The Tetragrammaton: An Appeal for a Final Resolution – Chris. J. Koster

The Tetragrammaton: An Appeal for a Final Resolution
Chris. J. Koster

We were prompted to do this study because of the disturbing remark we read in Grote Winkler Prins Encyclopedie1 (Dutch),that the uncertainty as to the true pronunciation of the Name constantly causes embarrassment to Bible translators. But this uncertainty causes much perplexity as well as embarrassment to all believers. Although not always admitted, we firmly believe that this uncertainty has been a major reason for us to be satisfied with, and rather accept and use the surrogate of the Tetragram, up to this day.

Surely, the prophetic promise of the revelation of His Name has been given to us, and must be fulfilled:

1. “Therefore My People shall know My Name”, Isa. 52:6.

2. “and they shall know that My Name is YHWH”, Jer. 16:21.

3. “For then will I turn to the people a pure language (lip), that they may all call upon the Name of YHWH”, Zeph. 3:9.

4. “and we will walk in the Name of YHWH our Elohim for ever and ever”, Micah 4:5.

5. “And ye shall … praise the Name of YHWH your Elohim”, Joel 2:26.

6. “they shall call on My Name, and I will hear them”, Zech. 13:9.

7. “they shall walk up and down in His Name, saith YHWH”, Zech. 10:12.

8. “So I will make My holy Name known in the midst of My People Israel”, Eze. 39:7.

9. “and I have made Thy Name known to them, and will make it known”, John 17:26
NASB. This is a fulfillment of the prophetic promise of Ps. 22:22 which is also repeated in Heb. 2:12. But John 17:26b clearly promises a further fulfillment, for us too.

Before we proceed, we would like to warn against placing undue emphasis on the Name and neglecting the most important, i.e. emphasis ‘due to the Person Himself. This can be prevented if we realize that shem in Hebrew means much more than name in English. Shem in Hebrew, as we find it in the Scriptures, is not a mere label of identification. It is an expression of the essential nature of the bearer. Very often it speaks foremost of the authority of the person e.g. Ex. 23:21, John 5:43. A person’s name reveals his character and often it is the person that is revealed. It also comprises that person’s stability, his faithfulness and his justice; and even the remembrance of that person. To reiterate, in Hebrew ha shem identifies the person and his character; and his personality identifies his name. The person, his authority and his name are one, in Hebrew. We should be extremely careful not to detach the Name from His Person. But let us be assured: an unseen person cannot be identified by our visual perception. An unseen person can only be identified by his name. Likewise, our Heavenly Father must also be identified by His Name.

We will now continue this study under five headings:

1. “What is His Name?” Prov. 30:4.

2. Was it used in pre-exilic and post-exilic Israel?

3. The present substitution (and disguising) of the Name.

4. How is it pronounced -or transliterated?

5. Conclusion and appeal.

1. “What is His Name?” Proverbs 30:4

This question, as well as the admonition of Ps. 83:16-18, should prompt us to search for His Name. Let us search the Scriptures to find whether He Himself did declare His Name:

(1) In reply to Moses’ question as to His Name, He declared in Ex. 3:152 “Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, YHWH Elohim of your fathers, the Elohim of Abraham, the Elohim of Isaac, the Elohim of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is My Name for ever, and this is My memorial unto all generations”.

(2) “I am YHWH: that is My Name”, Isa. 42:8.

(3) “But I am YHWH thy Elohim… YHWH of hosts is His Name”, Isa. 51:15.

(4) “and they shall know that My Name is YHWH.” Jer. 16:21.
Let us further search the Scriptures to see the prophets revealing His Name:

1) “YHWH is His Name”, Ex. 15:3.

2) “YHWH of hosts is His Name”, Isa. 47:4.

3) “YHWH of hosts is His Name”, Isa. 54:5.

4) “YHWH of hosts is His Name”, Jer. 10:16.

5) “YHWH of hosts is His Name”, Jer. 31:35.

6) “YHWH is His Name”, Jer. 33:2.

7) “saith the King, whose Name is YHWH of hosts”, Jer. 51:57.

8) “YHWH is His memorial” (name -RSV and NASB) -Hos. 12:5.

9) “YHWH the Elohim of hosts, is His Name”, Amos 4:13.

10) “YHWH is His Name”, Amos 5:8.

11) “saith YHWH, the Elohim of hosts, is His Name”, Amos 5:27 according to the Hebrew Text (the incorrect rendering in most translations, which have followed the incorrect placing of the comma in translations of the Septuagint, creates a single apparent discrepancy, which should not exist).

