Jehovah (//) is a Latinization of the Hebrew יְהֹוָה Yəhōwā, one vocalization of the Tetragrammaton יהוה (YHWH), the proper name of the God of Israel in the Hebrew Bible and is considered one of the seven names of God in Judaism.
The consensus among scholars is that the historical vocalization of the Tetragrammaton at the time of the redaction of the Torah (6th century BCE) is most likely Yahweh. The historical vocalization was lost because in Second Temple Judaism, during the 3rd to 2nd centuries BCE, the pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton came to be avoided, being substituted with Adonai ("my Lord"). The Hebrew vowel points of Adonai were added to the Tetragrammaton by the Masoretes, and the resulting form was transliterated around the 12th century as Yehowah. The derived forms Iehouah and Jehovah first appeared in the 16th century.
Jehovah was first introduced by William Tyndale in his translation of Exodus 6:3, and appears in some other early English translations including the Geneva Bible and the King James Version. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops states that in order to pronounce the Tetragrammaton "it is necessary to introduce vowels that alter the written and spoken forms of the name (i.e. "Yahweh" or "Jehovah")." Jehovah appears in the Old Testament of some widely used translations including the American Standard Version (1901) and Young's Literal Translation (1862, 1899); the New World Translation (1961, 2013) uses Jehovah in both the Old and New Testaments. Jehovah does not appear in most mainstream English translations, some of which use Yahweh but most continue to use "Lord" or "LORD" to represent the Tetragrammaton.
Most scholars believe "Jehovah" (also transliterated as "Yehowah") to be a hybrid form derived by combining the Latin letters JHVH with the vowels of Adonai. Some hold that there is evidence that a form of the Tetragrammaton similar to Jehovah may have been in use in Semitic and Greek phonetic texts and artifacts from Late Antiquity. Others say that it is the pronunciation Yahweh that is testified in both Christian and pagan texts of the early Christian era.
Some Karaite Jews, as proponents of the rendering Jehovah, state that although the original pronunciation of יהוה has been obscured by disuse of the spoken name according to oral Rabbinic law, well-established English transliterations of other Hebrew personal names are accepted in normal usage, such as Joshua, Jeremiah, Isaiah or Jesus, for which the original pronunciations may be unknown. They also point out that "the English form Jehovah is quite simply an Anglicized form of Yehovah," and preserves the four Hebrew consonants "YHVH" (with the introduction of the "J" sound in English). Some argue that Jehovah is preferable to Yahweh, based on their conclusion that the Tetragrammaton was likely tri-syllabic originally, and that modern forms should therefore also have three syllables.
Biblical scholar Francis B. Dennio, in an article he wrote, in the Journal of Biblical Literature, said: "Jehovah misrepresents Yahweh no more than Jeremiah misrepresents Yirmeyahu. The settled connotations of Isaiah and Jeremiah forbid questioning their right." Dennio argued that the form "Jehovah" is not a barbarism, but is the best English form available, being that it has for centuries gathered the necessary connotations and associations for valid use in English.
According to a Jewish tradition developed during the 3rd to 2nd centuries BCE, the Tetragrammaton is written but not pronounced. When read, substitute terms replace the divine name where יְהֹוָה Yəhōwāh appears in the text. It is widely assumed, as proposed by the 19th-century Hebrew scholar Gesenius, that the vowels of the substitutes of the name—Adonai (Lord) and Elohim (God)—were inserted by the Masoretes to indicate that these substitutes were to be used. When יהוה precedes or follows Adonai, the Masoretes placed the vowel points of Elohim into the Tetragrammaton, producing a different vocalization of the Tetragrammaton יֱהֹוִה Yéhōvīh, which was read as Elohim. Based on this reasoning, the form יְהֹוָה (Jehovah) has been characterized by some as a "hybrid form", and even "a philological impossibility".
