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Tetragrammaton
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Tetragrammaton

The Tetragrammaton, literally means the four-letter word. It is the Hebrew word יהוה spelled using the Hebrew alphabet: yodh י heh ה waw ו heh ה. (Note that Hebrew text is written from right to left). The tetragrammaton is the ineffable name of God in Hebrew.

A reading from the Tanakh when Moses was faced with the burning bush on Mount Sinai, interprets the Tetragrammaton as I am what I am or I shall prove to be what I shall prove to be (Exodus 3:13). Because of the strictures in Judaism, the pronunciation is controversial.

When first translated into English by Tyndale in 1525, it was rendered IEHOUAH. Later it came to written as Jehovah (see below). There are other representations, including Yahwe, Yahveh, Jave and Yehowah.

According to one Jewish tradition, the Tetragrammaton is related to the causative form, the imperfect state, of the Heb. verb ha·wah´ (become); meaning “He Causes to Become”. This particular name for God is rendered as THE LORD (in small caps) in many modern translations of the Bible; two notable exceptions are the American Standard Version (1901) and The Jerusalem Bible (1966).

In recent years, a debate has grown over the derivation and meaning of this name. In this tradition, "Yahweh" is often rendered as meaning "I am the One Who Is." Indeed, this last fits nicely with the admonition from Yahweh of the Burning Bush to Moses to tell the sons of Israel that "I AM has sent you." Some suggest: "I AM the One I AM." This may also fit the interpretation of Yahweh as "He Causes to Become." Many scholars believe that the most proper meaning may be "He Brings Into Existence Whatever Exists" (Yahweh-Asher-Yahweh).

The first English representation of the Tetragrammaton (that is, the actual four Hebrew letters Yod, He, Waw, He) appeared on the title page of William Tyndale's translation of 1525 as "IEHOUAH." Subsequent translations in English, including Miles Coverdale's (1535), the Great Bible (1539), The Geneva Bible (1560), the Bishop's Bible (1568) and the Authorized Version of 1611 also used IEHOUAH in several places, while most occurrences of the Tetragrammaton were rendered as THE LORD. Some aver that this practice reflects the Jewish tradition that it is blasphemy to utter this name of God.

Table of contents
1 Jewish use of the word
2 See also
3 Further reading
4 External links

Jewish use of the word

In Judaism, pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton is a taboo word; it is considered forbidden to utter it. When this word appears in a prayer or reading from the Bible, religious Jews instead substitute the spoken word "Adonai," which means "My Lord." It is thought by some, and disputed by others, that the pronunciation "Jehovah" is a combination of the consonants of the tetragrammaton with the vowels of Adonai, and historically recent.

The name Adonai has come to be so connected with the tetragrammaton that even this word has restrictions. It is only used in prayer and Bible readings, or instructions of those subject. When many religious Jews refer to the name of God in conversation or in a non-textual context such as in a book, newspaper or letter, they call the name "Hashem" which means simply "The Name."

Thus, except for a small number of Kabbalists, no one claims with absolute certainty just how it was pronounced — but that the Heh's in YHWH are silent. In the end, it is impossible to state definitively how it was pronounced.

See also

all of which deal essentially with the same subject.

Further reading

External links