12) “YHWH is His Name”, Amos 9:6.

We do not find any other O.T. Scripture which reveals another name for our Heavenly Father. There is none other to be found. Therefore, The New Bible Dictionary on p. 478 is quite correct in stating that “Strictly speaking, Yahweh is the only name…” G. von Rad, Old Testament Theology, 1, translated by D.M.G. Stalker, p. 186, n. 26, says: “Jahweh had only one name”. In fact, in every Scripture where it speaks about His Name, the singular form of shem (singular: name) is used. Nowhere do we read of His
“Names” (plural).

Elohim (and El) cannot be called His Name, His proper Name, because of the following three reasons:

(1) Because the article the precedes the word Elohim in numerous places. This practice is inconceivable in the case of a proper name such as YHWH.

(2) The Scriptures do not state anywhere, not by YHWH Himself, nor by His prophets, that His Name is: Elohim.

(3) Common people are called elohim in the Scriptures, e.g.

a. “and you (Moses) shall be for him (Aaron) an elohim”, Ex. 4:16 according to the Hebrew Text. (See Green’s Interlinear Bible and Luther’s German Bible).

b. Again in Ex. 7:1 YHWH; appoints Moses to be an elohim to Pharaoh “I have made you (Moses) an elohim to Pharaoh” according to the Hebrew Text. (See Green’s Interlinear Bible and Luther’s German Bible).

c. The word elohim has also been translated in the A.V. as judges in Ex. 21:6, Ex. 22:8 and 9 ordinary human beings thus.

d. Compare Ps. 82:1 in the various translations. The Hebrew text reads “Elohim standeth in the congregation of the el. He judgeth among the elohim”. We can only conclude that elohim and el are titles, given to YHWH, or to His Son, or to human beings.

e. Ps. 97:7c reads elohim and infers to judges, rulers or even idols (as the A.V. does).
Therefore we must conclude that the word elohim is not a proper name, but only a common name or a title. Any Hebrew lexicon will confirm that it means mighty or mighty one, or mighty ones if used in a plural sense.

2. Was it used in pre-exilic and post-exilic Israel?

The O.T. Scriptures give ample proof of the common, although reverential use of the Name in Israel before the time of captivity and in the immediate post-exilic period -6823 times. Indeed, the frequency of its use exceeds by far the use of any other person’s name.

“And …Eve… said, I have gotten a man from YHWH,” Gen. 4:1.

“Then men began to call upon the Name of YHWH”, Gen. 4:26.

“And he (Noah) said, Blessed be YHWH Elohim of Shem”, Gen. 9:26.

“And there he (Abram) builded an altar unto YHWH, and called upon the Name of YHWH,” Gen. 12:8.

“And there Abram called-upon the Name of YHWH,´Gen. 13:4.

“And He said unto him (Abram), I am YHWH that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees”, Gen. 15:7.

“And Abraham … called there on the Name of YHWH, the everlasting El,” Gen. 21:33.

“And Abraham called the name of that place, YHWH–Yireh,” Gen. 22 : 14 .

“And Isaac intreated YHWH for his wife”, Gen. 25:21.

“And he (Isaac) … called upon the name YHWH,” Gen. 26:25.

“And behold , YHWH stood above it, and said, I am YHWH Elohim of Abraham thy father”, Gen. 28: 13.

“And Jacob … said, Surely YHWH is in this place”, Gen. 28: 16.

“And Moses built an altar and called the name of it YHWH -nissi”, Ex. 17:15.

“As he called. upon the Name of YHWH,” Ex. 34:5 NASB.

“And YHWH spoke unto Moses, saying, … On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, YHWH bless thee and keep thee; YHWH make his face shine upon thee … YHWH lift up his countenance upon thee…” Numbers 6:22-26.

“Because I will publish the Name of YHWH,” Deut. 32:3.

“Then Gideon built an altar there unto YHWH, and called it YHWH-shalom”, Judges 6:24.

“And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem and said unto the reapers, YHWH be with you. And they answered him, YHWH bless thee”, Ruth 2:4.

After the return from the captivity, Nehemiah still used the Name as we read in Neh. 1:5 and 11, 3 in Neh. 8:6 and 10, and in Neh. 9:7.

Ezra also still used it, as we read in Neh. 8:6 and 10. At that time the Levites also used it -Neh. 9:4, 5, 6 and 7.

