Biblical Word Studies with Joel Grimes
What is the proper pronunciation of God’s name & why is it important?
In the second half of the first millennium C.E., Jewish scholars introduced a system of points to represent the missing vowels in the consonantal Hebrew text. When it came to God’s name, instead of inserting the proper vowel signs for it, they put other vowel signs to remind the reader that he should say ʼAdho·nai′ (meaning “Sovereign Lord”) or ʼElo·him′ (meaning “God”).
The Codex Leningrad B 19A, of the 11th century C.E., vowel points the Tetragrammaton to read Yehwah′, Yehwih′, and Yeho·wah′.
Ginsburg’s edition of the Masoretic text vowel points the divine name to read Yeho·wah′. (Ge 3:14, ftn)
Hebrew scholars generally favor “Yahweh” as the most likely pronunciation. They point out that the abbreviated form of the name is Yah (Jah in the Latinized form), as at Psalm 89:8 and in the expression Ha·lelu-Yah′ (meaning “Praise Jah, you people!”). (Ps 104:35; 150:1, 6)
Also, the forms Yehoh′, Yoh, Yah, and Ya′hu, found in the Hebrew spelling of the names Jehoshaphat, Joshaphat, Shephatiah, and others, can all be derived from Yahweh.
Greek transliterations of the name by early Christian writers point in a somewhat similar direction with spellings such as I·a·be′ and I·a·ou·e′, which, as pronounced in Greek, resemble Yahweh.
Still, there is by no means unanimity among scholars on the subject, some favoring yet other pronunciations, such as “Yahuwa,” “Yahuah,” or “Yehuah.”
Since certainty of pronunciation is not now attainable, there seems to be no reason for abandoning in English the well-known form “Jehovah” in favor of some other suggested pronunciation.
If such a change were made, then, to be consistent, changes should be made in the spelling and pronunciation of a host of other names found in the Scriptures:
- Jeremiah would be changed to Yir·meyah′,
- Isaiah would become Yeshaʽ·ya′hu, and
- Jesus would be either Yehoh·shu′aʽ (as in Hebrew) or I·e·sous′ (as in Greek).
The purpose of words is to transmit thoughts; in English the name Jehovah identifies the true God, transmitting this thought more satisfactorily today than any of the suggested substitutes.
Why is a name important when discussing God or creation?
“God” and “Father” are not distinctive. The title “God” is neither personal nor distinctive (one can even make a god of his belly; Php 3:19).
In the Hebrew Scriptures the same word (ʼElo·him′) is applied to Jehovah, the true God, and also to false gods, such as the Philistine god Dagon (Jg 16:23, 24; 1Sa 5:7) and the Assyrian god Nisroch. (2Ki 19:37)
For a Hebrew to tell a Philistine or an Assyrian that he worshiped “God [ʼElo·him′]” would obviously not have sufficed to identify the Person to whom his worship went.
The act of creating, or causing the existence of, someone or something. It can also refer to that which has been created or brought into existence.
The Hebrew ba·raʼ′ and the Greek kti′zo, both meaning “create,” are used exclusively with reference to divine creation.
Throughout the Scriptures Jehovah God is identified as the Creator. He is
- “the Creator of the heavens, . . . the Former of the earth and the Maker of it.” (Isa 45:18)
- He is “the Former of the mountains and the Creator of the wind” (Am 4:13) and is
- “the One who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all the things in them.” (Ac 4:24; 14:15; 17:24) “God . . . created all things.” (Eph 3:9)
Jesus Christ recognized Jehovah as the One who created humans, making them male and female. (Mt 19:4; Mr 10:6) Hence, Jehovah is fittingly and uniquely called “the Creator.”—Isa 40:28.
It is because of God’s will that all things “existed and were created.” (Re 4:11)
Jehovah, who has existed for all time, was alone before creation had a beginning.—Ps 90:1, 2; 1Ti 1:17.
While Jehovah, who is a Spirit (Joh 4:24; 2Co 3:17), has always existed, that is not true of the matter of which the universe is made.
When creating the literal heavens and earth, Jehovah did not use preexistent material. This is clear from Genesis 1:1, which says: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” If matter had always existed, it would have been inappropriate to use the term “beginning” with reference to material things.
However, after creating the earth, God did form “from the ground every wild beast of the field and every flying creature of the heavens.” (Ge 2:19)
He also formed man “out of dust from the ground,” blowing into his nostrils the breath of life so that the man became a living soul.—Ge 2:7.
Appropriately Psalm 33:6 says: “By the word of Jehovah the heavens themselves were made, and by the spirit of his mouth all their army.”
While the earth was yet “formless and waste,” with “darkness upon the surface of the watery deep,” it was God’s active force that was moving to and fro over the surface of the waters. (Ge 1:2) Thus, God used his active force, or “spirit” (Heb., ru′ach), to accomplish his creative purpose.
The things he has created testify not only to his power but also to his Godship. (Jer 10:12; Ro 1:19, 20) And, as Jehovah “is a God, not of disorder, but of peace” (1Co 14:33), his creative work is marked with orderliness rather than chaos or chance.
Jehovah reminded Job that He had taken specific steps in founding the earth and barricading the sea and indicated that there exist “statutes of the heavens.” (Job 38:1, 4-11, 31-33) Furthermore, God’s creative and other works are perfect.—De 32:4; Ec 3:14.
Jehovah’s first creation was his “only-begotten Son” (Joh 3:16), “the beginning of the creation by God.” (Re 3:14)
This one, “the firstborn of all creation,” was used by Jehovah in creating all other things, those in the heavens and those upon the earth, “the things visible and the things invisible.” (Col 1:15-17)
John’s inspired testimony concerning this Son, the Word, is that “all things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence,” and the apostle identifies the Word as Jesus Christ, who had become flesh. (Joh 1:1-4, 10, 14, 17)
As wisdom personified, this One is represented as saying, “Jehovah himself produced me as the beginning of his way,” and he tells of his association with God the Creator as Jehovah’s “master worker.” (Pr 8:12, 22-31)
In view of the close association of Jehovah and his only-begotten Son in creative activity and because that Son is “the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15; 2Co 4:4), it was evidently to His only-begotten Son and master worker that Jehovah spoke in saying, “Let us make man in our image.”—Ge 1:26.
After creating his only-begotten Son, Jehovah used him in bringing the heavenly angels into existence. This preceded the founding of the earth, as Jehovah revealed when questioning Job and asking him: “Where did you happen to be when I founded the earth . . . when the morning stars joyfully cried out together, and all the sons of God began shouting in applause?” (Job 38:4-7)
It was after the creation of these heavenly spirit creatures that the material heavens and earth and all elements were made, or brought into existence. And, since Jehovah is the one primarily responsible for all this creative work, it is ascribed to him.—Ne 9:6; Ps 136:1, 5-9.
The Scriptures, in stating, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Ge 1:1), leave matters indefinite as to time. This use of the term “beginning” is therefore unassailable, regardless of the age scientists may seek to attach to the earthly globe and to the various planets and other heavenly bodies. The actual time of creation of the material heavens and earth may have been billions of years ago.
- Leningrad Codex Amazon.com
God’s Wife Ashera/Asherah – has definitions and history of the name of God and it’s pronunciation.
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