Early modern translators disregarded the practice of reading Adonai (or its equivalents in Greek and Latin, Κύριος and Dominus) in place of the Tetragrammaton and instead combined the four Hebrew letters of the Tetragrammaton with the vowel points that, except in synagogue scrolls, accompanied them, resulting in the form Jehovah. This form, which first took effect in works dated 1278 and 1303, was adopted in Tyndale's and some other Protestant translations of the Bible. In the 1560 Geneva Bible, the Tetragrammaton is translated as Jehovah six times, four as the proper name, and two as place-names. In the 1611 King James Version, Jehovah occurred seven times. In the 1885 English Revised Version, the form Jehovah occurs twelve times. In the 1901 American Standard Version the form "Je-ho’vah" became the regular English rendering of the Hebrew יהוה, all throughout, in preference to the previously dominant "the LORD", which is generally used in the King James Version. It is also used in Christian hymns such as the 1771 hymn, "Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah".
The most widespread theory is that the Hebrew term יְהֹוָה has the vowel points of אֲדֹנָי (adonai). Using the vowels of adonai, the composite hataf patah ֲ under the guttural alef א becomes a sheva ְ under the yod י, the holam ֹ is placed over the first he ה, and the qamats ָ is placed under the vav ו, giving יְהֹוָה (Jehovah). When the two names, יהוה and אדני, occur together, the former is pointed with a hataf segol ֱ under the yod י and a hiriq ִ under the second he ה, giving יֱהֹוִה, to indicate that it is to be read as (elohim) in order to avoid adonai being repeated.
Taking the spellings at face value may have been as a result of not knowing about the Q're perpetuum, resulting in the transliteration Yehowah and derived variants. Emil G. Hirsch was among the modern scholars that recognized "Jehovah" to be "grammatically impossible".
יְהֹוָה appears 6,518 times in the traditional Masoretic Text, in addition to 305 instances of יֱהֹוִה (Jehovih). The pronunciation Jehovah is believed to have arisen through the introduction of vowels of the qere—the marginal notation used by the Masoretes. In places where the consonants of the text to be read (the qere) differed from the consonants of the written text (the kethib), they wrote the qere in the margin to indicate that the kethib was read using the vowels of the qere. For a few very frequent words the marginal note was omitted, referred to as q're perpetuum. One of these frequent cases was God's name, which was not to be pronounced in fear of profaning the "ineffable name". Instead, wherever יהוה (YHWH) appears in the kethib of the biblical and liturgical books, it was to be read as אֲדֹנָי (adonai, "My Lord [plural of majesty]"), or as אֱלֹהִים (elohim, "God") if adonai appears next to it.[unreliable source?] This combination produces יְהֹוָה (yehovah) and יֱהֹוִה (yehovih) respectively. יהוה is also written ה', or even ד', and read ha-Shem ("the name").
Scholars are not in total agreement as to why יְהֹוָה does not have precisely the same vowel points as adonai. The use of the composite hataf segol ֱ in cases where the name is to be read, "elohim", has led to the opinion that the composite hataf patah ֲ ought to have been used to indicate the reading, "adonai". It has been argued conversely that the disuse of the patah is consistent with the Babylonian system, in which the composite is uncommon.
The table below shows the vowel points of Yehovah and Adonay, indicating the simple sheva in Yehovah in contrast to the hataf patah in Adonay. As indicated to the right, the vowel points used when YHWH is intended to be pronounced as Adonai are slightly different to those used in Adonai itself.
|Hebrew (Strong's #3068)
|Hebrew (Strong's #136)|
|ְ||Simple sheva||E||ֲ||Hataf patah||A|
The difference between the vowel points of ’ǎdônây and YHWH is explained by the rules of Hebrew morphology and phonetics. Sheva and hataf-patah were allophones of the same phoneme used in different situations: hataf-patah on glottal consonants including aleph (such as the first letter in Adonai), and simple sheva on other consonants (such as the Y in YHWH).
The earliest available Latin text to use a vocalization similar to Jehovah dates from the 13th century. The Brown-Driver-Briggs Lexicon suggested that the pronunciation Jehovah was unknown until 1520 when it was introduced by Galatinus, who defended its use.