In Psalms we find numerous referrals to the positive use of the Name, e.g. Ps. 9:10, Ps. 20:1 and 7, Ps. 22:22, Ps. 29:2, Ps. 33:21, Ps. 34:3, Ps. 45:17, Ps. 68:4 (the short form ) Ps. 69:30 and 36, Ps. 72:17-19, Ps. 74:18, Ps. 79:6, Ps. 83:16-18, Ps. 89:16, Ps. 91:34, Ps. 96:5, Ps. 99:6, Ps. 102:15 and 21, Ps. 115:1, Ps. 116:4 and 13 and 17, Ps. 135:13, Ps. 138:2, Ps. 140:13, Ps. 145:2.1.

All the prophetical books use the Tetragram freely, and as we have shown at the beginning of this study, almost all of them prophesied about the restoration of the Name.

3. The present substitution (and disguising) of the Name according to Jer. 23:27 ancient Israel also forgot the Name (including His authority, His character, His holiness -all of Him) and accepted an idol’s name instead. But at the time applicable to Jeremiah’s
prophecy this was again the case. However, the removal of the surrogate names is promised, and has not been fulfilled yet, of which we read, in Hosea 2:16-17, Zeph. 3:9, Zech. 13:9, Isa. 52:6, Jer. 16:21, Joel 2:26, Eze. 39:7 etc.

The present-suppression started + 2300 years ago, and the process is commonly described as follows:

At least until the destruction of the First Temple in 586 B.C.E. the Name, the Tetragram, was freely used, 4 as we have also proved from the Scriptures quoted previously. But at least by the third century B.C.E. the pronunciation of the Name YHWH was avoided and Adonai was substituted for it. 4 But why was this done? Nehemiah and Ezra led the People to a reformation. But what happened after that? According to rabbinic tradition, the period following the reformation was characterized by the rule of the Men of the Great Synagogue. The identity of these legendary figures cannot be certain, but it seems
likely that they were scribes or leaders of the people drawn from the scribes. 5 Later on we read of a “synagogue of the scribes” at the time of the Seleucid Hellenizing of Israel. Sometime in the Greek period an influential group of “lay scribes” succeeded in forming a popular, democratic political party; they came to be known as the Pharisees. These “lay scribes” belonged mainly to the party of the Pharisees, but as a body were distinct from them. 6 These Men of the Synagogue, up to many years later, continually endeavored to interpret the Law and the Scriptures, thereby adding to the law their own traditions, which our Saviour objected against in the N.T. These man-made laws, traditions,
interpretations, became known as the Oral Law. This Oral Law is contained in the Mishna.

But what did these scribes (sopherim) do about the Tetragram? Firstly, they graphically substituted the Name with Adonai in 134 places. The complete list is given in Massorah (55 107-115, Ginsburg’s edition). This was done out of extreme, but mistaken reverence for the Name. 7 The Sopherim also emended the Scripture in 18 places, as is admitted by them. 8 Later, the Talmud ordered the reader to refrain from pronouncing the Name and to say Adonai instead, 24 in the remaining almost 7000 places where the Tetragram was still retained in the copying of the Scriptures. “This is My Name, to be hidden”, is their oral command, allegedly given by the Almighty, and became the written teaching in
the Talmud. 9 Again we read their command that the Name is “to be kept secret”. 10

The Name was thus suppressed, although it was retained in most of the places in the copied Scriptures. And then we also read an interesting passage in the Mishnaic Text of Tamid vii.2 (= Sota vii. 6): “In the sanctuary they (the priests) were accustomed to pronounce the Name as it is written; in the town, by disguising it.” 11 This reveals to us that the Name was still pronounced, but only in the Temple (at Jerusalem), and that the Name was disguised in other places or synagogues. We will return to this question of disguising later on in this study, under heading 4.

On the Day of Atonement, the High Priest regularly called out the Tetragram, but after the death of Simeon the Just in + 290 B.C.E., they ceased to do it, or perhaps they substituted it. 12 With the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E. the Tetragram finally and completely ceased in the Temple.

At first, YHWH was substituted with Adonai, orally, as well as in non-Scriptural writings. But subsequently even Adonai became “verboten”, and Ha-Shem was read. And in many places in the Targum YHWH was written in the place where YHWH stood in the Scriptures. We all know that this was done for the Jews’ fear of profanation of the Name. The incidence in Lev. 24:10-16 is also cited at times as a reason for the suppression of the Name. However, this Scripture clearly tells us that this son of an Israelite woman was stoned because he “blasphemed and cursed the Name”. Using the Name in
reverence and calling on the Name is absolutely Scriptural, because we have the reverential example of Eve, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and David (see above), and indeed, we are instructed to do so -Joel 2:32, Zeph. 3:12, Zech. 13:9 -all of these texts having a special eschatological application.

