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God spoke to Moses from the burning bush and sent him back to Egypt to liberate Israel. At that time, Moses asked God what His name was. God said that His name was Yahweh. God also instructed Moses to tell Israel that God's name was Yahweh, that this was His name forever.
- Moses said to God, "Behold, when I come to the children of Israel, and tell them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' what should I tell them?" 14 God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM," and he said, "You shall tell the children of Israel this: 'I AM has sent me to you.'" 15 God said moreover to Moses, "You shall tell the children of Israel this, 'Yahweh, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.' This is my name forever, and this is my memorial to all generations" (Exodus 3:13-15).
Please prayerfully consider what I am about to say. Please come into the intimate presence of God. Then hear my words and talk to God about my words.
Seven Thousand Times
Yahweh is the personal name of God. It is the name of four letters, YHWH. It occurs nearly seven thousand times in the Old Testament... eight times per page. Almost one third of all the verses of the Old Testament had God's name, Yahweh, in the original text. Jesus' name in Hebrew was Yeshua (or Yahshua), which means Yahweh saves. His name appears roughly three times per page in the New Testament. So, both testaments contain the personal name of God in abundant quantities.
Proclaimed Through All the Earth
Scripture is clear. God's intention was that all the world would know His name:
- "For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I caused you to be raised up, that I might show in you my power, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth" (Romans 9:17).
In scripture, many individuals called God by His proper name, Yahweh.
Eve, Lamech, Noah, Abraham, Yahweh, Sarah, Eliezer, Laban, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, Rachael, Leah, Aaron, Moses, All Israel (at Sinai), Pharaoh, Joshua, Menoah, Naomi, Boaz, Hannah, Eli, Samuel, Saul, David, Jonathon, Elijah, Elisha, Job, Ahaz, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and etc.
You have probably called God by His name, Yahweh, without knowing it. When you sing "Hallelujah", you are singing "praise Yahweh". The last syllable of Hallelujah is jah. Jah is a modern pronunciation of Yah. And Yah is the first syllable of Yahweh. So, Yah is actually a short form of Yahweh. It is kind of like Dan is to Daniel. For many decades I sang songs using the word Hallelujah. I remember wondering what Hallelujah meant. As I sang those songs there was sometimes a slight hollowness to the word because I was singing a word but didn't know what it meant.
Yahweh was Replaced with LORD
The version of the Bible you read probably doesn't translate the name of four letters (YHWH) as Yahweh. It most likely replaces Yahweh with the word LORD (all capital letters). This is often explained in the initial pages of Bibles in a section titled "Principles of Translation". You can look at Genesis 2:4-9 in your Bible. If your Bible translates the name of four letters as Yahweh instead of replacing it with the word LORD, you will see God's name, Yahweh, four times in those five verses. You will not see the word LORD in that passage.
Rotherham's Emphasised Bible, the Proper Name Version of the King James Bible, The New Jerusalem Bible and the World English Bible translate YHWH as Yahweh. That is one of the reasons why I chose to use the World English Bible for virtually all scripture quotations in this book. The entire World English Bible is available to read on the internet for free all over the world.
The word Lord is a title, not a name. It means master. Moreover, the title Lord was a common title which was used to address men. Jacob referred to his brother Esau as lord (Genesis 32:4). Aaron called Moses lord. Daniel addressed King Nebuchadnezzar as lord (Daniel 4:24). So, when religious leaders replaced God's sacred and unique name with the title LORD, they were addressing God with the same title that they themselves were possibly addressed by.
Even though the book of Deuteronomy expressly forbids adding or subtracting from God's inspired words, Bible translators removed Yahweh and added LORD in its place.
A Warning From Deuteronomy
- 2 You shall not add to the word which I command you, neither shall you take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of Yahweh your God which I command you" (Deuteronomy 4:2).
God used His name, Yahweh, over four hundred times in the book of Deuteronomy alone. Deuteronomy has about 950 verses. In other words, the original text of the holy book of Deuteronomy included God's name, Yahweh, in every other verse. Yet you will not find God's name, Yahweh, one single time in most modern translations of the book of Deuteronomy.
Deuteronomy 4:2 above said
- "You shall not add to the word which I command you, neither shall you take away from it".
