From Plainer Words

Jehovah or Yahweh

Posted in: 2005
By Tom L. Ballinger
Mar 4, 2008 - 9:28:37 PM

February 17, 2005


It has been pointed out in previous PW Online articles that in the KJV of the Bible the Name of God, that is, the Tetragrammaton, is virtually concealed or withheld. The Tetragammaton is the name given to the four letters in the Hebrew Bible for the Name of God—Y H W H, which means; “I Will Become whatsoever I please,” or as some versions say, “I AM WHO I AM.” The King James Version translates it as “I AM THAT I AM.”

When Moses asked God who he should say sent him to the Israelites, God replied to Moses saying;

“And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD 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 generation.” (Ex. 3:14-15).

Exodus 3:14-15 is the way the Tetragrammaton is translated in our English Bible.

The Hebrews, out of fear or reverence, chose to leave the vowels out of the Name of God and wrote His Name as YHWH; thus, concealing or suppressing His Personal Name—Yahweh. The King James translators, following the lead of the Hebrew, translated YHWH as “LORD.” They did this 5,000 times in the Old Testament.

The Name, LORD, is different from the title, Lord. They are pronounced the same; therefore, those who hear the Word of God read are unable to distinguish between the two. There is a big difference between them.

Joseph B. Rotherham, in his Emphasized Bible, points out that you can add another 2,000 times that God’s Name is suppressed when you consider the times that YHWH is translated as GOD. Notice that the capital letter “G” is in larger type-face than the capital “O” and “D.” Therefore, when we see GOD it should be noted that it is not God, with the lower case letters of “o” and “d.”

So, here’s what we have in the King James Version: “YHWH” is translated two different ways—LORD or GOD.

Since it is time consuming to type LORD with the larger capital letter “L” and smaller capital letters “O-R-D,” we will simply place all the letters in the upper case capitals, such as “LORD” and “GOD.”

In Exodus 34:23, notice that Yahweh is rendered GOD in the KJV;

“Thrice in the year shall all your men children appear before the Lord GOD, the God of Israel.”

The Old Testament Linear Bible, of this verse shows the word, “Lord” is “Adonai,” while the word, “GOD” is “Yahweh,” and the word “God” is “Elohim.” So, here in one verse, we note that the words, “Lord,” “GOD,” and “God” appears.

“Lord” = Adonai: “GOD” = Yahweh: and “God” = Elohim.

Why did the translators translate Yahweh as GOD? Five-thousand other times, they translated it, LORD. It sounds as though I am criticizing the King James Translators. Far be it for me to criticize them. They were, indeed, scholars of the Hebrew language, and I couldn’t even be a water-boy for them. But, I can detect a difficulty they have presented to the English-only reader. Frankly, I always detested “learned scholars,” who in their commentaries, would write something to this effect; “Unfortunately, our King James translators translated this verse in error.”

However, we don’t have to be Bible “whiz-kids” to see that had they been true to the Hebrew, Exodus 34:23 would read; “Thrice in the year shall all your men children appear before the Lord LORD, the God of Israel.” This would be; “ … all your men children appear before Adonai Yahweh, the Elohim of Israel.”

We will look at Judges 6:22 and we’ll insert, within brackets, the Hebrew word according the Interlinear Bible.

“And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the LORD [Yahweh], Gideon said, Alas, O Lord [Adonai] GOD [Yahweh]! for because I have seen an angel of the LORD [Yahweh] face to face.”

In the Companion Bible, Appendix No. 4, it states that when Jehovah [Yahweh] occurs “in combination with Adonai, in which case Lord GOD” it is equal to Adonai Jehovah [Yahweh]. In plainer words, when Adonai precedes Yahweh the KJV renders it as “Lord GOD.”

We will just randomly select several of these verses to display. There are too many of them for us to consider.

“For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth” (Psalm 71:5).

“Thus saith the Lord GOD, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass” (Isa. 7:7).

“He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD [Yahweh] hath spoken it” (Isa. 25:8).

In the Hebrew text, when Adonai is followed by Yahweh, the KJV translates it as Lord GOD.

What I like about The Emphasized Bible is that Rotherham consistently uses the Name “Yahweh” instead of LORD. In Isaiah 25:8, he has; “Having swallowed up death itself victoriously, My Lord, Yahweh, will wipe away tears from off all faces, And the reproach of His Own people will He remove from off all earth, For Yahweh hath spoken.”

To summarize briefly, the Hebrew Name YHWH is the Hebrew word for Yahweh. If the vowels “a” and “e” had not been removed by the Hebrew Scribes of the Old Testament, “Yahweh” would have been employed seven-thousand times according to Joseph B. Rotherham.

Five-thousand times in the KJV, when the Name Yahweh is translated into English, it reads LORD.

In the KJV when the descriptive title Adonai modifies the Name Yahweh, the word LORD is dropped and changed to GOD. So, we have “Lord GOD,” instead of “Lord LORD.”

Many Christian Theologians have recognized this inconsistency. Dr. E. W. Bullinger is an example. He adopted the pronunciation of Yahweh as Jehovah. This pronunciation was unknown until 1520, when it was introduced by Galatinus; but the idea of Jehovah was disputed by the likes of such scholars as Le Mercier, J. Drusius, and L. Capellus as “against grammatical and historical propriety.” [ i ]

Some have argued that Jehovah is a transliteration of the sacred Tetragrammaton—JHWH. Rotherham points out that is not at all so. Some believe that since JEVOVAH is used four times in the KJV that is probably the way the name, LORD, should have been translated. Some believe that the word, Jehovah, is more pleasing to the English ear than is Yahweh. I would have to agree that Jehovah is more euphonious than Yahweh. But, is that a reason to adopt Jehovah instead of Yahweh? I admit, that in times past, I would occasionally use Jehovah. After all, no less an authority than Dr. Bullinger used it almost exclusively in his writings, as well as in his notes in the Companion Bible. Otis Q. Sellers, also, adopted the use of the name Jehovah. Many others have, likewise, done so.

“To give the name JHWH the vowels of the word for Lord (Heb. Adonai) and pronounce it Jehovah, is about as hybrid a combination as it would be to spell the name Germany with the vowels in the name of Portugal—viz., Gormuna. The monstrous combination, Jehovah, is not older than about 1520 A.D.” [ ii ]

The fact remains that in most English translations, the special Name of God is suppressed; almost completely concealed from the listening ear, and, also, almost hidden from the quick, or uncritical eye. When He told Moses; “Yahweh is My Name for the ages,” this indicates to me that He wants His people to call him by His Name. To call His Name LORD would be like a wife calling her husband Mister—not very intimate.

His Name was Yahweh to the Jews in Old Testament times. Christians know Him as Jesus, that is, if they know Him at all.

Many Christians have shied away from using the Name Yahweh because of some strange cults that have emerged using the Name, Yahweh, in their organizational name. But, that does not negate the fact that the translation of LORD or GOD is a reference to Yahweh. Whenever I read of Him in the Old Testament, I mentally supply the Name—the Lord Jesus Christ.

Tom L. Ballinger


[ i ] The Emphasized Bible by Joseph B. Rotherham (Introduction, page 24).

[ ii ] Ibid. (page 25).

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