Further, the Encyclopaedia Judaica, vol. 7, p. 680, says of this substitution “The avoidance of pronouncing the name YHWH is generally ascribed to a sense of reverence. More precisely it was caused by Commandment is very interesting, because it is confirmed by the Syriac Peshitta text, the Targum Jerusalem, the Targum of Onkelos, the Rotherham Version, the 1917 Version of the Jewish Publication Society of America, and the New Jewish Version (recently released), and is also the primary interpretation of most rabbinical commentators. Here in South Africa in 1972, both Prof. Wouter C. van Wyk, professor of Hebrew at the University of Pretoria, as well as Prof. A. van Selms,
emeritus professor of Hebrew at the same university, expressed their preference for the rendering of the Third Commandment to be “You shall not swear falsely by the Name This is also substantiated by the following fact: all the commandments of the Decalogue are repeated in the rest of the O.T. as well as in the N.T., except for the Third Commandment as it has been commonly rendered, such as in the

A.V. The incorrect rendering of the A.V. in Ps. 139:20 and Prov. 30:9 is not a repetition of the Third Commandment. Nevertheless, even the common rendering does not prohibit the reverential use of the Name, neither does Scripture permit the substitution of the Name. In fact, the Scriptures clearly prohibit its substitution Deut. 4:2, Deut. 12:4 and 32, Prov. 30:5 and.6.

Returning to the history of the suppression, we see that the early copies of the Septuagint did retain the Tetragram. In his article The Tetragram and the New Testament in J.B.L. 96 (1977) 63-83, George Howard presents the fact that Pap. Fuad 266, which dates to the first or second century B.C.E., clearly retains the Tetragram in Aramaic letters within the Creek text itself. Also, that in 1952 fragments of a scroll of the Twelve Prophets were found in Nahal Hever in the Judean Desert. D. Barthelemy published his analysis in 1963, which stated that the Tetragram was retained in the Greek text, but
differed from Pap. Fuad. 266 in that it had the Tetragram in paleo-Hebrew letters. In 1962 B. Lifshitz published nine fragments of a Greek Scroll of which the Tetragram was preserved in Jonah 3:3. Howard continues and quotes Skehan’s findings of Greek Bible fragments found in the Qumran caves which use IAO and not Kurios. In the same article Howard states that in the post New Testament period, Greek versions of the Hebrew Bible retained the Hebrew Tetragram. 13 Again, in 1897 F.C. Burkitt published fragments of Aquila where the Hebrew Tetragram was retained by Aquila. He also
mentions Theodoret of Cyrus 14 using the form AIA, also in the post-New Testament period. We will discuss the form AIA, as well as the other transliterated forms IAOUE (of Clement) and IAWOUHE (of the Greek Papyri), under heading 4.

Howard continues “But by the time we reach the Christian codices of the LXX, the Tetragram is not to be found. Instead, the words Kurios, and occasionally theos, stand for the divine name”. He concludes that this surrogation of the Tetragram in the Christian LXX probably started by the beginning of the second century, and labels it the work of Gentile Christians who took over from the originally Hebrew Christians. Arnold, in his excellent article in J.B.L. vol. XXIV (1905), p. 136-137, quotes Origen 15 and Jerome 16 , both pointing out that old Greek manuscripts exhibited the Hebrew form of the Name.

Except for the Hebrew O.T. which still retains the Tetragram, translations of the O.T. today do not have the Tetragram, even in its transliterated form, except for a few translations that have appeared in the last 150 years. A few of these are available in English. 19

4. How is it pronounced or transliterated?

The Tetragram’s transliteration remained surrogated by the Greek Kurios, the Latin Dominus, and our modern Lord etc., for almost 1400 years, without any challenge, as far as we know. Then the form Jehovah started to appear. This is generally ascribed to the work of Peter Galatin in the year 1516. This pronunciation Jehovah was contested by Le Mercier, J. Drusius, and L. Capellus, as against grammatical and historical propriety. 17 Genebrardus in the year 1567, was the first to suggest the pronunciation Jahve, 18 largely on the strength of Theodoret’s assertion that the Samaritans used the pronunciation Iabe. However, most scholars today will not accept this form of the Samaritans. In 1815
Gesenius, in his Lexicon, used the transliteration Jahweh.

