YHVH and the Enigma of the Vowels


by Queruvim

This article will demonstrate that God’s name is still pronounced very similar to the pronunciation used in the time of ancient Israel. We will see that the consonants of God’s name have vowel sounds, thus breaking with the assumption that “there is no way of knowing the original pronunciation” of God’s name. More information about this issue I am pleased to share with everyone.

Is it possible to pronounce the divine name in the same way it was pronounced in ancient Israel? A commonly repeated claim is that genuine vowels are not known. Inspired Bible writers never actually used vowels when writing the text of the Hebrew Bible (called OT ). The text was abjad, so devoid of “vowels”. These came into existence some 500 years after Christ. The correct is to ask “what vowel sounds” were used by the ancient servants of God. Do we have a satisfying and well – founded answer on this?

St. Peter’s Basilica – Tomb of Pope Clemente XIII

Maimonides whose real name was  Moshe ben Maimon also called Rambam ( הרמב”ם ),   in his writings  Guide of the Perplexed  [ 1 ] written in 1190, concluded that the Name of God was pronounced without any difficulty, even if the text was abjade . How is this possible? A look at the Talmud gives us a light on it. Written by Jews who lived between the first century and the third century AD, the Talmud in some places inform the Jews to not pronounce the name “as it is written” or “according to its letters.” And there was no vowels in the Hebrew text of the time. Maimonides said that the name was easily pronounced “according to its letters.”

” No other name is called   shem ha-meforash [2] except this Tetragrammaton, which is written but not pronounced according to its letters. “Guide of the Perplexed Maimonides in Chapter 61 .

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He also knew that some Jews believed in an almost magical influence of letters or accurate pronunciation of the divine names, but he informed his readers against practices such as pure invention or madness. The remarkable aspect of his argument lies in the fact that he managed to avoid controversy on a subject so unnecessary. He said, in fact, that in fact it was only the true worship that was lost, not the authentic pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton, because this has always been possible , “according to their letters.” To sustain this basic idea (that true worship is more important than the actual pronunciation), he cited Sota 38a to prove that this name is the essence of God and that is the reason for not abusing it, so he finally quoted numbers 6: 

Interestingly, Judah Halevi , another Jewish scholar, presented almost the same arguments in his book The Kuzari published a few years earlier, in 1140. He wrote that the main difference between the God of Abraham and the God of Aristotle was the Tetragrammaton (Kuzari IV: 16). He also proved that this name was the personal name of God (ibid IV: 1). To prove again that the meaning of the name was important, not the pronunciation, he cited Exodus 5: 2, where Pharaoh asked מִי יְהוָה “Who is Jehovah” He referred not the pronunciation, but the authority of this name (idem IV: 15 ). He finally explained that the letters of the Tetragrammaton have the remarkable property of being matres lectionis [ 3 , ie the vowel sound pronunciation is not lost, as they were present in the sound of consonants. The ancient Hebrew did not have one vowel system. With the need to distinguish certain words, certain consonants were used as vowels indicators. These are known as consonants matres lectionis (read mothers).

These two scholars have so harmonious and convergent information that marked a turning point in the history of the name. However, the expression “pronounced according to your letters,” which quoted Maimonides (vowel letters as Judah Halevi explained) is strictly accurate only in Hebrew. 

The historian of the 1st century Flavio Josefo (37-10), who knew the priesthood at the time, explained that when the Romans attacked the Temple, the Jews invoked the terrifying name of God (The Jewish War V: 438) he wrote about this name:

“The high priest had on his head a tiara embroidered fine linen with a purple edge, and surrounded by other gold crown which highlighted in relief the sacred letters, these are four other members .” (The Jewish War V: 235)

It is more than obvious that the “Holy Scriptures” mentioned by Josephus, were not members, but characters paleo Hebrew consonant, which when pronounced had the sound of four members. Consonants were presenting the vowel sound or lectionis mater or “ reading mom In Hebrew consonants Y , W , H , ( י ו ה) are used exactly as the vowels I and, the, the. 

 

What evidence is there that the pre Masoretic Hebrew was read as lectionis matres ?

