The ineffable name of God among the Hebrews. It never has the article before it, nor is it found in the plural form. The Jews never pronounced this name; and wherever it occurs in the Hebrew Scriptures, the substituted for it, in reading, the word ADONAI, Lord, or ELOHIM, God. See GOD. In the Hebrew Bible, it is always written with the vowels of one or the other of these words. Its ancient pronunciation is by many thought to have been Yahweh, but this is not certain. Its meaning is HE IS the same as I AM, the person only being changed. Thus it denotes the self-existence, independence, immutability, and infinite fullness of the divine Being, which is a pledge that he will fulfil all his promises. Compare Ex 3:14, I AM THAT I AM, the meaning of which see under the article GOD. In Ex 6:3, God says, "I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty; but by my name Jehovah was I not known to them;" yet the appellation Jehovah appears to have been known from the beginning, Ge 4:2. We have reason to believe that God himself, who named man Adam, named himself JEHOVAH; but in his revelation to the patriarchs he had not appropriated to himself this name in a peculiar way, as he now did, nor unfolded the deep meaning contained in it. He had said to them, "I am God Almighty," Ge 17:1; 26:11; or, "I am Jehovah, the God of Abraham," etc.; but never simply, "I am Jehovah." It should be remembered that our English version translates this name by the word LORD, printed in small capitals.
the special and significant name (not merely an appellative title such as Lord [adonai]) by which God revealed himself to the ancient Hebrews (Ex 6:2-3). 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. The Massorets gave to it the vowel-points appropriate to this word. This Jewish practice was founded on a false interpretation of Le 24:16. The meaning of the word appears from Ex 3:14 to be "the unchanging, eternal, self-existent God," the "I am that I am," a convenant-keeping God. (Comp. Mal 3:6; Ho 12:5; Re 1:4,8.)
The Hebrew name "Jehovah" is generally translated in the Authorized Version (and the Revised Version has 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 Kurios, which are also rendered Lord, but printed in the usual type. The Hebrew word is translated "Jehovah" only in Ex 6:3; Ps 83:18; Isa 12:2; 26:4, and in the compound names mentioned below.
It is worthy of notice that this name is never used in the LXX., the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Apocrypha, or in the New Testament. It is found, however, on the "Moabite stone" (q.v.), and consequently it must have been in the days of Mesba so commonly pronounced by the Hebrews as to be familiar to their heathen neighbours.
Jahaveh or Yahaveh is probahly the correct form (the vowel pointing in Jehovah is derived from A-d-o-n-ay) from the substantive verb haawah (found only six times in the Bible; obsolete in Moses' time; retained in Chaldee and Syriac from a time anterior to the division of the Semitic languages), for the more modern haayah, to be; a proof of the great antiquity of the name: "I AM THAT I AM" is the key of the name (Ex 3:14), expressing unchanging Being. The name was old and known long before; it appears compounded in Jo-chebed and Mor-iah, and simply in Genesis 2 and afterward. But its significance in relation to God's people was new, and now first becoming experimentally known. (See GENESIS; GOD; EXODUS.)
Ex 6:2-3; "I am JEHOVAH, and I appeared unto Abraham,... by the name of God Almighty (El-Shaddai), but by My name JEHOVAH was I not known": its full and precious import is only now about to be revealed. To the patriarchs He was known, when giving the promises, as GOD, Almighty to fulfill them (Ge 17:1); to Moses as Jehovah unchangeably faithful (Mal 3:6) in keeping them; compare Heb 13:8, which identifies Jesus with Jehovah. Elohim can do all that He wills; Yahweh will do all that He has promised. Elohim (the plural expressing the fullness of God's powers) is appropriate to creation (Genesis 1 - 2:3); JEHOVAH ELOHIM to paradise and to the covenant of grace at the fall; the combination identifies the Jehovah of the moral government with the Elohim of creation.
If JEHOVAH had been a name of more recent introduction, the whole nation would never have accepted it with such universal reverence. Elohim appears in the trial of Abraham's faith (Genesis 22); Jehovah, in its triumph. The last 19 chapters of Genesis, from Jacob's meeting the angels and Esau, have Elohim alone (except in the history of Judah and Pharez, Genesis 38; and Joseph's first entrance into Egypt, Genesis 39; and Jacob's dying exclamation, Ge 49:18; the beginning and close of the long period of sorrow and patient waiting) to prepare by contrast for the fuller revelation to Moses, when Jehovah is made known in its full and experimental preciousness. "To be made known" (Ex 6:3) means to be manifested in act (Ps 9:17; 48:3-6), making good in fact all that was implied in the name (Eze 20:9) (nodatiy).
The name was not new to Israel, for it occurs before Ex 6:3 in Ex 3:16; 4:1. ELOHIM, from aalah "to be strong" (Furst), rather than from Arabic aliha, "astonishment", alaha, "worship" (Hengstenberg), the Deity, expresses His eternal power and Godhead manifested in nature, commanding our reverence; JEHOVAH the Personal God in covenant with His people, manifesting boundless mercy, righteousness, and faithfulness to His word. So "Immanuel" is used not of the mere appellation, but of His proving in fact to be what the name means (Isa 7:14). The "I AM" (Ex 3:14) is to be filled up thus: I am to My people all whatever they want. Prayer is to supply the ellipsis, pleading God's covenanted promises: light, life, peace, salvation, glory, their exceeding great reward, etc. I am all that My word declares, and their threefold nature, body, soul, and spirit, requires. I am always all this to them (Joh 8:58). "Before Abraham began, to be (Greek) I am" (Mt 28:20).