Subsequently, there followed a few German O.T. translations with the Name Yahweh (German: Jahiwe) appearing as the transliteration of YHWH, three Dutch O.T. translations with Jahwe or Jahweh, and five in English, 19 till this day. The advocates of the form Yahweh contested the form Jehovah for

the following reasons:

(1) Because of the Talmud’s instruction that Adonai must be read where YHWH written, they postulated or assumed that the vowel pointing was to remind the reader eoa to say Adonai. This will be discussed later.

(2) The Massoretes gave a double pointing to the VAV (W) in the Name, an o-pointing as well as a w-pointing. This is difficult to explain.

(3) The shortened form of the Name with its vowel points reads Yah, its is found forty-nine times in the O.T. This differs from Jeho-vah.

(4) Yahwistic names, ending with part of the Name, is vowel pointed -yah or -yahu. This also differs from Jeho-vah. We will elaborate on this further on.

(5) Some objected to the presence of consonants in the form Jehovah because of Josephus’ clear statement in Wars of the Jews, book V, chapter V, 7, that “the sacred name consists of four vowels” -in spite of the popular-held belief that the Name consists of four consonants, and notwithstanding the common rule of Hebrew-grammar that vowels must be interrupted by consonants.

(6) C.R. Driver The Original Form of the Name Yahweh: Evidence and Conclusions 20 says there are indications that a HEY (H) following a YUD (Y) determines the reading to be Yah.

(7) Clement of Alexandria 21 transliterates the Name as IAOUE which differs totally from Jehovah.

(8) All Greek transliterations of the Name – IAOUE (Clement), IAWOUHE (Greek Papyri), IAW (Theodoret), IAW and IABE (Epiphanius), IAH (Origin), as well as the Latin form Jaho by Jerome in 400 C.E., 22 all clearly indicate that the Name starts with Ya-and not Ye-.

The evidence against the form Jehovah is so convincing that the Jehovah’s witnesses themselves admit that Jehovah is a “wrong spelling” and then offers arguments in favour of Yahweh as “the correct and original pronunciation”.23 But they persist with Jehovah “because of people’s familiarity with it since the 14th century”, as they state.

So the form Yahweh became generally accepted. However, we began to feel uneasy about it for the following reasons:

(1) The uncertainty of Grote Winkler Prins Encyclopedie as mentioned at the beginning of this article, is shared by most honest Hebrew scholars and students of the Scriptures.

(2) The pronunciation of the form Yahweh differs considerably, and none of them sound well, especially if the emphasis is on the last syllable, because in Hebrew it should not be on the first syllable.

(3) It is difficult to understand why the Yahwistic names contained tile shortened form -yahu, while the form Yahweh has a w instead of a u.

(4) Because of the clear statement by Josephus that the Name consists of four vowels, it was difficult to accept the w in Yahweh.

(5) Because the form Yahweh started from Genebrardus’ form Jahve which he deducted from Theodoret’s assertion of the Samaritan’s rendering: Iabe. As mentioned before, the form Iabe is not reliable. Dr. M. Reisel regards the form Iabe “as of no value”. We therefore propose that the form Jahve (and subsequently Yahweh), started from an erroneous basis.

We all know of the hellenization of Old Testament Israel. Realizing also that the Greeks hellenized the N.T. faith, which faith originated amongst the Hebrews, our search condensed to the following conflict: Did the Greeks deceive us with the form IAOUE, the apparent full form of the Name, as used by Clement and others, or did the Massorite Jews deceive us with the form Jehovah? Who was telling the truth? Have we slavishly
accepted the form Yahweh?

First of all, we discovered the following: we have been taught that the Talmud instructed the Jews to say Adonai where YHWH is written. 24 This is quite correct. But we have also been taught that the Massoretes added the vowel points eoa under the Name in order to remind the people to read Adonai instead. We became unhappy with this theory for the following reasons:

(1) The Qere (“to be read”) does not appear in connection with the Tetragram in the margin or in the footnotes. The application of Qere Perpetuum in this case is only an inference, especially if reasons 2 and 3 are considered.

(2) In order to attempt to reconcile the vowel points eoa with the vowels “a o ai” of Adonai, explanations have been put forth, but they are not quite convincing.

