Posts Tagged ‘Yahweh’

The lands called Mesopotamia, that lie along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, have also been called the “cradle of civilization.” The Bible is in agreement with history and archaeology on this, for this area is where the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11) was located. Suddenly unable to understand the language of one another, tribes of Noah’s descendants abandoned the tower project and scattered across the globe (Genesis 11:9).

It’s possible that several words, or names, for “God” came into existence with the creation of these different languages, while others developed over time. The fact that people suddenly began speaking different languages would naturally have been attributed to the intervention of God. Though myths have become attached to some of them, we find many records from ancient civilizations concerning this event.

There is no hint of myth however, in the record (the Old Testament) of the Semitic people who founded the nation of Israel. Though condensed by necessity, the Bible is an accurate history of the involvement of God in human affairs. According to the Bible, man once knew his creator, but has distanced himself from that which was once understood (Genesis 3:8-10, Romans 1:21-23).

As human beings, we are more receptive of someone if they will meet us on “our level.” That is why God chose a family (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:20-23) through which to be born into this world, and the genealogies of the Old Testament were recorded primarily for the purpose of predicting the birthright of Jesus. The revelation of the expected Christ, the Jewish Messiah, grew with the writings of the Old Testament prophets.

When the Lord (YHWH) first appeared to Moses (Exodus 3:-14), he called himself “I AM.” The Hebrew word translated as “I AM,” is “HYH” (Hayah). It has the same basic meaning as “HVH” (Havah). Both “HYH,” and “HVH,” are derived from the name “YHWH” (pronounced Yahweh, or sometimes Jehovah). I mentioned in an earlier post (JE S O S) that my favorite translation of “I AM” is “JE SUIS” in the French Bible. I believe that it is the pre-incarnate JE SUS who is speaking to Moses in Exodus 3:14.

It is very important for us to know that God exists, and who he is. To the atheist who insists that God is no one, he says, “I am one.” God says to us, “I am someone.” The word “Hayah,” in English usually translated as “I Am,” is “On,” in Exodus 3:14 of the Greek Septuagint. “On,” is then translated as “The Being,” in the English rendering of the Septuagint.

The name “On,” is likely the origin of the English word “one,” and is probably a factor in the “I” shape coming to represent the number “one.” “The Being,” is similar to the English meaning of the name “YHWH,” usually given as “The Self-Existent One,” or something similar. It could be rendered “The Eternal-Being,” or “the “Ever-Existent.”

The Hebrew youth Joseph, sold into Egypt as a slave, eventually married a daughter (Genesis 41:45) of “the priest of On.” There was a city in Egypt named “On,” and I once assumed that Joseph married the daughter of a pagan priest of that city. It’s possible however, that Joseph’s father-in-law believed in the one true God, and was not a pagan. The Septuagint has the name of that Egyptian city as “Heliopolis.”

I think that the name “I Am,” is interesting as translated into other languages also. I mentioned the French, “JE SUIS.” That is similar to the Portugese, “EU SOU,” the Lithuanian, “AS ESU” (ref. the English poetic “Jesu” for “Jesus”). The Italian “IO SONO,” and the Spanish “YO SOY,” are also similar (“I” and “Y” are inter-changable).

In many foreign translations, the “Y” of “YHWH,” becomes a “J.” “I AM,” in Croatian is “Ja jesam,” the Czech is “JSEM,” and the Albanian, “UNE JAM-i.” Also of interest is the Afrikaans, “EK IS, WAS, SAL WEES.” God is saying to us, “I exist.” “I am the one.”

God’s longer statement in Exodus 3:14 of the King James Bible is “I AM THAT I AM.” Most English versions have it as, “I AM WHO I AM.” We really can’t make God into someone, or something, that he is not. He is our creator (John 1:10-12), and our savior.

Jesus made several statements identifying himself with “I AM.” He said to some religious leaders in John 8:24, “If you believe not that I am he, you will die in your sins.” A few minutes later, he told them, “Before Abraham was, I AM,” and they tried to stone him (John 8:58,59). That strange statement testifies of his existence before his advent into this world.

