A9 - Today, is the pronunciation Yahweh widely accepted ?

Those who believe that Yahweh is the correct vocalization of the Name usually quote Clement and Theodoret. The testimony of Clement of Alexandria appeared very late (around 200 CE), furthermore as he explained that God's name Iaoue may be translated into "the one who is and who will be", it appears that Iaoue is more a theological pronunciation than philological (A. Caquot - Les nigmes d'un hmistiche biblique in: Dieu et l'tre 1978 Paris Ed. tudes Augustiniennes C.N.R.S. p. 24 note 23). Clement's Iaoue can not represent an original God's name for the following reason: In spite of his claim about God's name, Clement did not believe that God had a proper name. For him Iaoue was only a word (not a name) which means ‘the one who is and who will be.’ (Stromateon V:6:34), because God is ineffable (Stromateon V:10:65), without name (Stromateon V:12:81,82). For him the real name of God was the "Son" (Stromateon V:14:136). Another example of the same confusion comes from Irenaeus of Lyons (130-202) who believed that the word IA (Ιαω in Greek, [Iah] in Latin) meant ‘Lord’ in primitive Hebrew (Against Heresies II, 24:2) and he esteemed that the use of this Hebrew word IA to denote the Name of the unknown Father, was intended to impress gullible minds in worship of mysteries (Against Heresies I, 21:3).

A remark from the book of Theodoret (Quaestiones in Exodum cap. XV) is very often quoted to support the pronunciation Yahweh, because of the following sentence: "the name of God is pronounced Iabe". This remark is true, but Theodoret specified that he spoke about Samaritans and he added that the Jews pronounced this name Aa. In another book (Quaestiones in I Paral. cap. IX) he wrote that "the word Nethinim means in Hebrew ‘gift of Ia’, that is the God who is". According to Theodoret there were three different forms, but as Theoderet probably ignored that there were several substitutes for the Name, at his time. The intervening period which preceded the destruction of the Temple, the Talmud (Sotah 7,6 Tamid 33b) makes it clear that substitutes of the Name were used in Palestinian liturgy. These substitutes were numerous, as one can notice in the literature of this time (2M 1:24 , 25; 15:3; Si 23:4; 50:14-19).

The Greek Ia (which comes from the old Hebrew Yahu) and the Samaritan Iabe (which comes from the Aramaic Yaw) are not the pronunciation of the only name YHWH. The name Aa (probably) represents a transcription of ’ehyeh form.

Even if the name Yahweh is widely used its bases are very incertain and that is why most of scholars prefer the form YHWH. At the present time there are two main trends among scholars. The first ones are those who think that the form YHWH is equivalent to its etymology "He is" and they obtain the forms Yahve, Yahwoh, etc. The second ones are those who try to read this name only owing to the philology. For example, the French erudite Antoine Favre d'Olivet used Ihah in his translation of the Bible (1823),the Jewish translator Samuel Cahen used Iehovah in whole his Bible (1836), the Jewish doctor J.H. Levy preferred the name Y'howah (1903), and so on. Strangely, some people put more faith in Professor Freedman than (1) in most other competent scholars, (2) than the Bible and (3) than Professor Freedman puts in himself.

1) In the note on Exodus 3:14 The Jerusalem Bible (Paris 1986 d. Cerf p. 87 note k) recognizes that at present the causative form "He causes to be" is an old explanation, but it is more probably a qal form, that is "He is." According to the competent Hebrew scholar Andr Caquot, the name Yahwe or Iaoue is a theological rather than a philological form of God's name. (Les nigmes d'un hmistiche biblique in: Dieu et l'tre. 1978 Paris Ed. tudes Augustiniennes C.N.R.S. p. 24 note 23). See also the Karaites website.

2) In Exodus 3:14 the Hebrew Bible uses a qal form “I shall [prove to] be what I shall [prove to] be” and not a hiphil form “I cause to become what I cause to become.” (see http://becomingone.org/gp/gp1b.htm)

3) Professor Freedman’s answer to my letter in which I asked him about his amazing assertions, wrote : I was pleased to hear from you and to have your detailed treatment of this valuable and interesting subject, on which I have written from time to time. I have never been entirely satisfied with my own analysis and interpretation of the divine name in the Hebrew Bible, or with that of others, including my own teacher, W.F. Albright and his teacher (from whom Albright derived his position), Paul Haupt. At the same time, I haven’t seen anything to persuade me of the superior value of another interpretation, but I will be glad to learn from your study and perhaps discover that you have finally solved this long-standing puzzle. Despite Professor Freedman’s reputation as a famous editor, I would say that his arguments are poor. For example, he stated However, the name could be a unique or singular use of the causative stem. This cannot be taken seriously because there is no evidence, because the causative form of the verb “to become, to be” does not exist in Hebrew and it has never existed. Whereas, the dogma of the causative form He causes to become is not in the Bible. Therefore, can we believe in it ?