(3) If the Jews tried to remind us to say Adonai instead of the Tetragram by adding eoa to the Name, why did they also add the eo to the Yahwistic. names of people whose names started with Y-H-, such as Jehoshaphat? We were unable to find any explanation offered for this. Apparently no one has even attempted to comment on this. Surely, it is just logical to believe that the reason for adding the eoa should be the same as the reason for adding eo to Yahwistic. names.

So, for a while, we were at a loss as to the reason for the addition of eo a, unless it really was for the sole purpose of preserving the pronunciation. But, as previously stated, this latter proposition was contrary to the Hebrew rules of grammar, as was reasoned by the supporters of the form Yahweh.

Our earnest search compelled us to go right back to the well known passage in Ex. 3:13-15. In verse 13 Moses asks Elohim what he should tell Israel, what is His Name? in verse 14 Elohim gives the etymology of His Name: ehyeh asher ehyeh, and then continues “Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, ehyeh hath sent me unto you”. In verse 15 Elohim finally gives tile answer “Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, YHWH Elohim of your fathers hath sent me unto you: this is My Name for ever, and this is My memorial (memorial name) unto all generations”. It is obvious that the final answer was given in verse 15. But verse 14 has confused many scholars, because of the apparent contradiction between 14b and 15, some even accusing 25 the copyist of substituting the Tetragram with ehyeh in 14b, and others even accusing verse 14 to be a later addition. 26 Our belief that verse 14 gives the etymology of the Tetragram, is supported by

Dr. M. Reisel in The Mysterious Name of Y.H.W.H., p. 26. Nevertheless, the ambiguous meaning of 14b caused many scholars to think that ehyeh (eyeh) could have been His Name at some stage. Perhaps the earliest example of this was the fact that Jerome in one of his letters to Marcella (Migne, xxii, 429) cited ESER IEIE from Ex. 3:14 as one of the ten names of the Father. This thought, that ehyeh could have been the Name, is an important clue in our search, because we afterwards find quite a few eminent scholars
linking ehyeh with the frequent transliteration of the “Name” in Greek translations and writings, viz. AIA. Gesenius 27 also thought it reproduced the ehyeh of Ex. 3:14. Obermann, in his article YHWH In Recent Discovertes 28 felt inclined to agree. Dr. M. Reisel 29 also agreed to this possibility. Theodoret in his Haeret. fabul. refers to the Hebrew Names of Elohim, among others the word AIA “which is often interpreted as
ehyeh” -according to G.J. Thierry. 30 How is it possible that ehyeh in Hebrew could have been transliterated into Greek as AIA? Then we remembered the most interesting rendering of Ex. 3:14 in the Lamsa Bible (Aramaic), where the word AHIAH is twice used in this verse. Is it then possible that the Jews changed this word from ahyah into ehyeh by adding the vowel points of e? These eminent scholars’ suspicion was thus
enhanced by the Aramaic Bible’s rendering of Ex. 3:14. Our theory was further supported by the fact that the Murasu 31 texts revealed Yahwistic names starting with Yahu -instead of the Massoretic vowel-pointed Yeho-. For instance it renders Yahuzabad instead of the Jehozabad of the Massoretic Text.

Another example is Yahunatanu instead of the Massoretic Yehonathan. (The Massoretic Text usually renders it as Yehonathan and less frequently as Yonathan). This was thus further evidence of the proposition we make, viz. that the Massoretes added the vowel points eoa in order to hide the Name by disguising it.

In summary, we have the documented evidence of the Sopherim’s deliberate substitution of the Name in 134 places (see heading 3). Secondly we have the well known oral substitution of the Name as instructed by the Talmudic rabbis. And thirdly, on the grounds of the above mentioned evidence, we can see the Jews, in their determination to hide the Name, how they added the wrong vowel points to YHWH, and to the AHYH of Ex. 3:14, thereby succeeding in disguising the Name, as they did admit in Sota vii. 6. 32 (The word translated disguising, is the Hebrew word kinoi, which has the meaning of disguise, or byname, or nickname, or substitute word. It comes from the verb kanah which usually means to modify, such as Meg. iv:9 “he who modifies in translating the laws of incest”).

