Nazarenes (Netzarim) and The Name

One major distinction between Nazarene Judaism and mainline Judaism of the first century was in regard to their usage of the name of YHWH. While mainline Judaism had limited and in some cases even banned the use of the name of YHWH, Nazarenes were at time persecuted for not participating in this ban.

Banning the Name 

Although use of the Name of YHWH was clearly commonly used in Tenach times (Old Testament times), by the first century the Name was used only in the Temple. Even when reading the Scriptures, mainline Judaism used euphemisms or substitutions instead of pronouncing the name (j.Meg. 71d). According to the Talmud, after the time of Simon the Just (a contemporary of Alexander the Great) the priest stopped using the Name in the blessings (b.Yoma 49b). The ban on the name however, did not continue in this form. Later in the Second Temple era the name was used, but only in the Temple as the Mishnah states:

…In the sanctuary one says the Name as it is written but in the provinces, with a euphemism…
(m.Sotah 7:6; b.Sotah 38b; m.Tamid 7:2)

In fact the name was used in the Temple even in giving greetings, as the Mishnah states:

[speaking of behavior on the Temple grounds]
And they ordained that an individual should greet his fellow with [God’s] name, in accordance with what is said, "And behold Boaz came from Bethlehem; and he said to the reapers, ‘YHWH be with you!’ And they answered, ‘YHWH bless you"
(Ruth 2:4)

(m.Ber. 9:5)

The first century Jewish historian Josephus mentions the ban on using the name of YHWH. Josephus, writing on the events of Exodus 3, writes:
…Whereupon God declared to him [Moses] his holy Name, which had never been discovered to men before; concerning which it is not lawful for me to say anymore
(Josephus; Antiquities 2:12:4)

This ban on speaking the name of YHWH seems to have been almost universal by the first century. Even the nonconformists of the Qumran community (generally held to be Essenes) held to the ban. The Manual of Discipline states:

Anyone who speaks aloud the M[ost] Holy Name of God, [whether in…] or in cursing or as a blurt in time of trial or for any other reason, or while he is reading a book or praying, is to be expelled, never again to return to the society of the Yahad.
(1QS Col. 6 line 27b - Col. 7 line 2a)

After the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E. Pharisaic Judaism banned use of the Name of YHWH altogether. The new halacha was that the name was "to be hidden" (b.Pes. 50a) and "to be kept secret" (b.Kidd. 71a). That the practice of using euphemisms in place of the Name of YHWH began at a very early date, long before the first century, is made clear from three important sources: the Septuagint, the Psalms and the Book of Daniel. The Septuagint is a Greek translation of the Tenach which was made around 250 B.C.E.. There is much debate as to whether the Septuagint originally contained the name of YHWH or simply the euphemisms for the Name. However the Septuagint translators paraphrased Lev. 24:16 (15 in Jewish copies) in such a way as to make it clear that the ban on the name existed by the time the Septuagint was translated. The Hebrew text of Lev. 24:16 reads (in English):

And whoever blasphemes the name of YHWH shall surely be put to death…
(Lev. 24:16 from the Hebrew)

However the Septuagint translators paraphrased the text to mean:

And he that names the name of the Lord, Let him die the death…
(Lev. 24:16 LXX)

This paraphrase makes it clear that the ban on the name existed at the time the Septuagint was translated. Further evidence that the ban in the name was very early can be found by comparing Psalms 14 and 53. These two Psalms are almost identical except that YHWH in verses 2, 4, 6 and 7 of Psalm 14 has been changed to ELOHIM (God) in Ps. 53. This is an important piece of evidence which tells us many things:

#The practice of using euphemisms in place of the name of YHWH predates the editing and redaction of the Book of Psalms.
#At the time that the book of Psalms was edited the practice of substitution existed but was not universal, since the name is used in most of the Psalms including Psalm 53’s twin Psalm 14.

