Jehovah

From Academic Kids

Name of the God of the Hebrew people as erroneously transliterated from the Masoretic Hebrew text. The word consists of the consonants JHVH or JHWH, with the vowels of a separate word, Adonai (Lord). What its original vowels were is a matter of speculation, for because of an interpretation of such texts as Exodus 20:7 and Leviticus 24:11, the name came to be regarded as too sacred for expression; the scribes, in reading aloud, substituted Lord and therefore wrote the vowel markings for Lord into the consonantal framework JHVH as a reminder to future readers aloud.

The translators of the Hebrew, not realizing what the scribes had done, read the word as it was written down, taking the scribal vowel markings as intrinsic to the name of their God rather than as a mere reminder not to speak it. From this came the rendition Jehovah. The evidence of the Greek church fathers shows the forms Jabe and Jo to be traditional, as well as the shortened Hebrew forms of the words Jah (see Psalms 68:4, for example) and Jahu (in proper names). It indicates that the name was originally spoken Jaweh or Yahwe (often spelled Yahweh in modern usage). Etymologically, it is a third person singular, imperfect, probably of the verb hawah (or hajah), signifying to be. The older interpreters explain the verb in a metaphysical and abstract sense; the I am of Scripture is He who is, the absolutely existent.

(Compiled from Different Works of : Lieberman, Saul, M.A., D.H.L., Ph.D., Late Distinguished Service Professor of Talmud and Rector of the Rabbinical School, Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Author of Greek in Jewish Palestine and Hellenism in Jewish Palestine.)


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