The Correct Use of God's Name


By Stephen Terry



The question of how to properly speak and write God's name frequently comes up. To answer that question, we first have to determine what Godís name is. It is not "God," or "Lord," or "Jehovah." These are what we would call titles not names. God's name is "YHWH."  Because the Hebrews considered God's name too sacred to pronounce, they substituted the word "LORD." As a result its actual pronunciation has been lost over the centuries. In Hebrew, "YHWH," is a form of the verb "to be."  This is why when Moses asked for His name, God said to tell the people that "I AM" has sent you. This is the first person, singular conjugation for the verb "to be." Perhaps God was simply saying that all being or existence is in Him. Most religious Jews today would find speaking the name "YHWH" to be sacrilegious.


So how do they handle this when reading the Bible and coming across the name in the Hebrew text? They use the word "Lord" instead which in Hebrew is the word "Adonai."  To remind themselves to say "Lord" they have the vowels for "Adonai" written next to "YHWH." In the 12th century apparently English translators did not understand this and they combined the vowels with the Divine name of "YHWH" and came up with "Jehovah." With apologies to the Jehovah's Witnesses and their New World Translation of the Bible, the word "Jehovah" does not occur in the original texts. It is a corruption caused by mixing the vowels for "Adonai" with the consonants for "YHWH" to produce an entirely new word. So those who say "Jehovah" are not using the Divine name.


Those who say "Lord" are not using the Divine name either as this is simply the word "Adonai" which was supposed to be said instead of "YHWH." Religious Jews would probably confirm that saying "Adonai" or "Lord" its English translation is perfectly acceptable. In the King James Bible, one can see when "Lord" is being substituted directly for the Divine name because the word is written all in capital letters (LORD). Even then it is not the name of God but the substitution of the word "Lord."


The word "God" is usually a translation of the word "Elohim." This also is not the Divine name but is a plural form of the Hebrew word for "God." The singular form would be "El" as we see in "El-Shaddai." This is simply a title for God similar to "Adonai" and is usually used in conjunction with Adonai or other titles. Some examples are "Adonai Eloheynu" (The Lord our God), the previously mentioned "El-Shaddai" (God, the Almighty), and "El-Elion" (God, the Highest). None of these are God's name, but simply titles describing His attributes and most devout Jews would have no problem speaking them.


So how would you pronounce or write the Divine name accurately? Perhaps a better question would be since the Jews consider it blasphemy to say, why would you want to even try? I am with the Jews on this question. I prefer to simply use "Lord", or "God," or one of His many titles rather than attempting to try to figure out how to correctly combine the vowels and the consonants to recreate the Divine name. So you will never hear me even combining the vowels for "Adonai" with the consonants for "YHWH"(Jehovah).  If saying "Lord" (Adonai) or "God" (Elohim) was good enough for devout Jews, it is good enough for me. 





This Article is Provided by Still Waters Ministry