But, as I said, most modern translations take away God's name, Yahweh, and add the title LORD. This replacement occurred over four hundred times in the book of Deuteronomy and seven thousand times in the Old Testament.
Censorship of God's Name
At some point, religious leaders in Israel prohibited the Israelites from speaking the personal name of God, Yahweh. They replaced His name with the title LORD. They said that His name was too sacred to be spoken. But, this was contrary to God's express instruction. God had told Moses that He was to be called Yahweh (Exodus 3:13-15 above). God also said that He wanted His name to be proclaimed throughout all the earth (Romans 9:17 above and Exodus 9:16). God liberally placed His name through the Bible, eight times per page in the Old Testament and three times per page in the New Testament.
As I said before, here is what God said to Moses:
- 'God said moreover to Moses, "You shall tell the children of Israel this, 'Yahweh, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.' This is my name forever, and this is my memorial to all generations"' (Exodus 3:15).
So, God instructed Moses to speak God's personal name to Israel. God said that Yahweh was His name for all generations. But instead of spreading God's name through the earth, religious leaders removed God's name from God's holy book, the Bible. They actually prohibited believers from speaking the name Yahweh.
Mistake of Ignorance or Wolves Disguised as Sheep?
Why did the ancient translators disobey the scriptures by removing the name of Yahweh from the scriptures and replacing His name with a title? Why did they prohibit the mere mentioning of Yahweh's name? Was it a mistake of ignorance made by true believers, the intentional act of unbelievers or something else? The scriptures do not tell us. But the scriptures do say that the religious leaders in Jesus' day were generally unbelievers.
- "You are of your father, the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father" (John 8:44). (John 8:13 indicates that this conversation is with the Pharisees.)
- "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel around by sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of Gehenna (Hell) as yourselves" (Matthew 23:15).
- "even Satan masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is no great thing therefore if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness" (2 Corinthians 11:14,15).
My point is this. In many periods of Israel's history, its religious leadership was primarily composed of unbelievers. So, it is possible that the removal of Yahweh's name was an intentional act of unbelievers. We can examine the reasons they stated for the removal but we can't read their hearts.
But whether believers or unbelievers were responsible for the removal, we know these things:
The religious leadership of Israel removed God's name from the Bible, prohibited believers from mentioning His name and orchestrated the crucifixion His son Jesus.
Action with Grace
While recognizing their errors, we should not follow their tradition of addressing God only by the title of LORD. We should publicly call God by the personal name He gave us, Yahweh. Our translations of the Holy Bible should honor His name by translating His name as He gave it instead of replacing His name with the title LORD.
We are to watch for false prophets (Matthew 7:15-18) but should not rail against the translators in an abusive condemnation (Jude 1:9). We are to judge rightly (John 7:24) as we discern all things (1 Corinthians 2:15). We should speak "only what is good for building others up as the need may be, that it may give grace to those who hear" (Ephesians 4:29).
We should pray that future translations will reveal God's name correctly. We should also pray that all believers will receive access to Bibles which translate the Hebrew word Yahweh as Yahweh. We should work and pray that Yahweh's name is proclaimed in all the earth according to God's desire (Romans 9:17 above).
Translations which properly reveal the name of God can be promoted in the Spirit and with love, without pointing fingers or judging the hearts of others. Four such translations are described at the end of this subchaper, (A4). They are The Emphasized Bible, the World English Bible, The New Jerusalem Bible and the Proper Name Version of the King James Bible. They all render the name of four letters as Yahweh. The later also renders the name Jesus as it was pronounced in Hebrew (Yahshua).
Repeat the Words of the Father and Pray
We have a responsibility to discontinue this tradition of disobedience without condemning those who set it in motion and perpetuated it. If our generation knowingly perpetuates this error, then our generation will become responsible for the disobedience as well. Even today, as I am writing the words of this book, millions of worshipers are forbidden from speaking the name of Yahweh. Preachers and teachers defend the removal of God's name from God's holy book. Do not condemn these leaders. Instead, follow the example of the Christ and the apostles. Repeat the words of the Father and pray (subchapter 2.3). His words will undoubtedly succeed (Isaiah 55:11).