In recent years, with the publication of manuscripts in the region   of Qumran , it became clear after further study of the Hebrew language,  in the first century Yod as vowel was used only to indicate the sounds I and E. The  Waw had only the sounds of Ô and U, and end was used to represent the sound of A. in addition, the was used as vowel only at the end of words, and never among them (but between the two vowels has the sound of a light E ). Therefore, to read the tetragrammaton abjade  YHWH as four other members, should read IHÔA which is ieoa.

Greg Stafford, independent scholar and author of “Jehovah’s Witnesses Defended,” once questioned the validity of lectionis mater in the text of the Hebrew Bible. He ruled out the existence of implied vowels in reading the consonantal text. But there is abundant material proving the assertion of other scholars on this subject. (See  Studies in Hebrew and Aramaic Orthography in: Biblical and Judaic Studies vol.2 Indiana University of California in 1992 Ed pp 137-170.).

There is a full study of Assyrian-Aramaic bilingual inscriptions in the work  Etudes Assyriologiques Cahier 1982 [ 5 ]  which shows that p or a long time three members were used to represent vowel sounds, Waw for û, Yod to î, and He  for final The. For example, many words were read “according to their natural reading”:

 writing  Reading    writing  Reading
 T BH  T tab    BTNWR <  BaTaNUR
 TY T B  IT T ab    YGTZR  YiGTiZaR
 DMWT ‘  DaMUTa ‘    ‘DQWR  ‘aDaQUR
 GWGL  GUGaL    YLQ H  YiLQa H
 ‘LYM  ‘Alim    NHR  Nahar
 TSLWTH  TaSLUTA    LMT  LAMAT
 WLKBR <  WaLaKaBaR    RHMN  Rahman

We can confirm the reliability of mater lectionis reading  Gogel, The Grammar of Epigraphic Hebrew , [ 4 ] pages 59-60, where it is observed that the Heh final (the last letter of the Tetragrammaton one h) can represent a long in Hebrew epigraphy, namely, in Hebrew found in ancient inscriptions. 

 

Notice how the names are read “according to their letters” in the table below produced by the scholar Gérard Gertoux

 

SECOND  YOUR CONSONANTS YOUR LETTERS The SEPTUAGINT  The Masoretes
 1 Cr. 3: 5  Yrwlym  Irušalim  Ierousalem  Yerušalaïm
 Ge. 29:35  Yhwdh  Ihuda  Iouda  Yehudah
 Ge. 25:19  ‘brhm  ‘Abaraham  Abraam  ‘Abraham
 Ge. 25:19  Ysàq  Isaàaq  Isaak  Yisàaq
 Jer. 30:18  Y’qwb  I’aqub  Iakob  Ya’aqôb
 2 Cr. 27: 1  Yrwšh  Iruša  Iérousa  Yerušah
 Ge. 46:17  Yšwh  Isua  Iésoua  Yišwah
 1 Cr. 2:38  Yhw ‘  Ihu ‘  Ièou  Yehu ‘
 Ge. 3:14  Yhwh  Ihua  (Kurios)  (Adonoy)

Additional support to the pronunciation of the name as Yehovah appears in the Talmud  where the Tetragrammaton is called Shem Hamephorash meaning “the name distinctly read” or “read the name according to your letters” (Sifre Numbers 6: 23-27) מְפֹרָשׁ  Hamephorash means “distinctly [read]” or “separately [read]” in Hebrew. The initial sense of “read distinctly” is “word for word” or “letter by letter” (see Comment of Gesenius 6567 n ° 2), meaning “interpreted” or “translated” is a further meaning. Although some Kabbalists claim that the word mephorash meant “hidden”, is easily find the correct meaning of the word in the Bible (Nehemiah 8: 8; Ezra 4:18).

The phrase “to pronounce the Name according to its letters” means to pronounce the name as it is written, or according to the sound of his lyrics, which is different to spell a name according to your letters. In fact, the Jews were allowed to spell the name YHWH according to his lyrics (as the Talmud did himself), that is, in Hebrew Yod, He, Waw, He (or Y, M, W, H in Portuguese) ; On the other hand, it was forbidden to pronounce it according to these same letters. 

In the first Jewish translation in French (1836-1852), the Jewish translator Samuel Cahen systematically used the name Iehovah . He defended his choice due to the work of the famous German grammarian W. Gesenius. The Jewish professor JH Levy explained why he preferred the way Y’howah instead of Yahweh , in his article published in 1903 in The Jewish Quarterly Review .