Previously we had been sceptic about the reliability of the form IAOUE, but now that we came to realize that the Greeks were not specifically motivated, as the Jews were, to disguise the Name, we turned to this transliteration to thoroughly consider it. The information we found made all the pieces fall into their places and a clear picture started emerging. Apart from Clement’s IAOUE, another similar form, IAWOUHE frequently
occurred in papyri. 33 Dr. Reisel, especially, paid much attention to this frequent form of the transliteration in the papyri, as this confirms the form of the Name as mentioned by Clement. Dr. Reisel then reminds us, as all agree, that the Greek diphthong OU is a vowel, pronounced “oo” (u), as in “through,” especially when it appears in the middle of a word. This similarity between the Greek OU and the Hebrew VAV, is mentioned by
Field in his Introduction to the Hexapla, p. LXXII-LXXIV. 34 Therefore, the form IAOUE can only be pronounced I-a-oo- h. This is clearly supported by Josephus’ statement (vide supra) that the Name consists of four vowels, YHWH, thus transliterated into Greek as I-A-OU-E, and in English as Y-ah-oo-eh, Yahoo-eh, Yahueh. Dr. M. Reisel then quoted35 the publication by R. Basset, in 1896, of the proposed form Yahoue (in French) because of this form of the Name that has been preserved for us in the Ethiopian Apocrypha. (The French ou is also pronounced oo).

Another evidence as to the importance of hu in the Name, is the following: In G.H. Parke-Taylor’s book Yahweh: The Divine Name In The Bible, pp. 70-78, the author discusses the almost mysterious clue of the term ani Hu (I am He) that is found in Isa. 41:4; Isa. 43:10, 13, 25; Isa. 46:4 and Isa. 48:12. He quotes S. Mowinckel who commented on this: “It can scarcely be denied that hu is here very close to a sort of divine
name”. After discussing other scholars’ remarks, Parke-Taylor states: “The personal pronoun hu is virtually a surrogate for the divine Name”. He twice mentions the proposition that ani Hu is an abbreviate of ani YHWH (I am YHWH), which we so often find in the prophets. This might even challenge knowledgeable Hebrew scholars to explain the Tetragram even more clearly. Suffice it to say, at this stage, that this serves as further evidence as to the importance of the retention of hu in the Name. It should not be omitted or substituted, as has been done in the past. We may even compare it to the importance of a keystone (an apex stone) of an arch or doorway! We came to the conclusion that not only has the Name been suppressed, but also the u has been suppressed. This fact struck us when, some time ago, we read the O.T. Scriptures in Hebrew and found that in approximately 70% of the appearances of the Yahwistic names ending with -yah, the names actually end with -yahu! This fact has been hidden from all Bible readers, except from those who read the Hebrew O.T. Further, A.E. Cowley, Aramaic Papyri of the 5th Century B.C.E. (1923) p. xviii, gave the Name as
Ja’u. The Name Yahu, called the Trigrammaton, also appears in the Elephantine Papyri as well as in the Lachish Letters. And the final two witnesses as to the full form of the Name, the Tetragrammaton (Tetragram), were found in:

(1) Grande Encyclopedie (French) on Jehovah: “the pronunciation of Yahveh is probably more exactly reproduced by writing Yahouéh”. (The French ou pronounced oo).

(2) The Oxford English Dictionary on Jehovah: “It is now held that the original name was IaHUeH”. Unfortunately it then attempts to reconcile it with the better known form Jahveh or Yahweh. Two linguistic factors also were to blame for the confusion. up to now:

(1) The VAV (W) in Hebrew is either a vowel (o or u) or else a consonant (w). The sephardic Jews preserved the W-sound but the Ashkanazic Jews picked up the harsh V-sound from the Germans and other Eastern European nations. This could have been contributory to the incorrect form Jahve.

(2) The Latin u and v were used interchangeably for many centuries. Only since the 17th century have they begun to reserve the u as a vowel and the v as a consonant. Apparently this confusion contributed to the apparently perplexed conclusion which The Oxford English Dictionary makes (vide supra).

5. Conclusion and appeal

The prophecies as to the revelation of the Name must be fulfilled. Apart from the short form Y-H (Yah) and the intermediate form Y-H_W (the Trigrammaton, Yahu), the Heavenly Father has only one full Memorial Name or Covenant Name. We have searched for the correct rendering of this Name. His Name cannot have many forms, for the eschatological text of Zech. 14:9 says that His Name will be one. Considering all the evidence, we can only conclude that His Name must be rendered YAHúEH.
We feel that the emphasis must be on the second syllable because of the emphasis on the second syllable of the Yahwistic. names Yehóadah, Yehóaddan, Yehóahaz, Yehóash, Yehóiada, Yehóiakin, Yehóiakim, Yehóiarib, Yeliónadab, Yehónatan, Yehóshaphat, Yehóram etc. Therefore we propose the acceptance of the pronunciation to be: YAHúEH.