Here are the words of the Father to repeat audibly:
- "You shall not add to the word which I command you, neither shall you take away from it" (Deuteronomy 4:2).
- "God said moreover to Moses, 'You shall tell the children of Israel this, Yahweh, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you'" (Exodus 3:15).
After you repeat the words of the Father, pray silently the Endorsed Prayer of Humble Rebuke (micro-subchapter 4.3L). If you bring them to repentance by your Father's words and by this prayer you will have done them a great favor (James 5:16-20, micro-subchapter 4.3k).
To remove thousands of words from the scriptures is a serious offense. The book of Revelation has a very specific warning for those who remove words from that particular book:
- "I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll" (Revelation 22:18,19).
The Endorsed Prayer of Humble Rebuke is our appropriate response (micro-subchapter 4.3L). The Holy Spirit will convict the unbeliever of sin and teach the believer "concerning all things" (subchapter 3.3).
Laymen have a Right to Know
I became a Christian in a time of great turmoil. From that time I had a great desire to read scripture. In the chapter titled "My Conversion" at the beginning of this book, I revealed how God entered into me at that time in a very powerful and supernatural way. As I began to read the Bible in those days, it appeared odd to me that the scriptures seemed to indicate that God's name was LORD. I knew in my spirit that something was not quite right about that. But I did not know that His name had been hidden from me. I did not know that His name had been suppressed.
As I wrote earlier in this subchapter, God told the Israelites what His name was, that He was to be called by that name forever and that He wanted His name to be proclaimed throughout all the earth. Instead, the tradition of man has addressed God without a name... by replacing His name with the title, LORD.
God's command to call Him Yahweh was replaced with man's command to not call Him Yahweh. The tradition of man has replaced the command of God. This is a serious issue. Jesus was very critical of religious leaders who replaced God's command with man's tradition.
- "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, 'This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7 But they worship me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' 8 "For you set aside the commandment of God, and hold tightly to the tradition of men..."
The result of this replacement has been to present God as more distant and dramatically less intimate than God has presented Himself. What would you think if you were not allowed to address your spouse by name, but required to address your intimate life partner by a title instead. In that case, I could not call my wife "Mischa". I would be required to address her as "wife". I would be required to say "Good morning wife. Did you sleep well?" I could not say "Good morning Mischa. Did you sleep well?" This restriction would require me to address her position, but would prohibit me from addressing her personally.
So, what does all of this have to do with this book? This book is written for those of you who desire intimate fellowship with your God. Fellowship with God in the Sixth Path was written to enable all of God's children to walk with Him, to hear His voice and to follow Christ wherever He goes. He is our creator, savior, king, sustainer, peace and joy. The Holy Spirit dwells within every believer as an active and intimate companion. Chapter 3 reveals that the Holy Spirit regenerates, renews, sanctifies, gives life, seals, empowers, protects, teaches, leads, warns, comforts and gives us words for witnessing. And on that great day to come, God will take us to Paradise and place us on His throne with the Father and the Son, to rule the earth with God, forever and ever (subchapter 6.2).
With this in mind, I thought that you would like to know His name.
His name is Yahweh!
A Deeper Study
For those of you who wish to see a more detailed study of this subject written by a theologian who is expert in both Hebrew and Greek, see below the analysis by Joseph Rotherham from the introduction to his translation of the Bible, The Emphasized Bible. The remainder of this subchapter, (A4), is devoted to Rotherham's scholarly examination of this topic. The purpose of Rotherham's argument is to explain why all translators of the Bible should translate the Hebrew name of four letters as Yahweh instead of following the tradition of replacing the sacred name with the common title LORD.
So, here is Rotherham's analysis of the name Yahweh from the introduction to The Emphasized Bible, published in 1902:
THE INCOMMUNICABLE NAME
As it might appear premature, at the outset of this chapter, to spell out that Divine Name which some regard as not only incommunicable but unpronounceable, it will be considerate to begin the present investigations by the aid of circumlocution and abbreviation, especially as no inconvenience will be occasioned thereby. The Tetragrammaton, or name of four letters (in allusion to the four letters (Y H W H), is a technical term frequently employed by scholars, and will here, for a little, serve a useful purpose. Besides employing this term, we can reverently speak of "The Name," or can set down be first letter only, "Y," in the same way as critics are wont to use the Hebrew letter yod as the initial of the Divine Name intended. This, understood, we can intelligibly proceed. Our very first sub-division will indicate the serious turn, which this inquiry necessarily takes.