Furthermore, professor Freedman chose this analysis not for grammatical reasons but for theological reasons (See his own comment in the Anchor Bible Dictionary.) Therefore the name Yahweh "He causes to become" is a theological choice against Jehovah, who said that "He will [prove to] be". For example, to prove the causative form Professor Albright (who was Professor Freedman's teacher!), in his book From the Stone Age to Christianity, supposed that the true name could be rediscovered through names coming from false religions (Babylonian and Egyptian). He then supposed that the formula of Exodus 3:14 was modified to fit his first hypothesis. By saying that, Professor Albright modified the biblical formula. Thus, should we accept Professor Albright’s hypothesis concerning an old modification of Exodus 3:14 ?

Professor Freedman's theory is only supported by a tiny group of supporters (Freedman’s teacher and a few others) but it is not based on reliable analysis. Even in 1906, the Brown, Driver and Briggs dictionary stated: Many recent scholars explain יֲהוָה as Hiph. of הוה (…) But most take it as Qal of הוה. At present, competent scholars know (for example, L. Pirot, A. Clamer Bible Ed. Letouzey et An, 1956, p. 83) that the causative form can not be taken into account for two main reasons. Firstly, the causative form of the verb "to be" is not known in Hebrew, furthermore to express a causative sense, the Piel form was used. Secondly, this philosophical notion did not come from Hebrew (but from Greek philosophy) and the more natural meaning is: "I shall be with you" according to Exodus 3:12. Thus, the position taken by several Bible Translation Committees is based on the Hebrew concept being the omnipotent One who is the First Cause of the entire universe, but it appears that there is confusion between philosophy and grammar. Furthermore, this "Hebrew concept" is above all a "philosophical Greek concept". The translators of the Septuagint made a similar mistake, changing the meaning of Exodus 3:14 "I shall [prove to] be what I shall [prove to] be" into "I am He who is." In the same way, the sentence "I shall [prove to] be what I shall [prove to] be" is sometimes modified into "I cause to become what I cause to become", based on the same philosophical concept, which is not an additional insight. In addition, the assertion that the name of God means "He causes to become," is in itself a “description” of God. However, there is no evidence except for the dogma of the causative form.

The emeritus professor E.J. Revell of the University of Toronto, in an answer to a letter of mine, wrote: I was very interested to read the copy of your work which you sent me. Before reading your study, had no particular opinion on the pronunciation of the name of God. As a student in the 50’s, I was told that scholars had determined that “Yahweh” was the ancient pronunciation. I did not find the argument well-grounded, but the view was held almost as an article of faith by my instructors, and I had no superior argument, so I ignored the problem. I have occasionally thought about it since, but I have not acquired any information that you have not noticed in your study. You have certainly collected more information on the question than any other study I know, and you are to be congratulated on the production of a valuable work. Many thanks for sending it to me.

Moses gave the right explanation "He will [prove to] be" of the name Jehovah (Ex 3:14). Furthermore, it is written my people will known my name (Is 52:6) that is, of course, the true name because Jehovah "will guard it"(Ps 12:7) for his servants (Is 43:10). Jesus officially declared the name of his Father to his brothers (Heb 2:12). The name Yahweh (which is a barbarism) has only been created to battle with the true name Jehovah. (The emeritus professor C. Perrot, of the Institut Catholique de Paris, wrote to professor Gertoux “Your arguments are very pertinent, but it would be hard to come back without yielding to Jehovah's Witnesses.” !

A10 - Does the meaning "He is" of the Tetragram help us to know its pronunciation ?

First, if God says in Exodus 3:14 "I am who I am" that involves one speaking of God would say "He is who He is", but most of the Hebrew scholars agree, at the present time, that God said "I shall be" and therefore one would rather say speaking of God "He will be who He will be". However the meaning "He will be" (or "He will prove to be") does not allow finding a vocalization because this meaning is above all a religious explanation without scientific purpose (grammatical).

Very early etymology intervened, not to vocalize the divine name again (which was usefulness) but ‘to explain the real sense’ of this name. Indeed, the Hebraic Bible gives an etymological definition of this name in Exodus 3:14 which is “I shall be which (who) I shall be”. Generally the Talmud and Targums commented on this sentence by clarifying that God strengthened his servants by saying to them ‘I shall be [with you]’. One finds this same notion in the Christian Greek Scriptures If God is for us, who will be against us (Rm 8:31). However, the translators of the Septuagint (towards 280 BCE), under the influence of Greek philosophy, modified this etymology by translating this sentence into “I am the being” that is ‘I am He who is’, God becoming ‘the one who is’. Then at the beginning of the third century there was a slight development of this definition. In the Christian environment, Clement of Alexandria explained that God's name Iaoue means ‘the one who is and who will be.’ In the Jewish environment the Targum of Jonathan explained that in, Deuteronomy 32:29, that God's name means “I am the one who is and who was and I am the one who has to be”. At the end of the twelfth century Maimonides explained the name as meaning: ‘The necessary being’. But in no way did these etymologies serve to find the original vocalization of the Tetragram.

