YHWH The Hebrew spelling of God’s name A word no religious Jew will pronounce Appears over 6,000 times in the Old Testament! – Considered too holy to be pronounced by humans
YHWH The prohibition seems to have begun around the 3 rd century BC – After the return from Babylonian exile – After the 2 nd temple is built No prohibition is known during the 1 st temple period
History Lesson The prohibition goes back to Exodus 20:7 – The 3 rd commandment – “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” Original meaning was considered to be related to oath keeping when swearing by God’s name Evolved to not using the Lord’s name lightly or frivolously.
History Lesson That evolved even more to not speaking the name at all – The fence the Jews erected around the Law – Don’t even come close to the line! During Jesus’ time – The name could be spoken by the priests, but only in the temple service on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur, early fall)
History Lesson The rabbis declared – “he who pronounces the Divine Name as it is spelled” were included among those who have no share in the world to come But the word/name shows up over 6000 times! – What do you do? What do you say?
Substitutes The work around was word substitution Adonai (another Hebrew word) is used instead – Means “my Lords” However, Adonai then became somewhat sacred – Is only used in scripture reading and prayer
Substitutes Other work arounds developed for everyday use – Hashem (the Name) – Hamakom (the Place) – Hagavoah (the High) – Halashon (the Tongue) – Shamayim (Heaven)
Substitutes Jews even avoid saying Elohim (God) – They will intentionally mispronounce it as Elokim – Or write G_d in place of God Even many secular Jews will honor these conventions
Jehovah This is not a word – Ok, not a Hebrew word It was created due to a misunderstanding of how and why Jews used YHWH and Adonai Written Hebrew had no vowels until about the 6 th century AD – Spoken Hebrew has always used vowels
Jehovah By the 6 th century there were few Hebrew speakers in the world The Masoretes, Jewish scholars/rabbis, who maintained the copying of Jewish scripture developed a written vowel system The oral work around of speaking Adonai vice YHWH was used to remind the reader what to say
Jehovah The vowels for Adonai were inserted into the written text in the word YHWH Non Jews were unaware of the custom and thought those were the vowels for YHWH – They came up with the word Jehovah – Substituting the Latin “J” for the Hebrew “Y” – and substituting “v” for “w”
English Our translation conventions – Where the Jews speak Adonai, we most often translate as LORD or LORD GOD In English translations, Jehovah is seldom used except in the ASV and Living Bibles
Pronunciation You often hear we don’t know how to pronounce YHWH Actually we probably do – Comparison with other Semitic languages – Other Hebrew words/names Obadiah (ovadyah) Elijah (eliyah)
Jesus Jesus honored the Jewish custom/prohibition of His day Especially in Matthew we see Jesus speaking of – The Kingdom of Heaven (i.e. God) Mark and Luke wrote for Gentile readers and tended to use Kingdom of God
Jesus Matthew 21:5 “Was the baptism of John from Heaven or from men?” Luke 15:21 the prodigal says “I have sinned against Heaven”
Jesus Matthew 26:64 – Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” – Power was another euphemism for God – Also refers to Daniel 7:13 and Psalm 110:1
Jesus Psalm 110:1 “Here is the Lord’s proclamation to my lord: “Sit down at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool!”” Daniel 7:13 “I was watching in the night visions, “And with the clouds of the sky one like a son of man was approaching. He went up to the Ancient of Days and was escorted before him.”
Jesus With those two allusions, Jesus proclaimed Himself the Messiah, the Son of God AND those who heard Him, understood
Jesus as YHWH God revealed Himself to Moses as YHWH in Exodus 3 Jesus also uses this name in reference to himself – John 8:24 – John 8:58 – John 18:5-8
Jesus as YHWH John 8:24 “Thus I told you that you will die in your sins. For unless you believe that I am he, you will die in your sins.” John 8:58 “Jesus said to them, “I tell you the solemn truth, before Abraham came into existence, I am!” 59 Then they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out from the temple area.” – John 18:5-8
Jesus as YHWH John 18:4b “Who are you looking for?” 5 They replied, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He told them, “I am he.” (Now Judas, the one who betrayed him, was standing there with them.) 6 So when Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they retreated and fell to the ground. 7 Then Jesus asked them again, “Who are you looking for?” And they said, “Jesus the Nazarene.” 8 Jesus replied, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, let these men go.”
God’s Name Today We don’t have special names, like YHWH, that we use in English today We simply refer to the Creator of the universe as God. To speak of God in some frivolous or demeaning way is still wrong – We can’t expect none Christians to revere God
God’s Name Today We CAN expect Christians to honor God in every way (action AND speech) That mean OMG is something that should never cross our lips, fingers or keyboards! So if you want a New Year’s resolution, make one to NEVER again dishonor God with that phrase
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