Several similar statements of Jesus are recorded in the Bible. In John 18:3-8, soldiers sent to arrest him fell backward to the ground when he said, “I am he” (Greek, “Ego eime,” or, “I am”). Something about the words, or the way he said them, caused the men to stumble backward.

The wording of the passage makes it sound as if a wind out of nowhere blew them back, but it could have been just a domino effect when whoever was in the lead suddenly backed up. The word “domino” comes from the Latin word for “Lord.”

The great being who said, “I am Alpha and Omega,” is the same benevolent Lord who called himself, “meek and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29). It was his love, and not only man’s nails, that held him to the cross. His sacrifice should be enough to make humble creatures of human beings.

Inheriting a different race, culture, or language does not mean that we must serve a different God. He is the God of every nation, tribe, and tongue (Revelation 7:9-10). It is fine for you to pronounce the name of Jesus, or of God, in the way that it has been translated into your language. The Lord knows who you’re talking to. When he returns, he may give us the most accurate pronunciation of his name, but we don’t need to be too concerned with that until then.

If we could assemble all languages together, I think we could have a much greater understanding of who God is. Perhaps, that is one of the things he will do when he returns. The prophecy in Isaiah 11:9 reads, “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” I’m not sure of the perfect interpretation of Zephaniah 3:9, but eventually God will give us, “a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent.”

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The name Jesus means “the salvation of YHWH.” When the Greeks transliterated the Hebrew name “Yeshua” (Yeshuah, or Yshwh), as “Iesous,” it was primarily because that’s as close as their alphabet would permit them to reproduce it. “Iesous,” in turn has been adopted into our language as “Jesus.”

Peculiarities of different alphabets often create an inability to write, or pronounce a foreign word precisely though it may yet be recognizable. “Yes,” in different languages becomes “yah,” or “jah,” and sometimes the “h” is dropped. In English a “y” is sometimes used instead of an “i,” and in French, the word “Je,” means “I.”

In Exodus 3:14, God told Moses to tell the children of Israel; “I Am,” has sent me to you. If God had spoken part of that in French, it would be; “Je suis,” has sent me to you. It may be only coincidence that “Je suis” in the French language means “I Am,” but the resemblance to the name Jesus is striking. In the transliteration of names, “y,” “i,” and “j” are often interchanged.

Multiple words or syllables are often combined to form personal names. To form the name “Yeshua,” “Yah,” (YH) the short form of “YHWH,” the Hebrew personal name of God, is combined with “shuwa,” which like an S O S, means “a cry for help.” “Yeshua,” could be taken to mean either “the cry for God” or “the cry of God.”

I haven’t seen anything about the international Morse Code distress signal, S O S, having anything to do with “soza,” (ref. sos and sais) the Greek word for “saved,” but that could yet have been a factor. If not, then it’s  another handy coincidence. The Hebrew word for saved or savior (open, wide or free, safe), is “yasha.” The Greeks would have converted the ”sh” in the word to a simple “s,” and there’s probably a linguistic connection between yasha and soza.

When studying the name of Jesus in different languages, I ran upon writings of atheists claiming a connection between the names “Jesus” and “Zeus.” There’s much to be said about that also, and I pray to have a separate post written soon. It is nothing for a believer to fear. I also found writings by Messianic Jews correctly arguing for the truth of the New Testament, but agreeing with the atheists about the transliteration of the name “Jesus.” Some Messianic Jews (not all) think that we should call Jesus only by some form of his Jewish name. I also read writings of Christian apologists arguing for the accuracy of the English name, but denying any connection between “Zeus” and “Jesus.” Behind all the argument lies a psychological attempt to demoralize and weaken the faith of those who call on the name of Jesus. The same attitudes and forces that nailed Jesus to a cross, continue to crucify his good name. As I’ve seen this, I have better understood why the name of Jesus means so much to God (Philippians 2:5-11).

