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

Trevor Peterson 06peterson at cua.edu
Sun Sep 28 13:07:18 EDT 2003

Liz wrote:

> The Greek 
> transliteration OU is customarily read as the consonant W in 
> the word Yahweh, but it could equally be read as the long ooo 
> sound.

But if it is /u/, then what is the next consonant? In Hebrew, you can't
have two vowels in a row. Maybe we could suggest that it is both /u/ and
/w/, but I can't think of an example where we get that combination. (I
seem to remember getting a yod-dagesh representing a mater followed by a
consonantal yod, but not with vav.) If that's not possible, then it
seems to me that we don't have a valid form (unless the h starts the
next syllable, but who's suggesting that?).

> Now if you have an aspirated h in the middle of the 
> word which had been dropped, and the OU as ooo, then the new 
> reading of the Greek would be ya hu eh.

Which again is an impossible reading from the Hebrew side of things.
There has to be a consonant between hu and eh. If vav is a vowel, you
don't have one.

> This would be 
> consistent with both the Greek, the theophoric names that we 
> have, and with the spelling of the name at Elephantine. The 
> only question is whether the Hebrew W serves as both a vowel 
> and as a consonant in YHWH,

Which may not be possible.

> or if only one or the other. In 
> my opinion,  it serves only as a vowel based on the 
> theophoric names.

But the theophoric element doesn't have the problem of the last
syllable, which is a problem if the vav is a vowel only.

> But maybe going from the /hu/ to the /eh/ 
> forces a slight /w/ before the /eh/ since otherwise you'd 
> need a glottal stop between the syllables, wouldn't you, and 
> wouldn't that require an aleph?

Yes, it would. But if the vowels are separated by palatalization, we
should get a vav in Hebrew. So either way, there would need to be a
consonant here. If the vav is not it, then we don't have one.

> If so, that would lead you 
> naturally to Yahuweh, with the accent on the hu.

And to highlight the problem, according to your analysis, the four
Hebrew letters would appear as follows in caps: YaHUweH. As I say, I
think that is impossible for Hebrew.

Trevor Peterson

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