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“If we forgot the name of our God… God would surely search it out, for He knows the secrets of the heart.” Psalms 44:20–21 [21–22] (translated directly from the original Hebrew Text)
The implication of the above Scripture reference is that God "looks upon the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7) and judges based on our motives. Yes there are things which are fundamentally wrong. Those things are listed throughout Scripture. For instance Proverbs 16:16-19 clearly outlines things which are abominations to Him:
"These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren." (KJV)
So as we go forward, please accept that I am laying out what I have found to be true and accurate and I am not intending to judge anyone by presenting the information I have discovered regarding the Name of God and its' importance.
NOTE: Within the photos of this Blog, the pertinent information has been digitally enhanced to make it more clear. The originals do not contain the enhanced view.
This has been a LONG time coming, for me. The "Sacred Name" debate has ebbed and flowed over the years with periods of one "NAME" gaining notoriety for a while and then another for yet a while again and then debates begin again based on some new information introduced. I am not going to go into all the "this is why these names are all wrong and this name is THE NAME", so I hope that is not what you're expecting. I will clearly lay out the rather detailed information I have found most useful in understanding if/why it is important for us to know the Name of God, some of the overwhelmingly huge and increasing evidence of what the Name actually is, and what it means to modern Believers in the God of Israel, His Son Yeshua, and Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit).
Before we dive into this subject, it needs to be understood that in Scripture a name denotes the character of the individual. This is why there are so many "NAMES" listed for God - all but one of those are actually titles or terms of description. They are describing the vastness of His Nature. Within each "Name" is a facet of who He is and how we can relate to Him. However, there is One Name vastly different than all the others and we will be looking at that. As we will see God Himself gives us His one true "Name" in Exodus 3:14&15.
Yeshua/Jesus was certainly concerned, to some degree at least, with the people knowing the Name of God; as we'll see in this short video clip which illustrates His having taught them using a method that made it easier to remember:
Video 1 of 4
Before I go too far, let me fervently say that if you call Him by another Name (Yahweh perhaps) I am not implying you are calling out to "another God". The God of Avraham, Itzak, and Ya'akov has been identified by many names throughout Scripture. While we do not, as a whole, have absolutely conclusive evidence which proves beyond the shadow of doubt what YHVH/YHWH is when completed by the vowels, there are two pronunciations which seem to be the most widely researched and accepted. Some have said His Name to be Yahweh and used a once commonly held belief that the hard consonant "V" (a "vav" in Hebrew) is a later change from the Arabic softer "W" (waw) which had influenced Paleo-Hebrew. In researching this seemingly valid point, I discovered otherwise. This does not mean that the spelling YHWH was never used, only that even when it was it would likely have been pronounced by a large majority of Hebrew speakers as a "vav". This can be evidenced in a few places within Scripture itself by the same writer using both forms when spelling the same word. Add to that the fact that the softer sound of the "waw" was unique to Arabic in that timeframe, yet it is not impossible that some of the Hebrew speakers did indeed pronounce it as a "waw" and not a "vav"; they would however have been in the minority. Where this becomes evident is within a book of pronunciation which has preserved the Hebrew language and was used to recreate it from the many fragmented hybridizations of Hebrew from the many nations as Israelis returned home from diaspora even before the signing of it's charter as a recognized nation May 14,1948.
"Many scholars assume ancient Hebrew to be a corrupt form of Arabic and claim the Hebrew vav was pronounced the same as the Arabic letter waw. However, an 11th-century Jewish manual on pronunciation proves that the Jews of the Land of Israel traditionally pronounced vav as V (Ilan Eldar, "Torat Hakriah Bamikra", Jerusalem 1994, pages 65-66 [Hebrew]). This pronunciation tradition may date back to the time of Ezekiel, as can be seen, for example, from the word gav meaning, “back,” which is sometimes written with a vav and sometimes with a soft bet, indicating that both letters were pronounced V (Ezekiel 10:2; 23:35)."
