What is the name…
Hebrew: יהוה —transliteration: “YHWH”
Transliteration: YHVH, JHVH, JHWH, Yehowah, Yahweh, Yahwe, Yahveh, Yahve, Wahvey, Jahvey, Jahweh
This is the special and significant name (not merely an appellative title such as Lord [Adonai]) by which God revealed himself to the ancient Hebrews (Exodus 6:2-3).
It is transliterated from the Hebrew consonants יהוה (Hebrew is written right-to-left)…
Y = י = the Hebrew letter Yod
H = ה = Heh
W = ו = Waw
H = ה = Heh
The name YHWH occurs 6,828 times in the Hebrew Bible, including all books but Ecclesiastes, Esther, and Song of Songs.1
This name, the Tetragrammaton of the Greeks, was held by the later Jews to be so sacred that it was never pronounced, except by the high priest on the great Day of Atonement, when he entered into the most holy place.
Whenever this name occurred in the sacred books, they pronounced it, as they still do, “Adonai” (i.e., Lord), thus using another word in its stead (Hebrew: אֲדֹנָי). The Massorets gave to it the vowel-points appropriate to this word (יְהֹוָה).
This Jewish practice was founded on a false interpretation of Leviticus 24:16.
The meaning of the word appears from Exodus 3:14 to be “the unchanging, eternal, self-existent God,” the “I am that I am,” a convenant-keeping God. (Compare Mal. 3:6; Hos. 12:5; Rev. 1:4, 8.)
The Hebrew name “YHWH” (Jehovah) is generally translated in the King James Version (and the Revised King James Version did not departed from this rule) by the word “LORD” printed in small capitals, to distinguish it from the rendering of the Hebrew Adonai and the Greek Kyrios, which are also translated Lord, but printed in the usual type.
The Hebrew word יהוה is translated “Jehovah” only in Exodus 6:3; Psalm 83:18; Isaiah 12:2; 26:4, and in the compound names mentioned below.
It is worthy of notice that this name is never used in the Septuagint, the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Apocrypha, or in the New Testament.
It is found, however, on the “Moabite stone”, and consequently it must have been in the days of Mesba so commonly pronounced by the Hebrews as to be familiar to their heathen neighbors.
- Douglas A. Knight and Amy-Jill Levine, The Meaning of the Bible (New York: HarperOne, 2011).