The Hidden Name of God Bible Study: Part 1-C

In this lesson we will begin to delve into the Hebrew language a bit. Don’t worry. It won’t be too complicated! You are about to learn God’s unique, true, personal name!


The TETRAGRAMMATON

יְהֹוָה

YHVH (YHWH)

The TETRAGRAMMATON, as the above symbol is called, is the UNIQUE NAME of the Elohim (God) of all Creation, the one and only true God. Tetragrammaton is a long, fancy word that literally means four letters. It always refers to God’s four letter Hebrew name. You likely have seen the transliterated form YHVH or YHWH.  In Hebrew, God’s personal name is sometimes referred to as the Shem HaMeforash. This is usually translated into English as the ineffable (unspeakable) name, but it actually means the “explicit” or “unequivocal” name. This is the name of God which occurs nearly 7,000 times in the Hebrew Scriptures—the Old Testament. It is almost exclusively translated as LORD in English Bibles. 

When God, Himself, inscribed the Ten Commandments on the stone tablets with His finger, He inscribed His own, unique name—the one He revealed to Moses at the burning bush, on those very tablets!  In fact, the very first time God’s unique, personal name was ever written, it was written by יהוה Himself!!! When Moses wrote the original Torah, also called the Pentateuch (first five books of the Old Testament), he wrote the Tetragrammaton whenever the name of God was recorded.  The early Israelites heard this sacred name spoken by Moses, Aaron, the priests. Later the prophets spoke it as well.  In fact, it was spoken often by the people. AND the Israelites heard יהוה speak His Own unique name HIMSELF at Mt. Sinai when He spoke the Ten Commandments to them from the mountain!!!

At some point after the Babylonian captivity, the Israelites began the practice of not speaking the sacred name of God, instead saying Adonai (Hebrew for Lord). The Tetragrammaton was written in Hebrew manuscripts, but when read aloud, the reader substituted Adonai. One English translation of the Hebrew Tanakh (the Stone Edition) uses the Hebrew term HaShem, which simply means The Name, in place of the Tetragrammaton.  There are many theories as to why the tradition of not speaking the name occurred. We will look at some of these later in this study.

The practice of not speaking the sacred name of God was taken a step further when men began translating the Hebrew Scriptures into English.  It was decided to use the term LORD, written in all capital letters, in place of the Tetragrammaton. This decision further hid God’s sacred name from the hearts and minds of the people reading or speaking the Scriptures. I cannot speak to how the Tetragrammaton is translated into other languages, as I have not researched this.

There are a number of English translations that do include a transliteration of God’s name. This is usually rendered as Jehovah, which I consider a rather unfortunate transliteration, because the letter ‘J’ did not get added to the English alphabet until the early 1600’s. However, other than the initial ‘J’ the pronunciation is very close to the Hebrew pronunciation. It is rendered Jehovah 4 times in the KJV, 14 times in the World English Bible, and over 5700 times in the Darby Translation, the Young’s Literal Translation and the American Standard Version.

Please keep in mind when you encounter the Tetragrammaton in this study or elsewhere, that Hebrew is read from right to left.

יהוה
(Yehovah – Jehovah)
י
(Yod)
ה
(Heh)
ו
(Vav)
ה
(Heh)


Yehovah Yireh – (H3070) Yehovah will see (to it)
Yehovah Nisse – (H3071) Yehovah is my Banner
Yehovah Tsidqenuw – (H3072) Yehovah our Righteousness
Yehovah Shalom – (H3073) Yehovah is Peace
Yehovah Shammah – (H3074) Yehovah is There
Yehovah Rapha – Yehovah that Healeth thee
Yehovah Mekaddishkhem – Yehovah that Sanctifies you
Yehovah Ra’ah – Yehovah my Shepherd

Yah – (H3050) 49x shortened form of 3068 Hallelu Yah

The list above uses the proper transliteration of God’s personal name based on the pronunciation of the first letter of the tetragrammaton — י (yod) which in this case is pronounced like the English letter ‘y’ when it appears at the beginning of a word (as in yellow). When the letter ‘j’ was first added to the English alphabet, it was pronounced like the letter ’y.’ Some other languages that have a letter ’j’ still pronounce it as ’y’ (e.g., German).

The pronunciation of Yehovah is very similar to Jehovah. The main difference is that the emphasis is on the last syllable instead of the second syllable.


Now that you have learned what God’s name is, I encourage you to continue on in this study since we have only begun to scratch the surface in truly knowing and understanding His name—what it means, why it is important to Him, how we can honor Him by using His name appropriately and much more. Even in our natural realm, knowing someone by name changes our relationship to them. You cannot be in a true relationship with a person if you don’t know his name. It is one thing to say you have met someone; it is another thing entirely to be on a first-name basis with him! Our great God and Creator, Yehovah, desires to have a personal relationship with us. He knows us each by name and He desires for us to know Him by His name and to call Him by His name.


Your Turn

Here’s a little homework for you!

Read several passages from the Old Testament paying close attention to how often you see the words LORD or GOD (all caps). When you see that, try reading it as Yehovah or Jehovah. I encourage you to say it out loud. I believe it will give you a different perspective of the verses you are reading. You will see a personal God with a personal name who speaks directly to you from the pages of His Word!

Let me know if reading the Word comes alive in a new way for you. It certainly did for me!

Some translations may not use the all caps format and simply use Lord. This will make it even more difficult to distinguish The Name from other uses of the word lord. If your translation does not use the all caps version of LORD, try to find one that does. KJV, NKJV, NASB, ESV are a few versions that use this format. Online versions can be found at http://www.blueletterbible.org,  http://www.bible.com, the YouVersion app and many other online resources.

Now that you know where the name is hidden, count the number of times you encounter it in your daily reading. Sometimes it occurs multiple times in the same verse!


We have only gotten our toes wet at this point! Are you ready to go deeper? If you are, please join me for Part 2 and beyond!


If this post has touched you or resonated with you, please consider liking, commenting, and sharing it with a friend.


Feature Image background by Mfotophile  from Canva. Hebrew calligraphy by Melody Cash.

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