[b-hebrew] yhwh pronunciation

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Wed Jul 20 18:31:31 EDT 2005

On 20/07/2005 15:28, Rolf Furuli wrote:

> ...
>>We have discussed this on the list before, and I think we have come to
>>the conclusion that for the root HWH, according to the normal rules for
>>weak verbs, both the Qal 3rd person "imperfect" and the Hiphil 3rd
>>person "imperfect" would most probably have the form YAHWEH, i.e.
>>identical to the reconstructed form of the divine name. The Qal might
>>also be YIHWEH as the "imperfect" of roots with initial he is somewhat
>>variable, cf. YIHYEH from HYH.
>I do not know who the "we" are that you mention in your second clause. But 
>the word cannot include all the members of the list.  I see no reason why 
>YHWH should not be a verb, but at the same time, I see no reason why it 
>should be. The following reasons speak against your Yahweh interpretation.

Rolf, my claim at this point is simply that if the verb HWH occurred in 
these forms, the pronunciation would be Yahwe. I am not claiming that 
the divine name is in fact a form of the verb HWH, although like you I 
see no reason why it should not be.

>1) The verb HWH is Aramaic and occurs only four times in the Hebrew text of 
>the Tanakh.

If it is used in a Hebrew text it is a Hebrew verb, although possibly a 
loan word.

>2) The word-play in Exodus 3:14,15 is between HYH and YHWH. If YHWH comes 
>from the verb HWH why not use this form in the word-play?
>3) There is no Hiphil form of the static verbs HYH or HWH.

There is no ATTESTED Hiphil form of these verbs. But there are many 
words which must have existed in ancient Hebrew but have not been 
preserved in the Hebrew Bible. Anyway, my claim was merely that if there 
were such a conjugation, it would have this form.

>4) If YHWH comes from HWH, and this is a name that God is supposed to have 
>given himself, why is the third person singluar and not the first person 
>used, as in the case of Ehye?

Easy: because in Exodus 3:15 YHWH is telling Moses what words to say to 
the Israelites, and of course Moses would need to use the third person.

>5) If the name is Hiphil, 3rd person singular, YIQTOL the form would be 
>YAHWE, as you say. But the only evidence we have (as shown in my previous 
>post) is that the name had three syllables, and that the first two were 
This is not a fair summary of the lengthy discussions on this list and 
elsewhere, which have produced good indirect evidence, although not 
entirely conclusive, that the name had two syllables and was something 
like Yahwe.

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

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