Final evidence that the ban on the use of the name of YHWH is much older than the first century is found in the Aramaic sections of Daniel. Although the name appears in the Hebrew portions of Daniel, it is conspicuously missing from the larger Aramaic portion of the book. This tells us that by the time that Daniel was written it was the custom of at least some, not to use the name in another language besides Hebrew. Not only did mainline Judaism read substitutions such as "Elohim" and "Adonai" when they came to YHWH in reading the Tenach, the ancient scribes of the Tenach actually substituted in many places "Adonai" for YHWH in the text itself. These in many translations are printed as "Lord". The official list given in the Massorah (107:15 Gingsburg edition) contain the 134 instances as follows:

Gen. 18:3,27,30,32; 19:18; 20:4 Ex. 4:10,13; 5:22,; 15:17; 34:9,9 Num. 14:17 Josh. 7:8 Judg. 6:15; 13:8 1Kings 3:10,15; 22:6 2Kings 7:6; 19:23 Isa. 3:17,18; 4:4; 6:1,8,11; 7:14,20; 8:7; 9:8,17; 10:12; 11:11; 21:6,8,16; 28:2; 29:13; 30:20; 37:24; 38:14,16; 49:14 Ezek. 18:25,29; 21:13; 33:17,29 Amos 5:16; 7:7,8; 9:1 Zech. 9:4 Mic. 1:2 Mal. 1:12,14 Ps. 2.4; 16:2; 22:19,30; 30:8; 35:3,17,22; 37:12; 38:9,15,22; 39:7; 40:17; 44:23; 51:15; 54:4; 55:9; 57:9; 59:11; 62:12; 66:18; 68:11,17,19,22,26,32; 73:20; 77:2,7; 78:65; 79:12; 86:3,4,5,8,9,12,15; 89:49,50; 90:1,17; 110:5; 130:2,3,6 Dan.1:2; 9:3,4,7,9,15,16,17,19,19,19 Lam. 1:14,15,15; 2:1,2,5,7,18,19,20; 3:31,36,37,58 Ezra 10:3 Neh.1:11; 4:14 Job 28:28.<br>(NOTE: Where verses are written twice or more, such as "Ex. 34:99" means there it has been changed 2 times within the same verse.)
[Editor]The above represent 134 places the Massoritic sages violated the Torah command of Dt. 4:2 and 12:32[/Editor]

[Editor]Some modern Messianic Jewish leaders even accuse those who use the name as participating in witchcraft in their continued participation in the ban and to stike fear in their congregants towards use of the Name.  Witchcraft is associated with "Soothsaying" or fortune telling in Micah 5:12, and no place in the text of the Tanakh is invocation of the Sacred Name ever associated with witchcraft. Unless they are using the passage from 1 Samuel 12:23 and in an attempt to exercise a Nicolaiton authority over their congregation and associating the rebellion against the unrighteous, unbiblical, anti-Torah ban on the use of the Name with witchcraft.[/Editor]


Those who enacted the ban on the use of the name in mainline Judaism did so out of extreme, though misguided, reverence for the name. The reasoning behind the ban was based on Ex. 20:7 which said in part "You shall not take the name of YHWH your God in vain" And Lev. 22:32 which says in part "and you shall not profane my holy name,". These two commandments, when brought together with the tradition recorded in the Mishnah: "…make a hedge about the Torah." (m.Avot 1:1) resulted in a custom of not pronouncing the name at all. Thus eliminating any chance of profaning the name or taking it in vain.


Some have theorized it was to prevent people from using the Name in vain. It may have been due to law, since the Talmud teaches us that the Greek government banned the use of the Name. Rosh HaShanah 18b says...

R. Aha b. Huna raised an objection [from the following]: ‘On the third of Tishri the mention [of God] in loan bonds was abolished: for the Grecian Government had forbidden the mention of God's name by the Israelites, and when the Government of the Hasmoneans became strong and defeated them, they ordained that they should mention the name of God even on bonds, and they used to write thus: ‘In the year So-and-so of Johanan, High Priest to the Most High God’,

Why would the Greek government ban the mention of the Name if this was already the practice by the Jews themselves? The Zohar gives this explanation for the ban on the Name...

