What appears to be the first secular mention of the Divine Name is found in an inscription on an Egyptian temple dating from as early as the Mid-14th Century BCE (the period of Israelite Judges). It clearly seems to mention the Israelites as ‘the (ta) Nomads (Shasu) of Yehwah (Ye-h-ua).’
Where did the Name originate? Well, we get the impression that it was the Name that The God chose Himself, for He appears to have first spoken it to Moses when telling him to go in His Name to deliver IsraEl from Egypt (see Exodus 3:13-15). However, the Name may have had earlier roots among mankind, for Genesis 4:26 (when speaking of a pre-flood man named Enos) reads in Greek, ‘elpisen epikaleisthai to onoma Kyriou tou Theou,’ or, ‘he/believed to/call/upon the Name Lord [Jehovah] his God.’ This is similar to the words of the Hebrew text (‘then began to/call the/Name יהוה’). However, other translators have chosen to imply a more negative meaning to the text.
That the name Jehovah (which means, He who Causes to Be, or, The Creator, or possibly even The Life Giver) was originally in the Bible, is documented in all ancient Hebrew texts. In fact, it is found in the most ancient existing copy of the sacred writings known as The Silver Scrolls, which is dated to the 7th Century BCE. And most likely, the Septuagint translation that Jesus and his Apostles used (most quotations they gave seem to have come from an ancient Septuagint) carried the Name in those four Hebrew characters that represent the English consonants YHWH (יהוה), known as the tetra/grammation (four letters).
Notice this comment by Robert Hanhart, who contributed the
Introduction to ‘The Septuagint as Christian Scripture.’ He stated therein
‘All Greek biblical texts of Jewish origin found to date, whether from pre-Christian or Christian times, transmit the name יהוה (Eng. Jehovah) not in the form κύριος (Lord) encountered in all the LXX (Septuagint) manuscripts of Christian origin, but in some form of the Tetragrammaton.’ (See: ‘The Septuagint as Christian Scripture,’ 2002, book, p.7, by Martin Hengel. Introduction by Robert Hanhart, published by Baker Academic. ISBN 0-8010-2790-X).
Understand that the Greek word translated lord (gr. kyrios) is found throughout the Bible as a term of respect for men, such as a king, a governor, or a homeowner, and it is also frequently translated as master. So, whenever you see the term master used in a Bible, recognize that it is translated from the same Greek word as lord. And as translators, it’s easy to see how inappropriate it is to always refer to God as ‘the Lord,’ because of its common application to mortals.
This practice of substituting the words ‘the Lord’ for the Hebrew Name of God was started by later Jewish copyists who superstitiously were afraid to write the Name, and this same custom was followed by translators of English Bibles in the Fifteenth Century. Yet, even then, those early Bible translators showed where God’s Name once appeared in the Hebrew text by capitalizing all the letters of the word LORD wherever the Divine Name was actually found in the Hebrew text (see Exodus 6:1). And in the King James Bible, the Anglicized Name Jehovah still does appear in four texts (see Exodus 6:3 as an example).
According to Bible historians; sometime around the 1st Century-BCE, the Jews had become so awed with God’s Name that scribes refused to write it or say it. So, it isn’t surprising that God’s Name was omitted from many later OT texts. And there is even textual evidence that the Name may have been totally gone from all existing Bible manuscripts for a period of time, and that it later had to be re-inserted by Jewish scribes. Yet, the fact that God’s Name was once originally in those texts is well substantiated from the ancient Bible manuscripts that were found among the ‘Dead Sea Scrolls.’
It is interesting that a verse in the Jewish Talmud claims that Jesus received his miraculous powers because he had sewn the Holy Name (יהוה) under his skin… which indicates both their (his enemies’) recognition that he did have miraculous powers, and that God’s Name was treated with superstitious reverence at the time (see the link, ‘What the Talmud Says about Jesus’ under the subheading, The Description of Jesus in the Toledot Yeshu).
Notice how (in the book of Isaiah, for example) God is often referred to in the Greek text as Kyrios ho Kyrios, or, Lord the Lord. And these are obvious examples of texts where God’s Name was omitted, for such sentences should clearly read the Lord Jehovah. Yet, some Bibles that refuse to use God’s Name gloss this error over by translating the words as saying, ‘Lord God,’ or ‘Sovereign Lord.’ You can see evidence of this if you examine the actual Hebrew letters found in the interlinear translation of the words ‘Lord’ and ‘God’ at Isaiah 48:16… then notice how these same words have been translated in other Bibles.