 

Note that said George Buchanan, professor emeritus at Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, DC, USA: 

In ancient times, parents often give their children the names of their deities. This means that the children pronounced the names as if pronouncing the name of the deity. The Tetragrammaton was included in the names of people, and they always wore the middle vowel . “He added:

This [Jehovah] is the correct pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton, as can be seen clearly in the pronunciation of proper names in the first Testament (PT), poems, Aramaic documents from the 5th century Greek translations of the name in the Dead Sea Scroll and Parents the Church . “ ( George Wesley Buchanan,” The Tower of Siloam, ”  The Expository Times  2003; 115: 37, pp 40, 41. )

 

Note some examples of theophoric names that begin with the first three consonants of the Tetragrammaton: Yeho iakim, Yeho nathan, Yeho Shaphat, Yeho ash, Yeho ram, Yeho IADA, Yeho iarib, among others. (About theophoric names read this article )

 

ancient Egyptian evidence supports the pronunciation “Jehovah”

The earliest archaeological evidence supports the “Jehovah” pronunciation in the Temple of Amun in Soleb (Sudan) were found sculptures of the Pharaoh Amenhotep III temple. These have been dated circa 1382-1344 BCE (reads Before our Common Era). This is an Egyptian hieroglyph with the oldest inscription of God’s Name on record in archeology. Beside a reconstituted sculpture illustration.

 

“Land of the Bedouins of Yehua [w ]”

 

See the article  God’s name, Jehovah, in an Egyptian temple for details

Professor Gerard Gertoux refers in his book to what Maimonides wrote, and says:

“This name YHWH is read without difficulty because it is pronounced HOW IS WRITTEN, or according to your LETTERS as the Talmud.”

It then displays a long study of the pronunciation of names, and draws the conclusion that the Divine Name is pronounced “I-Eh-oU-Ah”. He writes: “The name Yahweh (which is BARBARISM) was only created to battle the real name Jehovah” (The Name of God … its history).

 

 

And Y Name and hw will H Hebrew text in a hybrid fashion from SH and m the ‘?

Scholars Jouon and Muraoka said that the most common form of God’s name Yehwáh in the Masoretic texts (Codex Leningrad Codex Aleppo among others), is due to overlap of the vowels qere Shema’ the Tetragrammaton. (Shema’ is Aramaic for “Name”) Why the Jews would use one vocalization from the Aramaic of which usually believed to employ a vocalization of the Hebrew’Adonay own and Elohim? I am not convinced of this statement, since theophoric employ names prefixed  Yeho and vocally are indisputable and no one claims the Sheva in these cases are from the overlap of Shema’ vowels. Furthermore, after the first letter M Name of God a He’ in Hebrew we have a Holem or vowel with the sound in harmony with lectionis mater , it would be inappropriate if the vowels were an “overlay” or a form “hybrid” that entered shema’. I therefore that as YEHOVAH is not a hybrid form of the overlay from ‘Adonay with tetragramma, either Yehváh is an overlap of the word shema’ao tetragramma. I hope the Scholars to post comments on this page so we can get somewhere in this matter. After all, there is an overlap or not the Tetragrammaton in the case of Yehwáh commonly found in the Masoretic text? it would be inappropriate if the vowels were an “overlay” or a form “hybrid” that entered shema’. I therefore that as YEHOVAH is not a hybrid form of the overlay from ‘Adonay with tetragramma, either Yehváh is an overlap of the word shema’ao tetragramma. I hope the Scholars to post comments on this page so we can get somewhere in this matter. After all, there is an overlap or not the Tetragrammaton in the case of Yehwáh commonly found in the Masoretic text? it would be inappropriate if the vowels were an “overlay” or a form “hybrid” that entered shema’. I therefore that as YEHOVAH is not a hybrid form of the overlay from ‘Adonay with tetragramma, either Yehváh is an overlap of the word shema’ao tetragramma. I hope the Scholars to post comments on this page so we can get somewhere in this matter. After all, there is an overlap or not the Tetragrammaton in the case of Yehwáh commonly found in the Masoretic text? that as YEHOVAH is not a hybrid form of the overlay from ‘Adonay with tetragramma, either Yehváh is an overlap of the word shema’ao tetragramma. I hope the Scholars to post comments on this page so we can get somewhere in this matter. After all, there is an overlap or not the Tetragrammaton in the case of Yehwáh commonly found in the Masoretic text? that as YEHOVAH is not a hybrid form of the overlay from ‘Adonay with tetragramma, either Yehváh is an overlap of the word shema’ao tetragramma. I hope the Scholars to post comments on this page so we can get somewhere in this matter. After all, there is an overlap or not the Tetragrammaton in the case of Yehwáh commonly found in the Masoretic text?