In English it appeared in William Tyndale's translation of the Pentateuch ("The Five Books of Moses") published in 1530 in Germany, where Tyndale had studied since 1524, possibly in one or more of the universities at Wittenberg, Worms and Marburg, where Hebrew was taught. The spelling used by Tyndale was "Iehouah"; at that time, "I" was not distinguished from J, and U was not distinguished from V. The original 1611 printing of the Authorized King James Version used "Iehouah". Tyndale wrote about the divine name: "IEHOUAH [Jehovah], is God's name; neither is any creature so called; and it is as much to say as, One that is of himself, and dependeth of nothing. Moreover, as oft as thou seest LORD in great letters (except there be any error in the printing), it is in Hebrew Iehouah, Thou that art; or, He that is." The name is also found in a 1651 edition of Ramón Martí's Pugio fidei.
The name Jehovah (initially as Iehouah) appeared in all early Protestant Bibles in English, except Coverdale's translation in 1535. The Roman Catholic Douay–Rheims Bible used "the Lord", corresponding to the Latin Vulgate's use of "Dominus" (Latin for "Adonai", "Lord") to represent the Tetragrammaton. The Authorized King James Version, which used "Jehovah" in a few places, most frequently gave "the LORD" as the equivalent of the Tetragrammaton. The form Iehouah appeared in John Rogers' Matthew Bible in 1537, the Great Bible of 1539, the Geneva Bible of 1560, Bishop's Bible of 1568 and the King James Version of 1611. More recently, Jehovah has been used in the Revised Version of 1885, the American Standard Version in 1901, and the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures of Jehovah's Witnesses in 1961.
At Exodus 6:3–6, where the King James Version has Jehovah, the Revised Standard Version (1952), the New American Standard Bible (1971), the New International Version (1978), the New King James Version (1982), the New Revised Standard Version (1989), the New Century Version (1991), and the Contemporary English Version (1995) give "LORD" or "Lord" as their rendering of the Tetragrammaton, while the New Jerusalem Bible (1985), the Amplified Bible (1987), the New Living Translation (1996, revised 2007), and the Holman Christian Standard Bible (2004) use the form Yahweh.
Modern guides to biblical Hebrew grammar, such as Duane A Garrett's A Modern Grammar for Classical Hebrew state that the Hebrew vowel points now found in printed Hebrew Bibles were invented in the second half of the first millennium AD, long after the texts were written. This is indicated in the authoritative Hebrew Grammar of Gesenius, and Godwin's Cabalistic Encyclopedia, and is acknowledged even by those who say that guides to Hebrew are perpetuating "scholarly myths".
"Jehovist" scholars, largely earlier than the 20th century, who believe // to be the original pronunciation of the divine name, argue that the Hebraic vowel-points and accents were known to writers of the scriptures in antiquity and that both Scripture and history argue in favor of their ab origine status to the Hebrew language. Some members of Karaite Judaism, such as Nehemia Gordon, hold this view. The antiquity of the vowel points and of the rendering Jehovah was defended by various scholars, including Michaelis, Drach, Stier, William Fulke (1583), Johannes Buxtorf, his son Johannes Buxtorf II, and John Owen (17th century); Peter Whitfield and John Gill (18th century), John Moncrieff  (19th century), Johann Friedrich von Meyer (1832) Thomas D. Ross has given an account of the controversy on this matter in England down to 1833. G. A. Riplinger, John Hinton, Thomas M. Strouse, are more recent defenders of the authenticity of the vowel points.