The Jews by a misunderstanding of Le 24:16 ("utters distinctly" instead of "blasphemeth") fear to use the name, saying instead "the name," "the four lettered name," "the great and terrible name." So Septuagint, Vulgate, and even KJV (except in four places "Jehovah": Isa 12:2; 26:4; Ex 6:3; Ps 83:18) has "THE LORD," which in CAPITALS represents JEHOVAH, in small letters Adonai. Maimonides restricts its use to the priests' blessings and to the sanctuary; others to the high priest on the day of atonement, when entering the holy of holies. The Samaritans pronounced the name Yabe (Theodoret); found also in Epiphanius; Yahu in such names as Obadiah (Obad-yahu).
So that Jahveh (or Yahveh or Yahweh) seems the correct pronunciation. The Hebrew said the Elohim, in opposition to false gods; but never the Jehovah, for Jehovah means the true God only. Again, My God, Elohay, but not My Jehovah, for Jehovah by itself means this covenant relation to one. Again, the Elohim of Israel; but not the Jehovah of Israel, for there is no other Jehovah. Again, the living Elohim, but not the living Jehovah; for Jehovah means this without the epithet. Jehovah is in Old Testament the God of redemption. The correlative of Elohim is man, of Jehovah redeemed man. Elohim is God in nature, Jehovah God in grace (Ex 34:6-7).
Elohim is the God of providence; Jehovah is the God of promise and prophecy; hence, the prophets' formula is, "thus saith Jehovah," not Elohim. Elohim is wider in meaning, embracing the representatives of Deity, angels and human judges and rulers (Ps 82:6; Joh 10:34-35). Jehovah is deeper, the incommunicable name. The more frequent use of the name Jehovah from Samuel's time is due to the religious revival then inaugurated, and to the commencement of the regular school of prophets. In the first four verses of the Bhagavat God says to Brahma, "I was at first ... afterward I AM THAT WHICH IS, and He who must remain am I." (Sir W. Jones).
(I am; the eternal living one). The Scripture appellation of the supreme Being, usually interpreted as signifying self-derived and permanent existence. The Jews scrupulously avoided every mention of this name of God, substituting in its stead one or other of the words with whose proper vowel-points it may happen to be written. This custom, which had its origin in reverence, was founded upon an erroneous rendering of
from which it was inferred that the mere utterance of the name constituted a capital offence. According to Jewish tradition, it was pronounced but once a year, by the high priest on the day of atonement when he entered the holy of holies; but on this point there is some doubt. When Moses received his commission to be the deliverer of Israel, the Almighty, who appeared in the burning bush, communicated to him the name which he should give as the credentials of his mission: "And God said unto Moses, "I AM THAT I AM (ehyea asher ehyeh); and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you." That this passage is intended to indicate the etymology of Jehovah, as understood by the Hebrews, no one has ventured to doubt. While Elohim exhibits God displayed in his power as the creator and governor of the physical universe, the name Jehovah designates his nature as he stands in relation to man, as the only almighty, true, personal, holy Being, a spirit and "the father of spirits,"
comp. John 4:24 who revealed himself to his people, made a covenant with them, and became their lawgiver, and to whom all honor and worship are due.
JEHOVAH, ????, the proper and incommunicable name of the Divine Essence. That this divine name, Jehovah, was well known to the Heathens, there can be no doubt. Sanchoniathon writes Jebo; Diodorus, the Sicilian, Macrobius, St. Clemens Alexandrinus, St. Jerom, and Origen, pronounce Jao; Epiphanius, Theodoret, and the Samaritans, Jabe, Jave. We likewise find in the ancients, Jahoh, Javo, Javu, Jaod. The Moors call their god Jaba, whom some believe to be the same as Jehovah. The Latins, in all probability, took their Javis, or Jovis Pater, from Jehovah.
The Jews, after their captivity in Babylon, out of an excessive and superstitious respect for this name, left off to pronounce it, and thus lost the true pronunciation. The Septuagint generally renders it ??????, "the Lord." Origen, St. Jerom, and Eusebius, testify that in their time the Jews left the name of Jehovah written in their copies in Samaritan characters, instead of writing it in the common Chaldee or Hebrew characters; which shows their veneration for this holy name: and the fear they were under, lest strangers, who were not unacquainted with the Chaldee letters and language, should discover and misapply it. The Jews call this name of God the Tetragrammaton, or the name with four letters. It would be waste of time and patience to repeat all that has been said on this incommunicable name: it may not be amiss, however, to remind the reader,
1. That although it signifies the state of being, yet it forms no verb. 2. It never assumes a plural form. 3. It does not admit an article, or take an affix. 4. Neither is it placed in a state of construction with other words; though other words may be in construction with it.
It seems to be a compound of ??, the essence, and ???, existing; that is, always existing; whence the word eternal appears to express its import; or, as it is well rendered, "He who is, and who was, and who is to come," Re 1:4; 11:17; that is, eternal, as the schoolmen speak, both a parte ante, and a parte post. Compare Joh 8:58. It is usually marked by an abbreviation, ?, in Jewish books, where it must be alluded to. It is also abbreviated in the term ??, Jah, which, the reader will observe, enters into the formation of many Hebrew appellations. See JAH.