own names ending with Waw Heh give us an important clue

In addition, all the names in the Hebrew Bible ended with a – wh are pronounced at the end and without exception for “go”. Examples: Alb ( . Gen. 36:40Eve, Hebrew hawwah ( Ge 4: 1. ) Ishwah ( . Gen. 46:17 ) Iwwah ( 2 Kings 19:13 ), Puwah ( Numbers 26:23 ) and Tiqwah ( 2 Kings 22:14 ). Theophoric names indicate that it is very likely that the name of God began with Yeho . Thus, since the end of proper names always end with the pronunciation “wah” have the form Yehovah or Jehovah, in Portuguese, as a correct representation of God’s name. Some have asked how do we reconcile this with the termination YAH present in some names. It happens that the theophoric names that use God’s name using either the Yeho prefix or suffix Yah. Therefore, we can find yah short as several suffix such names such as Zechariah, Zephaniah, Obadiah etc. Does not refer to the initials of the name vowels but the abbreviation of the name or Yah or as we read in Portuguese, Jah, which is a short poetic form of Jehovah, the name of the Most High God. ( Ex 15: 1, 2 ) It happens that the theophoric names that use God’s name using either the Yeho prefix or suffix Yah. Therefore, we can find yah short as several suffix such names such as Zechariah, Zephaniah, Obadiah etc. Does not refer to the initials of the name vowels but the abbreviation of the name or Yah or as we read in Portuguese, Jah, which is a short poetic form of Jehovah, the name of the Most High God. ( Ex 15: 1, 2 ) It happens that the theophoric names that use God’s name using either the Yeho prefix or suffix Yah. Therefore, we can find yah short as several suffix such names such as Zechariah, Zephaniah, Obadiah etc. Does not refer to the initials of the name vowels but the abbreviation of the name or Yah or as we read in Portuguese, Jah, which is a short poetic form of Jehovah, the name of the Most High God. ( Ex 15: 1, 2

EUWI or Yahweh in Portuguese seems to be more a theological and nonphilological to pronounce the name of God.

The conclusion that we come to respect the original pronunciation of God’s name after this analysis?

  • The earliest archaeological evidence favors the pronunciation “Jehovah”. A brief inscription dating from the time of Amenophis III (about 1400 BC was found in Soleb), which is easy to decipher, and you can transcribe this sentence written in hieroglyphs: “t3 s3-sw-w yh N 3- W” this expression is vocalized in the conventional system “ta ‘sha’suw yehua’w” which may be translated as “land of the Bedouins of those yehua . ‘”

 

  • One of the three great representatives of Tradition Masoretic, the Masoretic Text of the Leningrad Codex or B19 features an ancient vocalization made by the Masoretes from the 5th century CE, where the name of God is represented  Yeh-WaH . Of the 165 times that occurs in Genesis 150 is vocalized  Yeh-Wah .

 

  • The occurrence of Mater lectionis indicates, as we consider in this article, that the Yod has sound Ypsilon, the Waw has the sound and end sound A. So we Yhowáh , as the correct way “according to their letters “. (Remembering that the words are usually marked on the final syllable in Hebrew without a morae  ). See   Ziony Zevit, Matres lectionis in Ancient Hebrew Epigraphs, David Noel Freedman, ed. (Cambridge, Mass .: American Schools of Oriental Research, 1980), pages 12-15

 

  • The theophoric names indicate no margin of doubt that the initials were Yeho. All theophoric names that start with YHW are vocalized Yeho,   without exception For example the name Jesus in Hebrew begins with the YH Hebrew consonants that reads Yeho , as is the case with most of the names that begin with YH. The name Jesus has God’s name, meaning “Jehovah is [the] salvation” or “Jehovah saves” Yeho shu`a . Those who insist that the Name of God is pronounced at the beginning something as Yaho ignore the phonetic indisputability such theophoric names. Forget that the name whose original pronunciation is considered lost or forgotten is the Name of God, namely the Tetragrammaton and not the other names, including theophoric names, which continued to be repeated in the oral tradition and in the synagogues every Saturday since the time of ancient Israel. Some go so far as to claim that is not pronounced the Hebrew as pronounced or the pronunciation of Hebrew “lost”. It may be that some accents and phonetic variations occurred over time, but say that “do not know” the original Hebrew pronunciation is overkill. Especially because we have Greek texts and other passages transliterating the Hebrew Bible, such as the Hexapla. Some argue that the name of God is associated with a verb and should be pronounced following this line. But such a statement is meaningless, because if so, Moses easily know what was the meaning of the name YHWH.