"We have learned that when reverence was prevalent among mankind, the ineffable Name was openly enunciated in the hearing of all, but after irreverence became widespread it was concealed under other letters"
(Zohar on b'midbar, 146b, Vol V Page 195 Socino edition)



While it is true that those who enacted the ban on the name had the best of intentions, it has been said "the road to hell is paved with good intentions." This certainly seems to have been the case with the ban on the Name of YHWH. In the Torah YHWH states:

…My Name shall be declared in all the earth.
(Ex. 9:16)

Thus the ban on use of the name conflicted directly with the Torah itself. There is a direct contradiction between the Rabbinical precept that the name should be "hidden" and "kept secret" (b.Pes. 50a; b.Kidd. 71a) and the Torah precept that the name should be "declared in all the earth." The Tenach speaks of apostates "which think to cause my people to forget my name" (Jer. 23:27). The precept of keeping the name secret also conflicts with other Tenach passages:

"My people shall know my name"
(Is. 52:6)

"they shall know that My name is YHWH."
(Is. 16:21)

"And those who know your name will put their trust in you"
(Ps. 9:10)

"I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known my name"
(Ps. 91:14)

"…a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear YHWH and who meditate on His name."
(Mal. 3:16)

"Let them praise Your great and awesome name- He is holy."
(Ps. 99:3)

"My mouth shall speak the praise of YHWH, and all flesh shall bless His holy name forever and ever."
(Ps. 145:21)

"Let them praise the name of YHWH…"
(Ps. 148:13)

Moreover Rabbinic Judaism has produced a tradition of reading euphemisms in place of YHWH when reading the Tenach (j.Meg. 71d) and even altered the text itself in places, changing YHWH to "adonai" (Massorah (107:15 Gingsburg edition) contain the 134 instances listed previously). This tradition also conflicts directly with the Torah itself which says:

"You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it…"
(Dt. 4:2)

"…you shall not add to it [the Torah] nor take away from it."
(Dt. 12:32)

More than one Messianic Jewish lead has indicated that the use of the name is not a salvational issue and that using substitutions when reading the text is always to be done.  To this editor that constitutes two things:They have removed the Name of the Creator from the texts as given, and added to the text a lessor title.  In this one action, they have both added to and taken away from the text.

Many Messianic leaders will substitute HaShem or Adonai for YHWH in the text.  They will refrain from even repeating the letters severally in accordance with Abba Shaul, which would have been a legitimate work around to not pronouncing the name and not removing and adding to the text:

Sanhedrin 10:1 All Israel have a portion in the world to come... BUT these are those who have no portion in the world to come: one who says that resurrection is not found in the Torah, one who says the Torah is not from heaven, and an epicurean. R. Akiva says: one who reads the uncanonical books and one who whispers [a charm] over a wound and says, (Exodus 15) “I will bring none of these diseases upon you which I brought upon the Egyptians, for I am HaShem who heals you.” Abba Shaul says: <Also one who Pronounces the Name according to its letters

Messianic believers that support the ban have also indicated that there are no New Testament/Brit Chadashah/Ketuvim Netzarim instances of the Name being used in Greek source texts.&nbsp; Since the orginal texts were of Hebrew and Aramaic origin we know this to be a scribal/translation issue.  Also, much of the text of the Ketuvim Netzarim is quoted directly out of the Tanakh. Yeshua's confrontation with HaSatan {a title that has been elevation to a name status, while the Sacred Name is rejected for a title} has many Tanakh quotes which would of necessity had included the Sacred Name as it exists in the Tanakh source and if Yeshua would have used a substition then he would have misquoted the text as HaSatan himself was doing in his attempt to deceive Yeshua.

In fact the use of substitutions may be a fulfillment of the prophecy in Yermiyahu (Jeremiah)
23:26 How long shall this be? Is it in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies, and the prophets of the deceit of their own heart?
23:27 That think to cause My people to forget My name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbor, as their fathers forgot My name for Ba’al.

In most modern translations YHWH has been replaced with "The Lord", which is known to have parallel meaning to "Ba'al".&nbsp; Most Jews of today, but not all, claim that the pronounciation of the Name ha sbeen forgotten, a fullfilment of the above reference.