Gordon, Nehemia: "Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence"
Something I want to add here is that a non-ordained rabbi friend (graduate of the Jerusalem Yeshiva) of mine from Ma'aleh Adumim, Israel attends a Yemenite Synagogue. He does so because their pronunciation is believed to be the oldest and most like ancient Israel. After exploring all of the oral history stories of the Yemenite Jews it is said they likely left Israel 2,300 years ago and then had to be rescued when the government of Yemen wanted them exiled. The Israeli government went to great expense to safely get them out. I put this here because their pronunciation of Hebrew GREATLY matches that which is in the 11th-century book mentioned above. That book further points out that there are very few circumstances in which Hebrew will have two consonants next to one another. Those are similar to the rules in English for making compound constant sounds like "ch". In the f case of Hebrew, the English characters of "ch" or "kh" make the glottal sound - often described as sounding like someone clearing their throat. In no other circumstance except glottals and very few other consonant combinations can two consonants be put together in Hebrew. Yaweh and other derivatives of the "Name" simply don't make the cut.
"If you imagine trying to speak English without using vowels, it should quickly become obvious that without including vowels, every language would be impossible. You might therefore wonder how anyone can use Hebrew without vowels. The point however is that Hebrew does include vowels, it is just that they are not separate written letters. Instead, vowels are formed by the addition of dashes and/ or dots beneath the consonants in some written Hebrew. These vowel points are known as 'nikkud' in the singular and 'nikkudot' when used in the plural... whereas in English, the balance in a word between consonants and vowels is irregular, it is always regular in Hebrew. As an example, whilst an English word like 'awkward' is made up of one vowel followed by three consonants, another vowel and finally two more consonants, the pattern in Hebrew is always far more consistent. In Hebrew, a vowel always follows a consonant except for the final one, which may or may not be followed by a vowel. For instance, the Hebrew word for 'king' is 'melek'. The pattern of the word is therefore CVCVC (constant - vowel - consonant - vowel - consonant), emphasizing the regularity. Furthermore, this regularity is carried over to other similar words, so 'His king' is 'meleko' (CVCVCV) whilst 'the king' is 'hamelek'. In both of these examples, you can see that the pattern is entirely regular, a word construction pattern with which you will quickly become familiar."
Conway, Chaim. Read Hebrew in Just 90 Minutes! (pp. 4-7)
The above-quoted paragraph is compiled from excerpts of a popular book, much of which is based on the same principles as the 11th-century book of Hebrew pronunciation.
This book of pronunciation may have been written in the 11th Century, but while it is the sole remaining record currently available which speaks to the pronunciation of the Hebrew language, we must at this point consider it credible. Should another source be brought forward which counters the information within this manual, then further research will be necessary on both to determine what is truth from within each. That said, let's consider for a moment the very miracle of Israel having any form of preserved Hebrew at all. No other nation in history has been captured (especially not as many times as Israel) and not been fully integrated into that society. Further, no other nation in history has ever been expelled from its' land and returned with enough pieces of the original culture in tact to be able to reconstruct it. Again, every other nation which this has happened to was fully integrated into the culture(s) in which families settled. Usually within a few generations. God's very Word, in which we as believers so ardently trust, was preserved by this very people. So why do we tend to find it so incredible that they may have also [secretly] preserved the pronunciation of the Name of God? That said, let's examine the use of the word for "back" in the example given in the above quote. I will take a visual route to explain the author of the book gives in order for us to see more clearly, since we are not all linguists with access to extensive personal knowledge, historical records, and databases - as he is.
In this first photo (the next several are screenshots from my E-Sword using Strong's), notice the use of the vav from Ezekiel 10:2 (see Scripture reference in the bottom right corner of the picture) we see the word for "back" as "gav". This clearly demonstrates the use of a "vav" in both Hebrew and English.