Transliteration processes vary with times and languages, but the English name, “Jesus,” follows an established method of adopting foreign words or names into our language. When all is said and done, I think that the name Jesus is a very good transliteration, and translation, of the name Yeshua.

It is fine for you to pronounce the name of Jesus in the way that it comes to you in your language. Wikipedia has a good online article with the title, “Jesus (name).” Include the parenthesis in your search. The article lists his name in many languages.

English-speaking Christians should not abandon the use of the word “God,” the name “Jehovah” (which is an attempt to pronounce YHWH), or our way of pronouncing Jesus. The confusion of languages at the tower of Babel trips our tongue and tricks our mind, but don’t let it get to you. Whichever way that we pronounce his name, the thing that matters most is that we are speaking of the only begotten Son of God, who was executed by crucifixion at Jerusalem nearly 2000 years ago, and resurrected three days later.

It is the time of year when it happened, and a special time to remember his suffering, death, resurrection, and his promise to return. His name is a one word prayer; “JE S O S.” All that call on the name of Jesus shall be saved (Acts 2:21-36).

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Clear communication is difficult, and when it’s concerning a difficult subject that people have strong feelings about, then it can become nearly impossible. People start trying to shut each other up. At the tower of Babel, God divided man’s one original language into several (Genesis 11:1-9). It seems a strange thing for God to have done, but language barriers have made it more difficult for dictators to control the world’s population (ref. The Tower Code, my post of Oct. 12, 2014).

For us to have a real understanding of one another, and of God, we must have freedom of speech, even if we must begin with different languages. The first amendment to the U.S. Constitution recognizes the necessity of the freedoms of Religion, Speech, Press, Peaceable Assembly, and Petition. Without these things, there is no forum for reason, but only for fear and war. Yet today, all around the world by use of force and intimidation, terrorists seek to suppress basic human rights and freedoms.

If they could do so, by deception, violence, or whatever means, terrorists and dictators would silence all testimony of Jesus Christ. That will be a priority for Antichrist when he rises to power. Regardless of their claims, those who silence others by force are not following God’s example. Love and understanding cannot find full expression without freedom. These are things that God seeks to teach us that cannot simply be forced upon intelligent beings.

Man doesn’t want to play by the same rules, however. One of the most deceptive effects of man’s interpretations of good and evil (Genesis 3:1-13), is that we mistakenly come to believe we can readily distinguish between the two. In reality, only God can clearly do so. Evil often does not recognize itself as evil, and the only hope for its enlightenment is God, therefore God seeks depth of communication, and the freedom to reason (Isaiah 1:18) with man. The living God seeks to reveal himself to a lost world, while the world endeavors to shroud that revelation in secret.

Because of the confusion of languages at the tower of Babel, and due to the fact that languages evolve, as well as devolve, there is much confusion over the identity of God. What is his name, and what is his son’s name, if you can tell (Proverbs 30:4)? What if God were to visit the earth as a man (ref. “Immanuel,” Isaiah 7:14, & 9:6)? What if he told us his name beforehand, but over time it became confused?

My mention of the name of Jesus isn’t intended to offend anyone, but is an attempt to offer a helpful line of reason. In prophecy, the name “Jesus” is associated with “the righteous Branch,” (ref. Septuagint translation, Zechariah 6:11-12). Where does a branch grow? What if the world didn’t recognize God, and we killed him by nailing him to a tree.(Psalm 22:13-31, Isaiah 53)?

God, in the form of a man, didn’t have to turn the other cheek to man of course, but that’s what the Old Testament predicted would happen, and history records its fulfillment. Information on the fulfillment of these prophecies by Jesus is primarily recorded in the New Testament, but also in other religious writings of the era, as well as in a few secular records.