 

  • The termination Waw Heh in proper names  are always pronounced Váh. 

                        (יה וה )

  • The name is not a “joint Tetragrammaton with Adonay (See this article)

    What is evident in this mapping of the vocalization of the Tetragrammaton is that the “e” in the word  Y and hwah  is a  sheva  not a  Patah hateph , which occurs on the first syllable of the word ” Adonay “. In ” Adonay ” we have a  patah hatephHolem  and  qamets . (See figure below). Not a few scholars who recognize this. Freedman and O’Connor also Jouon Muraoka and respected authors of  The Grammar of Biblical Hebrew. George Wesley Buchanan also said that “this score played can not be used as evidence in one way or another.” ( George W. Buchanan,

    Hebrew (Strong’s # 3068)
    YEHOVAH
    יְהֹוָה
    Hebrew (Strong’s # 136)
    ADONAY
    אֲדֹנָי
    י Yod Y א Aleph glottal stop
    ְ  sheva simple AND ֲ Hataf patah THE
    ה He H ד Dalet D
    ֹ Holam O ֹ Holam O
    ו Vav V נ Nun N
    ָ Qamats THE ָ Qamats THE
    ה He H י Yod Y

 

  • Jewish scholarly authorities recognize that Yehovah is the genuine way to pronounce the name of God. For example, Rabbi Joseph Sitruk (1987-2008) said:

“The Ye.ho.váh name written with the Hebrew letters Yod, He, Vav, He is considered the true name of God.”

 

  • The historian of the 1st century Flavio Josefo (37-10) wrote about the letters of God’s name and said:

    “… these are four other members .” (The Jewish War V: 235)

 

  • We find the form “Jehovah” written  Ιεωά   in Greek texts  of the 2nd and 3rd centuries CE 

 The Grecised Hebrew text  ” εληιε Ιεωα ρουβα ” is interpreted to mean “my God  ieoa  is more powerful.” – ” La prononciation ‘Jehova’ du tétragramme ” OTS vol. 5, 1948, pp. 57, 58. [Papyrus  Greek CXXI ”  PISTIS SOPHIA”  ( the 3rd century .), The British Museum Library.]   

Pap_Greek_IEWA

Thus, all these points summarized above, support the vocalization of God’s name so that it is read “according to their letters,” namely, Jehovah , in Portuguese is maintained the basic vocalization that clearly identifies the God name Almighty, the Supreme Being, Jehovah.

For more information I suggest you read the following article to get rid of the ghost of the supposed impossibility of Jota letter. (J)

If the Hebrew has no letter J by several names have?

 

Grades

1 – (Part I chapters 61-64 ; To view English # )

2 – Meaning of  meforash

Brown-Driver-Briggs

I. [מָּרַשׁ] Word become distinct declare (Rear Hebrew separate).  Piel : separate, explaining therefore Aramaic מְּרַשׁ especially Pael ; Siríaco separate, distinguish, explain, compare Mandean in M 221). Qal  infinitive construct’לִפְרשׁ לָהֶם עַלמִּֿי י Leviticus 00:12 (P) declare distinctly to them.

3 – The ancient Hebrew did not have a vowel system. With the need to distinguish certain words, certain consonants were used as vowels indicators. These consonants are known as matres lectionis (read mothers;. Hebr אֵם קְרִיאָה ) .

4The Grammar of Hebrew Ephigraphic  by Sandra Landis Gogel

5 – A. Abou-Assaf, P. Bordreuil, AR Millard – La statue in Tell et son Fekherye inscription Assyro-araméenne bilingual. in: Etudes Assyriologiques Cahier No. 7, Paris 1982, Editions Recherche sur les civilizations. pp. 13-60

 

 

 

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