Difference Between Jehovah and Yahweh

Jehovah vs Yahweh
 

There can be no confusion regarding the name of the God, or so many would like to believe. It sounds improbable, but the fact is that the name of the Lord is a subject of heated discussion among the followers of Christianity. Ask a faithful and you are likely to hear Jehovah as the name of the Lord. These people point out to Old Testament as a proof for the name of the God. However, there are many who feel that the correct name of God is Yahweh, and not Jehovah. This article attempts to clear some confusion regarding the name of the God.

God has been referred to by several names in the Old Testament. Of these names, one that appears most frequently is YHWH. It is this name that has been translated as Jehovah in modern times. Even before the birth of Christ, YHWH was believed in Judaism to be the name of the God, and that so sacred, it was not even uttered by people. Ancient Hebrew had only consonants and no vowels. So it is unclear how Jews pronounced these 4 consonants together. However, scholars seem to be unanimous that the pronunciation of YHWH must have been Yahweh.

YHWH happens to be Hebrew letters Yodh, Heh, Waw, and Heh. These were transliterated erroneously as JHVH by Roman scholars that got rendered Jehovah later on. There is a theory that the word Jehovah was formed by taking the vowels of the word ELOAH. This is similar to the theory that Yahweh by adding the vowels from the word HASHEM to the 4 letter word YHWH.

It is, therefore, clear that the 4 letter Hebrew word YHWH has been rendered as JHVH in Roman script. When pronounced, YHWH gets uttered as Yahweh and JHVH as Jehovah.

Summary

In ancient times, it was common for the Jews to fear uttering the name of God. This was also because the old Hebrew had no vowels and only consonants and there was every chance of mispronouncing the name of the God that was constituted of four Hebrew letter YHWH. In fact, Jews, even when reading their scriptures aloud, substituted the name of the God with Adonai which means Lord. It was only later that Hebrew developed vowels. When they placed these vowels over the 4 lettered word for God, it got uttered as Yahweh. However, when Christian scholars did the same to YHWH placing the vowels of Adonai, they developed a new sound that was Yahovah that later on got converted into Jehovah.

In any case, the two variations of the spelling refer to the same name of God and the confusion is because of transliteration as well as the superstition of the ancient Jews that they should not pronounce the name of their God in vain.

  • Robert Parker

    …. superstition….?? how about a COMMAND to not take the name of the Lord in vain….

  • GBarry

    Your treatment is incomplete and misleading. Any time you convert Hebrew to another language you must transliterate it because the alphabets are not the same. A Spanish monk converted the Hebrew name of God to Latin in the 13th century and that was later converted to English as Jehovah and used in the King James Bible 1611. The French Catholics that produced the Jerusalem bible converted the Hebrew name to Greek and then came up with Yahweh. The fact is that the God of the Bible has a name and it appears in the Bible almost 7000 times. Obviously God wanted his name known. Jesus made that name known to his disciples as he asserts at John 17:26, showing the importance of knowing and using it. But the form will be different in each target language. So what? Even the Hebrew form of Jesus is different in Greek, Latin, Spanish. etc., but if everyone using the target language form is known to be talking about the messiah what difference does it make? Jehovah has been used since 1611 in English and Yahweh since the 1960s. Some assert the Septuagint used the form YHWH, But anyone hearing either of those names today understands who is being spoken about. Isn’t that the important thing? The Jews had a superstition about using God’s name but the Christians never did. Can you explain why most Bibles refrain from using God’s name?