In this next picture we will witness another use of the "vav" in Hebrew, but in a sense which may not make a lot of sense in English so it will require a bit of explanation. I will explain below the picture:
In the above picture, look in the commentary box - H1354. It is showing the Hebrew "bet" in use and in direct correlation to the use of H1460 "gev" pronounced as "gave". The use of the character "bet" points to something very important. You'll notice the Scripture reference is still Ezekiel 10:2. I chose this reference to point out that the "vav" and "bet" were interchangeable. The bet is usually pronounced as a "b" in English. However, there is evidence that while many Scribes may have spelled with a "vav" in some of the Hebrew Bible Manuscripts (3 of which are called a Codex or Codices in the plural) used to create the Hebrew Old Testament we have today; other Codices used the "bet". Why is this important? Because the pronunciation manual mentioned before clearly outlines that BOTH would have been pronounced the same; as a "vav/V". With the exception of a very small group of Israelis whose dialect pronounced the "bet" more like the Aramaic which would have sounded like a "b". The picture below brings us full circle, showing the direct correlation to H1460 from another Scripture also within Ezekiel (23:35). While it may not be completely the case, it is reasonable to conclude if the “vav” and “bet” were interchangeable and both were commonly pronounced as a “vav” then it is also reasonable to conclude when the “waw” was exchanged for the “vav” it was also pronounced as a “vav”; at least by the majority since the “waw” would likely have been used by a minority of Hebrew speakers.
Below are a list of Codices and their approximate dates of origin:
Since we now have some 2nd Century sources which indicate the use of YeHoVah (see the Video 1 at the beginning), I won't belabor the point that while these Codices are not as old as the proposed sources which lay out the Name as Yahweh, they are of Hebrew origin (the oldest known sources for Yahweh are not) and penned by Israeli Scribes whose renown for document duplication and preservation of accuracy is unparalleled throughout history.
I don't know that we can at this time. In fairness, there is good arguments on both sides of this debate. I tend to lean toward YeHoVaH, because it resonates with my spirit as I dig the subject out. The evidence, based on my Law Enforcement background, is nearly irrefutable. I am only presenting a VERY small portion of what has been uncovered in the last 10-20 years. If you would like further resources, please email me: Contact Us
There is also evidence that the early rabbis, after the Pharisaic cast became the predominant religious sect and Judaism underwent a major reform in answer to the destruction of the 2nd Temple, which records reasons why the ban on speaking the Name of God became such an issue (video below). The speakers in this video will detail the fact that Gnostic documents found in Egypt have been used as sources for some sloppy scholarship which has likely steered many in a wrong direction regarding God's Name.
Video 2 of 4
You see, in the first 5 Chapters of Acts we find that the Sadducees had become powerful again. We see this because the Apostles were brought before them for preaching of the resurrection of the dead and in the Name of Yeshua Ha'Mashiach. This is an indication that they had a significant standing once again within the Sanhedrin, or else the particular charge about the resurrection of the dead would not have been an issue. By the time we begin reading the Epistles of Shaul/Paul, we find a different landscape in the religious orders of the Sanhedrin. Shaul felt it important to point out his standing as a 'Pharisee of Pharisees', likely because they once again held the majority and possibly by that time, a monopoly. Regardless, by the time the 2nd Temple was destroyed, we find a Pharisaic cast ready to change the religious landscape once more by progressively initiating what we now call Rabbinic Judaism. In his book "Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence" N'chem-yah (Nehemiah) Gordon masterfully details the long tradition of keeping the Name of God a secret rite held by Rabbinic leaders and passed on to their top talmidim (followers) once every 7 years. He also makes a strong case for why, though he does not in any way justify it. He simply points to the facts as he has followed a thread of evidence which has even taken him into his own family tree to reveal an ancestor who wrote a letter to a rabbi giving him the necessary clues to the "vowels" in the Name and commanding him to keep it secret and to hide the letter so that no one would ever know. Likely unwittingly, some scholar or their assistant scanned the document into a database of Hebrew letters, books, etc. There are a number of such documents dated throughout history. Many do not go back past the 9th - 11th Centuries, but it is important to note we now have a consistent thread of evidence from the 2nd to the 11th Centuries, thus far in this saga.
Below are several references you can look up on the internet which show the Name spelled with those vowels. Each is labeled and the Scripture reference noted. The Scribes who did this may very well have been writing the YHVH/YHWH (tetragrammaton) so many times they incidentally spelled it out on occasion. Imagine if you knew a full word but were instructed to write it as consonants only and then had to do so repeatedly for your entire career. Take as an example the word "Bible". You have been instructed to write about the Bible for the rest of your life (people didn't really retire back then), but you must use the abbreviation "BBL" every time you write it. Do you suppose that each time you wrote it, you would write BBL but hear Bible in your thoughts? Would that potentially lead you to occasionally write "BIBLE" out of mere instinct?