When the understanding of the Hebraic language rose again in Europe during the thirteenth century, some scholars tried to vocalize this name YHWH from an existing verbal form. The choice was only between two possibilities: YeHaWH (piel form 3rd person of masculine singular), which means ‘He will make to be’ or ‘He will constitute’ a Hebraic reconstituted form and YiHWH a West Aramaic form (peal imperfect, 3rd person of masculine singular) which means, ‘He will be’. The vocalization yehaweh had the favor of a few cabalists (see the Academy of Jerusalem) and the vocalization yihweh had the favor of some Hebrew Christian scholars. The vocalization YiHWH rather than YHWH (B. Davidson - The Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon) derives from the word YeHU’a (Qo 11:3) meaning ‘He will be’.

 3-rd person
 Meaning  1st person
 YeHaYH ? He will constitute ’ahayh ? I shall constitute
 YiHYH He will come to be ’hyh I shall come to be
 YaHaYH ?? He will cause to be ’ahayh ?? I shall cause to be
 H’ He [is] ’an I [am]
 YŠ He exists - 
 HoWaH Coming to be - 
 HaYaH He came to be hayt I came to be

 3-rd person
 Meaning 1st person
 YeHaWH He will constitute ’ahawh I shall constitute
 YiHWH He will come to be ’hwh I shall come to be
 YaHaWH ?? He will cause to be ’ahawh ??  I shall cause to be

However, no verbal form (3-rd person) corresponded exactly to the biblical definition ’hyh (1-st person). Additionally, the form yehaweh would come from an Aramaic root HWH (see the piel form YeHaWH of the verb HWH in Psalm 19:3), not from a Hebrew root HYH (see the piel form YeHaYH of the verb HYH in Job 36:6). The normal piel form of the verb HYH would be, according to Hebrew, the form yehayeh, not yehaweh. Even the modern hypothetical form ‘I shall cause to become’or ‘I shall cause to be’ Yahayh (hypothetical hiphil form 3-rd person of masculine singular)does not agree with the biblical form ‘I shall [prove to] be’ that is: ’hyh in Hebrew. Two explanations have been put forward to try to resolve the differences between the biblical sense and the grammatical meaning. These were to supposethat either the Masoretes had incorrectly vocalized the form ‘I shall be’ or that the theophoric names which all begin by Yeho- have lost their link with the Tetragram. For example, Johannes Wessel Gansfort who proposed Iohauah for the name of the Father in his comment on the prayer called ‘Our Father’ (around 1480), supposed that the sentence “I shall be who I shall be” eheieh azer eheieh in his Latin manuscript could be vocalized aheieh azer aheieh. The Masoretic vocalization had shown itself to be very reliable; some scholars preferred to reconstruct an archaic vocalization of the Tetragram based on its etymology ‘He will be’ or ‘He is’. The first to start this process was probably Gilbert Genebrard in 1568, who proposed the verbal form Iehue or Iihue for the divine name corresponding to the Aramaic yihweh, rather than Iehoua, the usual Hebrew name. At the present time, the Karaites propose the same choice, see this link.

A11 - Do the etymologies found in the Bible allow us to find a primeval vocalization ?

(etymology: "The origin and historical development of a linguistic form as shown be determining its base elements, ealiest known use, and changes in form and meaning, tracing its transmission from one language to another, identifying its cognates in other languages, and reconstructing its ancestral form where possible." - American Heritage College Dictionary)

Among the 60 etymologies found in the Pentateuch, 15 of them have no link with their grammatical meaning, in this last case some specialists speak of "folk's etymology". For example the name Babel means "Gate of God" (grammatically) but it means "Confusion" according to the Bible definition, the name Noah means "Rest" but it means " Consolation" according to Genesis 5:29 and so forth.

The method of identifying a proper noun with its verbal shape is nevertheless contradicted by several cases in the Bible. It can be seen that the Masoretic spelling is in agreement with the vocalization of the Septuagint, but is not in agreement with its own grammatical vocalization implied from its etymology. For example:

Name M.T. Etymology Meaning LXX
JosephYSPhYSPhHe will addIoseph
JudahYeHDaHYeHDHHe will laudIouda
SethŠThŠaThHe has setSth
JehovahYeHoWaHYiHWeHHe will be(Kurios)

Therefore, those who want to revocalize Jehovah into Yihweh or Yahweh should also change the names of Joseph into Yosiph, Judah into Yehodeh, Seth into Shath, etc., which was never done even by the translators of the Septuagint.

