Thursday, January 29, 2009

God's Real Name?

In our Sunday morning women's Bible study, we've been studying the Hebrew names of God. Knowing and understanding God's names is a step toward knowing and understanding God Himself because He reveals His character to us through His names.

I know that Yahweh is a guess at the pronunciation of the covenant name God gave Himself in Exodus. I understand that the four Hebrew letters for Yahweh--YHWH--are translated JHVH in German--which was the language of Martin Luther, who translated the Bible for the non-priestly common people to read for themselves.

The devotional book we're using in the women's equipping class (Anne Spangler's Praying the Names of God) says, "[YHWH] was first rendered Jehovah in the Middle Ages and enshrined as such in the King James Version of the Bible. . .this mispronunciation arose when in the tenth century Jewish scholars began supplying vowels to Hebrew words, which had formerly been written without them. Since Adonay was always substituted for Yahweh [the name of God that wasn't allowed to be spoken] in the biblical text, the Hebrew vowels for Adonay were inserted into the four letters of the Tertragrammaton: YaHo Wah" (77) (or in German JaHo Vah).

So here's my conclusion: Jehovah is not actually God's name. Right? It's a work-around men came up with, a substitute for a name they wouldn't say mixed with a mistake in translation and pronunciation.

Who decided Yahweh couldn't be spoken anyway? Was it in deference to the holiness of God? I know it's hard for me to grasp because I'm not Jewish, and I look at the Old Testament through the filter of Jesus and grace. Because I belong to Jesus, I am the temple of the Living God, so speaking Yahweh's name doesn't seem like a big deal to me. A privilege, yes--an invitation from God Himself to know Him and be known by Him, yes.

So if we call God Jehovah, isn't that calling Him by a fake name? It seems to me that would be more insulting and disrespectful to Him than speaking His personal covenant name aloud.

And if that is true, what do I do with all those praise and worship songs that use Jehovah? (Jehovah Nissi, Days of Elijah, Jehovah Jireh, In the Presence of Jehovah. . .)

1 comment:

Brittany said...

my honest reaction:

"I KNOW, RIGHT!!!!"