Could Jn. 17:6, 26 mean that Yeshua actually pronounced the name? The Toldot Yeshu, a hostile Rabbinic parady on the Gospel story records the following legend:

"After King Jannaeus, his wife Helene ruled over all Israel. In the Temple was to be found the Foundation Stone on which were engraven the letters of God's Ineffable Name. Whoever learned the secret of the Name and its use would be able to do whatever he wished. Therefore, the Sages took measures so that no one should gain this knowledge. Lions of brass were bound to two iron pillars at the gate of the place of burnt offerings. Should anyone enter and learn the Name, when he left the lions would roar at him and immediately the valuable secret would be forgotten. Yeshu came and learned the letters of the Name; he wrote them upon the parchment which he placed in an open cut on his thigh and then drew the flesh over the parchment. As he left, the lions roared and he forgot the secret. But when he came to his house he reopened the cut in his flesh with a knife and lifted out the writing. Then he remembered and obtained the use of the letters. He gathered about himself three hundred and ten young men of Israel and accused those who spoke ill of his birth of being people who desired greatness and power for themselves. Yeshu proclaimed, "I am the Messiah; and concerning me Isaiah prophesied and said, 'Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.'" He quoted other messianic texts, insisting, "David my ancestor prophesied concerning me: 'The Lord said to me, thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee.'" The insurgents with him replied that if Yeshu was the Messiah he should give them a convincing sign. They therefore, brought to him a lame man, who had never walked. Yeshu spoke over the man the letters of the Ineffable Name, and the leper was healed. Thereupon, they worshipped him as the Messiah, Son of the Highest."
(A similar legend about Yeshua appears in b.Shab. 104b; b.San. 67a; t.Shab. 11:15; j.Shab. 13d)

Hugh Schonfield theorized in his book "According to the Hebrews" that Toldot Yeshu is a hostile parody on the Gospel according to the Hebrews. So while this legend sounds fantastic there may be some truth at its root. Now another passage in Matthew might also lead us that direction. The passage is Mt. 27:59-65:

59 Now the chief priests, the elders, and all the council sought false testimony against Yeshua to put Him to death,
60 but found none. Even though many false witnesses came forward, they found none. But at least two false witnesses came forward
61 and said, "This [one] said "I am able to destroy the Temple of God and to build it in three days."
62 And the High Priest arose and said to him, "Do you answer nothing? What do these men testify against you?"
63 But Yeshua kept silent. And the High Priest answered and said to him, "I adjure you by the living God that you tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God."
64 Yeshua said to him, "It is as you said, Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven."
65 Then the High Priest tore his clothes, saying "He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard his blasphemy!

Note the phrase TEMPLE OF GOD in verse 61. This phrase never appears in the Tenakh which always has TEMPLE OF YHWH. Also in verse 64 THE POWER is a common euphemism for YHWH which should appear based on the fact that this verse combines Ps. 110:1 with Dan. 7:13 where YHWH does appear in Ps. 110:1. Could Yeshua have been being accused of blasphemy for having used the phrase "Temple of YHWH" could he have aggravated and confirmed the charge by citing the Ps. 110:1/Dan. 7:13 phrase with the name YHWH pronounced? The Mishnah sheds a great deal of light on the events of this trial. The Mishnah states:

He who blasphemes is liable only when he will have fully pronounced the Divine Name. Said R. Joshua ben Qorha, "on every day of the trial they examine the wtnesses with a substitute name… once the trial is over, they would not put him to death with the euphemism, but they put everyone out and ask the most important of the witnesses, saying to him, "Say, what exactly did you hear?" And he says what he heard. And the judges stand on their feet and tear their clothing…
(m.San. 7:5)