I.--THE NAME SUPPRESSED
A. The Fact
It is willingly admitted that the suppression has not been absolute; at least so far as Hebrew and English are concerned. The Name, in its four essential letters, was reverently transcribed by the Hebrew copyist, and therefore was necessarily placed before the eye of the Hebrew reader. The latter, however, was instructed not to pronounce it, but to utter instead a less sacred Name-- ADONAY or ELOHIM. In this way The Name was not suffered to reach the ear of the listener. To that degree it was suppressed. The Septuagint, or ancient Greek version, made the concealment complete by regularly substituting Kurios; as the Vulgate, in like manner, employed Dominus; both Kurios and Dominus having at the same time their own proper service to render as correctly answering to the Hebrew Adonay, confessedly meaning "Lord." The English versions do nearly the same thing, in rendering The Name as LORD, and occasionally GOD; these terms also having their own rightful office to fill as fitly representing the Hebrew titles Adonay and Elohim and El. So that the Tetragrammaton is nearly hidden in our public English versions. Not quite. To those who can note the difference between "LORD" and "Lord" and between "GOD" and "God," and can remember that the former (printed with SMALL CAPITALS) do while the latter do not stand for The Name--to such an intimation of the difference is conveyed. But although the READER who looks carefully at his book can see the distinction, yet the mere HEARER remains completely in the dark respecting it, inasmuch as there is no difference whatever in sound between "LORD" and "Lord" or "GOD" and "God." It hence follows that in nearly all the occurrences of The Name (some 7,000 throughout the Old Testament) the especial Name of God is absolutely withheld from all who simply hear the Bible read. "Nearly all," for there are about half a dozen instances in the A.V., and a few more in the R.V., in which this concealment does not take place. In other words there are these very few places in which the Tetragrammaton appears as "Jehovah"; and although it may be asked, "What are they among so many?" still their presence has an argumentative value. If it was wrong to unveil the Tetragrammaton at all, then why do it in these instances? If, on the other hand, it was right to let it be seen in these cases, then why not in all? With the exceptions explained, however, it remains true to say, that in our public versions the one especial Name of God is suppressed, wholly concealed from the listening ear, almost as completely hidden from the hastening or uncritical eye .
B. The Immediate Consequences of the Suppression.
(i.) Partly literary, though more than that. Reference is here made to the confusion into which many things are thrown through this abnormal state of things. "Baal" is "lord "and so is "Adon" (Adonay)--that is unfortunate; but why add to the embarrassment by rendering Y H W H (and Y H, the shorter form) also as "Lord"? Worst of all is the confusion when "Y" and Adonay occur together, as they do many times in the Book of Ezekiel. Inasmuch as to say, "Lord, LORD" for "Adonay Y," was too grotesque and misleading (positively false to the ear), the new device had to be resorted to of rendering this combination by "Lord GOD"--"GOD" in this case, and not "Lord" at all, standing for The Name. Even Y H (the shorter form) and Y H W H (the full form) of the Tetragrammaton, coming together, caused a dilemma; though in these instances, the acuteness of the trouble compelled the adoption of a partial remedy, and "the LORD JEHOVAH" is the result. "Confusion," then, is a term not a whit too strong to apply to these varying devices. No wonder that even intelligent and educated people are continually forgetting what they have heard or read concerning so involved a matter.
(ii.) Partly practical. Is it too much to assume that The Name has about it something very grand or very gracious, or at least something very mysterious? Whichever conclusion is received, the question arises whether there is not something essentially presumptuous, however little intended, in substituting for it one of the commonest of titles, seeing that there are on earth "lords many," and the master of the humblest slave is his "lord"? There is surely nothing very grand or gracious or mysterious in that! It is therefore the most natural presumption that the suppression of The Name has entailed on the reader, and especially upon the hearer, irreparable loss.