Therefore, as the famous grammarian W. Gesenius acknowledged, according to the theophoric names, that the name of God could be easily vocalized Iehouah. However, the evident form Iehouah was under attack very soon because of cabalists then theologians who supposed that God's name was a verbal form. This assertion is absurd because if God's name was a verbal form, Moses who spoke Hebrew, would understand its meaning with no problem, which was not the case (Ex 3:13). In fact Moses knew God's name, but he received a religious insight of God's name which means "He will [prove to] be" (yihyeh) and not a grammatical explanation. Furthermore, the normal way to ask a name is to use the Hebrew pronoun m (מִי); as in Judges 13:17 to use mah (מָה) invites an answer which goes further, and gives the meaning (‘what?’) or substance of the name. Therefore, this answer "I shall [prove to] be what I shall [prove to] be" is more a religious explanation rather than a grammatical remark!

To sum up the problem, the pronunciation of God's name, that is Jehovah, is easy to find using the theophoric names because without exception, all the theophoric names beginning in YHW- are vocalized YeH- (I- in the Septuagint). Therefore the ultimate theophoric name that is to say YHW-H must be read as YeH-AH. The meaning of God's name is also easy to determine, that is "He will [prove to] be" according to Exodus 3:14, which gives the correct insight. To suppose an additional insight from the Cabal ("He will make to be"), Hebrew grammar ("He causes to become") or Greek philosophy ("He is, He exists") introduced serious confusion.

The vital key to avoid confusion is to note that there are not equivalencies between the religious etymologies in the Bible and the hypothetical grammatical etymologies.

Rest Nuah Noah Naham Comfort (1Ch 4:19)
He will be laudYudeh (?)YehudahYodehHe will laud"
He will [prove to] beYihweh (?)YehowahYihyehHe will [prove to] be
-(?)AbrahamAbhamonFather of a crowd

For example, the famous name Yehudah means "He will laud" according to Genesis 29:35, but not according to Hebrew grammar (Yodeh). Thus, despite the biblical explanation, Yehudah is a name and not a verbal form. Not understanding these differences, many scholars and translators have tried to harmonize grammatical etymologies and biblical etymologies. For example, one of the translators of the Septuagint modified the biblical etymology "He will comfort" (Ge 5:29) into a better grammatical etymology "He will rest". In the same way, the Jewish writer, Philo, modified the biblical etymology "Father of a crowd" (Ge 17:5) into a better grammatical etymology "[chosen] father of noise" (De mutatione Nominum 66) that is Abra‘am in Hebrew which harmonizes betterwith the name Abraham than Abhamon. In the past, many scholars tried to modify the biblical etymology "He will [prove to] be" into a better grammatical etymology "He causes to become", because this last form (hypothetically vocalized Yahayeh which can hypothetically be derived from an ancient Yahaweh) could explained the frequent beginning in Yah- of the Greek testimonies in Ia of the first century.

A12 - Was the exact pronunciation of the divine name known before Moses, and if yes why did Moses ask it to God ?

Before Moses Abraham called on this Name and even Eve knew it. In actual fact Moses ignored the true meaning of this Hebrew name Yehowah and that is why he asked his question in Exodus 3:13, because the name (or the fame) of God did not mean anything for most of Israelites. His question is about the meaning of the name and not about its pronunciation (like in Judges 13:17), besides God's answer is also about the meaning and not about the spelling. (Translators generally modified the question of Exodus 3:13 according to Judges 13:17, however in Hebrew there is a small difference between "Your name, what is?" [Exodus 3:13] about the meaning, and "Your name, who is?" [Judges 13:17] about the spelling).

A13 - Did the Jews stop pronouncing the Name because of the prohibition of rabbis ?

The biblical account of the events which occurred before and after the destruction of the First Temple helps us to understand the process of the progressive disappearance of the Name. Indeed, some years before 600 BCE, Pharaoh Necho defeated King Josiah then established Eliakim (God will raise up) as vassal and perhaps as provocation, changed his name to Jehoiakim (Yeh will raise up). This proves that Necho knew the great name of the God of the Hebrews (2K 23:34). Some years later, in a similar way and in the same context, the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar would establish as vassal King Mattaniah (gift of Yah) and change his name to Zedekiah (rightness of Yah). This proves that he also knew the divine name, but only the more familiar form Yah, and not the form of the great name (2K 24:17). It is easy to understand the chain of events after the destruction of the Temple. For the Hebrew people it was a terrible humiliation to be defeated by pagans. Likely at this time they took good care in the use of the holy name in order not to profane it (Ezk 36:20,21; Mal 1:6) and they surely remembered previous warnings on the subject (Is 52:5; Am 6:10). It is noteworthy that after the return from exile even the prophets avoided using the Name with non-Jews. For example, Daniel  used the Tetragram (Dn 1:2 9:2-20) but he used several substitutes with non-Jews: God in the heavens (Dn 2:28), Revealer of secrets (Dn 2:29), God of heaven (Dn 2:37,44), the Most High (Dn 4:17,24,32), the heavens (Dn 4:26). In the same way Ezra (-498?-398?) and Nehemiah used the Tetragram with the Jews (Ezr 3:10,11 8:28,29; Ne 4:14 8:9) but they used several substitutes with non-Jews: God (Ezr 5:17), the great God (Ezr 5:8), God of the heavens (Ezr 5:12; Ne 2:4,20), God of the heavens and the earth (Ezr 5:11). Furthermore, these non-Jews no longer used the Tetragram in their answers to the prophets. Cyrus  was probably the last (just after 539 BCE) who used the name Jehovah (Ezr 1:2). In the book of Esther there is no Tetragram, but the last book (Malachi) written for the Jews, contains it.

