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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Why Use God’s Name if Its Pronunciation Is Uncertain?

Additional Reading:

No one today knows exactly how God’s name was pronounced in ancient Hebrew. Significantly, however, God’s personal name appears in the text of the Bible some 7,000 times. Jesus made God’s name manifest when on earth, and he instructed his disciples to pray for the sanctification of that name. (Matthew 6:9; John 17:6) Thus, one thing is certain—the use of God’s name is of utmost importance to Christian faith. Why, then, is the original pronunciation of that name uncertain today? There are two main reasons.

First, some two thousand years ago, there arose among the Jews a superstitious tradition that it was wrong to pronounce God’s name. When a reader came to the name in Bible text, he would say the word “Lord” as a substitute. In this way, after many centuries of disuse, the pronunciation of God’s name faded from memory.

Second, ancient Hebrew was written without vowels, very similar to abbreviations in English and other languages. When reading the written text, the reader supplied the missing vowel sounds from memory. In time, a system was devised to prevent the pronunciation of Hebrew words from being completely forgotten. Vowel points were added to each word in the Hebrew Bible. For the divine name, however, either the vowel points for “Lord” were added to remind the reader to pronounce the substitute word, or none were added at all.

What survived, then, were the four consonants called the Tetragrammaton, which one dictionary defines as “the four Hebrew letters usu[ally] transliterated YHWH or JHVH that form a biblical proper name of God.” It is easy to see how JHVH, with vowel points and vowel sounds added, becomes “Jehovah,” the form that is most familiar and widely accepted in English.

Additional Reading:

Some scholars, though, recommend the pronunciation “Yahweh.” Is that closer to the original pronunciation? No one can be certain. Actually, other scholars have cited reasons for not using this pronunciation. Of course, Bible names, when spoken in a modern-day language, probably sound nothing like the original Hebrew, and hardly anyone objects. This is because these names have become part of our language and they are easily recognized. So it is with the name Jehovah.

The first-century Christians were called a people for God’s name. They preached about the name to others and encouraged them to call upon it. (Acts 2:21; 15:14; Romans 10:13-15) Clearly, it is important to God that we use his name in whatever language we speak, appreciate its significance, and live in harmony with what it stands for.

- Published by the WTB&TS, September 1, 2008 WT

GOD HAS A NAME! And knowing His name is important! @

Firstly, Jesus said in the prayer often called “Our Father”: “hallowed be your name”. But what is God’s name? It is not ‘Lord’, ‘Eternal’ or ‘Almighty One’. These are descriptive titles. It is also not Jesus Christ. Jesus himself said in a prayer to his father: “and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”’New American Standard Bible).

In spite of the fact that God’s name occurs more than 7000 times in the Bible, see our page “what explanation”, over past centuries many efforts have been made to send the name into oblivion. This is in contradiction with Bible texts such as Jeremiah 10:6, John 17:6. 26; Romans 10:13, 14 and many more texts.

The sole aim of our Internet site is to bring God’s name into the spotlight. Further information is given on our page “explanation”. By means of the other pages you will see that our Internet site focuses especially on “showing”. By means of many photographs and documents we show the use of God’s name in archaeology, literature, music and on exceptional objects. We transcend the borders of religion - God’s name is indeed found in many religions, on places and objects of which the visitors themselves perhaps are even not aware.

We hope that the many items that we present will interest you.