C. The Reason for the Suppression.
The motive was good--let that be assumed. It was to safeguard the Divine Majesty in the minds of men. It was to prevent the inconsiderate mention of Him before whom seraphs veil their faces--though even so it is very difficult to see how one name should occasion irreverence and another not. Why not, then, leave Him altogether unnamed? Why not fear to allude to Him by any title that could definitely refer to Him? The passages commonly cited as furnishing good reason for the suppression surely cannot mean what is thus attributed to them, since there is a wide distinction between not taking His Name in vain, and not taking His Name into our lips at all, even for prayer or praise. In a word, the motive is respected; but the reverence is regarded as misapplied--the reason given is seen to be invalid.
II.--THE NAME RESTORED.
1. Because its suppression was a mistake. So grave a mistake cannot be corrected too soon. An unwarrantable liberty has been taken; the path of humility is to retrace our steps.
2. Because thereby serious evil may be averted. Men are saying to-day that "Y" was a mere tribal name, and are suggesting that "Y" Himself was but a local deity. As against this, only let The Name be boldly and uniformly printed, and the humblest Sunday School teacher will be able to show the groundlessness of the assertion.
3. Because solid advantage may be counted upon as certain to follow the restoration. Even if the meaning of The Name should not disclose itself, the word itself would gradually gather about it the fitting associations--and that would be a gain; and godly readers would be put on quest--and that would be further gain; and if the true significance of the Tetragrammaton should be brought to light, there would be a trained constituency to whom appeal could be made--and that would be a yet greater gain.
A PLAUSIBLE OBJECTION ANSWERED-
A plausible argument in favour of leaving The Name veiled, as it is now, may be based upon its concealment by the Septuagint. The plea takes the following form. The Septuagint conceals the Tetragrammaton under the common title Kurios, "Lord." Jesus used that version as it stood, notably in citing Psalm cx. 1. See Mat. xxii 41-45
Therefore what was good enough for Him should be good enough for us.
Answer First: Jesus Christ was not a scribe or a literary critic; His mission was much higher.
Answer Second: Jesus had to plead his Messiahship at the bar of the Scriptures as then current; and any criticism by Him of the nation's Sacred Documents might have placed a needless obstacle in the people's path.
We thus conclude that the objection may and should be set aside as inconclusive, and so fall back on the reasons given why the Divine Name should be suffered uniformly to appear.
B. In What Form?
1. Why not in the form "Jehovah"? Is that not euphonious? It is, without question. Is it not widely used? It is, and may still be freely employed to assist through a period of transition. But is it not hallowed and endeared by many a beautiful hymn and many a pious memory? Without doubt; and therefore it is with reluctance that it is here declined. But why is it not accepted? There it is--familiar, acceptable, ready for adoption. The reason is, that it is too heavily burdened with merited critical condemnation--as modern, as a compromise, as a "mongrel" word, "hybrid," "fantastic," "monstrous." The facts have only to be known to justify this verdict, and to vindicate the propriety of not employing it in a new and independent translation. What are the facts? And first as to age. "The pronunciation Jehovah was unknown until 1520, when it was introduced by Galatinus; but was contested by Le Mercier, J. Drusius, and L. Capellus, as against grammatical and historical propriety."
Next, as to formation. "Erroneously written and pronounced Jehovah, which is merely a combination of the sacred Tetragrammaton and the vowels in the Hebrew word for Lord, substituted by the Jews for J H V H because they shrank from pronouncing The Name, owing to an old misconception of the two passages, Ex. xx, 7 and Lev. xxiv. 16. . . . To give the name J H V H the vowels of the word for Lord (Heb. Adonai) and pronounce it Jehovah, is about as hybrid a combination as it would be to spell the name Germany with the vowels in the name Portugal--viz., Gormuna. The monstrous combination Jehovah is not older than about 1520 A.D." From this we may gather that the Jewish scribes are not responsible for the "hybrid" combination. They intentionally wrote alien vowels--not for combination with the sacred consonants, but for the purpose of cautioning the Jewish reader to enunciate a totally different word, viz., some other familiar name of the Most High.
