Significance of the Name
thought, a name is not an arbitrary
designation or random combination
of sounds. Names convey the nature and
essence of the named.
we often refer to a person's reputation
as his "good name." The
Jewish concept of a name is very similar
to that idea.
3:13-22: Moses asks God what His
"name" is. He is not asking
"what should I call you;", he
is asking "who are you; what are
you like; what have you done." This
is clear from G-d's response. G-d
replies that He is eternal, that He is
the G-d of our fathers, that He has seen
our affliction and will redeem us from
name represents the reputation of the
one named, a name should be treated with
respect. G-d's Names, in all of
their forms, should be treated with
enormous respect and reverence.
Names of G-d
not "the nameless G-d",
He has many names.
important is the four-letter Name
represented by the Hebrew letters
Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh (YHVH). It is often
referred to as the the Unutterable Name.
It's Hebrew root is Heh-Yod-Heh (to be),
and reflects G-d's existence is eternal.
In scripture, this Name is used when
discussing God's relationship to
humanity, and when emphasizing his
qualities of loving kindness and mercy.
It is frequently shortened to Yah (Yod-Heh),
Yahu or Yeho (Yod-Heh-Vav), especially
when used in combination with names or
phrases, as in Yehoshua (Joshua, meaning
"the Lord is my Salvation"),
Eliyahu (Elijah, meaning "my God is
the Lord"), and Halleluyah
("praise the Lord").
Name used for G-d in scripture is Elohim.
This Name is used in scripture when
emphasizing G-d's might, His creative
power, and his attributes of justice and
kingship. Variations include El, Eloha,
Elohai (my God) and Elohaynu (our God).
God is also
known as El Shaddai. This Name is
usually translated as "God
Almighty". According to
the Midrash, it means, "The
One who said enough or sufficient and
comes from the fact that when God
created the universe, it expanded until
He said "DAI!". The name
Shaddai is the one written on the
the Name of G-d
Jews do not
casually write any Name of God. This
does not come from the commandment not
to take the L-rd's Name in vain, as many
suppose. In Jewish thought, this
commandment refers solely to taking an
oath, prohibiting swearing by God's Name
falsely or frivolously (the word
translated "in vain" literally
means "for falsehood").
There is no
prohibition concerning writing the
Name of God; what is prohibited is
erasing or defacing the Name of
G-d. However, many Jews avoid writing
any Name of God casually because of the
risk that the written Name might later
be defaced, obliterated or destroyed
accidentally or by someone not knowing
commandment not to erase or deface the
name of God comes from Deut. 12:3.
There, the people are commanded that
when they take the promised land, they
should destroy all items related to the
idolatrous religions, and should destroy
the names of all local deities.
Immediately afterwards, the Hebrews are
commanded not to do the same to
Jew's avoid writing the Name by
substituting letters or syllables, for
example, writing "G-d".
the Name of G-d
the Torah prohibits pronouncing the Name
of God. Indeed, it is evident from
scripture that G-d's Name was pronounced
in normal worship and discussion. Many
common Hebrew names contain
"Yah" or "Yahu,"
part of God's four-letter Name. The Name
was pronounced as part of daily services
in the Temple.
confirms that there was no prohibition
against pronouncing The Name in ancient
times. In fact, the Mishnah recommends
using G-d's Name as a routine greeting
to a fellow Jew (Berakhot 9:5). However,
by the time of the Talmud,
it was the custom to use substitute
Names for God. Some rabbis
asserted that a person who pronounces
YHVH according to its letters (instead
of using a substitute) has no place in
to Come, and should be put to death.
Instead of pronouncing the four-letter
YHVH, "Adonai," is usually substituted.
Often "Ha-Shem" (lit. The
Name) is used.
rabbinical prohibition on pronunciation applies
only to the four-letter Name, Jews
customarily do not pronounce any of
God's many Names except in prayer
or study. The usual practice is to
substitute letters or syllables, so that
Adonai becomes Adoshem or Ha-Shem,
Elohaynu and Elohim become Elokaynu and
With the Temple
destroyed and the prohibition on
pronouncing The Name outside of the
Temple, pronunciation of the Name fell
into disuse. Scholars passed down
knowledge of the correct pronunciation
of YHVH for many generations, but
eventually the correct pronunciation was
lost, and we no longer know it with any
certainty. We do not know what vowels
were used, or even whether the Vav in
the Name was a vowel or a consonant.
Some religious scholars suggest that the
Name was pronounced "Yahweh,"
but others do not agree.
render the four-letter Name as
"Jehovah," but this
pronunciation is incorrect.
The word "Jehovah" comes from
the fact that ancient Jewish texts used
to put the vowels of the Name
"Adonai" (the usual substitute
for YHVH) under the consonants of YHVH
to remind people not to pronounce YHVH
as written. A sixteenth century German scribe, while transliterating
the Bible into Latin for the Pope, wrote
the Name out as it appeared in his
texts, with the consonants of YHVH and
the vowels of Adonai, and came up with
the word JeHoVaH. This incorrect
name has been widely circulated in
Christian churches, to the point it is
widely regarded by most to be the name
World Dictionary: College Edition
states (on pages 766-767 and pg. 1657):
n. [[modern transliteration of
the Tetragrammaton YHWH; the vowels
appear through arbitrary transference of
the vowel points of Adōnāi, my Lord: see
Yahweh]] God; (the) Lord
2Yah·weh or Yahwe
(yä’we, -wā) n. [[Heb,
hypothetical reconstruction of the
Tetragrammaton YHWH: first
component, ya, Yahu, god <
older Canaanite name]] God: a form of
the Hebrew name in the old testament:
... : also Yah've or Yah·veh
World Dictionary: College Edition
(4th Edition): pg. 766-767: Jehovah
Webster's New World
Dictionary: College Edition (4th
Edition): pg. 1657: