The Divine Name Yahweh
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, World English
A Restoration Light Publication
Copyright (c) 1995, Revised 1997, 1999, R. R. Day
may be freely photocopied, printed or otherwise copied and distributed
as long as it is reproduced in its entirety (including this statement)
with no additions or deletions are made to its contents. Ronald R. Day,
Restoration Light, P.O. Box 2360, Philadelphia, PA 19142; Homepage:
|Snyder's Faith-sharing Evangelism Library - lots of free resources|
WHAT IS GOD'S NAME?
Do you know?
(1) The Creator himself tells what his name is. His name is easy to
identify in the original language of the Bible, Hebrew. But his name has
become beclouded by erroneous translations, corrupted manuscripts and
Jewish tradition. Confusion has resulted from the many titles used as
names of God, making it appear that the Creator has many different
personal names and we can choose whatever we want to call him.
WHY IS GOD'S NAME IMPORTANT?
(2) The scriptures place a lot of emphasis on the name of the Supreme Being. Our Savior himself showed this by teaching us to pray: "Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name." (Matthew 6:9, New King James Version) In this prayer the name of the Creator is not used, but rather he is referred to by one his titles, "Our Father". But our Savior placed the hallowing or sanctifying of his father's name as first in the prayer, indicating its importance.
(3) In another place our Savior prayed: "Father, glorify your name." The Father himself answered: "I have both glorified it and will glorify it again." (John 12:28, New King James Version.) Moreover, our Savior said: "Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name." (John 17:6,11,12) The Son of God again showed how much importance he placed on his Father's name. -- See also John 5:43; 10:25; 12:13.
(4) The Savior further showed the importance of the Divine
Name when he said: "I have revealed your name to those who you took
from the world to give me. I have made your name known to them and will
continue to make it known, so that the love with which you loved me may be
in them, and so that I may be in them." -- John 17:6,26, New
scriptures tell us that those who belong to Messiah are actually sons of
God. "For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons
of God." (Romans 8:14, New American Standard Bible) "For you are
all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:26, New
American Standard Bible) Certainly if we claim this standing as children
of God we should want to know what God's name is, especially since, as
children, these sons of God are called "a people for his name."
-- Acts 15:14.
THE PRONUNCIATION OF THE CREATOR'S NAME
(6) But someone may say, "Isn't his name `God?' or `Lord'?" No, the apostle Paul tells us that "there are many `gods' and many `lords.' " (1 Corinthians 8:5) The words "God" and "Lord" are actually titles rather than personal names. The Hebrew words for "god" and "lord" are applied in the Bible to men, angels, and as well as inanimate idols.
(7) The evidence given in the
Bible (from the Hebrew) shows that the Creator has only one personal name.
But it has become difficult to know what that name is. How so? Let us see.
(8) We must remember that
the first part of the Bible was written in Hebrew-Aramaic (commonly called
"Old Testament") and the second part was written in Greek
(commonly called "New Testament"). If you are reading the Bible
in any other language, you are reading somebody's translation, and often
their interpretation of the Bible -- not the Bible as it was originally
(9) The Creator's name in the Hebrew Scriptures is represented by four Hebrew characters (Yowd, He, Vav, He). These four Hebrew letters are referred to as the tetragrammaton. They correspond roughly with the English letters YHWH or JHVH. As most of our readers know, we have been rendering the Creator's name as "Yahweh" throughout our publications.
Many Bible scholars, however, often remark that "the Lord" and
"God" are "names" for the Creator. Translators,
therefore, feel that it is okay to substitute the term "the
Lord" or "God" for the personal name of the Creator. But as
we will show, "Lord" and "God" are not really names of
the Creator, but rather titles.
The Creator's name appears in the Hebrew text over 7,000 times.
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical
"Jehovah - the imperfect of Jahve (Yahwe or Jehovah or Jahwe
Seventh-Day Adventist Bible Commentary: "And the name above
all others that was looked upon as the name, the personal name of God, was
The New American Encyclopedia: "Jehovah --
(properly Yahweh) a name of the God of Israel, now widely regarded as a
mispronunciation of the Hebrew YHWH."