2. The form "Yahweh" is here adopted as practically the best. The only competing form would be "Yehweh," differing, it will be observed, only in a single vowel--"e" for "a" in the first syllable. But even this difference vanishes on examination. It is true that "Yehweh" is intended to suggest the derivation of the noun from the simple (Kal) conjugation of the verb, and that some scholars take "Yahweh" as indicating a formation from the causative (Hiphil) conjugation; but, since other scholars (presumably because of the aspirate h) regard "Yahweh" itself as consistent with a Kal formation, thereby leaving us free to accept the spelling "Yahweh" without prejudging the question of the precise line of derivation from the admitted root hâyâh, we may very well accept the spelling now widely preferred by scholars, and write the name--"Yahweh."
3. The exact pronunciation claims a word to itself. "The true pronunciation seems to have been Yahwè (or Iahway, the initial I = y, as n Iachimo). The final e should be pronounced like the French ê, or the English e in there, and the first h sounded as an aspirate. The accent should be on the final syllable." This statement gives rise to a question of rhythm, which is sure sooner or later to make itself felt. We are so used to the three syllables of the forms "Jehovah," with its delightfully varied vowels, that we shrink back dismayed in anticipation of the disturbing effect on our Psalmody of the substitution of Yahweh´ for Jehóvah. Our apprehensions may be dismissed. The readjustment is mainly the business of our hymn--writers; and if it should prove literally true, that "new mercies" shall "new songs" demand, which shall enshrine a new accent in a new rhythm, then we may rest assured that sanctified genius and enthusiasm will prove equal to the occasion. The Translator of THE EMPHASISED BIBLE has in his own humble province recast a good many lines in his rendering of "The Psalms" in consideration of the modified rhythm now required. As for the rest, it may with confidence be counted upon that increasing familiarisation and the silent growth of hallowed memories will ultimately render thrice welcome what was at first so strange.
III.--THE NAME EXPLAINED.
1. It certainly appears to be explained in Exodus iii. 14. It does not follow that the statements there made are rightly understood; nor can any compelling reason be assigned why a translator should be ready to expound everything which he has to represent in English. Nevertheless, the correct rendering of the above passage is so connected with the meaning of The Name, that, were it not for special reasons, the attempt now to be made might not have provoked the charge of presumption. As it is, the reproach of rashness cannot easily be escaped.
2. Confessedly it is very discouraging to find the editor of the Polychrome Bible declaring bluntly: "The meaning of J H V H is uncertain." That it is uncertain would appear to be the natural conclusion deducible from the varieties of meaning summed up in the Oxford Gesenius under the name "Yahweh."
3. As against this discouragement it may be considered whether the Old Testament does not strongly embolden us to hope that greater success and greater unanimity may yet be attained. Is not a hidden name almost a contradiction in terms? Does not "name" in the Bible very widely imply revelation? Men's names are throughout the Scriptures fraught with significance, enshrining historical incidents, biographical reminiscences, and so forth; and why should the Name of the Ever-Blessed be an exception to this rule? Does not the Almighty Himself employ this Name of His as though it had in it some self--evident force and fitness to reveal His nature and unfold His ways? His Name is continually adduced by Himself as His reason for what He does and what He commands "For I am Yahweh." Israel and the nations are placed under discipline, says the Divine Speaker, "that they may know that I am Yahweh." Is it not probable, then, that His Name was intended to be understood? Thus encouraged, we proceed; only requesting that the exposition which follows may be regarded as--
4. An Individual Opinion respectfully submitted.
(a) The conclusion formed may be thus expressed: The Name itself signifies, "He who becometh"; and the formula by which that significance is sustained and which is rendered in the Authorised Version "I am that I am," expresses the sense, "I will become whatsoever I please"; or, as more exactly indicating the idiom involved, "I will become whatsoever I may become." We amplify the "may," and more freely suggest the natural latitude which the idiom claims, by saying "Whatsoever I will, may, or can become."