If we have received more Light, let us walk therein, as we read in 1 John 1:5-7, then we will have “fellowship one with another”. Our Saviour prayed for us in John 17. He prayed for unity and love amongst us. He said, in prayer, in verse 26 that the making known of His Father’s Name will cause us to have the same love in us that His, Father had for Him. We need this “fellowship one with another” so badly. If the “making known” of His Father’s Name is going to bring the unity and the love that we read of in this wonderful prayer -chapter, John 17, amongst the body of believers, dare we ignore it?

Finally, I appeal to all of you, learned in the Scriptures, intelligent and wise men, to whom millions are looking up to for guidance and sound teaching: consider, and be challenged by the appeal of Micah 6:9 “Wisdom shall see Thy Name”, Hebrew text. The A.V. reads “The man of wisdom shall see Thy Name”.


1. Under the title Jahweh.

2. We agree with Thierry Oudtestamentische Studien Part V (1948) pp. 38-39, and do not regard v. 14 as the reply to Moses’ question in v. 13. Rather, we regard v. 14 as the etymological explanation of His Name. This is often done in Scripture, although this is mostly done afterwards and not beforehand.

3. In v. 11 it was later on substituted with Adonai -one of the 134 acknowledged substitutions.

4. Encyclopaedia Judaica vol. 7 p. 680.

5. The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible vol. 4, p. 247.

6. The New Bible Dictionary p. 1151, and Acts 23:9, Mk. 2:16.

7. Dr. E.W. Bullinger The Companion Bible appx. 30 and 32.

8. ibid. appx. 33.

9. Pesahim 50a.

10. Kiddushin 71 a.

11. Arnold The Divine Name in Exodus 3:14 J.B.L. vol. 24 (1905) p. 144.

12. ibid. pp. 66 and 71.

13. Jerome Ep. 25 (ad Marcellam), Giovanni Card. Mercati Bib. 22(1941)pp.340-342,N.F. Marcos Sefarad 35 (1975) pp. 91-106.

14. Bib. 30 (1949) pp. 520-523.

15.On Psalm 2, Migne’s Patrologia Graeca xii, 1104.

16.Prologus galeatus, and in his letters to Marcella (Migne xxii, 429).

17.Oxford Gesenius p. 218.

18. Genebrardus Chronologia (1567), ed. Paris, 1600, pp. 79f.

19. Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible, The Anchor Bible, The Jerusalem Bible, The Holy Name Bible, The Sacred Scriptures.

20. Z.A.W. (1928) pp. 20-21.

21. Stromata, edited by 0. Stählin (Leipzig 1906).

22. Comment. in Ps. VIII.

23. Let Your Name Be Sanctified pp. 16 and 20. See also their New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures p. 25 of the foreword.

24. Jerusalem Talmud Megilla 71d.

25. Arnold The Divine Name in Exodus 3:14 J.B.L. vol. 24 p. 133.

26. Werner H. Schmidt Biblischer Kommentar Altes Testament 112, P.131.

27. Thesaurus p. 577.

28. J.B.L. vol. 68 (1949) p. 323.

29. The Mysterious Name of Y.H.W.H.p. 57.

30. The Pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton, Oudtestamentische Studiën, Part V (1948) p. 33.

31. (a) G.R. Driver The Oriqinal Form of the Name Yahweh: Evidence and Conclusions Z.A.W. XUI (1928) p. 12.
(b) M.W. Stolper American Schools of Oriental Research Bulletin (1976).
(c) Dr. M. Reisel The Mysterious Name of Y.H.W.H. p. 43.
(d) M.D. Coogan West Semitic Personal Names in Muraš.
Documents, pp. 1-62.

32. Arnold The Divine Name in Exodus 3:14, J.B.L. vol. 24, p. 144.

33. (a) B. Alfrink Jehova O.T.S., Part V (1948) pp. 45-46.
(b) Dr. M. Reisel The Mysterious Name of Y.H.W.H. pp. 36-37.

34. ibid. pp. 38 and 103.

35. ibid. pp. 38, 40 and 74.

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2 thoughts on “The Tetragrammaton: An Appeal for a Final Resolution – Chris. J. Koster”

  1. Greeks got their alphabet from Hebrew-phonecian. The equivalent letters of the Tetragrammaton in Greek are IEUE.

  2. I am convince of your revelation. And I believe that the Truth is with you. I do keep in touch in your works for it makes me steadfast and trustfull. Hallelu’ YAH!!! Praise the Father thru the Name of the Son YaHu’SUaH!!!

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