[b-hebrew] Theophoric names

Uri Hurwitz uhurwitz at yahoo.com
Sun Feb 24 20:44:53 EST 2013

 Hi Jack,

 I tend to agree that in the pre-exilic, first temple,
 period YHWH was fully pronounced, though it is
 impossible to determine the vocalization now. 
  The way it is used in the Lakhish and Arad letters,
 for instance, seems to support  this, but does prove it.
   On the other hand, I think that the spelling of
 theophoric additions can not help here since names
 like Yehonatan are also spelled  Yonatan in quite a
 few chapters in the text. As if to emphasize this point
  the two forms appear in one verse 1 Sam. 19:1!

   Similarly are Yoram and Yehoram, Yoaxaz and Yehoaxaz
 and others.

   That a diachronic factor was involved in these slight
 variations is possible. Such a factor becomes definite
 in the extra-biblical suffixes -yahu and  -yah which you
 asked about. The former appear exclusively in pre-exilic
 inscriptional evidence, the latter in post-exilic.

   This process is also in evidence in the text;  compare
 the difference between the prophets' names Yishayahu,
 Yirmiyahu and the much later Ts'fanyah, Zekharyah .
 Unilke the uniform evidence from archaeological findings,
 the shift in the HB text is gradual, and not consistent
 as fits in much edited material. There is quite a
 literature on the subject. I follow Richard Hess and Avi
 Hurvitz (no relation) among others. George Athas, I Think,
 does not.

   And you had another good question - when was the
 tetragammaton considered too holy to be pronounced?
  Perhaps a clue that YHWH was considered different
 from other words can be found in those instances when
 it was written in some Dead Sea Scrolls  in the old
 paleo -Hebrew script as against the accepted Aramaic
 script in general use in the rest of the scrolls. 

  In Egypt, it was said about one of the highest gods,
 Amun, that his name should not be pronounced.


  Uri Hurwitz

Hi Uri
I have always been interested in the custom of theophorics and what appears 
to be a pattern.  During the 1st temple period, there was no problem voicing 
the name of God.  When the theophoric was a prefix to a name, it appears to 
have been  יְהֹו "Yeho" (yod-tsere) such as Yeho-shua, Yeho-nathan, 
Yeho-sef, Yeho-Yakhin, and as a suffix, Yirmi-yahu, Yesha-yahu, Hizqi-yahu. 
Inscriptions on bullae or LMLK impressions reveal the full suffix 
theophoric, i.e.    חִזְקִיָּהוּ hzqyhw while the Biblical translations are 
"HezekYAH.  I think the 2nd temple prohibition on the Shem haMeforash 
resulted in truncations, such as Ye-shua for Yehoshua, Yo-sef for Yeho-sef, 
Yesha-ya for Yesha-yahu (Isaiah).  Does anyone else see this pattern for 
theophoric use and its altered praxis post-exilic?  Does the prefix YE-ho 
and suffix YA-hu tell us anything about the actual voicing of YHWH?

Jack Kilmon

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