From this passage of the Mishnah we learn some things about Yeshua’s trial. It was normal for the witness in this trial to use a euphemism in his testimony of what Yeshua said. We also know that a charge of blasphemy required that the offender had "fully pronounced the Divine Name." Therefore, it is clear that Yeshua had been pronouncing the full name of YHWH. Normally, at the end of the trial, the room would have been emptied and the witness asked to repeat the "blasphemy" without the euphemism. However, in this case, Yeshua surprised eveyone. He wanted his statement heard by all so he repeated one of his "blasphemous" statements right there in the beit din and the assembly. We know that he used the actual name and not "the Power" here because it was called "blasphemy". The words he spoke would not have been "blaphemy" unless Yeshua had "fully pronounced the Divine Name." That Yeshua also spoke the name of YHWH as part of his "blasphemy" was clear from the phrase "the High Priest tore his clothes" which agrees exactly with the halachah of the Mishnah "And the judges stand on their feet and tear their clothing…" Ya’akov HaTzadik (James the Just), the leader of the Nazarene sect of Judaism after Yeshua’s death also recited the exact phrase Yeshua had recited "hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven." (Dan. 7:13/Ps. 110:1) and was killed for having made the statement (Hegesippus as quoted by Eusebius Eccl. Hist. 2:23). Was he also killed for blaspheming the name of YHWH? On yet another occasion, certain Jews (probably pharisees) "made insurection with one accord against Paul" (Acts. 18:12), a ringleader of the Sect of the Nazarenes (Acts). They said that he "persuaded men to worship God contrary to the law." (Acts 18:13). Paul was later released with the Roman authorities saying "if it be a question of words and names and of your law, look you to it; for I will be no judge of such matters." (Acts 18:15) It seems then that Paul was accused of persuading men to worship God using the word/name of YHWH in contradiction to the ban on the name practiced by other sects of Judaism at the time.


Speaking the Name was considered "blasphemy" in first century AD. Paul said that when he was persecuting believers:

"I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme"
(Acts 26:11)

How did he "compel" them? If you consider speaking the Name to be "blasphemy", and you know they practice speaking the Name under certain circumstances, then it he may have tried to get them to speak the Name so he could take them to the Beit Din (Sanhedrin) and have them executed. It is likely then, that the early believers desired to get back to the tradition of speaking the Name even in greatings rather than following the more recent tradition of avoiding the use of the Name.

Now this is one example of how looking up words in a concordenance isn't enough to tell you what the disciples were trying to communicate. The literal definition of "blasphemy" simply means "speak evil", but there's terminology and phraseology that exists at a level above word definitions in the way words were used in Jewish culture that one has to understand. Sometimes, in order to catch all the details of what they are say, we have to understand that culture and submerge ourself in that culture to properly understand what they were trying to communicate with the words they chose.

Additionally, the Talmud teaches that the Name should be pronounced now and then in order to keep knowledge of the pronunciation alive. Kiddushin 71a states:

Rabbah b. Bar Hanah said in R. Yochanan's name: The [pronunciation of the Divine] Name of four letters the Sages confide to their disciples once every seventy years others state, twice every seventy years. Said R. Nachman b. Isaac: Reason supports the view that it was once every seventy years for it is written, "This is my name for ever [le'olam] (Exodus 3:15) which is written le'allem (to be kept secret)



One belief is that the Divine Name is pronounce "JEHOVAH." Where did this pronounciation come from? Is it accurate? A popular theory that has been circulating as of late has it that the name YHWH is actually four vowels IAUE. This theory is based largely on a statement made by Josephus in describing the headpiece of the High Priest. Josephus writes:

In which [headpiece] was engraved the sacred name. It consisted of four vowels.
(Wars. 5:5:7)

At first this statement seems to support a four vowel theory. However, on closer examination, it is clear that this is not what Josephus is saying. Josephus is not supplying information about the pronounciation of the name. In fact, in Antiquities 2:12:4, Josephus states that it would not be lawful for him to do so. Josephus is instead referring to the four letters YHWH which appeared on the High Priest’s headpiece. But why would Josephus term these four consonants as "vowels"? As discussed earlier the Hebrew letters YUD, HEY and VAV (which make up YHWH) have no equivelants in Greek. They are generally transliterated in Greek with Greek letters that happen to be vowels. The reason for this is that when the Greeks borrowed the Phonecian/Paleo-Hebrew alphabet they used leftover consonants that did not occur in their language and used them as symbols for vowels, as Robert Whiting writes:

When the Greeks adapted the Phoenician writing system to their own language… they made a very significant change. They created signs for vowels and used them each time a vowel occurted. … The Greeks did not invent new signs for the vowels but simply converted some of the Phoenecian signs that they did not need for their own language into vowel symbols.
(The New Book of Knowledge Vol. 1 p. 193 "Alphabet" article by Robert M. Whiting, the Oriental Institute, the University of Chicago)

