[b-hebrew] YHWH pronunciation

Stephen Segall segall at umich.edu
Wed Jul 27 16:00:20 EDT 2005

While many ancient sources have been used to try to understand the 
pronunciation of YHWH, there is one source that no one seems to be aware 
of in which an actual pronunciation has been preserved.

After the Bar Kochba rebellion was crushed by the Romans in 135 CE many 
Jews fled the land of Israel to places that were not under Roman rule, 
such as the Arabian Penninsula and the lands of the Persian Empire. One 
group of Jewish refugees appears to have fled by boat as far as North 
America. Evidence for this includes Bar Kochba era coins discovered along 
the Ohio River and a Canaanite Hebrew inscription on a headstone in an 
undisturbed burial mound found in a controlled archeological dig conducted 
by the Simthsonian Bureau of Ethnology in the late nineteenth century.

This might be considered nothing more than an interesting historical 
footnote except for the fact that the religion of the Cherokee Indians 
before the arrival of European settlers was very similar in beliefs to 
Phariseeic Judaism. Cherokee legends included the story of Adam and Eve, 
the Great Flood, the tower of Babel, Abraham, Moses and wandering in the 
wilderness. The number 7 had special meaning for the Cherokees who 
observed a sabbath every seventh day. They believed in a single spirit 
god, life after death and heaven and hell.

One of the most interesting things about the Cherokee religion was the 
belief that the name of God was sacred and was only to be spoken by the 
high priest on special religious occasions. The name of the Cherokee god 
was Ye ho waah. To the extent that this name and its pronunciation have 
been accurately preserved by the Cherokees, we have evidence that the name 
YHWH had three syllables and was pronounced Ye ho waah at the time of the 
Bar Kochba rebellion. If this is the case, there is no obvious reason to 
believe that it was pronounced differently at earlier times.

A chapter describing the Cherokee religion is included in the book 
"Understanding the Exodus and Other Mysteries of Jewish History" that can 
be obtained from the website www.etzhaimpress.com. A number of references 
are included in this chapter.

Stephen Segall

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