Going Deeper

In Hebrew, this name for God is represented by four consonants, referred to as the tetragrammaton (“four letters”). In English, the four letters are YHWH or JHVH (In older English “J” had a “Y” sound.)
Sadly, sometime between God’s conversation with Moses at the burning bush and the time of the writing of the New Testament, well-meaning rabbis who didn’t want to take a chance that this Name might be spoken in vain or without reverence made the utterance of this name for God unlawful. The first century historian Josephus wrote about Moses’ experience at the burning bush. He said, “ Whereupon God declared to him his holy name, which had never been discovered to men before: concerning which it is not lawful for me to say anymore.” (Antiquities of the Jews, Book 2, Chapter 12.4) A strict adherent to the Old Testament laws and the Rabbi's interpretation of them, Josephus was forbidden to speak the name of God given to Moses.

Consequently, the sound of this name is no longer known. Over time, the people who did know what it sounded like died, and all that was left was a law to protect us from sinning against the Name we were meant to proclaim.

Many times, the name Adonai (which means Lord) was substituted by devout rabbis and Jews for this Unutterable Name so some translators used the vowel points from Adonai combined with the consonants from the Tetragrammaton resulting in the words Jehovah, Yehovah and Yahweh. Most modern English translations of the Bible simply print LORD with all capital letters. When you study this name in Strong's concordance, the vowel sounds are inserted and the transliteration, the way we write the name with English letters, is Yehovah.

I wish that we could know what that name sounded like when God gave it to Moses. I hope that someday He tells us that name again.

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Blue Letter Bible and open up to Exodus 3:15 in the King James Version. Make sure that "Strong's" is checked in the tool bar at the top. Find the Strong’s number H3068 for LORD and click on it.
(If you haven't used Blue Letter Bible before, you may want to look at Using Blue Letter Bible)

What is definition for Yehovah? (It is in the box labeled “Outline of Biblical Usage.”)

What is the Root word for Yehovah?

The root word for YHWH (Yehovah) is "hayah" (“I AM.”) The actual pronunciation of YHWH may have sounded more like breath that anything else. God added a prefix to hayah to give us His name.

Click to hear the pronunciation of Yehovah.

The ancient Jews got really hung up about what it meant to honor Gods name. They were so afraid of dishonoring it, that just to play it safe, they stopped saying it altogether. Now the sound of it is lost.

As believers, we are called to make God’s name known. Our fear of misusing His name should never lead us to a place where we are afraid to utter it. Although, honestly, I don’t think that is where we get stuck. We live in a culture where God’s name is thrown around very carelessly. Sometimes I am not sure that Christians even notice. If you are a parent your kids hear God’s name misused every day – at school, on TV, and on their social network pages. So when they see our lives, can they see that we honor His name? We can’t change the culture that they live in and I don’t even think we are supposed to isolate our kids from what it is really out there. BUT, as bearers of His name, we have a responsibility to honor it. To be a place where God’s name dwells and is honored.

In the Old Testament Solomon built a temple in Jerusalem to be a dwelling place for God's Name. God's Name was honored there. Today as Christ-followers, our bodies are the temple of God's spirit. God want us to honor His name and His character in our lives.

How are you doing at it?

Exodus 3 is just the beginning of God revealing Himself to humanity through His names. There are other names that are combined with Jehovah that you will find as you continue this study. Implied in the name Jehovah is the idea of a God who reveals Himself unceasingly. As God continues to make Himself known to us, may we be those who increasingly honor His name in our lives.

Jesus and YHWH