parsing) that makes sense of these elements: Hiphil stem, third person, singular, imperfect conjugation, from hyh/hwh. This form is vocalized yahyeh / yahweh and would mean “he who causes to be” (the Hiphil is a causative stem in Hebrew). This is controversial because the verb hyh/hwh does not appear in the Hiphil causative stem elsewhere. Hence scholars are uneasy about taking the divine name this way. Personally, the logic here doesn’t feel compelling to me. I;m not sure why it’s necessary to have a verb form appear elsewhere for it to be considered coherent where it does / might occur. I understand the desire for another example, but it is not a logical necessity if it makes sense. And in the context of Israel’s God in effect creating a nation out of the slave population of Israel, it makes good theological / conceptual sense. But I’m in the minority here, probably because of the (in my view, overly cautious and logically unnecessary) desire for an external example of this lemma in this stem.
There are other, much more technical, reasons why a Hiphil cannot be deemed certain. For example, one concerns its meaning: “he causes to be.” Scholars expect some sort of direct object (what is caused to be) and so some suspect that yahweh is actually part of a fuller divine title. The obvious biblical example here is yahweh tseba’ot (translated, “Yahweh/Lord of hosts/armies”) which would mean “he who creates the (heavenly) hosts/armies”). I like this suggestion, as it would be a theological claim to the supremacy of Yahweh above all other divine entities as their creator, but this approach is still only speculative.
So, to sum up, the above is why most scholars feel fine with yahweh as a conventional vocalization of the Tetragrammaton, even though they aren’t sure or comfortable as to how to explain its etymology.
- Click here for a 17-page PDF file of the relevant pages discussing the divine name YHWH and Exo 3:14 from three sources: Jenni and Westermann, Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament; the entry on “Yahweh” from Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (DDD); and the entry on “Yahweh (deity)” from the Anchor Bible Dictionary. Note that this file discuss the fact that Yehovah / Jehovah is a mis-vocalization of the divine name, a mistake created either in the Middle Ages or later in 1518 under Pope Leo X. I recommend all three of these resources to readers. ↩
- God does, via the biblical writer, speak of himself in the third person as well. For example, note the change from first person to third person in Amos 4:11.
Jesus’ Hebrew name יְהוֹשֻׁעַ (Yehoshu’a) meaning “YAHWEH is salvation”, from the roots יְהוֹ (yeho) referring to the Hebrew God and יָשַׁע (yasha’) meaning “to save”. The name Jesus comes from a Greek translation of the Aramaic short form יֵשׁוּעַ (Yeshu’a).