It seems reasonable to me to conclude that may very well have happened with the Scribes who copied the Scriptures. Some have theorized that this is all part of an elaborate hoax created centuries ago to "cover the real Name". That is definitely possible, but then wouldn't it mean I need to put more faith/trust in Greek and Gnostic sources for the Name of the God of the Bible? This just doesn't make sense to me - at all.
Remember the Masoretic Codices mentioned in the picture above? Below is one example from each which points to the Name having been spelled out with the vowels.
I will continue on these points below the next 6 pictures.
***** Notice in the picture above the highlighted segment clearly shows the characters for "yod" "hay" "vav" hay" or YHVH. There is something more to them though. See all the little dots and dashes? Those represent the English vowels "e", "o" and "a". In most places within Hebrew Scripture you won't find those dots and dashes.
There are a number of other documents which contain the entire Name. Before we go there though, let me point out why I believe it is important to really consider what is the correct Name of God. For one, it is a matter of respect. When someone from Mexico moves to America and their name is Juan. Very few people will attempt to force them to accept being called "John", the English equivalent. As you may have seen in my Blog "Falling in Love on the Sabbath", I believe learning to speak Abba's love language is even more important than it is for our very own spouse. So that is yet another reason. Still there is more. Considering His preference should be enough, but somehow we still choose to accept things which come from questionable sources and cling to them based on anecdotal evidence. I called Him Yahweh for nearly 2 decades before finding Nehemiah's research. Having spent time with Orthodox, Ultra Orthodox, and Progressive rabbis (as well as Messianic and Hebrew Roots teachers) I found something unique about Nehemiah's approach. It wasn't based on any preconceived ideas. He just wanted truth and tripped across his first piece of evidence while working as a Bible Proofreader at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel. You can choose to doubt him, as many stuck in a single mindedness have chosen to. But in light of your love for God, do you not owe it to Him (and even yourself) to dig it out?
"It is the glory of God to conceal a thing; but the glory of kings is to search out a matter."
Proverbs 25: 2 (Jewish Publication Society)
Are not all believers now priests and kings?
Shall we press on a bit more? There are Talmudic and Mishna writings which indicate the prohibition on the Name stemmed from rabbis who resented that 'commoners' were actually healing people in both the Name of "Yeshua" and the Name "YeHoVaH". Using the above references to the Name as possible fact, let's look at this video clip in which Nehemiah Gordon details the historical documentation regarding Healing in the Name "YeHoVaH".
Video 3 of 4
I have personally had a dear friend, who is a rabbi trained at the Yeshiva in Jerusalem (mentioned above) tell me "One thing I do know - the Name of God is NOT Jehovah". He heavily emphasized the hard "J". Was this a freudian slip? I really cannot say, but he was obviously uncomfortable with some of my questions, so I let it go.
**NOTE - In the cover of the above video is yet another potential proof for you to consider. The Greek Old Testament (the Septuagint), uses the Name Jehovah repeatedly when referring to God. In fact it is in every location where one would find YHVH/YHWH within all the Hebrew manuscripts. During the time this was written, and in fact for some centuries later, there was NO HARD "J" sound in any known language. It is generally agreed upon by scholars, that sound is only approximately 600 years old today, and it is traceable - LINK. Think of the Nordic/Germanic name Jurgen. It is pronounced Yer-gen, and has been for centuries. In much the same way, it is likely the pronunciation of Jehovah is YeHoVaH, and the rabbis who were supposedly forced to write the Hebrew Scripture into Greek thought it cleverly hidden within the Greek spelling, which in English is rendered Jehovah. But there is zero evidence that indicates it was pronounced as many pronounce Jehovah today...