The Encyclopedia Britannica: ". . . the letters
YHWH used in the original Hebrew Bible to represent the name of God."
The Oxford Cyclopedic Concordance:
"Jehovah -- the name revealed to Moses at Horeb. Its real
pronunciation is approximately Yahweh. The Name itself was not pronounced
Jehovah before the 16th century."
American Heritage Dictionary: "Yahweh -- A name
for God assumed by modern scholars to be a rendering of the pronunciation
of the Tetragrammaton."
New Century Dictionary: "Jehovah -- the common
European rendering of Heb. JHVH (or YHWH), representing, without vowels,
Heb. Jahweh (or Yahweh), a divine name . . . regarded by the Jews as too
sacred for utterance and hence replaced in the reading of the Scriptures
by Adonai or Elohim; the form Jehovah being due to a mispronunciation of
Heb. JHVH with the vowels of the associated Heb. Adonai. A name of God in
the Old Testament, being the Christian rendering of `ineffable name,' JHVH
in the Hebrew Scriptures."
A History of Christianity, Kenneth Scott Latourette (pg.
11): "Israel regarded their god, Yahweh, a name mistakenly put into
English as Jehovah, as the God of the universe, the maker and ruler of
heaven and earth. Other peoples had their gods, but Yahweh was regarded by
these monotheists as far more powerful than they."
excuse for substituting "the Lord" or "God" for the
Creator's name is given in the "Preface" of The New American
"This name [Yahweh]
has not been pronounced by the Jews because of the great sacredness of the
Divine Name. Therefore it was consistently pronounced and translated Lord.
It is known that for many years YHWH has been translated as Yahweh. No
complete certainty attaches to this pronunciation. However, it is felt by
many who are in touch with the laity of our churches that this name
conveys no religious or spiritual overtones. It is strange, uncommon, and
without sufficient religious and devotional background. Hence it was
decided to avoid the use of this name in the translation proper."
(12) How well the translators of the popular versions of
the Bible have allowed themselves to be duped by the Adversary! Note this!
They are admitting to taking away from and adding to God's Word by
substituting the Lord or God for the Divine Name! (Proverbs 30:5,6) Their
conclusion that the Divine Name is "strange, uncommon, and without
sufficient religious and devotional background" is meaningless as far
as it comes to changing God's Word! And what they seek to change is the
very identity of the One who spoke the words! If translators would not be
so insistent on removing the Divine Name from the Bible then the name of
Yahweh would not sound so uncommon!
reason given for using substitutes for the divine name concerns the Jewish
custom regarding the name. The Jews had become superstitious regarding the
pronouncing of this name, so they began to substitute the titles ADONAY
(Lord) or ELOHIM (God) wherever God's name appeared. The original Hebrew
alphabet contained only letters for the consonant sounds. Vowel sounds,
while pronounced, were not written. Due to the Jewish superstition of
substituting Adonay or Elohim for the Creator's name, in time the
pronunciation of God's name was thought to be lost. Nevertheless, many
believe that God's name in Hebrew was pronounced YAHWEH.
WHAT ABOUT "JEHOVAH"?
(14) In the
popular King James Version, we can find the tetragrammaton translated in
the text as "Jehovah" at four places. The first is Exodus 6:3,
which reads: "And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob
by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to
them." (The words "the name of" before "God
Almighty" are in italics, indicating that these words were added by
the translators -- see almost any other translation) And again in Psalm
83:18: "That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art
the most high over all the earth." The other two occurrences of his
name in the King James Version are Isaiah 12:2 and Isaiah 26:4. However,
in most places in the King James Version, God's name is substituted by the
phrase "the Lord" or "God" (in all capital letters --
to distinguish from the common Lord or God). Most other English Bible
translations do the same.
some say that the word "Jehovah" does not correctly represent
the Hebrew pronunciation either. Why not? As we mentioned above, the
original Hebrew alphabet consisted only of consonants. Many years after
the Bible was written, vowels points were added to the Hebrew text by some
Jewish scribes. These Jewish scribes inserted into YHWH the vowels from
Adonai (Lord) and Elohim (God), thus bringing the pronunciation "Yehowah",
translated into English as Jehovah. (16) The Revised Standard Version,
(Preface) states: "The form Jehovah is of late medieval origin; it is
a combination of the consonants of the Divine Name and the vowels attached
to it by the Masoretes but belonging to an entirely different word. The
sound of Y is represented by J and the sound of W by V, as in Latin. The
word `Jehovah' does not accurately represent any form of the Name ever
used in Hebrew."