As a result Hebrew YUD became the Greek vowel IOTA; Hebrew HEY became Greek vowel EPSILON and Hebrew VAV became Greek vowel UPSILON. For this reason Josephus writes that the four letters which appeared on the High Priest’s headpiece were four "vowels." To the Greek speaking audience of the Greek edition of Wars of the Jews, the four letters on the High Priest’s headpiece were in fact four vowels. Some who have supported the idea that the name of YHWH is four vowels have also pointed to the use of the letters YUD, HEY and VAV in Hebrew as vowels. However the use of these letters as vowels in Hebew is a later revision of the language. Moreover each of them serves as a vowel only when paired with a consonant, as a result none of these letters is ever a vowel when it initiates a word or syllable. Hebrew was originally a syllabary in which each letter symbolized a consonant vowel pair with the vowel being ambiguous. As Robert Whiting writes:

The Semitic peoples of Syria and Palestine developed purely syllabic writing systems… their signs expressed consonants plus any vowel.

It was not until the ninth century B.C.E. that the Hebrew letters YUD, HEY and VAV began to double as vowels (and then only when paired with consonants). As Ellis Brotzman writes:

From about the ninth century on, certain consonants came to be used to indicate vowels. These "helping" consonants are called matres lectionis, literally "mothers of reading."
(Old Testament Textual Criticism by Ellis R. Brotzman p. 40)

Thus prior to this time the letters YUD HEY VAV HEY (YHWH) stood for four Hebrew consonants. Even in later Hebrew an initial YUD can never represent a vowel. The Hebrew Tenach was originally written like all ancient Hebrew, without vowels. When the Masorites (tradionalists) added vowels to the Hebrew text in the middle ages they came across a serious problem. The name had been "kept secret" and "hidden" for hundreds of years. Since the text contained only consonants in its written form, the vowels were generally unknown. In order to create vowels for the written name and continue to keep the name "secret" and "hidden" the vowels for Adonai were translanted into the word YHWH. Later the vowels for Eloah (God) were used creating YEHOWAH. These vowels for YHWH actually violate the rules of Hebrew grammar since they use the W as a consonant and a vowel at the same time. Since in modern Hebrew the Hebrew letter WAW (later called VAV) is pronounced "V" in place of its ancient pronounciation "W", YEHOWAH became YEHOVAH. This became transliterated in the original KJV English as IEHOVAH and later when the J was added to English IEHOVAH became JEHOVAH. However the J and the V in "Jehovah" are incorrect, as are the vowels E-O-A which actually come from ELOAH. In fact only the two letters H-H are correct.

A Correct Pronounciation of YHWH has been Preserved.

The first evidence for the true pronounciation of YHWH is found in the Hebrew text itself in those Hebrew names of which the Divine Name forms a part. Now when a Hebrew name in the Tenach begins with part of the divine name, the vowels are given as E-O. Some examples are:

Yehoshaphat (Jehoshaphat) YEHO- Shaphat <br>Yehoshua (Joshua) YEHO- Shua

In these names the incorrect vowels from YEHOWAH have been transplanted into their names. However, when we look instead at names which end with part of the Divine Name we find completely different vowels in the Masoretic text. Some examples are:

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) Yesha- YAHU <br>Yiramiyahu (Jeremiah) Yiremi- YAHU <br>Eliyahu (Elijah) Eli- YAHU

Moreover, the "tri-gramaton" (the first three letters of YHWH) appear by themselves in the Tenach and always with the vowels being YAHU. Finally, the Hebrew word Halleluyah (praise-Yah) has the first portion of the divine name with the vowels YAH. Another source for the correct pronounciation of the name of YHWH is the Peshitta Aramaic text. The Peshitta is an Aramaic text of the Bible used by Aramaic speaking Assyrians, Syrians and Chaldeans. These Aramaic speaking peoples became Christianized in the first century C.E.. By the fourth century (long before the Masorites of the nineth century) these people created written vowels for the Aramaic text. When they added vowels to names that begin with part of the divine name they got names like YAHOSHAPHAT reather than YEHOSHAPHAT. Further evidence as to the original pronounciation of YHWH can be found in ancient transliterations of the name into Egyptian hieroglyphics, which had written vowels.