I want to talk a little about alternative ancient manuscripts often used to substantiate some claims regarding the "name of God". If for no other reason than to give us a picture of how much is preserved of the heresies of the 1st and 2nd Centuries and how they could even have been accessed and integrated into modern theology and doctrine. The place to launch from is Egypt. In the late 18th and into early 20th Century, a rather large collection of papyrus manuscripts began to be unearthed by archeologists and treasure hunters. Not far from Alexandria Egypt during a number of digs, many collections of these "papyri" were gathered and the studies began. We can see in the Nag Hammadi papyri that the writings of the Alexandrian Gnostics perpetuated the teachings of Valentino, Marcion, and others. Many of these Gnostic Gospels even bear the name of famous Biblical figures as if they'd written them. These fraudulent Gnostic Gospels are known as the "pseudepigrapha" because of their false claims of authorship. These papyri contained “Gospels” which were obviously written by someone who was pretending to be one of the First Century Apostles, but there were also “new” Gospels that had never been seen before. The most researched and well-known collections of papyri are the Bodmer and Berlin papyri. It appears the Berlin* collection received much acclaim, at least in part, because one of the writings contains a collection of “incantations” from various cultures. One such spell is labeled (within the document itself) as particularly powerful because it is “Hebrew”. This manuscript is written in Greek and so that particular enchantment also contains several Greek attempts at the “Name of God” but due to the spelling and grammar rules of Greek, the names are pretty much all gibberish. It may be the earliest recorded use of the name Yahweh. This point, in particular, has been documented by scholars as one reason for the attention this papyrus codex has received.
The Bodmer collection, on another note, may have been instrumental in the construction of the “Wescott and Hort Greek New Testament”. <<< read this short study to understand more about the Wescott and Hort Gr. N.T. and how it fits into the enemies' plan to derail the Body of Messiah.
(Pic of the Famous 'Hebraic hos logos' papyri containing
the Name Yahweh circa 150-200CE/AD)
reference Berlin Papyri and cross-reference Elephatine Papyri
The significance of the “Hebraic hos logos”
To start winding this down toward an ending, let's look at some ancient documents which also point to His Name being YeHoVaH.
The document fragment below was found in the Vatican vault and had been tossed into a "Junk Box". As documents age, it is only natural that pieces of them might break off and fall out. Even if they are untouched. When these fragments are found, and the source cannot be definitively identified, the keepers of such documents at the Vatican apparently place them in a box with similar fragments.
Above is a picture of a portion of a document from the Babylonian exile which clearly shows the Name of God as YeHoVaH - notice the dots and dashes. I realize you may not read Biblical Hebrew, but the point of this picture is to illustrate the same spelling for the Name of God in a document written in a differing dialect than all of the above-mentioned Hebrew Bible Codices. With just a little Google or Yahoo search time, you can easily find the characters for YHVH and YHWH. They will NOT look like the characters for YeHoVah, there will be no dots or dashes for the vowels. I should note here there is no Hebrew spelling for Yahweh in it's completed form. It simply is not a Hebrew word, nor does it have any meaning as an acronym in Hebrew. This is not consistent with any part of the Hebraic culture. Every name has a meaning.
Video 4 of 4
The last picture I want to share is of a part of the surviving Book of Revelation Chapter 1 Verse 8 in Hebrew. You can dig this up for yourself through the British Library website and it is known as "Sloane 273". Here is a link to the entire document translated into English in a parallel format: Hebrew Revelation
The early followers of Yeshua who were led by His half brother Ya'akov (James) congregated in Jerusalem but about 30 years prior to the destruction in 70CE/AD and again about 10 years before, they fled by what was documented as warnings from Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit). In their writings, known collectively as The Didache, there is evidence that a shift had taken place. This shift seems to corroborate some of the statements of Yeshua/Jesus before His crucifixion. I wrote about this "shift" (though I didn't call it that in the article) in "Why Pray In Jesus' Name?".