Encyclopaedia Britannica (15th Edition) declares: "The Masoretes,
Jewish biblical scholars of the Middle Ages, replaced the vowel signs that
had appeared above or beneath the consonants of YHWH with the vowel signs
of Adonai or of Elohim. Thus the artificial name Jehovah (YeHoWaH) came
into being. Although Christian scholars after the Renaissance and
Reformation periods used the term Jehovah for YHWH, in the 19th and 20th
centuries biblical scholars again began to use the form Yahweh. Early
Christian writers, such as Clement of Alexandria in the 2nd century, had
used the form Yahweh, thus this pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton was
never really lost. Greek transcriptions also indicated that YHWH should be
are some who have used this pronunciation ("Jehovah") to
misrepresent God's purposes and promote idolization of an organization.
Today, especially, the leaders of the "Jehovah's witnesses,"
misrepresent him as a very cruel God, ready to eternally destroy earth's
present billions because they fail to listen or understand the
"Watchtower" message. In so doing, they are actually bringing
reproach upon his name.
Additionally, some have pointed out that the structure of the word
"Jehovah" indicates that it may actually slander the Creator!
The prefix "Je" is often used to represent the shortened form of
the Creator's name, "Yah." "Hovah" in Hebrew means
"ruin" or "mischief." (See Strong's number 1943) Thus
its meaning would be "Yahweh is ruinous," or "Yahweh is
mischievous." Hovah is derived from havvah which means "eagerly
coveting and rushing upon; by impl. of falling." (Strong) Thus some
claim that this how insidiously Satan the Devil, the real mischievous one,
the real "fallen angel" who "covets" the position of
the Most High, has replaced the Creator's name with a name that describes
himself! (Isaiah 14:12-14; Luke 10:18; 4:8,9) It is for this reason that
some have said that the strange word "Jehovah" really refers to
Satan (meaning "opposer") the Devil (meaning "false
accuser, slanderer")! NOTE: We have come to view this argument as
just conjecture without basis. We see no reason to oppose anyone's use of
"Jehovah" as the divine name, as this is one of the earliest
pronunciations given in English, and is well known. However, since many
object on the grounds presented in paragraph 18, we generally use the term
"Yahweh" in English to denote the divine name.
However, just because there is uncertainty as to how the divine name
should be pronounced does not mean that we feel it is proper to substitute
"Lord" or "God" for the Creator's name. The ancient
Hebrews several times sought also to substitute God's name with a word
that means "Lord" -- that is, "Baal." "And they
forsook Yahweh God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land
of Egypt; and they followed other gods from among the gods of the people
who were all around them, and they bowed down to them; and they provoked
Yahweh's anger. They forsook Yahweh and served Baal [the Lord] and the
Ashtoreths. And the anger of Yahweh was hot against Israel." (Judges
3:7,8; see also Judges 2:11-14; 8:33,34; 10:6,7) And again in Jeremiah's
time Yahweh spoke against those who "try to make my people forget my
name ... as their fathers forgot my name for Baal [the Lord]."