Although there are no remaining ancient Christian Era Scripture (New Testament) manuscripts that contain the full name of God, there are four reasons why we believe that the Name actually existed in the original texts back in the First Century. They are:
· The Name would have been found in many of the ancient Hebrew texts that are quoted by Jesus and his disciples.
· Jesus mentioned God having a Name in ‘The Lord’s Prayer,’ and at John 5:43, 10:25, 12:13, 17:26.
· The Name still appears in the Revelation as part the word HalleluJah. For Hallel means praise, u implies second person, and Jah is a shortened form of Jehovah (you find this shortened form used in many Hebrew names of people, such as EliJah).
· The fact that Christians who lived in Jerusalem were still worshiping at the Temple of Jehovah late into Paul’s ministry proves that they still viewed Jehovah as their God (see Acts 21:20-26).
It appears as though God’s Name was originally removed from the OT texts by Jewish scribes either during or shortly after the First Century CE. Therefore, it’s not surprising that it may have also been removed from the NT texts by later ‘Christian’ Jewish copyists.
Note for example, the words of 2 Timothy 1:18. For in this
Bible we have translated the words as saying:
‘So, may the Lord grant him mercy from Jehovah.’
In the existing Greek texts, this reads:
‘δῴη αὐτῷ ὁ Κύριος εὑρεῖν ἔλεος παρὰ Κυρίου,’
‘May grant to/him the Lord to/find mercy from Lord.’
As you can see, two ‘Lords’ are mentioned here and only one
is preceded by the definite article, the. But if Paul was in fact
speaking of Jesus in both places where the Greek word for ‘Lord’ is found in
that text, he would have simply written:
‘May the Lord grant him mercy.’
However, notice that Paul was talking about the Lord (Jesus) granting this person (Onesiphorus) mercy from a third person whom the current Greek text also refers to as Κύριος (Lord). This is obviously a case where the Divine Name has been omitted from the existing Greek text. As you can see, Paul was speaking of Jesus granting the man (Onesiphorus) mercy from The God (Jehovah)… so the context shows that God’s name must have originally been there!
When was this substitution of ‘Lord’ for God’s Name likely made? It has been argued (and there is considerable textual evidence that this is true) that all of Paul’s writings were translated from his common language (Aramaic) into Greek in the early Second Century, and this appears to be the period in which this, as well as several other changes to the original texts, were made.
Understand that we are Bible translators (not teachers); so, our conclusions on this are based strictly on our research, not on a desire to take a religious position. And because we can see that such changes were obviously made; this Bible is one that uses God’s Name in the Christian Era Scriptures.
However, unlike other Bibles that use the Divine Name there, you will see that we have avoided using it in places where the two Greek words ho Kyrios (the Lord) could actually be speaking of Jesus, for we own no franchise on the use of God’s Name. Rather, you will notice that we have inserted the English spelling of the Divine Name (Jehovah) where the NT text is quoting OT texts that are clearly speaking of The God and were not prophecies about Jesus (we will discuss more about that below). You will also find a few places in the NT that we have inserted God’s Name where the text is clearly speaking about The God (not about ‘the Lord’ Jesus), which we have done for the purpose of clarification.
Yet, whenever there is any question about which ‘Lord’ is being mentioned (and there are several questionable instances), we have simply left it translated it as ‘the Lord.’
Some have objected to putting the Name Jehovah in the Greek text, for they say that use of the Divine Name would have been offensive – and may have resulted in stoning – if Jesus and his disciples had actually spoken or written it, because of the supposed Jewish tradition against doing such a thing. Yet, God’s Name had to be used when the Apostles were preaching to the gentiles… otherwise, these people simply wouldn’t have known which ‘Lord’ the disciples were talking about (remember that the gentiles to whom they preached believed in other Gods). For, to call God the Lord when most gods (and many men) were also called lord, would have been confusing to all those to whom Jesus’ disciples preached, both Jews and Gentiles.
So, it is because we know that the non-Jews to whom Jesus’ disciples spoke had to be told the True God’s Name to differentiate him from their pagan gods, that we seriously question whether the use of the Name was really as offensive as some claim it was prior to JeruSalem’s destruction by the Roman armies in 70-CE… also, we find it hard to imagine Jesus ever being afraid to speak the Name of his Father!
Another common argument that we’ve heard against using The Name in the Christian Era Scriptures (NT) is that it was the time of Jesus, and all mention of the Lord referred to him. However, numerous texts prove that this argument isn’t valid… and again; it is hard for us to imagine Jesus pushing his own name over the Name of his Father.