Mostly in the corrupted form of myths, much of the ancient world remembered the promise of God to send a deliverer. Most of the world did not, and does not however, accept that Jesus is that deliverer. Connected with a prophecy in Amos 6:10 (RSV), is the statement, “Hush (Shhh)! We must not mention the name of the Lord.” I don’t fully understand that particular prophecy, but it seems to me to contain an allusion to the Jewish practice of not speaking the personal name of God (YHWH) aloud, but saying “Lord” (Adonai) instead. My post, “Yud Heh Vav Heh, The Secret of YHWH,” in my November 2011 archives, is very important to the understanding of this present post, as well as those intended to follow.

In some areas of the world today, just as in the days of Rome (Revelation 6:9-11), Christians may be beheaded for confessing the name of Jesus. In the academic world, you might only encounter ridicule and censorship. “Shame,” is a Hebrew word that means “name,” but it’s ridiculous for the world to be ashamed of Jesus. That is like being ashamed of love, or of good behavior.

Relating to God, and to life, there is more confusion to be found in the present babble of propaganda and opinion, than in the multitude of languages. In the interest of freewill (Luke 2:25-35), God is allowing “the thoughts of many hearts to be revealed,” but someday, God will speak again. The thoughts that we dwell upon, other thoughts that we suppress, the words that we speak, and all our actions, have consequences. Whether for better, or for the worse, these things change the world that we live in. Many of these things serve to shroud the truth in mystery.

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Difficulties arise whenever ancient writings are translated into other languages. Many words may not have an exact equivalent, and the meaning of some words may be unknown. In such cases the original word may be adopted into the new language. The translators will attempt to represent the pronunciation of the word, to whatever degree it is known, using letters of their own alphabet. Even this can be a challenge because of the lack of exact equivalents.

The result is often a variety of spellings. As an example, the name of the river “Pishon,” in Genesis 2:11 of the Bible (ref. Rivers of Eden in my October 2011 archives), comes to us from the Hebrew language. The Hebrew letters Pe (or Phe), Yowd, Siyn (or Shiyn) Vav, and Nuwn, are used in the spelling.

Even the spellings representing pronunciations of foreign letters vary, and sometimes arguments develop over their correctness. Pe may be written “pey,” and yowd may be “yud,” “yod,” or “jod.” Siyn and shiyn become “sin” and “shin,” and vav becomes “vau,” or “waw.” Nuwn becomes “Nun.” Note that we are not using the Hebrew alphabetical symbols here, but an English transliteration of the symbols.

Multiple spellings of Pishon exist; Pison (King James Version), Phisom (Septuagint), Phison (Josephus), and others. All of these are recognizable representations of the original word, and such differences usually aren’t very important. A serious disagreement develops however, over the transliteration of the Lord’s Hebrew name Yahweh, into the English Jehovah. I hope to write something on that subject soon.

Procedures of transliteration used when adopting foreign words vary over periods of time, and also depend upon the languages which the words pass through. Information sometimes reaches us that is a translation of earlier translations, and we may be altering marks of authenticity whenever we attempt to harmonize spellings and content of various records.

Human speech was first given to man by God, though Adam soon began to adapt his language. For instance, God allowed Adam to give names to the animals (Genesis 2:19). At the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9), God translated man’s original language into several branches, and Genesis 10:32 tells us that the nations were divided according to their families.

More than simply a monument to man, the tower represented an uprising against God. I also intend to write more on this later. Anyway, the building of the tower ceased when suddenly, the workers could no longer understand each other. God has many ways of performing that which we call miracles, but in the final analysis, he’s using some principle of science in some way that we don’t currently understand. He has created the rules of science, and has the ability to circumvent them. Science is aware of these possibilities.

Keeping the tower of Babel in mind, and the miracle of the second chapter of Acts involving several different languages, it would be interesting to study the human brain searching for a scientific mechanism that might have been involved. Such scientific knowledge would be a very dangerous thing in the hands of man however.

Computers, with access to the right programs and information, can perform either encryption, or translation tasks quickly, so accepting the event of the confusion of languages should not present any great challenge, even to an atheist. Atheists should also easily understand the motives of the designers of the tower. While the confusion of languages ended the futile attempt at building a “tower to heaven,” it also made Bible translation a necessity.