(Jeremiah 23:27) Baal and Ishtar [Easter] worship was very popular among
many nations and under various names: Tammuz and Astarte; Adonis and
Aphrodite, etc. Baal was the god of fertility and Ishtar, the queen of
heaven and goddess of fertility. (Jeremiah 7:18)
the Jews began to substitute another word that also means
"Lord," that is, "Adonay." It is possible that this
term was chosen because it resembled the Greek Adonis. (Adonis was the
Greek god that was loved by the Greek goddess Aphrodite.) Nevertheless, it
is apparent that the Jews had come to use the term Adonay in the same
manner as they had earlier used "Baal" as a substitute for
Yahweh's name. This practice of substituting Adonay for the name of Yahweh
is continued down to this day by Jews when reading Hebrew. As we hope to
show in a later publication, Lord (or Baal) worship is very strong in the
popular churches today. However, since Yahweh was very angry with his
people for substituting "the Lord" [Baal] for his name in
ancient times, surely he does not approve of the same thing happening
(22) But how
can we be sure that "Yahweh" is the correct pronunciation of the
divine name? There have been many convincing arguments presented for
pronouncing God's name one way or another. There are very persuasive
arguments for "Yahve", "Yahweh," "Yahu" and
several other forms. Yet, in reality, all these arguments are to a great
extent based upon some kind of assumption or theory. Some small groups
have even went so far as to make individual salvation dependent upon using
whatever pronunciation they have chosen for his name. However, if this
were true, some people in certain lands could loose out simply because
they do not have the same sounds in their language; as a result their
pronunciation would be different. For instance, many languages do not have
a sound for "W" in their language. If "Yahweh" is the
demanded pronunciation they would be in difficulty, because they would
probably end up pronouncing the "W" similar to a "V"
or "B." To make salvation dependent upon a certain pronunciation
is very narrow-minded, and we have no reason to believe that God is doing
the uncertainty of exactly how the divine name should be pronounced should
preclude us from demanding one or another pronunciation. Such has led many
into spending many fruitless hours of argument and unnecessary discord.
Hundreds of hours have been spent trying to prove a favorite pronunciation
that could have been spent in feeding the sheep and preaching the Good
News of the Kingdom. (Matthew 24:14; Mark 16:15; Acts 5:42; 8:4; 1 Peter
5:2) The fact that several different pronunciations have been found
amongst ancient writings indicates that the exact pronunciation is not
what the Creator is concerned about. How much more important it is to
praise Yahweh by declaring his acts, his judgments and the good news of
the kingdom that will bless all families of the earth. (Matthew 6:33;
24:14; Genesis 22:18) Doing so shows more love for Him and gives more
honor to his name than spending almost all our time squabbling over
whether this or that way is the correct pronunciation. (Ephesians 5:16; 1
Peter 4:7-11) But to neglect to use His name over such triviality would
also show a lack of love for the Creator, for his identity, and for his
recognize that Yahweh is God's name, but still continue to substitute
"The Lord" for "Yahweh." However, the use of his
personal name brings us closer to him. (Psalm 73:28) Would you want to
address a close friend with titles such as "Mister,"
"Miss," or "Ma'am", without ever using his or her
THE MEANING OF GOD'S NAME
reason the tetragrammaton should not be rendered by "the Lord",
or "God" has to do with the meaning of God's name, represented
by the Hebrew characters: The usual meaning given to this word is
something like "He is," or "The Eternal." Yahweh is
the third person singular of the Hebrew verb hayah (to be or become). In
Exodus 3:14 Yahweh gives Moses a different variation of his name in the
first person: "I will be what I will be (Ehyeh' asher' ehyeh')."
(Revised Standard Version - footnote) Many translations render this
"I AM THAT I AM." However, according some authorities, the
Hebrew word hayah, as used in this verse, means more than just to exist.
It also carries with it the thought of coming into existence, or causing
to exist. Thus the third person would mean: "He will cause to
be," or "He causes to be."
Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967, vol. 14, page 1065, after discussing the
usual meanings given to God's name, states: "All these explanations,
however, overlook the fact that in Ex 3:14 a merely folk etymology of the
name, based on the qal form of the verb `to be,' is given. Grammatically,
because of its vocalization, yahweh can only be a hi`phil or causative
form of this verb, with the meaning `He causes to be, He brings into
being.' Probably, therefore, yahweh is an abbreviated form of the longer,
yahweh aser yihweh, `He brings into being whatever exists.' The name,
therefore, describes the God of Israel as the Creator of the
this meaning is correct can be seen by observing the indicated meaning of
Yahweh in Exodus 6:2,3. In verse 15 of Exodus 3 we read: "And God
said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel,
The Lord [Hebrew, Yahweh], God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the
God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me to you: this is my name
for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations." In Exodus
6:2,3 (New Jerusalem Bible), we read: "God spoke to Moses and
said to him: "I am Yahweh. To Abraham, Isaac and Jacob I appeared as
El Shaddai, [God Almighty] but I did not make my name Yahweh known to
them." (28) Now, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob knew and called upon the
Creator as "Yahweh." To Abraham, Yahweh said: "I am Yahweh
who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land as a
possession." Abraham replied: "O Yahweh God, how am I to know
that I will possess it?" (Genesis 15:7,8) Isaac referred to Yahweh as
recorded at Genesis 23:22.
Likewise, when Jacob was at Bethel, after wrestling with
an angel, he stated: "Surely Yahweh is in this place." (Genesis
28:16) In prayer to Yahweh, Jacob calls him by name as recorded in Genesis
32:9. Thus it is very apparent that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were familiar
with the name "Yahweh."
(29) So what
did Yahweh mean by the statement he made to Moses to the effect that he
had not made his name known to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? Yahweh had to be
referring to the meaning of his name (as the one who causes) rather just
to the word used to designate his name. In verse four Yahweh calls
attention to the covenant he had made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to
give them the land of Canaan. They never saw Yahweh cause the fulfillment
of that promise. It is in this manner that Yahweh says that he did not
make his name known to them. However, now, Yahweh is saying that he going
to cause a fulfillment of that promise. He will bring the Israelites out
of Egypt into the land that he had promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
-- see Exodus 6:6-8. (30) Thus the name Yahweh signifies the one who
accomplishes what he desires -- as denoting that we can fully trust that
His magnificent plan for man will be completely accomplished. --See Isaiah
ADONAY AND ELOHIM
the Hebrew words Adonay [or Adonai - Lord] and Elohim [God] do not
represent the meaning of the Creator's name at all. Both Adonay and Elohim
are used in reference to false gods, men, and angels, as well as to
Yahweh, whereas Yahweh is applied only to the Supreme Creator himself.
Adonay means "Master" or "Lord." Elohim means
"Mighty Ones" [when used with plural verbs, adjectives, etc.] or
"The Mightier One" (Ha Elohim or when used with singular verbs,
adjectives, etc.), and is usually translated "God,"
"god" or "gods." To substitute these terms for the
personal name of God would actually be adding to and taking away from the
words of God, something which is forbidden to do. -- Proverbs 30:6;
Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32.
word elohim, with its modifications eloah, elah and el, occurs over 2,500
times in the Hebrew scriptures. These most frequently refer to Yahweh. But
in many instances these terms are applied to others. Hence we must see the
connections to identify who is being referred to. In Psalm 8:5 elohim is
applied to angels. (See also Hebrews 2:7,9, where the apostle applies
elohim to angels.) Other scriptures contrast Yahweh with other elohim:
"Give ear O Yahweh to my prayer . . . . Among all gods [elohim -
mighty ones; rulers] there is none like you." (Psalm 86:6-8)
"Yahweh is a great God [el] and great King above all gods [elohim --
mighty ones; rulers]." (Psalm 95:3) "Yahweh is great, and
greatly to be praised; he is to reverenced above all gods [elohim --
mighty ones; rulers]." (Psalm 96:4) Elohim is also applied to men.
Abraham is called elohim: "You are a mighty [elohim] prince among
us." (Genesis 23:6) Moses is called elohim: "I have made you a
god [elohim -- mighty one] to Pharaoh." (Exodus 7:1) The judges of
Israel are called elohim: "His master must bring him to the gods [elohim
-- mighty ones; rulers]." (Exodus 21:6 -- The King James Version
renders elohim as "judges" in this verse.) Many more examples
could be given, but the above proves that Elohim, ("God" or
"gods,") is not the personal name of God, but rather a title,
also applied to angels, men and even the false gods of the nations.