This prohibition appeared only after the middle of the second century CE and it was given by rabbi Abba Shal, but long time before this date (circa third century BCE) the Tetragram was not used anymore due to a mystical reverence toward the Name. Furthermore the Jews considered the use of the Tetragram reserved to the Temple and outside of it they preferred sometimes using the two substitutes Yah and Yahu in Hebrew or Ia and Ia in Greek (numerous archaeological and historical witnesses during the period 500 BCE to 500 CE.)

A14- Are the two names Yah and Yahu, which are found at the end of some Hebrew proper names, abbreviations of the Tetragram ?

There is no obvious link between the short name YH and the great name YHWH. The vocalization Yah of the short name YH does not prove anything regarding the vocalization of the great name. For example, Betty and Liz are short forms of Elisabeth, but the link between the short forms and the full form is far from obvious. However, there are only four combinations for all the theophoric names.

  Nathan   He has given 2Sa 7:2
  Nathan -Yah He has given - Yah 1Ch 25:2
  Nathan -Yah He has given - Yah himself Jer 36:14
Yeh- Nathan   Yehow[ah]    - has given 1Sa 14:6
Y- Nathan   Y(eh)ow[ah] - has given 1Sa 14:1

The (short) name Yah is considered as a name as a whole in the Bible (Ps 68:4), furthermore it appeared in the same time that the (great) Name (Ex 15:2,3) and it was mainly used in the songs (Ps 150:1). Contrary to the Tetragram the name Yah has always been used as the word Alleluia proves it (Rev 19:1-6). The other name Yah (which is not found in the Bible) is not an abbreviation of the Tetragram but a hypocoristic made from the name Yah. As a matter of fact the name Yah means "Yah himself" (Yah h’). On the other hand Y- in the beginning of some names is an abbreviation of Y(eh)- which is itself an abbreviation of the full name Yehow-(ah). One can notice that in the Bible there is no name beginning by Yah- or Yah- and none ending by -y or -yeh.

There is a confusion between the short name YH and the great name YHWH. The reading in Ya- is favored by a confusion between the two names of God: the full name YeHoWaH (Ps 83:18) and the short name YaH (Ps 68:4). The Jews reserved a different treatment for these two names because they always agreed to pronounce the short name, contrary to the great name, which was replaced around the third century BCE by its substitute Adonay (Lord). Thus, the short name Yah is found in the Christian Greek Writings in the expression Alleluia (Rev. 19:1-6), which means "Praise Yah." Moreover, in the Qumran writings, the Tetragram was sometimes written in paleo-Hebrew inside the Hebrew text, which was not the case for the name Yah. It is also of note that this name Yah was especially used in songs (Ex 15:2) and in psalms.

- The short name YH is vocalized Yah (Hallelu-Yah in Hebrew and Allelou-ia in Greek).

- The pet name YHW alone (not found in the Bible, but found in Elephantine for example) is vocalized Yah in Hebrew and Ia (ΙΑΩ) in Greek (found in a first-century-BCE copy of the Septuagint). This name Yah means in Hebrew "Yah He" (Yah H’). The name Yah is different from the name Jehu (Yeh in Hebrew and Ieou in the Septuagint) which means Yehow[ah-h]’ that is to say "Yehow[ah] He" and not Yah-h’ that is "Yah He" (in which case the Septuagint would have kept the form Iaou instead of Ieou).