If we can learn a little about the Hebrew and Greek languages of the ancient Bible, and the history of its translation, we’ll have a fuller understanding of it. Actually, I think that would apply to translations in all languages. It could be easier for a particular people, because of their language, to grasp some facet of understanding. Some people are quick to point out to me, that we don’t have to know any of this stuff, but only to have faith. I understand that, but I think that some people also need to understand more about that Bible before they can believe it. Faith and understanding go hand in hand.

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I’m going to quote some verses of the Script, and ask some questions about them. The right questions sometimes lead to the right answers. “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” Who is the “us,” and “our,” that Elohim is referring to in Genesis 1:26? Note that the one spoken to is a participant in the creation.

Similar verses are scattered throughout the Script. Psalm 119:79 says, “Let those who fear you turn to me.” Who is speaking? The one feared in this instance is God. How could it help us to turn to the one who’s speaking? What could anyone other than God do to assuage man’s inborn fear of God? Could God be in two places at the same time? Philippians 2:5-7 speaks of Jesus existing in the form of God, equal with God, but becoming a man. Could God become a man, and thus be less frightening to us? King David wrote the Psalm, but obviously he’s not speaking of himself.

David wrote many such things. Psalm 110:1, “The Lord (YHWH) said to my Lord (Adonai), sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.” The ‘Complete Jewish Bible’ translates that verse as, “Adonai said to my Lord…” Messianic Jews who accept Jesus as Messiah, continue to read YHWH as Adonai because of their Jewish heritage (Ref. my previous post).

Psalm 110:4, “The Lord (YHWH) has sworn, and will not relent, you are a priest forever…” The one spoken to is considered a Priest, or one who stands for others before God. Verse 5, “The Lord (Adonai) at your right hand will…” Verse 1 speaks of Adonai at the right hand of YHWH, and now verse 5 says that Adonai is at the right hand of the one being spoken to. That is not a contradiction, but it does sound as if it’s going around in circles, and maybe it is. “Adonai,” sometimes refers to YHWH, and YHWH sometimes refers to Adonai.

The same thing happens with the name Elohim in Psalm 45:6-7. These verses are quoted in Hebrews 1:8-9, and the writer says they are spoken to the “Son.” “Your throne, Oh God (Elohim), is forever…therefore God (Elohim), your God (Elohim), has anointed you…” If God calls him God, then I’m not going to fear to call him God. They are one, and we don’t need to try to rank them.

Just because mankind can’t imagine or understand union doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. In Isaiah 48:16, the speaker says, “I have not spoken in secret from the beginning. From the time that it was, there I am. Now Adonai YHWH, and his Spirit have sent me.” Someone, who has existed from the beginning, is sent by God, and his Spirit. They are one.

The CJB says, “Adonai Elohim has sent me and his Spirit.” When “YHWH” is written alone, the Jewish people substitute the name Adonai in reading aloud. They substitute the name “Elohim” for YHWH when the actual name “Adonai” precedes it. Rather than repeat Adonai YHWH, as “Adonai Adonai,” they say “Adonai Elohim.” That’s kind of complicated but that’s the way its done.

The names Elohim, Adonai, and YHWH are used alternately as one throughout the Script. That pattern continues through the New Testament. In the book of the Revelation, it is often difficult to discern whether it is the Father speaking, or the Son, but it usually doesn’t matter.

In John 14:9 Jesus said, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” They are one. What one thinks, the other speaks. When one is pierced, the other is wounded. The speaker of the prophecy in Zechariah 12:10 says, “They will look on me whom they have pierced, and mourn for him, as one mourns for his only son…” Who is speaking? Who is pierced? The hands of YHWH are pierced, no matter how you interpret that verse.

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I don’t think we know for certain how YHWH, from the Hebrew Old Testament, should be pronounced. If you research the word “Lord,” in a Bible Concordance such as Strong’s, the original word was almost always the name YHWH. In defence of the translators, when YHWH is used it is speaking of the Lord, even though YHWH doesn’t actually mean Lord.

Elohim (God), and Adonai (Lord), are more of a description of what he is, whereas YHWH is his name. The name YHWH is said to mean Ever-Existent, or Ever-Being. “You shall not take the name of YHWH your Elohim in vain,” is one of the Ten Commandments. Out of fear or reverence, the ancient Hebrew people substituted the name “Adonai,” rather than pronounce “YHWH” as written.

That methodology was already established by the time the Septuagint was translated. It was adopted by some of the early Christians, who were themselves Jewish, and later became the standard used in Bible translations. This has made it easier to overlook some mysterious things about the name YHWH. It has come to be thought of as “the unutterable name,” though the commandment was not against saying the name YHWH, but against taking it in vain.

I’m sure that many people will already know what I’m going to say, but I’ve never heard it. Perhaps some have considered it unimportant, and others have avoided it for fear of controversy. For some reason, the secret has been well-kept from the most of us.

Many people are aware that the symbols of the Hebrew alphabet represent numerals as well as letters, and that they also have individual meanings. For example the Hebrew letter “aleph,” usually represented by the letter “A,” is also a word that means “ox.” “Beth,” (B) means house, and so on. There’s general agreement on the meanings attached to the letters, and whenever there are multiple meanings, they are usually related in some way.

In a few places, the CJB (Complete Jewish Bible), spells out Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh rather than using the English letters YHWH (it substitutes Adonai in most places). When I saw it written that way, the meanings of the letters came to my mind.

“Y” (Yud, Yad, or various spellings), is translated as “hand,” or “hands.” (Ref. Psalm 119-Yod)

I have a “Langenscheidt Pocket Hebrew Dictionary,” that says “H” (He, or Heh), means air-hole. Other sources say that it means “look,” or “window.” Those meanings are connected because the earliest windows were simple holes that you could look through, and that would allow a flow of air. The Hebrew symbol for H is shaped like “Cheyth,” another Hebrew letter, except the H has a hole or opening in one corner. The Early Paleo-Hebrew symbol for H is the figure of a man with hands raised as if to say, “stop,” or “look.” No doubt our word “Hey,” that we call out to draw attention, comes from the Hebrew symbol “heh.”

The Hebrew V (vav or waw) means “nail,” “hook,” or the plural of these words. Vav is translated as “hooks,” in passages of Exodus which deal with the curtains of the Tabernacle. That includes the vail (veil) of the inner sanctuary (Ex. 26:31-33). I haven’t seen this word elsewhere in the Script, except in the alphabetical layout of Psalm 119.

Many times I’ve wished the truth could be told without someone being offended, but that’s impossible in our world. My next sentence will seem like blasphemy to some people, but it is true, and it’s nothing to fear. The meaning of the letters Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh is something like, Hands-Holes-Nails-Holes, or Hands-Look-Nail-Holes.

You can order the words somewhat differently, but the prophetic message conveyed by the letters YHWH is very clear. “YHWH” is testimony for Jesus, and his crucifixion. I want to go back and read many passages of the Script with this thought in mind. It lends greater meaning to many New Testament writings, and I’m certain that will be the case with the Old Testament also.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke, recorded that when Jesus died there was an earthquake, and the veil of the Temple (which replaced the Tabernacle) was ripped from the top to the bottom (remember the word vav, for the hooks or nails, that this curtain was hanged upon).

Hebrews 10:16-20, is another passage made more meaningful by this understanding. Verse 20 speaks of “a new and living way which he has prepared for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh.” The inner sanctuary of YHWH, his very heart, is open to anyone who will enter through this torn veil. The Script tells us to “enter into the holiest.” Whoever you are, you can enter the sanctuary, but go softly, and be humbled for this is a hallowed place. The blood of the Son of God is sprinkled here.

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