[b-hebrew] YHWH & Elohim - A Bit More

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Sun Aug 7 17:58:11 EDT 2005

On 07/08/2005 05:53, tladatsi at charter.net wrote:

>I was actually thinking of personal names rather than place 
>names.  Sorry I was not clear. My note was just an initial 
>observation and a thought, it is not in opposition to much 
>of anything yet.
>Here are my initial thoughts in regards to your email.  
>1) What is the point of shortening the full formal personal 
>name to begin with?  The ancient Israelites did not seem 
>particularly adverse to having long formal personal names. ...

I would disagree. Rather few names are longer than three syllables, very 
few longer than four. And the longer ones tend to occur also in 
shortened forms e.g. Yehonatan is often Yonatan, Yehizqiayahu is more 
often Hizqiya.

>... Obviously shortened nick-names were probably quite common 
>but those only make sense relative to the full formal name.  
>I would expect in the context of the OT, the authors would 
>have naturally favored the more formal names over nick-
>names. ...

There are a lot of assumptions being made here about the nature of the 
language used in the Hebrew Bible.

>... Even if some of these names are nick-names surely 
>there should be at least some theophoric names that were 
>not shortened?  There should be a few personal theophoric 
>name that include YHWH or Elohim if shortening were the 

Well, why doesn't the same apply to your lengthening hypothesis as well?

>2) If one wished to shorten a theophroic name, I do not see 
>any particular motive to shorten the divine portion of a 
>theophoric name.  It seems to me that the only point of 
>having a theophoric name is to include God?s name.  
>Shortening the divine element of a person?s theophoric name 
>seems to defeat the entire purpose of having a theophoric 
>name. Why not shorten the non-divine elements?

Non-divine elements were shortened e.g. Yehizqiyahu > Hizqiyahu, 
Yekonyahu > Konyahu.

>3) If the names were shortened, they were not shortened by 
>much, if at all in many cases.  For example Yahu-natan(Yahu 
>gave)is no shorter than Yahweh-natan when spoken (four 
>syllables each)and only one letter shorter when written. ...

But this is not the fully shortened form, which is Yonatan, but an 
intermediate stage. Anyway we have only the late Masoretic vocalisation 
to point to Yehonatan rather than Yahwenatan - as both would have been 
consonantally identical (although I accept that final YHW must have been 
-yahu or -yaho rather than -yahwe).

>... Yesha ? Yah (Yah saved)is but one syllable shorter than 
>Yesha ? Yahweh.  Shama-El is significantly shorter than 
>Shama-Eloah or Shama-Elohim.  
A one syllable shortening is sufficient to be worthwhile. In fact, Jack, 
your own name (originally an abbreviated form of "John"), shows that 
abbreviated forms are not necessarily actually shorter than the originals.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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