18th-century theologian John Gill puts forward the arguments of 17th-century Johannes Buxtorf II and others in his writing, A Dissertation Concerning the Antiquity of the Hebrew Language, Letters, Vowel-Points and Accents. He argued for an extreme antiquity of their use, rejecting the idea that the vowel points were invented by the Masoretes. Gill presented writings, including passages of scripture, that he interpreted as supportive of his "Jehovist" viewpoint that the Old Testament must have included vowel-points and accents. He claimed that the use of Hebrew vowel points of יְהֹוָה, and therefore of the name Jehovah //, is documented from before 200 BCE, and even back to Adam, citing Jewish tradition that Hebrew was the first language. He argued that throughout this history the Masoretes did not invent the vowel points and accents, but that they were delivered to Moses by God at Sinai, citing Karaite authorities Mordechai ben Nisan Kukizov (1699) and his associates, who stated that "all our wise men with one mouth affirm and profess that the whole law was pointed and accented, as it came out of the hands of Moses, the man of God." The argument between Karaite and Rabbinic Judaism on whether it was lawful to pronounce the name represented by the Tetragrammaton is claimed to show that some copies have always been pointed (voweled) and that some copies were not pointed with the vowels because of "oral law", for control of interpretation by some Judeo sects, including non-pointed copies in synagogues. Gill claimed that the pronunciation // can be traced back to early historical sources which indicate that vowel points and/or accents were used in their time. Sources Gill claimed supported his view include:
Gill quoted Elia Levita, who said, "There is no syllable without a point, and there is no word without an accent," as showing that the vowel points and the accents found in printed Hebrew Bibles have a dependence on each other, and so Gill attributed the same antiquity to the accents as to the vowel points. Gill acknowledged that Levita, "first asserted the vowel points were invented by "the men of Tiberias", but made reference to his condition that "if anyone could convince him that his opinion was contrary to the book of Zohar, he should be content to have it rejected." Gill then alludes to the book of Zohar, stating that rabbis declared it older than the Masoretes, and that it attests to the vowel-points and accents.
William Fulke, John Gill, John Owen, and others held that Jesus Christ referred to a Hebrew vowel point or accent at Matthew 5:18, indicated in the King James Version by the word tittle.
The 1602 Spanish Bible (Reina-Valera/Cipriano de Valera) used the name Iehova and gave a lengthy defense of the pronunciation Jehovah in its preface.
Despite Jehovist claims that vowel signs are necessary for reading and understanding Hebrew, modern Hebrew (apart from young children's books, some formal poetry and Hebrew primers for new immigrants), is written without vowel points. The Torah scrolls do not include vowel points, and ancient Hebrew was written without vowel signs.
The Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered in 1946 and dated from 400 BC to 70 AD, include texts from the Torah or Pentateuch and from other parts of the Hebrew Bible, and have provided documentary evidence that, in spite of claims to the contrary, the original Hebrew texts were in fact written without vowel points. Menahem Mansoor's The Dead Sea Scrolls: A College Textbook and a Study Guide claims the vowel points found in printed Hebrew Bibles were devised in the 9th and 10th centuries.
Gill's view that the Hebrew vowel points were in use at the time of Ezra or even since the origin of the Hebrew language is stated in an early 19th-century study in opposition to "the opinion of most learned men in modern times", according to whom the vowel points had been "invented since the time of Christ". The study presented the following considerations:
In the 16th and 17th centuries, various arguments were presented for and against the transcription of the form Jehovah.
|John Drusius (Johannes Van den Driesche) (1550–1616)||Tetragrammaton, sive de Nomine Die proprio, quod Tetragrammaton vocant (1604)||Drusius stated "Galatinus first led us to this mistake ... I know [of] nobody who read [it] thus earlier..").|
An editor of Drusius in 1698 knows of an earlier reading in Porchetus de Salvaticis however.[clarification needed]
John Drusius wrote that neither יְהֹוָה nor יֱהֹוִה accurately represented God's name.
