[b-hebrew] Questions about YHWH

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Mon Jul 18 02:42:50 EDT 2005

Hi Chris,

Your memory serves you well.  The writing of the Tetragrammaton in
paleo-Hebrew in some of the DDS has been understood as a sign of the Name
being considered "extra-holy". And you're correct about the LXX as well. The
Tetragrammaton is also not used in any of the Aramaic portions of Daniel or
Ezra, and even Chronicles quite often (though not always) uses "Elohim"
where his source in Samuel-King uses YHWH. So yes, the reluctance to
pronounce and even to spell out the Name seems to have developed during the
early Second Temple Period.
Later rabbinic sources recount that the Name was pronounced publicly by the
High Priest only on Yom Kippur, and that after the destruction of the
Temple, the proper pronunciation was lost.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Heard, Christopher" <Christopher.Heard at pepperdine.edu>
To: "b-hebrew" <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Monday, July 18, 2005 5:25 AM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Questions about YHWH

> On Jul 17, 2005, at 11:46 AM, Yaacov Yeretz wrote:
> > And if I'm right: Could anybody tell me, when the
> > pronunciation of the
> > Tetragrammaton became banned?
> Okay, I'm a little reluctant to chime in on this because I am away
> from home and pretty much working strictly from memory on this.
> However, I offer the following observations:
> (1) The tendency of the Septuagint and other Greek translations to
> supply κυριος for יהוה - does that suggest a reticence to
> actually pronounce the Tetragrammaton at the time those translation
> were made? If so, this would take us back to the beginning of the
> fourth century BCE. Or do our surviving LXX MSS represent a later
> development in this regard?
> (2) As I recall--though again, I am embarrassed to say it because I
> am not in a position, physically/geographically, to check sources on
> this--some of the Dead Sea Scrolls have the Tetragrammaton written in
> a Paleo-Hebraic script while all the rest of the text around it is
> written in an Aramaic square script. I have a JPEG of one such
> instance on my hard drive, but I don't have proper documentation on
> disk of which MS that is (and I don't know if I can send attachments
> with b-hebrew messages in any case). This would at suggest that no
> later than the first or second century BCE (depending on which texts
> show this orthographic variation), the Tetragrammaton was being
> treated as something special and apart from ordinary language. The
> use of the paleo script may (speculation alert!) have been a "flag"
> to mark the qere perpetuum, maybe ... (speculation alert!).
> Please take all this for "thinking out loud," not actual proposals
> (at least for now).
> Chris
> --
> R. Christopher Heard
> Assistant Professor of Religion
> Pepperdine University
> Malibu, California 90263-4352
> http://faculty.pepperdine.edu/cheard
> http://www.iTanakh.org
> http://www.semioticsandexegesis.info
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