Although this author is not aware of any case in which the entire name of YHWH has been found transliterated into Egyptian hieroglyphics, there are cases where the abreviated name (the first portion of the name) has been found transliterated in hieroglyphics. Budge’s AN EGYPTIAN HIEROGLYPHIC DICTIONARY give two transliterations that occur in Egyptian glyphs. The first is given on page 15 column A and is "IA" or "YA." The other is on page 142 column A and transliterates in english as "IAA" or "YAA." This supports the fact that the original pronounciation of the first syllable of the name was "YA."

Another source of evidence for the correct pronounciation of the name of YHWH can be found in ancient transliterations of the name of YHWH into cuneiform script, which unlike Hebrew script, had written vowels. In 1898 A. H. Sayce published the discovery of three clay cuneiform tablets from the time of Hammurabi which contained the phrase "Jahweh (Jehovah) is God." (Halley’s Bible Handbook p. 62). Now obviously the text read "Yahweh" and not "Jahweh" as was common to transliterate it in the 19th century. (This author believes this cuneiform should be examined to see if it reads YAHUWEH rather than YAHWEH).

A further source for evidence in cuneiform is the Murashu texts. The Murashu texts are Aramaic texts written in cuneiform script on clay tablets found at Nippur. These texts date back to 464 to 404 B.C.E. and contain many Jewish names transcribed in cuneiform with the vowels. Many of these names contain part of the divine name in the name. In all these names the first portion of the name appears as YAHU and never as YEHO. ("Patterns in Jewish Personal Names in the Babylonian Diasporia" by M.D. Coogan; Journal for the Study of Judaism, Vol. IV, No. 2, p. 183f ).

Transliterations of YHWH also occur in ancient Greek texts. Although late by comparison to the hieroglyphic and cuneiform evidence, these Greek transliterations also contain the name with vowels. The following chart shows a list of Greek transliterations of YHWH (in English), their date and their source: Transliteration source date IAO Qumran LXX first century IAOUE Clement of Alexandria 150 – 212 C.E. AwOUhEI Greek Papyri&nbsp;? IAw Theodoret&nbsp;? IAh Origin 250 C.E IAw Epiphanius 380 C.E. (NOTE: "OU" are pronounced together in Greek as "oo" as in "zoo")

Now transliterating the name of YHWH into Greek is not easy. This is because certain Hebrew letters/sounds do not occur in Greek. Among these are the letters YUD (Y); HEY (H) and VAV (W) the very letters which make up the name in Hebrew. When transliterating these letters into Greek substitutions are made. Consistantly the Hebrew letter YUD (Y) is transliterated into Greek as IOTA (I). Thus all of our Greek witnesses agree that YHWH begins with YA. The next letter HEY (H) is impossible to write in Greek. Some of the Greek sources have attempted to transliterate it with OMEGA (which I have transliterated with a "w" and which is pronounced "o" as in "no." Origin has tried to use ETA for this letter (I have transliterated it with an "h"). ETA as a character descends from the Paleo-Hebrew HEY but is pronounced "ey" as in "they." Clement and the Greek Papyri agree that the next vowel is "oo" as in "zoo." Clement gives the final syllable as "E" and the Greek Papyri has "hE" which agrees with a Hebrew termination of "-eh" Thus it is evident that the Greek transliterations are consistent with a Hebrew pronounciation of "YAHUWEH."


The question of the "Vav"

Among many modern Hebrew speakers, there is a great deal issue with transliterating the "vav' as a "w" rather identifying it with the harder "v" sound.  However, the hard "v" sound is more common among Achenaz/European Jews than in the Yemenite Jews.  In his book "How the Hebrew Language Grew", author Edward Horowitz points out that Yemenite/Temple Hebrew pronounced the "vav" with a "W" sound:

“…the sound of w a long time ago wasn’t “vav” at all but “w” and “w” is weak…The Yemenite Jews of Arabia who retain an ancient, correct, and pure pronunciation of Hebrew still pronounce the w as “w” –as does Arabic, the close sister language of Hebrew,” pp. 29-30.