The cuneiform transcriptions in Akkadian are syllabic transcriptions which have only a single sign to represent the following sounds: ya, ye, yi, yu, wa, we, wi, wu. In fact, there is only a single specific sign to specify the sound ia, and none for the sound h. So, the name Yehudah can be transcribed, at best, only by Ia-u-da or Ia-hu-da; etc. The logical consequence of this is that, if the Tetragram was pronounced Yehowah in Hebrew, the Akkadian transcription of this name could be, at best, that Ia-u-a or Ia-hu-a. We notice moreover that the name Yehu was transcribed Ia-u-a (and Ia-u) in Shalmaneser III's texts, dated 9th century BCE because of the lack of vowel e in Akkadian. Therefore the name Ia-u-a could be read as Iu-u-a (or even Ie-u-a) see: http://www.achemenet.com/pdf/nabu/nabu1997-019.pdf

In addition to the initial part Yeh- which was abbreviated to Y-, the final part -yah also had a diminutive -yahu, this last term means in Hebrew "Yah himself." This term appeared for two reasons. First, the Hebrew term hu’ means "himself" (implied God) began to play a big role in worship. For example, to distance himself from the other gods and to mark his durability, God often expressed himself by using the Hebraic expression ’ani hu’, that is "myself" or more exactly "I, himself" or "It is I." (Dt 32:39; Is 52:6; etc.) Although human beings can use this expression in speaking of themselves (1Ch 21:17), generally when one used "He" or "Himself" it was in relation to God. (2 Kings 2:14)

The Hebrews did not delay in integrating this divine name into their own names, as into the following names Abihu’ (my father [is] He), Elihu’ (my god [is] He), or Yehu’ (Ye[huah is] He). Later, the final letter of these names being mute, it was not written any more. For example, the name Elihu’ is very often written Elihu. The names Abiyah (my father [is] Yah), and Eliyah (my god [is] Yah) existing also, there was a mixture of Yah and Hu’ to obtain names like Abiyahu’ (my father [is] Yah Himself), or Eliyahu’ (my god [is] Yah Himself).

This association provoked the appearance of a new divine name, which one does not find in the Bible, except at the end of some theophoric names: the name Yah hu’, abbreviated as Yahu. The assonance of this expression with the Tetragram doubtless favored the emergence of this abbreviation. Moreover, one finds this name alone (YHW), written next to the Tetragram (YHWH), in Kuntillet Ajrud's writings, dated from the ninth century before our era. Some specialists object that the ending in U could be a residue of an archaic nominative. However, this would be a unique occurrence. Furthermore, this explanation is all the less convincing as it does not apply to the name Elihu.

- The great name YHWH is vocalized Yehowah in Hebrew and Ia in the beginning of numerous Greek names. In the same way, as there were theophoric names elaborated from the great name, that is names beginning with Yeh- or its shortened form Y(eh)-, there were also theophoric names elaborated from Yah. However, a major remark is necessary in the Bible, Greek or Hebraic. The Hebrews took care of making either their names begin with Yeh- or Y-, or to end their names with -yah, but never the opposite, without exception. So, in the Bible, it is impossible to find, among hundred of existing theophoric names, a single name beginning with Yah-. So, those who vocalize YHWH in Yahweh are obliged to admit that the Tetragram, the theophoric name by excellence, does not belong to its family of theophoric names, what is the height of irony. This nonsense is clearly apparent when one opens a dictionary, where the name Yahve is completely isolated from the other theophoric names like: Joshua, Jonathan, Jesus, John, etc. For example, the name YHWHNN (John) is vocalized Yehha-nan in Hebrew and Ia-nan in Greek (not Ia-nan). For example, Severi of Antioch (465-538) wrote in his comments on John chapter eight that the Hebrew name of God is IOA (ΙΩΑ). Furthermore, this name IOA (ΙΩΑ) is found in the sixth-century Codex Coislinianus.

It is possible to verify that, without exception, the theophoric names beginning in YHW- are vocalized YeH- (I- in the Septuagint), and those ending in -YHW are vocalized -YaH (IA or IOU in the Septuagint). In addition, the vowel a very often follows the sequence YeH-, that is to say the "normal" sequence is YeH-()a. This sequence is so universal in the theophoric names that some names have been "theophorized" by assonance in the following names of the Septuagint: Ia-tam (Jg 9:7, 57; 2K 15:5, 32), Ia-kim (1Ch 4:22), Ia-s (1Ch 23:10,11), Ia-sar (1Ch 2:18), Ia-kal (Jr 37:3), etc. To sum up, the name Yehu’ results from a contraction of YeHoWaH Hu’ to YeHoW-[aH]-u’ that is YeHoWu’ or YeHU’. On the other hand, YaHu results from the contraction of the two names YaH-Hu’.

A15 - Did the name Yehowah come from an older form Yahowah or Yahwoh ?

The form Yahowah is impossible because it may be read in Hebrew as "Yah [is] howah". Now the Hebrew word HoWah (found in Isaiah 47:11 or Ezekiel 7:26) means "disaster" ( "ruin", "adversity", etc.). However, there is also a homonym of the word HoWaH which means "coming to be". So, in order to avoid an eventual blasphemous misinterpretation, the expression YeHoWaH HoWaH (in Exodus 9:3) meaning "Yehowah coming to be" was modified into YeHoWaH HOYaH. The name YeHoWaH read as YeHoWaH may be undestood as "Ye [is] disaster" (and also as "Ye [is] coming to be"), but Ye is not a short name for God like Yeh, Y or Yah, therefore, the expression "Ye [is] disaster" means nothing in Hebrew, that this is not the case with the name Ya which is the short name of God (Hallelu-Ya means "Praise Yah"), which involves a potential risk of blasphemous misinterpretation which the reading Yahowah.