|Sixtinus Amama (1593–1659)||De nomine tetragrammato (1628) ||Sixtinus Amama, was a Professor of Hebrew in the University of Franeker. A pupil of Drusius. |
|Louis Cappel (1585–1658)||De nomine tetragrammato (1624)||Lewis Cappel reached the conclusion that Hebrew vowel points were not part of the original Hebrew language. This view was strongly contested by John Buxtorff the elder and his son.|
|James Altingius (1618–1679)||Exercitatio grammatica de punctis ac pronunciatione tetragrammati||James Altingius was a learned German divine[clarification needed]. ||
|Nicholas Fuller (1557–1626)||Dissertatio de nomine יהוה (before 1626)||Nicholas was a Hebraist and a theologian. |
|John Buxtorf (1564–1629)||Disserto de nomine JHVH (1620); Tiberias, sive Commentarius Masoreticus (1664)||John Buxtorf the elder  opposed the views of Elia Levita regarding the late origin (invention by the Masoretes) of the Hebrew vowel points, a subject which gave rise to the controversy between Louis Cappel and his (e.g. John Buxtorf the elder's) son, Johannes Buxtorf II the younger.|
|Johannes Buxtorf II (1599–1664)||Tractatus de punctorum origine, antiquitate, et authoritate, oppositus Arcano puntationis revelato Ludovici Cappelli (1648)||Continued his father's arguments that the pronunciation and therefore the Hebrew vowel points resulting in the name Jehovah have divine inspiration.|
|Thomas Gataker (1574–1654)||De Nomine Tetragrammato Dissertaio (1645) ||See Memoirs of the Puritans Thomas Gataker.|
|John Leusden (1624–1699)||Dissertationes tres, de vera lectione nominis Jehova||John Leusden wrote three discourses in defense of the name Jehovah. |
In A Dictionary of the Bible (1863), William Robertson Smith summarized these discourses, concluding that "whatever, therefore, be the true pronunciation of the word, there can be little doubt that it is not Jehovah". Despite this, he consistently uses the name Jehovah throughout his dictionary and when translating Hebrew names. Some examples include Isaiah [Jehovah's help or salvation], Jehoshua [Jehovah a helper], Jehu [Jehovah is He]. In the entry, Jehovah, Smith writes: "JEHOVAH (יְהֹוָה, usually with the vowel points of אֲדֹנָי; but when the two occur together, the former is pointed יֱהֹוִה, that is with the vowels of אֱלֹהִים, as in Obad. i. 1, Hab. iii. 19:" This practice is also observed in many modern publications, such as the New Compact Bible Dictionary (Special Crusade Edition) of 1967 and Peloubet's Bible Dictionary of 1947.
The following versions of the Bible render the Tetragrammaton as Jehovah either exclusively or in selected verses:
Bible translations with the divine name in the New Testament:
Bible translations with the divine name in both the Old Testament and the New Testament: render the Tetragrammaton as Jehovah either exclusively or in selected verses:
The Douay Version of 1609 renders the phrase in Exodus 6:3 as "and my name Adonai", and in its footnote says: "Adonai is not the name here vttered to Moyses but is redde in place of the vnknowen name". The Challoner revision (1750) uses ADONAI with a note stating, "some moderns have framed the name Jehovah, unknown to all the ancients, whether Jews or Christians."
Various Messianic Jewish Bible translations use Adonai (Complete Jewish Bible (1998), Tree of Life Version (2014) or Hashem (Orthodox Jewish Bible (2002)).
A few sacred name Bibles use the Tetragrammaton instead of a generic title (e.g., the LORD) or a conjectural transliteration (e.g., Yahweh or Jehovah):
Most modern translations exclusively use Lord or LORD, generally indicating that the corresponding Hebrew is Yahweh or YHWH (not JHVH), and in some cases saying that this name is "traditionally" transliterated as Jehovah:
A few translations use titles such as The Eternal:
Some translations use both Yahweh and LORD:
Some translate the Tetragrammaton exclusively as Yahweh:
Following the Middle Ages, before and after the Protestant Reformation some churches and public buildings across Europe were decorated with variants and cognates of "Jehovah". For example, the Coat of Arms of Plymouth (UK) City Council bears the Latin inscription, Turris fortissima est nomen Jehova (English, "The name of Jehovah is the strongest tower"), derived from Proverbs 18:10.
Some lyrics of some Christian hymns include "Jehovah". The form also appears in some reference books and novels, appearing several times in the novel The Greatest Story Ever Told, by Catholic author Fulton Oursler.
Some religious groups, notably Jehovah's Witnesses and proponents of the King-James-Only movement, continue to use Jehovah as the only name of God. In Mormonism, "Jehovah" is thought to be the name by which Jesus was known prior to his birth; references to "the LORD" in the KJV Old Testament are therefore understood to be references to the pre-mortal Jesus, whereas God the Father, who is regarded as a separate individual, is sometimes referred to as "Elohim". "Jehovah" is twice rendered in the Book of Mormon, in 2 Nephi 22:2 and Moroni 10:34.
Transcriptions of יְהֹוָה similar to Jehovah occurred as early as the 12th century.
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The commonly used form of God’s name in English is Jehovah, translated from the Hebrew [Tetragrammaton], which appears some 7,000 times in the Bible.