[b-hebrew] Variants of YHWH in the BHS Text

Pastor Mark Eddy markeddy at adams.net
Sat Sep 27 13:18:01 EDT 2003

One more answer to your post, from a slightly different perspective:
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "David P Donnelly" <davedonnelly1 at juno.com>
> Yehovah
> [yod-shewa-he-holem-vav-qamets-he]
> is a Hebrew form of God's name
> that is preserved in both the Ben Chayyim Hebrew text,
> and in the Leningrad Codex..
> It appears to be a Hebrew form,
> that is pronounceable.
Just because can be pronounced does not mean that it was ever intended to be pronounced. So you ought not
to make the following statement:
> It is pronounced "Yehovah" in Hebrew.

It "could be" pronounced this way. And it "is" pronounced this way by some people who don't understand the
Massoretic substitution of the word Adonai for YHWH as they read the biblical text.

> Thus to be redundant,
> I am trying to understand the "it is written" form of God's Hebrew name,
> [e.g. Yehovah]
> as it is preserved in the Ben Chayyim Hebrew text over 6000 times,
> and as it is preserved in the Leningrad Codex 44 times.

I think the question is, what do you mean by "the 'it is written' form of God's Hebrew name"? When the
divine name was first written, it had no vowels. The Dead Sea scrolls have no vowels points. Some of the
scrolls even write the name YHWH in ancient Hebrew script while the rest of the text is written in what we
now call Hebrew script. The copyists were preserving the divine name just as they saw it in the old
script, while they were converting the rest of the text to "modern" script. Some later pointed Hebrew
manuscripts refrain from adding vowel points to YHWH, even though the vowels had been added to every other
word. So the "it is written" form of God's Hebrew name has no vowels. The vowels were added later, by
people who did not pronounce the divine name. You can see pictures of these older manuscripts in Ernst
Wuerthwein's book _The Text of the Old Testament_, a standard textbook for textual criticism of the Hebrew
Bible. It is clearly documented that the original Hebrew text was written without vowels. So we cannot
refer to an original pronunciation of YHWH. We can only refer to the Massoretic pointing of the NAME, and
we know that they pronounced it "Adonai."

> I am aware that many sources do not believe that
> this  "it is written" form of God's Hebrew name,
> [e.g. Yehovah]
> was meant to be pronounced.

This is not just a belief but an historically accurate description.

If you wish to discuss the pronunciation of the divine name based on the names of biblical people which
incorporated that name, you may find some support for the pronunciation Yehovah. See names such as
Jeho-shua, Jeho-nathan, Jeho-iada, etc. Someone else has already suggested a different possibliity,
people's names that end in "jahu" or just "yah." These would suggest a different pronunciation for the
divine name.

Mark Eddy

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