(b) The reasons for this conclusion are two:
FIRST, that it gives the simplest, most obvious, most direct force to the derivation of The Name itself, as generally admitted. Yahweh is almost always regarded as the third person, singular, masculine, imperfect tense, from the root hawah, an old form of the root hayah. The one meaning of hayah is "become." So that the force of Yahweh thus derived, as a verb, would be "He will become"; or, as expressive of use and wont, "He becometh." Then, passing into use as a noun, it is--"He who becometh," "The Becoming One." That is precisely how any other Hebrew name would be formed and would yield up its inherent significance. Thus viewed, its human-like simplicity would be its great recommendation. If the Eternal would speak to man so as to be understood, we seem compelled to expect that He will speak after the manner of men. And if after the manner of men He pleases to take and bear a Name, it would seem the very perfection of condescension that His Name should be formed after the manner of men's names.
SECOND, the sense of the formula given above is very simply and idiomatically obtained. The formula itself is 'ehyeh 'asher 'ehyeh, in which it should be noted that the verb 'ehyeh, "I will become," runs forward into a reduplication of itself; for it is that which constitutes the idiom. As a mere repetition, the assertion would be unmeaning. To escape this we must resort to mystery or imagination or--idiom. How if the mystery it-self is imaginary; and where is imagination to end? how is it to be reduced to any trusty significance? Would it not be more humble and childlike to be prepared to find that the All-wise and All-loving is simply addressing us in an idiom of our own? We have many such idiomatic formulae even in English "I will speak what I will speak," and the like. Only, after the manner of our tongue, we avoid the semblance of meaningless repetition by emphasising the auxiliary verb: "I will speak what I will speak"--my mind is made up; or "I will speak what I can, may, must speak"--according to need and opportunity. Now, in Hebrew, the future (imperfect, or incipient) tense (the one used here) is freely employed to express mood; in other words, to convey those nicer shades of thought which in English are conveyed by such helping words as "will," "can," "may," "could," "would," "might," "must." The only question is whether we can assure ourselves that we are not acting fancifully in resorting to that principle of interpretation in the important statement before us. Have we any examples of such an idiom finding place where, as in Exo. iii. 14, a word is folded back upon itself? As a matter of fact, we have in the Old Testament at least three examples in which the recognition of this simple idiom brings out an excellent sense, and in which the Authorised Version leads the way (followed by the Revised) in so expressing the sense.
EXAMPLE I.--1 Samuel xxiii. 13, A.V. and R.V.: "And they went whithersever they could go." Heb. "wayyithhallku ba'asher yithhallaku." Freely: "And they wandered wheresoever they could, would, or might wander." The repetition is there, and the idiom, and the clear sense of it.
EXAMPLE II.--2 Samuel xv. 20, A.V. and R.V.: "Seeing I go whither I may." Heb. "wu'ani hôlêk 'al 'asher 'ani hôlêk." Lit.: "And (or seeing) I am going whither I am going." Again the repetition, again the idiom, again the fit sense thereby conveyed.
EXAMPLE III.--2 Kings viii. 1, A.V. and R.V.: "And sojourn wheresoever thou canst sojourn." Heb.: "wguri ba'asher thaguri." In the first passage the auxiliary is "could"; in the second, "may"; in the third, "canst." Idiom is recognised in all, and through it the meaning is seized and well expressed.
We thus gain all needful countenance for the idiomatic explication of Exo. iii. 14: "I will become whatsoever I will--may--can--become."
The only difficulty is to suggest the suitable latitude, without multiplying words and without violating any known characteristic of the Speaker. Perhaps the best word on this momentous occasion is: "what I please," since we know that the Divine resources are infinite, and that God will please to become to His people only what is wisest and best. Thus viewed, the formula becomes a most gracious promise; the Divine capacity of adaptation to any circumstances any difficulties, any necessities that may arise, becomes a veritable bank of faith to such as love God and keep His commandments. The formula is a promise, the promise is concentrated in a Name The Name is at once a revelation, a memorial, a pledge.
To this Name, God will ever be faithful; of it He will never be ashamed; by it He may ever be truthfully proclaimed and gratefully praised!
"This is my name to times age--abiding,
And this my memorial to generation after generation.
Praise ye Yah,
For good´ is Yahweh,
Sing praises to his name, For it is sweet.
Praise Yahweh all ye nations,
Laud him, all of ye tribes of men;
For his Loving kindness has prevailed over us,
And the faithfulness of Yahweh is to times age abiding.
Praise ye Yah."