But, recognize that there are still serious problems with trying to correctly insert the Divine Name in the Bible to replace it with the words that have been substituted by Jewish and Christian copyists, since the title ‘Lord’ appears to have been the correct choice in many places. For, as we will discuss below, even the Masoretic copyists of the Hebrew text have clearly gotten it wrong in several instances!
The rule that other honest Bible translators have adopted for inserting God’s Name in their translations of the OT texts, is to simply use it wherever the Tetragrammaton (יהוה) appears in the oldest existing Hebrew texts (which aren’t that old). However, as we will show; the current locations of the Tetragrammaton in the Hebrew texts don’t appear to be reliable.
For example, there is the instance when AbraHam was talking
to three ‘men’ (in Genesis the Eighteenth Chapter), one of whom he referred to
as Jehovah (יהוה) in the current Hebrew text. Yet, in this case, AbraHam was
obviously not speaking to God! Rather, he was talking to a messenger from God,
because as God told Moses:
‘No man can see God and live.’
So, in such instances, we have left the term ‘Lord’ unchanged, because, that is likely the same as the word that AbraHam used.
Also, in the writings of the Prophets, you will notice that
they often say that they were being spoken to by one of God’s messengers, whom
they respectfully referred to as the Lord (not Jehovah). For example;
consider the wording of Jeremiah 2:1:
‘Then the Word of the Lord came to me again and said,
Go and yell in JeruSalem’s ears…
Tell them that thus says Jehovah:’
As you can see in this case, ‘the Lord’ (messenger or angel) was bringing a message from Jehovah (third person). So, in this Bible, you’ll see an interspersing of the term the Lord when the text appears to be referring to the angel messenger, and Jehovah when it appears to be referring to The God.
Yet, we have in fact found verses where an angel was
actually addressed as though he were The God. This is the case of the person to
whom Moses was speaking at the burning bush. For at Exodus 3:2, we read:
‘And there, Jehovah’s messenger (gr. aggelos kyriou) appeared to him in a flame that was burning in a bush.’
However, we read at Exodus 3:4 that יהוה (Jehovah) was speaking to him. For we read in verse 6:
‘Then He said: I am the God of your ancestors… the God of AbraHam, the God of IsaAc, and the God of Jacob.’
So, although Moses recognized that the person who was speaking to him was just a messenger (angel), he also understood that the words were coming from The God.
That the person who was speaking to Moses was truly a
messenger from God is confirmed by Stephen’s testimony before the Jewish High
Court (Sanhedrin), where he testified (at Acts 7:30)
that Moses was speaking to an angel. Therefore, in the next verse (at Exodus
3:7), we have rendered the text as reading:
‘Then the Lord told Moses… ’ (although the Masoretic Hebrew text says that יהוה told Moses).
Why? Because you can clearly see that it wasn’t יהוה speaking, but just a messenger.
Is there any chance that Moses was just confused about who was speaking to him? That couldn’t be true, because he’s the one who wrote the previous verses that said the person was an angel.
We also find this same type of text corruption in the Bible
book of Judges. For example, the American Standard Version Bible renders Judges
6:18 as saying:
‘And Jehovah (יהוה) said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.’
Yet, look at who was really talking to him. In a previous
verse (12); the same Bible says:
‘And the angel of Jehovah appeared unto him, and said unto him, Jehovah is with thee, thou mighty man of valor.’
So, it wasn’t really יהוה who was speaking as the current Hebrew text says, but a messenger (angel) of יהוה!
Then notice how the Septuagint (Greek) text of Judges 6:18
‘Kai eipen pros outon ho aggelous Kyriou Kyrios, Estai meta sou, kai pataexeis ten Madiam osei andra hena,’
‘And said to him the messenger (angel) of the Lord Lord (Jehovah), I/am with you, and you/shall/strike the Midianites as man one.’
So, there is a difference between what is said in the Hebrew text and what is said in the Septuagint text… and the Septuagint got it right! For the Hebrew text says that יהוה was speaking, but the Greek text shows (as the previous verse said) that it was His messenger who was speaking. Therefore, it appears as though something is wrong with the currently-available Hebrew text in this case!
The point? When we find the tetragrammaton in the currently-available Hebrew Bible text, it is questionable whether it should actually have been there!
