Sometimes I am asked about the
correct pronunciation of YHVH
() the name of God in
the Hebrew Scriptures since the time of Moses.
But first a "disclaimer" ...
It is not worth arguing about, because:
1. No one really knows for sure how it was pronounced.
2. There is no requirement in the New Covenant for specific
3. The first century apostolic community said the only name we had to
deal with is Yeshua (Acts 4:12; Phil 2:9).
4. The name of Yeshua replaced YHVH for LORD, Adonai or "Kyrios"
5. The name Yeshua ()
is a shortened form of Yehoshua
() which contains
the first part ( or
Yeho) of the Yehovah pronunciation of YHVH. In other words, YHVH is
contained within the name Yeshua.
I am not advocating that believers in Israel start using a specific
1. The social and religious reaction against it among the Orthodox
community in Israel is not necessarily worth what would be gained by
trying to pronounce it.
2. When pronouncing some form of YeHoVaH in Hebrew, it is not clear what
you are saying because it sounds like declensions of the verb "to be".
3. To place an overemphasis on pronunciation has often led to cultic or
elitist tendencies among the groups that do so.
With all that said, anyone has the right to pronounce the name as long as
it is not "in vain" (Exodus 20:7). It seems that the correct
pronunciation would have been YeHoVaH (or YeHoWah if the Vav was
pronounced in ancient times with a W sound, as many scholars believe).
The most obvious reason for this is that in the over 100 uses of names
with the same root and the same syllable structure in the Hebrew, ALL of
them without exception use the E-O-A vowel structure. The names are the
following: Yehoyariv, Yehonadav, Yehoram, Yehoshevaat, Yehoshaphat,
Yehosheva, Yehoshua, Yehozabad, Yehotsadak, Yehoahaz, Yehoaddan, Yehoada,
In the Middle Ages, rabbinic tradition abandoned all efforts at
pronouncing YHVH by substituting the word "Adonai" (Lord). Any reference
to the scribal changes of that time would be irrelevant since this is
the full biblical text that we have available.
The second reason has to do with spiritual meaning. The name YHVH is
connected to the verb "to be". This is seen in the Exodus 3 burning bush
encounter of Moses and in more than a dozen references to "I am" as YHVH
in Isaiah chapters 41-48.
In the verb "to be" in Hebrew, the "e" vowel represents the future, the
"o" vowel represents the present, and the "a" vowel represents the past.
Thus the spiritual significance of the name YHVH is the Eternal God, who
was, is and will be (Revelation 4:8). The meaning of the name YHVH is
dealt with more extensively in my book, Who Ate Lunch with
This article was previously published on 22Jul16
on the Revive Israel website and on 25Jul16
on Kehila News Israel