Furthermore there is no evidence of the hypothetic change Yah- into Yeh-, because the first vowel a probably dropped out during the third century BCE, that is to say the epoch when the Septuagint were made. That is why the LXX has kept the older forms: Nathaniou, Salomon, Samuel, Sodoma, etc., but it never kept a form in Ia- with the theophoric names (but only in I-).

The fall of the first vowel does not apply to the great name YHWH. If theophoric names were still pronounced Yaho- (in Hebrew) at the beginning of the 3-rd century before our era, translators of the Septuagint should have preserved these names as Ia- because they generally kept the first vowel of proper nouns (Zakaria, Nathania, Qahath, instead of Zekaria, Nethania, Qehath, etc.). Now, among thousands of theophoric names in the Greek Bible, there are none which remained in Ia- (or even in Ia- only). This should have happened frequently if these names began with Yahow- (or Yaw-). For example, all the "theophoric" names of the god Nabu (beginning in Nebu- in Hebrew) are written Nabou- in the Septuagint. So the beginning in I- of theophoric names gives evidence of the vocalization Y(eh)o- and not Y(ah)o-.

So, to suppose that all the Hebrew theophoric names presently vocalized Yeh- would have resulted from an "archaic" form Yah- is indefensible from the point of view of linguistic laws. On the other hand, the fusion of the group u-a into a simple u is often seen especially inside a word.

Name Meaning Hebrew form Reference
Ge’’elmajesty of GodGa’(a)w(ah)-’elNb 13:15
MitswotcommandmentsMitsw(ah)-tNb 15:22
Yisra’elHe will contend, GodYisra(h)’elGn 32:28
’ElohimGods/ God’Elo(a)h-im2K 1:12

Thus, the name Ga’aw(ah)’el became Ga’ow’el that is Ga’’el then Ge’’el. More generally there were contractions in the theophoric names. For example, Yehowah-nathan became Yehow(ah)nathan that is Yehnathan, sometimes there was a double contraction like Yehowah-’el which became Y(eh)ow(ah)’el that is Y’el, in the same way that the name Ga’(a)w(ah)’el became Ga’’el (then Ge’’el), or Mitsw(ah)ot became Mitswot. Even the name Zeru(‘a)babel meaning "seed of Babel" in Hebrew became Zerubabel.

At present, the oldest likely theophoric name is Yhanan (ywhnn), written in paleo-Hebrew and dated 11-th century BCE. However, the influence of the name Yah is so powerful that the name Yhanan is rather read Yawhanan. Furthermore, there is a trend to vocalize as Ya- all the former names, this being favored by the belief that all Semitic names followed a general evolution Ya>Yi>Ye, according to a relatively well verified linguistic law (Barth-Ginsberg's law). However, this law is often applied back to front, that is Ye< Yi< Ya, which is manifestly false. For example, the name Yisra’l should have been spelt Ia-aš-ra-il in this time; but at Ebla, in documents dated from the end of the third millennium before our era, the name Iš-ra-il, was found, the exact equivalent of Yisral. In fact, some studies proved that some verbal forms and names could become vocalized Yi- rather than Ya- at Ebla. In addition, in the Mari's texts, dated from the same period, specialists arrived at the same conclusion regarding the vocalization Yi- rather than Ya- in numerous cases. For example, the name I-krub (He blessed) is very often written Ia-krub. Thus, among the oldest known texts, this law (Ya >Yi >Ye) has numerous exceptions.

Numerous linguists have postulated that, even though this name was pronounced Yehowah in the first century, it would have actually resulted from an "archaic" Yahowah or Yahwoh with a classic fall (because of the stress) of the initial vowel, that is the first syllable Ya- became Ye-. Now, if this change is well attested for numerous names (although the influence of the Aramaic language on Hebrew can also explain this modification), there is not a trace of this phenomenon for the divine name. For example, the modern names Zekaryah, Nethanyah, Sedm, etc., had to have been pronounced Zakaryah, Nathanyah, Saduma, etc., in "ancient times", because the Septuagint kept the former forms with their initial vowel (Zakaria, Nathania, Sodoma, etc.). Thus it kept numerous traces of this process which took place in 3-rd century BCE (see: S.A. Kaufman - The History of Aramaic vowel reduction. in: Arameans, Aramaic and the Aramaic literary Tradition. Ramat-Gan 1983 Ed. Bar-Ilan University Press pp.47-55. A. Dupont-Sommer - La tablette cuniforme aramenne de Warka.  in: Revue d'Assyriologie XXXIX (1944) pp.60-61). If, according to the hypothesis of the previously mentioned linguists, the theophoric names were still pronounced Yaho- (in Hebrew) at the beginning of 3-rd century BCE, the translators of the LXX should have kept these names as Ia-. Now, among thousands of theophoric names in the Greek (or Hebrew) Bible, there are none which remained as Ia- or even in Ia- only. Linguistic laws do not explain why the Septuagint did not keep any trace of this term Ia-, which should have nevertheless been very widespread if the Name had been Yahwoh.