Also, notice that the term, the Lord (ho kyrios) would have been used by Hebrew writers whenever they were speaking of God poetically and a previous or following verse used the name Jehovah. For the rules of Hebrew poetry require the following verse to be written as a simile (using not the same, but similar words).
However, look at how the current Hebrew poetic text renders Psalm 19:9
(which is WRONG!). A word-for-word translation in English reads:
‘The/fear of/Jehovah (יְהוָ֨ה) is/clean,
The/Judgments of/Jehovah (יְהוָ֨ה) are/true,
Notice here that both verses use the Divine Name. However, Hebrew poetry would dictate that a simile (‘the Lord’) should be used in one of the verses.
You can see that the same type of error is found in the Septuagint, for it reads (as translated word-for-word into English):
‘The fear of/the/Lord
Abiding into eons of/eons.
The Judgments of/the/Lord (kyriou) are/true,
Doing/justice to/the same.’
So, neither follows the rules of Hebrew poetry. But notice that we have correctly rendered the verse as reading:
‘The fear of Jehovah
It lasts through the age and through ages of ages.
And the judgments of the Lord are all true,
For they bring equal justice to all.’
Another important place where it appears as though the term the Lord should be used instead of the Name Jehovah, is where people do something in His Name, as in James 5:10, which speaks of ‘Prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.’ For, since Jehovah is God’s Name (in English), they would not be speaking in the Name of Jehovah (which is His Name), but in the Name of the Lord (Jehovah).
Yes, this could be an arguable point, but where there is some question and the understanding of the verse isn’t changed, we believe it is better to take a cautious approach, since we have found too many errors in uses of God’s Name.
So, how did such corruptions get into the Hebrew texts? Notice that most removals of the Name happened during the latter half of the 1st Century. So by the time of the Masoretic scribes in the 5th Century (who are largely responsible for our modern ‘ancient’ Hebrew texts), it appears as though the Divine Name had already been removed from their scrolls, and that at some later date, these scribes simply inserted the Tetragramaton (the four sacred letters) wherever they thought it should have originally been… and they made some mistakes. This becomes obvious when you take into consideration all the points mentioned above.
We have received several letters complaining about our using
the term the Lord rather than the Name Jehovah in several other
places, such as at Joel 2:32 (and Paul’s reference to that same scripture at
Romans 10:13). Notice how we have rendered that scripture:
‘Then, all who call on the name of the Lord (heb. יהוה) will be saved, said Jehovah (יהוה).
For, to Mount Zion and JeruSalem,
Will come a person who saves,
Announcing good news to all those,
Who have been called by Jehovah (יהוה).’
You can see that this is a clear example of how the Jewish translators (the Masoretes?) have added the Tetragrammaton to replace a reference to someone who would be sent by Jehovah to rescue and announce good news, or, the Messiah. For, God did not say, ‘who have called on MY NAME,’ but rather, the text shows that He was speaking of a third party (likely ‘the Lord’ Jesus).
Recognize that one of the problems with the corrupted Masoretic (Hebrew) text is that there are many evidences (such as this) of tampering to remove Messianic prophecies, which other Bible translators have simply overlooked. For if you read the context surrounding Romans 10:13, you will see that it was definitely speaking of Jesus, not יהוה.
Another such corruption of a Messianic prophecy can be found in the 50th and 51st Chapters of Isaiah, which are a bit confusing, because God is clearly spoken of in the third person there, but sometime later it seems as though He speaks in the first person. In fact, this Messianic prophecy continues with a shifting of tenses all the way to the end of Chapter fifty-three! To what can this be attributed? To the fact that the speaker in all cases is the same… ‘the Word of God,’ His spokesman. However, the wrong personal pronouns were later inserted by copyists who didn’t understand that these were references not to The God, but to a coming Messiah.
Probably the most striking and confusing reference to the
Lord is found at Hebrews 1:10-12, which says:
‘In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundation of the earth, and [you] made the heavens with your hands. But they’ll pass away while you still remain; for like clothes, they will grow old. Then, as [you would do to] a robe, you will wrap them up and repair them. Yes, you’re the one and your years will never expire.’
As you can see, the reference to the Lord here appears to be speaking of The God (Jehovah). And if you go back to the scripture Paul was quoting (Psalm 102:24-27), you’ll find that the Hebrew text of verse 24 doesn’t say ‘Lord’ (gr. kyrie), but, ‘my God’ (heb. Eli).