Mark and Rogers’ A Beginners Handbook To Biblical Hebrew on page 7 reads:
“Originally Hebrew had no written vowels; the following consonants, however, were often used to indicate long vowels: a, h, w, y.”

'''Several old writings, such as Sefer Yetzirah, written within a few hundred years of the first century AD, describe how the sound was formed, which is consistent with the soft "W" sound.


It is clear when examining the many sources that the pronounciation of YHWH can be recovered as YAHUWEH often abbreviated as YAHWEH, YAHU or YAH. This is attested to by the sacred-name-like names of the Masoretic text, the Peshitta Aramaic and the Marashu texts. The true pronounciation of YHWH is also preserved in ancient transliterations of the name written in Egyptian Hieroglyphics, cuneiform and Greek, all of which had written vowels. The restoration of the use of the name of Yahuweh with its correct pronounciation is as prophetically significant as the restoration of the ancient sect of the Nazarenes. Such a restoration of the name of Yahweh to his people is promised in scripture:

For then will I turn to the people a pure language, That they may call upon the name of YHWH…
(Zeph. 3:9)

Therefore, behold, I will this once cause them to know, I will cause them to know mine hand and my might; and they shall know my name is YHWH. (Jer. 16:21) Therefore my people shall know my name…
(Is. 52:6)

There is also great prohetic significance to the fact that the name has been preserved, in part through archaelogical digs, as the scriptures prophecy:

And you shall be brought down, and shall speak out of the ground, and your speech shall be low out of the dust…
(Is. 29:4)

Truth shall spring out of the earth…
(Ps. 85:11)

There are some who have said that use of and teaching about the Sacred Name do not bring anyone to the Kingdom.&nbsp; To this is the response below as Messiah himself and the author of Ps. 118 indicates that Messiah will NOT&nbsp;return and establish His Kingdom until the Sacred Name is used.


We are living in wonderful times, as Yeshua tells us:

…You shall not see me henceforth, till you shall say:"Blessed is he who comes in the name of Yahweh!"
(Mt. 23:39 from Ps 118:26)


It's not that big of a deal

There are many out there who have said that knowing the name and using the name is just not that big of a deal.  It is unnecessary.  As far as salvation goes, they are correct as salvation is a free gift.  However, there is more to the world to come than "salvation".  Elohim has said we are a nation of Kings and Priest.  We are to be accumulating treasures in heaven (an euphamism for the Kingdom). Let us examine a few passages about how Elohim feels abount His name:

Sh'mot (Exodus) 3:15 And Elohim said moreover unto Moshe: 'Thus shall you say unto the children of Yisra’el: YHWH, the Elohim of your fathers, the Elohim of Avraham, the Elohim of Yitz’chak, and the Elohim of Ya’akov, has sent me unto you; this is My name for ever, and this is My memorial unto all generations.

D'varim (Deuteronomy) 10:20 You shall fear YHWH your Elohim; Him shall you serve; and to Him shall you cleave, and by His name shall you swear.

Isaiah (Yeshayahu) 42:8 I am YHWH, that is My name; and My glory will I not give to another, neither My praise to graven images.

Notice in Isaiah that calling Him by another name is related to the sin of praising graven images.

If you do a count of all the times the Tetragramaton appears in the Tanakh alone there are 5410 instances. If there needs to be two or more witnesses to establish a matter, how important is 5410?

Perhaps the prophet even spoke of us that hold to His name today in how we are treated in the modern synagogues:

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 66:5 Hear the word of YHWH, you that tremble at His word: your brothers that hate you, that cast you out for My name's sake, have said: 'Let YHWH be glorified, that we may gaze upon your joy', but they shall be ashamed.

Is it a big deal?  Elohim seems to think so.


Original author: James Trimm

Editing, comments, and updates: Netzar ben Yaacov

The Sages have said:

I may remark then, that our Rabbis with one voice accept and affirm the opinion that the prophet is speaking of the King Messiah, and we ourselves shall adhere to the same view.

— Rabbi Mosheh El-Sheikh
[Rabbi Mosheh El-Sheikh regarding Yesha’yahu 53 in the Tanakh]