A second explanation is then proposed: there was a transformation of the name Ia for theological reasons (i.e., the protection of God's name). This second assertion, which is based on a well admitted fact, is still refutable. Indeed, if the Tetragram was pronounced Yahwoh (the form Yahowah is absurd, because in Hebrew it means "Yah [is] howah", that is disaster), the complete name (which is already surprising) would have been integrated at the beginning of theophoric names, and all these names into Yaho- would have became I- (noted form in the LXX except rare exceptions such as I-zikar, I-zbouth [2 K 12:21]; I-sou [1Ch 7:27]; -iarib [1Ch 24:7]). This transformation is illogical, because when finales with -yah were modified, one notices that the final choice was shared among -ia and -iou; Now the transformation Ia- into I- would have been unanimous (which is already difficult to believe, because even when the Christian copyists exchanged the divine name by the title "Lord" some preferred the title "God") and in disagreement with the previous choice of -ia for the end of theophoric names (this theological choice of ia- was the most logical because it kept the short form (Yah) of the divine name). Not only does the vocalization of these names remains very hypothetical, but even their meanings, or their etymologies, reflect more closely the convictions of current experts, rather than actual proof. This remains true in spite of philosophical justifications that are sometimes put forward.

The most reasonable explanation is so to consider that the Greek term I- simply results from a Hebrew

A16 - Is the oldest potential witness for the Tetragram found at Soleb (which is written yhw3 in hieroglyphs) pronounced Yahwe ?

The oldest archeological testimony favors the pronunciation Jehovah. A short inscription dated of the time of Amenophis III (circa 1400 BCE has been found at Soleb. This writing is easy to decipher. Indeed, one can transcribe this sentence written in hieroglyphs by: "t3 š3-sw-w y-h-w3-w". This expression is vocalized in the conventional system by "ta’ sha’suw yehua’w", which one can translate by: "land of the bedouins those of yehua’".

These inscriptions contain enough short writings to withstand cross examination. Furthermore, this Bedouins Shasu usually indicates for the Egyptians some Bedouins living with their bundles, in the region in the North of the Sinai. Some specialists prefer to identify Yehua with an unknown place-name. Anyway, this distinction is impossible to prove, as in the cases of biblical place-names like: "land of Judah" (Dt 34:2); "land of Rameses" (Gn 47:11); or with the Egyptian place-names of Thutmosis III's list "[land of] Jacob-El"; "[land of] Josep-El".

However, one notices bad will in the vocalization of this name Yhw3, because the totality of dictionaries indicate either yhw’, what is illegible, or Yahweh, what is not in agreement with the conventional vocalization, but never Yehua’. Some specialists object that one badly knows the vowels of Egyptian words, what is true. However, for foreign words, which is the case here, Egyptians used a sort of standard alphabet with matres lectionis, that is of semic consonants which serve as vowels. In this system one has the equivalencies: 3 = a, w = u, = i, and that is exactly why the reading by the conventional system gives acceptable results. For example, in Merneptah's stele dated 13-th century before our era, the name Israel is transcribed in hieroglyphs Ysri3l, which one can read: Yisrial (conventional system), what is not too bad. Nevertheless, some specialists who refuse the classic system, read this name Yasarial because ofits old age. Nevertheless, almost a millennium before, at Ebla, one read this name Išrail, what contradicts the reading Yasarial. So, in the current state of our knowledge, the conventional system of reading of hieroglyphs is the best alternative, and in this system the name (or place-name) Yhw3 is read "technically" Yehua’.

A17- Did Jesus never pronounce the divine name or did he rather use the title "Lord" (Adonay) ?

When he read the text of Isaiah in a loud voice (Luc 4:16-20) he met this Name (In the translation of C Tresmontant (Catholic) one reads the name yhwh. In that of A. Chouraqui (Jewish) IhvH and in that of J.N. Darby (Protestant) *Lord, that is to say Jehovah according to the note on Matthew 1:20, [broken link] ). As he vigorously opposed against human traditions it is very unlikely that he accepted this one. Furthermore, there was no prohibition about the use of the Name at this epoch and the vocalization was still known because it has been used in the Temple until 70 CE for the blessing of the Yom-Kippur.

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