Thus, the conclusion most have reached is that Paul was talking about The God at Hebrews 1:10. Yet, notice that the entire First Chapter of Hebrews is discussing Jesus and his special position before God. And the reason why Paul quoted Psalm 102:24-27 was to make the point that Jesus made the heavens and the earth, that he will remain through the ages, and that he will eventually rebuild (repair) them after they grow old.
So, either Paul misapplied this scripture (which seems unlikely), or the Hebrew version of Psalm 102 has been badly corrupted through the years… which our research has proven to be true.
As the result, we have deviated from our rule of capitalizing the first letter of the words You and Your in many places in Psalm 102 and Hebrews 1, and from inserting the Name Jehovah wherever its use may be in doubt. However, this opens another can of worms, for it brings into question the use of the Tetragrammaton rule altogether!
Of course, there have been attempts to find a compromise between the differences in these verses, so that the accuracy of the Hebrew text can’t be questioned. And in doing so, some have suggested that since Jesus ‘shines with the same glory, is the exact image of His (God’s) being and is responsible for everything that’s said through His power’ (as we were told at Hebrews 1:3), anything that is said about God also applies to Jesus… perhaps.
Of course, the easy answer to why Paul quoted Psalm 102 in reference to Jesus is because Jesus is actually Jehovah, as many theologians claim. But this is proven untrue by the other words in the same First Chapter of Hebrews. For, notice what these other verses say:
· Hebrews 1:3: ‘He sat down at the right hand of the Great One in the highest places.’
· Hebrews 1:4: ‘He has become so much greater than the [other] messengers [of God] and so different, that he has inherited a [special] name among them.’
· Hebrews 1:5: ‘For example; to which of His [other] messengers did He ever say, You’re my son. Today I’ve become your Father. Or, I will become his Father and he will become My son.’
· Hebrews 1:9: ‘You loved righteousness and hated wickedness. That’s why God (your God) anointed you with the oil of great joy among those who are your partners.’
· Hebrews 1:13: ‘And to which one of His messengers did He ever say, Sit here on My right until I set your enemies as a stool for your feet?’
(For more information on this subject, please see the linked document, ‘Who Was Jesus?‘)
Forgetting God’s Name is a practice that has a long history
with the Jews; for apparently, they were trying to do this during the time of
the Prophet JeremiAh (sometime in the early Seventh Century BCE). Notice that
we read at Jeremiah 23:27:
‘They’ve come up with ways to forget My Name;
Then they use their dreams to describe to their neighbors
How their fathers were the ones who’ve forgotten My Name
And turned to the service of BaAl.’
And what about the deletion of God’s Name in the Christian Era Scriptures? Recognize that most early Christian Congregations (and especially those in Judea) were predominantly made up of Jews, and their traditions seemed to have had a strong negative effect on Christian conduct and doctrine throughout the world.
For example; almost all of Paul’s letters (Romans through Hebrews) contain strong references to Judaizers in the congregations, and this influence likely led to substituting Lord for God’s Name in Christian writings after the deaths of the Apostles.
Perhaps Christians would more deeply appreciate the need to use the name Jehovah rather than the title ‘Lord,’ when referring to The God, if they understood that the term ‘the Lord’ in the language of the Canaanites was ‘BaAl’ or ‘BeEl.’
Then, what of those who prefer a more exact Hebrew pronunciation of the Name, which can be Yahweh (Yah-h’-Wĕh), Yahwah (Yah-h’-Wah), or Yehwah (Yĕh-h’-Wah)?
That is commendable if their reasons are consistent. For if their concern is to properly pronounce Bible names (not a hatred for God’s Name as it is pronounced in English), they will also be found promoting the proper Hebrew pronunciation of His son’s name, Ieshuah (Ye-Shuah), or Iehoshuah (Yĕ-h’-shuah)… or at least the proper pronunciation of his name in Greek, Iesous (Yay-sous). But then they would also have to start changing hundreds of other Bible names containing a J (such as John, Jeremiah, Jonah, Jerusalem, etc.), and they would find that almost every other Bible name is currently mispronounced in the English language.
So, we find a certain pretentiousness in those who go out of their way to properly pronounce the Name of The God, but continue to mispronounce all other Bible names.
How important is it to pronounce God’s Name in the same way as did the ancient Hebrews? Consider the fact that First-Century Christians seemed to easily change the name of God’s son between its Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek spellings and pronunciations, depending on the language that they were speaking. So, clearly, the correct pronunciation of names wasn’t all that important to them.
What do we learn from this? That arguing over the exact pronunciation of God’s Name is a wasteful diversion from more serious matters.