Pat Mercer Hutchens, Ph.D., www.tjci.org
Name Above All Names The Tetragrammaton (tetra means 4; grammaton means letter)
Recently when Rowan (a very dear friend from Texas) was asked to pray, he boldly began his prayer, Yahweh Junior (referring to Jesus), we honor you. We bless and praise you and thank you for this food. Show us your way. Go with us today as we go with you. Amen. After picking myself up off the floor and glancing to see if lightening was about to strike, I decided since I was still alive it was time to begin a serious study and meditation about the use of Gods personal name (יהוה).
Some facts. We begin by noting a few Biblical facts. El (אל god) is title, an appellative. Elohim (אלים) is the plural form of el (אל). Yahweh (יהוה) is the personal name of God (אל el) revealed to Moses. (There are no capital letters in Hebrew.) When God told Moses to go to Egypt and deliver the Israelites, Moses asked, When I say to the children of Israel, The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they say to me, What is his name (מה שמו)? what shall I say to them? God told Moses to say, I Am (אהיה) sent me to you, but added Yahweh (אל (יהוה of your father, אל of Abraham, אל of Isaac, and אל of Jacob, sent me to you. It is important to know that nowhere in the Hebrew Scriptures is the definite article the before the name Yahweh. Therefore, to translate Yahweh (יהוה) as The LORD is quite misleading. The LORD sounds like a title but Yahweh is a personal name. The word Adon (אדן) does mean lord and is translated Lord (small letters). So it would be correct to say The name of our God (אל) who is our Lord (אדן) is Yahweh (יהוה).
So in the English (or other languages) Bible when you see The LORD, cross out the word the and understand it to be the powerful, personal name of God, Yahweh. Placing an article in front of the name is like saying, The name of our first president was The George. No, the name of our first president was George. The name of our God (אל) is Yahweh (יהוה). Search the Scriptures for a place where anyone is forbidden to speak the personal name of our God. You wont find it.
In earlier studies of the letter heh (ה), which is found twice in Gods personal name, we learned:
- The letter heh (ה) comes from an Egyptian hieroglyph (holy symbol) for light and life, the Eternal One, god of hundreds of thousands of years, infinity. This letter heh is doubled in Yahweh.
- The very core of Yahweh (יהוה) is the word hawa (הוה), meaning to be, to exist. In Genesis hawa is translated Eve, the mother of all living.
- Prefixing the letter yod (י sign of manifestation) produces Gods personal name Yahweh (יהוה).
As long as people have read the Bible, they wondered about the four letter name of Yahweh. Where did it come from? What does it mean? How is it pronounced? Should we dare to speak it even if we think we know how? YHWH is referred to as the Tetragrammaton (four letter name) and the Encyclopedia Judaica indicates that at least until the destruction of the First Temple in 586 B.C. this name was regularly pronounced with its proper vowels… but by the third century B.C. the pronunciation…was avoided lest Gods name be spoken in vain (underline mine).
One author says the true pronunciation of Gods Name was prohibited only after the third century B.C.E. for all except the high priest on Yom Kippur, and that it was standard dogma, repeated uncritically in all books of respectable biblical scholarship by Jews and Gentiles alike, that the Jehovah pronunciation is a product of the ignorance of Gentile Hebraists regarding a Jewish scribal practice, that of indicating the substitute term of Adonai by the vowel points of this name placed beneath the letters of the Tetragrammaton. And it is equally proof of their enlightenment, again by all such Jews and Gentiles, to proudly make use of the correct form, Yahweh (emphases mine).
This same source quotes Rudolph Steiner (who writes primarily about the nature of music), who said The Hebrew word Jahve, for example, did not have the J and V; it actually consisted only of vowels and was rhythmically half sung.
Half sung is close to half breathed. Ancient Hebrew only had consonants. Perhaps religious services were half sung, but nowhere in the Bible is anyone forbidden to speak the name of Yahweh.
This strict prohibition was a later genuine attempt to honor God and keep the Third Commandment (Thou shalt not take the name of Yahweh in vain). Would that everyone feared to use Gods name in vain, but is this rule Biblical or necessary? Is it not similar to prohibiting any glance at a woman to avoid adultery? Or prohibiting a look at anything belonging to others in order to avoid coveting.
Perhaps this strict religious tradition motivated the Apostle Paul when he said he would never eat meat if it offended a brother. Does this mean everyone must stop eating meat? Religious traditions tend to clarify, enlarge and expand the basic laws of God, which in time often leads to increasingly stricter man-made and then man-monitored legalisms. Certainly nowhere in the Bible can anyone find a law prohibiting the respectful use of Gods name in prayer or speech.
Some believe the true pronunciation was lost after the destruction of the Temple and the dispersion of the Jews. It stands to reason the faithful might be hesitant to say Gods name if they were not sure how to pronounce it. Is it possible that now, with Jews back in the homeland of Israel, The Name will be spoken again? Exciting idea! Scholars compiling The Encyclopedia Judaica state that the true pronunciation of the name YHWH was never lost. Several early Greek writers testify the name was pronounced Yahweh, or perhaps Yahweh-asher-Yihweh (He brings into existence whatever exists).
Personal Conclusions. If the writer may share personal conclusions after years of searching, I believe its entirely possible the true name of The Eternal (יהוה) cannot be spoken, but can only be breathed.
For years I prayed fervently, asking God to show me how to say The Name. I reasoned that if I were his child, surely I should know how to say my Fathers name. Many times I added fasting to my prayers. In other words, with fasting and prayer, I asked, I sought and I knocked on Heavens door.
One beautiful fall day in Chicago when finishing up an extra long jog of several miles, I suddenly stopped out of breath and gasping for air. As I sucked in heavy, long, deep breaths, I heard YH. As I forcefully blew out the air, I clearly heard a WH sound. Immediately, I was struck by these sounds. In fact, I felt Gods presence reveal to me what may be called wisdom and understanding that to live and to breathe is to speak His Name. This revelation added new understanding to the Scripture, In Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). Let everything that has breath praise the Lord came alive in my spirit. That day I actually looked up into the heavens and laughed out loud,
Thats it, isnt it, LORD? I must speak your Name in order to live! Right? Every time I breathe, I speak your Name, dont I! Thats it! Yahweh, thats so great! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
It explained to me something I copied down in a classroom lecture during graduate school, He who can rightly pronounce (speak) it (The Name) causes heaven and earth to tremble, for it is the NAME which rushes through the universe.
Science Supports Concept The concept of a single breath moving the earth by breathing the name Yahweh is not inconsistent with current scientific knowledge. The study of fractals shows that all systems are subject to feedback, and that feedback will often undergo revolutionary changes of behavior, such as when a microphone is placed beside a speaker and the microscopic static generated blows up into a deafening scream, or when a tiny grain of ice on a plane wing explodes into a turbulence substantial enough to cause the plane to crash or a small rolling pebble that unleashes an avalanche, so the universe has an extreme sensitivity to every little move of every little thing.
Our praises lifted up to our Father God Yahweh and our Redeemer Jesus are like little tsunamis affecting the whole universe as they travel though the earth. At first these insights may seem far fetched, but it thrills the heart to know that even our smallest actions are effectual in the Universe.