Here is an interesting segment of information from a book that takes a close look at the Didache:
"The Name in the various expressions of traditional Judaism refers to YHWH. For The Way, however, the Name referred to Yeshua. In both cases, the theology of the Name becomes a person distinct from the Father. There are many such usages of the Name in the Old Testament that are quoted in the New Testament:
'That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all the Gentiles who are called by My name,' Says the LORD who does this thing. -Amos 9:12 (QUOTED IN ACTS 15:17)
'Now, therefore, what have I here,' says the LORD, 'That My people are taken away for nothing? Those who rule over them Make them wail,' says the LORD, 'And My name is blasphemed continually every day.' -ISAIAH 52:5 (QUOTED IN ROMANS 2:24)
Raymond Robert Fischer - "The Ways Of The Way:
Restoring the Jewish Roots of the Modern Church"
From the words of Yeshua Himself:
John 14:13 "And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son."
John 16:26 "At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you:"
If you take the time to read the Blog "Why Pray In Jesus' Name" you'll clearly see the Father exulted the Son and it is "in Christ" (to quote the King James vernacular) that we now have access to the heavenlies and can legally operate in the Spirit realm on His behalf. So, in this shift, what is the relevance of knowing the Name of the Father? Like so much of everything else I have been writing lately, Abba has convinced me it is about INTIMACY with Him. We don't call our closest relatives Mr/Mrs or Sir/Madam do we? So why then would we refer to Him as "God", or "LORD" or the Jewish equivalents "HaShem (The Name), or Adonai (Lord)? We OFTEN start a prayer to ":Our Father", which is fine of course, but when I am seeking an audience with the Creator of the Universe, I must now approach Him legally (in Christ) to satisfy divine law, and I CAN call Him by Name as demonstrated throughout the totality of Scripture.
It is evident to me His Name is YeHoVah. That is His Name in Hebrew. I have very little doubt remaining that when I pray to YeHoVaH, I am addressing Creator God of the Bible. My goal was to present the above material as impartial as I am capable of being. I know, as a realist however, that I may not have accomplished this goal with every point. It is hard to not form an opinion and leak it some into even our most arduous attempts at academic writing.
What I truly hope this Blog does is clear up our position on the "Sacred Name" issue. I further hope it has provided you with a primer to start an investigation of your own into "YeHoVaH" even if (as I had) you've already concluded that His Name is something else (in my case it was Yahweh). I had studied thoroughly all that was available at the time and I could get access to. Now, in this information age, I have been able to even more thoroughly study this out and found something far more satisfying to my spirit. His Name is echoed throughout Scripture from Exodus and the "I am" discourse with Moses (in one of the above videos), to Yeshua "declaring His Name" as 'LOVE' (also in a video above), to His declaration in Revelation echoing His "I am" discourse with John (in two videos above - also in the link to the translated portion of the Hebrew Revelation).
If after studying this out, you still are convinced His Name is another, please do not view this Blog as a condemnation of your opinion. That is the very reason I started it with:
“If we forgot the name of our God… God would surely search it out, for He knows the secrets of the heart.” Psalms 44:20–21 [21–22] (translated directly from the original Hebrew Text)
It is also why I am ending it with:
"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Romans 8:1
Our Heavenly Father knows and looks deeply into your heart to reveal your intentions and your desires. If you truly desire to honor Him and after an extensive study, you find His Name to be other than I present in this Blog, He also knows your conviction and, after all, Holy Spirit does lead us into all truth. So trust what has been revealed to you by research and conviction, regardless of what you settle upon. The bottom line is every believer has access to Him through Yeshua/Jesus (because they are "in Christ" - which means far more than using Jesus' Name in a prayer) even if [with a clean conscience and right heart] we call Him by the wrong Name. So the simple answer to the question in the Banner at the top of this Blog "Does it really matter?" is YES it absolutely does. It matters that you put in the time and diligence necessary to be convinced by the Word, your understanding, and the Spirit so your level of intimacy with our Creator can continue to increase. He deserves our intention to become as intimate with Him as we are individually and corporately capable of being.
To whom much is given much is required, so why do we think we can just skate into eternity with what we know now? Why do we assume we are not expected to continue to grow no matter how much we know?
I sincerely hope and pray that your understanding has been enlightened by this Blog. Please share it with others in your email list and Social Networks. We want people to see the level of commitment we have in offering academic work that has the true potential to change how people relate to and connect with our Heavenly Abba (Daddy). It is, after all, not about us.
It's ALL ABOUT HIM. Right?
Until Next Time...