Answer (2)

2. Q. “Hasn’t the pronunciation of the Name been lost?”

Answer (2). It is not unusual for some who reject the Name Yahweh to argue that because of the aversion of the Jews to using the Name or even to uttering it, that the correct pronunciation became lost. This is the same ineffectual argument put forth by those who reject the Sabbath, saying that the Sabbath has been lost so no one knows which day it is.

Would Yahweh command that all men call on His revealed, personal Name – an eternal Name that is His very memorial to all generations (Ex. 3:15), a name that is the only Name giving salvation – and then allow it to vanish in the midst of time?

Just as the Jews were given the sacred trust of preserving Yahweh’s Word and statues (Rom. 3:1-2), keeping and sustaining the Sabbath in its proper weekly sequence down through history, they also have preserved the proper pronunciation of the Name through the Hebrew language. Jewish history says that the priest spoke the sacred Name 10 times annually on the Day of Atonement down through the centuries. A Name so revered would never be lost on the priesthood. Ask most any Jew in Israel today whether “Yahweh” is the true pronunciation and he or she will acknowledge that it is. Scholarship also reveals the proper pronunciation. One does not even need to go beyond a standard encyclopedia for the facts.

The Encyclopedia Biblica tells us, “The controversy as to the correct pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton, whether asYahwe, or Yahawe, Yahwa, or Yahawa…has been gradually brought to an end by the general adoption of the view, first propounded by Ewald, that the true form is Yahwe” (Divine Names, p. 3311).

The eminent Encyclopaedia Judaica confirms this, “The true pronunciation of the name YHWH [Yahweh] was never lost. Several early Greek writers of the Christian Church testify that the name was pronounced ‘Yahweh,’” Vol. 7, p.680.

This is validated in the Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th Edition: “Early Christian writers, such as Clement of Alexandria in the 2nd century, had used the form Yahweh, thus this pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton was never really lost. Greek transcriptions also indicated that YHWH should be pronounced Yahweh.” Vol. X, p. 786.

Other references substantiate proper pronunciation as “Yahweh.” The 15th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, volume 12, p. 995, makes the following comment under the heading “Jehovah”:

“The pronunciation ‘Jehovah’ is an error resulting among Christians from combining the consonants Yhwh (Jhvh) with the vowels of ‘adhonay, ‘Lord,’ which the Jews in reading the Scriptures substituted for the sacred name, commonly called thetetragrammaton as containing four consonants…The Rabbinic tradition that after the death of Simeon the Just (fl.290 B.C.) It was no longer pronounced even on these occasions, is contradicted by the well-attested statement that in the last generation before the fall of Jerusalem (A.D. 70) it was uttered so low that the sounds were lost in the chant of the priest. After that event the liturgical use of the name ceased, but the tradition was perpetuated in the Rabbinic schools; it continued also to be employed by healers, exorcists and magicians, and is found on many magical papyri. It is asserted by Philo that only priests might pronounce it and by Josephus that those who knew it were forbidden to divulge it. Finally the Samaritans shared the scruples of the Jews, except that they used it in judicial oaths….The early Christian scholars therefore easily learnt the true pronunciation.”

Another reference tells us, “The early Christian scholars therefore easily learnt the true pronunciation. Clement of Alexandria (d. 212) gives Iaove or Iaovai (or in one manuscript Iaov), Origen (d. 253-54) ‘Ian, and Epiphanius (d. 404) IaBe (or Iave in one manuscript); Theodoret (d. 457) says that the Samaritans pronounced it IaBe…” (Vol. 12). Samaritan poetry employs theTetragrammaton and then rhymes it with words having the same sound as Yah-oo-ay (Journal of Biblical Literature, 25, p.50 and Jewish Encyclopedia, vol.9, p.161).

The following authorities also leave no doubt as to the proper and correct pronunciation of Yahweh’s Name:

→ “The pronunciation Yahweh is indicated by transliteration of the name into Greek in early Christian literature, in the formiaoue (Clement of Alexandria) or iabe (Theodoret; by this time Gk. b had the pronunciation of v)…Strictly speaking, Yahweh is the only ‘name’ of God. In Genesis wherever the word sem (‘name’) is associated with the divine being that name is Yahweh,” Eerdman’s Bible Dictionary, 1979 page 478.

The Latin v spoken of here had the same sound as the English w, sharing a close affinity with the u (Harper’s Latin Dictionary). That is why the w (“double u”) is made up of two v’s. The v was used as a vowel, only later becoming a consonant. It came from the u, which it follows in the alphabet.

→ “It is now held that the original name was IaHUe(H), i.e. Jahve(h, or with the English values of the letters, Yahweh(h, and one or other of these forms is now generally used by writers upon the religion of the Hebrews” (Oxford English Dictionary under “Jehovah”).

→ “The saying of God, ‘I am who I am,’ is surely connected with His name that is written in the Hebrew consonantal text as Yhwh, the original pronunciation of which is well attested as Yahweh” (Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967, Vol. 5, page 743).

→“Such a conclusion, giving ‘Yahweh’ as the pronunciation of the name, is confirmed by the testimony of the Fathers and gentile writers, where the forms IAO, Yaho, Yaou, Yahouai, and Yahoue appear. Especially important is the statement ofTheodoret in relation to Ex. lvi., when he says: ‘the Samaritans call it [the tetragrammaton] ‘Yabe,’ the Jews call it ‘Aia’…”The New Schaff-Herzog Religious Encyclopedia, “Yahweh,” page 471.

→ Writings in Biblical Archaeology Review, Professor Anson F. Rainey, professor of Semitic Linguistics at Tel Aviv University, confirms that “Yahweh” is the correct pronunciation: “I mentioned the evidence from Greek papyri found in Egypt. The best of these is Iaouee (London Papyri, xlvi, 446-483). Clement of Alexandria said, “The mystic name which is called thetetragrammaton…is pronounced Iaoue, which means, “Who is, and who shall be.”’

“The internal evidence from the Hebrew language is equally strong and confirms the accuracy of the Greek transcriptions.Yahweh is from a verbal root developed from the third person pronoun, *huwal *hiya. In Jewish tradition, it is forbidden to pronounce the Sacred Name and its true pronunciation is supposed to remain secret. The fact is that Jewish tridents (who put the vowel points in the Hebrew text) borrowed the vowels from another word, either adonai ‘my lord(s),’ or elohim ‘God.’ They avoided the very short a vowel in this borrowing because it might have led the synagogue reader to make a mistake and pronounce the correct first syllable of the Sacred Name, namely –ya. The vocalized form one finds in the Hebrew Bible is usually Yehowah, from which we get in English the form JehovahYehowa/Jehovah is nothing but an artificial ghost word; it was never used in antiquity. The synagogue reader saw Yehowah in his text and read it adonai” (BAR, Sept.-Oct. 1994).

→ Seventh-day Adventist and Hebrew scholar. Raymond F. Cottrell, writes, “The English spelling of Yahweh is now almost universally believed to reflect accurately the ancient, original pronunciation of YHWH. In keeping with the common practice today of pronouncing proper names translated from a foreign language with as nearly the original vocalization as possible, it would be altogether correct and proper for us to use the name Yahweh wherever the word YHWH (“Lord”) occurs in the Old Testament, and also whenever we are speaking of the true God in Old Testament times. This practice is becoming more and more common among Bible scholars and informed Christians,” Review and Herald, Feb. 9, 1967.