5. Whether the foregoing explanation is ever likely to be generally accepted or not, one thing appears to be more and more certain the more the evidence is considered, that the name Yahweh has some inherent meaning of great force and graciousness; at the very least a significance of sufficient peculiarity to make it more fitting to be employed on some occasions than on others. This conclusion, which on its own merits will scarcely be denied, invests the matter with a literary interest which it will be fair not to forget. It may deliver the most open-minded critic from a too ready resort to documentary hypotheses to account for the presence or absence of The Name in or from some verses, sections, and books.
The use of previous documents may go some way to account for the appearance and disappearance of that Name; but internal fitness to be avoided or employed may be an equally feasible explanation. Leaving aside the interesting question whether the sudden appearance of the name Yahweh in combination with Elohim in Genesis ii. may not owe its presence to the tenure of the new section which commences at verse 4, in view of Man's coining upon the scene, there are some examples of the presence and absence of The Name to which any documentary hypothesis would appear to be altogether alien. For instance, is it not indicative of what we may call changed moral atmosphere that the prologue of the Book of Job (chapters I. and ii.) and the epilogue (chapters xxxviii.--xlii.) should be replete with the especially gracious proper name "Y," whereas throughout the whole of the doubting, questioning, arguing portion of the Book The Name should occur only once, chapter xii. 9, and then with uncertain attestation? It appears to be equally indicative of a most delicate sense of fitness, that, whereas The Name is employed on an average nearly once in each of the eight-versed sections of Psalm cxix. - a Psalm pervaded by the atmosphere of sustained communion with Yahweh--the one exception, in which a less sacred divine name is used is the single instance in which the Psalmist's mind comes into contact with the colder air of disloyalty to the Gracious Being whom he himself delighted to worship:--
"Depart from me ye evil--doers,
That I may observe the commandments of my God."
It is with a feeling of lively satisfaction that the materials for judgment concerning all such peculiarities of sacred usage are now clearly set forth in the pages of THE EMPHASISED BIBLE.
Joseph Bryant Rotherham
Conclusion and Recommendation
So, now you have read Rotherham's explanation of why he translated the sacred name as Yahweh instead of following man's tradition of replacing God's name with the title LORD.
I suggest that you try The Emphasized Bible by Joseph Rotherham. The Emphasized Bible transliterates the tetragrammaton as Yahweh instead of replacing it with "LORD". This translation is also a very unique and unusual translation in other important ways. The grammar of the original languages of the Bible indicated emphasis by position, repetition and particles. Rotherham used a unique marking system to show which words imparted emphasis in the original languages.
- "||By faith|| |Rahab the harlot| perished not with them who refused to yield, |she having welcomed the spies with peace|." Hebrews 11:31
The single bars in |Rahab the harlot| indicate slight stress. The double bars in ||By faith|| call for more stress. If you read the same verse in other Bibles, you will find basically the same words, but without the emphasis. The emphasis doesn't come through in the English translations. The meaning is received much more clearly and quickly for me in Rotherham.
Rotherham also uses indentations to reveal poetic parallelism and logical train of thought. One can quickly see a thought within a thought in Rotherham's translation.
"And they shall call thee--
The city of Yahweh,
The Zion of the Holy One of Israel"
Unfortunately, I have found that Kindle and online versions of this Bible do not have the special marks or indentations. Until this changes, you will need acquire the hard copy version to benefit from the special features.
There are many passages which I can't understand unless I read them in the Emphasized Bible.
In adddition to The Emphasized Bible, you could read the Proper Name Version of the King James Bible, The New Jerusalem Bible or the World English Bible. They all render the name of four letters as Yahweh. The World English Bible is a language update of the American Standard Version of the Holy Bible first published in 1901. The WEB is in the open domain, so it is free from copyright restrictions. Therefore, It can be distributed without having to pay royalties. The Proper Name Version of the King James Bible renders the name Jesus as it was pronounced in Hebrew (Yahshua). It has also updated the KJV to modern English.
It is helpful to read from more than one version. The purpose of scripture is to draw men into fellowship with Yahweh, with Yahshua. So, if reading from one version doesn't draw you into prayer, try reading that passage in another version. Scripture is God talking to us. As we read, we should respond... and talk to Him, with praise, confessions, requests and thanksgiving!