Have you ever met someone, for the first time, and upon hearing their name found yourself in a state of disbelief or confusion? Maybe they looked a certain way and the name they bore didn’t quite match your mind’s expectations. Maybe an acquaintance you’d met on more than one occasion began to become a more familiar friend and upon your getting more accustomed to their personality you catch yourself thinking, “He/She doesn’t act much like a Herald/Samantha.”
Whether we wish to admit it or not, our names get linked in with our mind’s stereotyping of people. Why is that, you may ask? I believe that it’s due to the fact that names have meanings. They aren’t just empty sounds; devoid of significance. You see, in spite of all the attempts being made to make western culture “politically correct,” many cultures still name their children based on either the child’s perceived personality or based on the character they hope to see in the child later on in life. As we have read in Article 1, God’s Hebrew names all have deep significance. However, the name “Jehovah” has revealed its self as an enigma. Allow me to explain.
It has always been my understanding that the names “Jehovah” and “Yahweh” were both the same. Each has been understood by many to be Hebrew for the name God disclosed to Moses in Exodus 3:13-14, the name “I AM,” but that may not be so true after all.
Recall, if you will, that Hebrew names are sentences of sorts. “Yah” would be literally translated into English as the pronoun “He,” and “weh” would translate as “being.” So, literally the name Yahweh means “He Being” or the more familiar “I AM.” Now, where the name “Jehovah” becomes a puzzlement is in the fact that the letter “j” doesn’t exist in the Hebrew language. In fact, it didn’t even exist in the English language officially until about 500 years ago. Crazy stuff, this whole study of languages.
So, how did we come to add the letter “j” into our alphabet? Well, it began with the Germans making the Hebraic “ya” sound as a Germanic “ja” sound. We would say today that the “y” was transliterated into a “j,” but the actual letter came about when English scribes began to morph the Latin letters “i” and “y” into one character. The letter “i,” in both Latin and Old English, was a consonant and a vowel and when it was coupled with the letters “a” or “e” it created the sound we now recognize as the soft “g” sound or phonetic “ja” sound. As I understand it, the letter “j” was the last character added to the English alphabet, and was used officially in an English publication in the year 1634.
You see, this one letter — the letter “j” — affects the meaning of Jehovah’s name, because there is no letter “j” in the Hebrew language. So, since there is no letter “j” in the Hebrew language, it stands to reason that a mispronunciation seems to have taken place concerning Elohim’s most commonly used name. And if “Jehovah” has been mistranslated, then this name in English would appear to rightly mean “He Ruins,” or “He Destroys,” but we know from Scripture that God doesn’t cause ruin or destruction to anyone but Satan and his followers (Psalms 9:6, 52:5; Proverbs 10:29, 21:12), and God’s characteristics listed in Galations chapter 5, verses 22-23, record neither of these traits.
So, does “Jehovah” mean something negative about God or does it mean “I AM”? Is the name “Jehovah” appropriate for us to use when calling upon the Almighty, or not? I honestly can’t say one way or the other, at this point, as there are legitimate arguments for both views, but I will pose this thought.
Say you meet someone from a foreign country who has a very complicated pronunciation connected to his or her name. You want so badly to do this person a service, and show them respect, by correctly saying their name and yet time-and-time again you botch it up. Maybe their name has a marvelous meaning behind it and yet every time you say their name your phonetic bumbling transliterates that majestic name into something silly or maybe even disrespectful. You feel horrible for having done so, and expect this foreign acquaintance to chastise you at any moment for your mistake. Instead, however, he or she graciously smiles — possibly gives you a tender correction — and proceeds to offer you a more simplistic way to say his or her name. I believe this is what God does with us.
God knows what is in our hearts and knows how difficult foreign languages are for most of us who aren’t the scholarly type. Our Creator understands about mistranslating one word from one language into the next. God understands about varying alphabets and characters. The Father understands how easy it is for our imperfect minds to make an incorrect transliteration of a sound, or a letter, or a word.
I also believe that when we make these mistakes God smiles down at us and responds to us just as if we had called out His name in perfect Hebrew; just as if we spoke with a keen understanding of what we were saying. You see, God is not as concerned with us uttering correct phonetic sounds or pronouncing words perfectly. No, the Father’s concerned over whether or not our heart is right in its intention; whether or not our attitude of worship towards Him is pure. The Holy Spirit, God’s special intercessor, takes our imperfect sounds/words and makes them perfectly clear to the Father of life (Romans 8:26-27) and also interprets for us God’s own words.
Dr. Michael J. Svigel (Assistant Professor of Theological Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary), in a recent conversation with Jason Ministries, said this about the controversy surrounding the name “Jehovah.” Dr. Svigel said, “I wouldn’t worry about it too much. ‘Jehovah’ was originally pronounced ‘Yahova.’ It means ‘the One who IS’ or ‘the self-existing One,’ related to the verb ‘to be,’ hence, ‘I AM’ or ‘I AM the One who IS.’” Ponder that meaning for a moment — “I AM the One who IS.” Now there’s a name worthy of our praise — selah!
His Name Is . . . by J. Scott Harden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://jasonmin.wordpress.com/.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.
The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.
Dallas Theological Seminary is located in Dallas, Texas, at 3909 Swiss Ave. (75204). For more information please visit them online at: http://www.dts.edu/
If your church or organization would like to talk with J. Scott Harden about a speaking engagement, or a writing project, please get in touch with Mr. Harden through Jason Ministries‘ Twitter account or Facebook page.
Simply wish to say your article is astounding. The clearness of your publication is just cool and I can assume you are a professional on this subject. With your permission allow me to grab your RSS feed to keep up to date with imminent post. Thanks 1,000,000 and please carry on the gratifying work.
Thank you, for your kind words. You are welcome to my RSS feed. Again, thank you.
I know this is off topic but I’m looking into starting my own blog and was wondering what all is needed to get set up? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny? I’m not very web smart so I’m not 100% positive. Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
Actually, it’s not hard and it doesn’t have to cost anything. WordPress.Com has a variety of options for you to choose from and they even offer a free option. So, decide your topic of choice to write on. Research blog sites to find what fits you best, and have at it. 🙂 Thanks for visiting Jason Ministries, too.
You have observed some very interesting points! P.S.: Nice site.
Thank you; please visit us, again.
This was a great read. It helped me get the day started on the right foot by thinking about God’s glory. Thanks!
Thank you, Dave. Please visit us again, soon, and keep living for The One Who IS. 🙂
Great read! Isn’t it wonderful to know, no matter what, God knows our intent even in saying HIS name! Thank you!
Yes, it truly is. 🙂 Thank you for visiting. Stop by again.
Great post at Article 2 Jason Ministries Â®. I was checking continuously this blog and I am impressed! Extremely helpful information specially the last part 🙂 I care for such info much. I was looking for this particular information for a very long time. Thank you and best of luck.
Article 2 Jason Ministries Â® Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wished to say that I’ve really enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. In any case I will be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!
Thank you, and yes there will be more very soon. 🙂
I think it’s awesome you acknowledge God has a name. God, Lord and Almighty are just titles. My name is pronounced differently in many countries but who cares, it’s my name 🙂
Yes, Elohim has many names that teach us something new and unique about Him. It’s a marvelous thing to know God by name. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the post. 🙂 Come visit again, as often as you’d like.
Jason, that was an excellent article!
Thanks, Dad. 🙂