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Meaning of Yahweh

Updated: May 3




Question:

"What is YHWH? What is the Tetragrammaton?"

Answer: 

The ancient Hebrew language that the Old Testament was written in did not have vowels in its alphabet. In written form, ancient Hebrew was a consonant-only language. In the original Hebrew, God’s name transliterates to YHWH (sometimes written in the older style as YHVH).


This is known as the Tetragrammaton (meaning “four letters”). Because of the lack of vowels, Bible scholars debate how the Tetragrammaton YHWH was pronounced.

The Tetragrammaton consists of four Hebrew letters,  יהוה: yodh, he, waw, and then he repeated. Some versions of the Bible translate the Tetragrammaton as “Yahweh” or “Jehovah”; most translate it as “LORD” (all capital letters).

Contrary to what some Christians believe (and at least one cult), Jehovah is not the Divine Name revealed to Israel. The name Jehovah is a product of mixing different words and different alphabets of different languages.


Due to a fear of accidentally taking God’s name in vain (Leviticus 24:16), the Jews basically quit saying it out loud altogether. Instead, when reading Scripture aloud, the Jews substituted the Tetragrammaton YHWH with the word Adonai (“Lord”).