BAAL WORSHIP TODAY
(33) If you
ask the average church-goer if he is involved in Baal worship, he will
more than likely say "No!" If asked what God he worships, he
will probably answer, "The Lord, " "God," or maybe
even "Jesus." In his mind, he is not involved in Baal worship at
all. But in this he has been deceived, just as Satan deceived Eve into
partaking of the forbidden fruit. (2 Corinthians 11:3) Such a person is
likely to "praise the Lord" and call upon the name of "the
Lord" in prayer without any idea of Baal worship. He has been trained
to do so all his life. The popular translations of the Bible have led him
to believe that it is proper to call upon the name of "the Lord"
rather than "Yahweh." After all, it is generally assumed that
the Christian writers of the Bible substituted "kyrios" (or
kurios, the Lord) for God's name in the Greek scriptures. [We will discuss
this later] Thus, he has usually accepted this tradition as truth without
any further investigation.
vast majority who have been calling upon the name of "the Lord"
instead of Yahweh have been doing so ignorantly. These are somewhat
excusable. But if we wish to worship in "spirit and truth" we
must not just accept what has been handed to us without further
investigation. (John 4:24; 1 Peter 1:18; 1 John 4:1) If we do accept a god
named "the Lord" without investigation are we not deceiving
ourselves and following a lie? We could be giving praise to Baal, who
really is the Devil, for all prayers offered on the table of Baal are
really offered to the demons, and not to the true God. -- 1 Corinthians
10:20-22; 2 Corinthians 5:14-16.
word "baal" simply means "lord." As such, it is not a
bad word, and it is proper to use at appropriate times. It is used in the
Bible as various parts of speech. The Theological Wordbook to the Old
Testament states: One may own (ba'al) a house (Exodus 22:7), or rule
over (ba'al) territory (cf. I Chronicles 4:22). A man may take (laqah) a
wife and marry (ba'al) her (Deuteronomy 24:1). A focus on the verb ba'al
from the theological standpoint leads to a consideration of marriage
terminology employed by God in defining his relationship to his people.
"For your Maker is your husband (ba'al), the Lord of hosts is his
name" (Isaiah 54:5ff.). In Jeremiah the existing marriage
relationship becomes a motivation for repentance: "For I am a husband
unto you" (Jeremiah 3:14, ASV; RSV renders "I am your
master"). In the justly famous new covenant passage the former
covenant is described as a broken covenant, a situation which is the more
sobering and shocking because "I was a husband (ba'al) to them, says
Jehovah" (Jeremiah 31:32, ASV; RSV similar; cf. Malachi 2:11). The
future delights which God will have with his redeemed people are stressed
in Isaiah where the land is said to be married (ba'al, Niphal), apparently
to YHWH. The name of the land, Beulah (passive participle of ba'al),
signifies both the intimacy and the joy of YHWH in conjunction with the
land ('eres, q.v.; Isaiah 62:4).
background which such language gives to the NT concept of Christ as the
bridegroom or husband of his people, the church, should be obvious (cf.
Ephesians 5:21 ff.). In any case one must not miss the close covenantal
tie that this metaphor suggests, not only of love but of loyalty between
God and his people.
Owner, possessor, husband, Baal. Ugaritic also has the double use
of master and the name of a deity.
The root in
most Semitic languages means either "lord" or, when followed by
a genitive, "owner." In addition to ba'al as owner of things,
the noun in the plural is used for citizens (ba'alim) of a city (Joshua
24:11). In Jude 9 where the noun occurs sixteen times, ASV consistently
translates "men," but RSV in addition to "men" employs
"citizens" (Jude 9:2) and "people" (Jude 9:46). ba'al
can refer to partner or ally (Genesis 14:13). Idiomatically ba'al as
master of something characterizes the person (e.g. ba'al of wrath,
Proverbs 22:24; of appetite, Proverbs 23:2; of dreams, Genesis 37:19) or
identifies occupation (e.g. officer, ba'al of the guard, Jeremiah 37:13).
As such it used as when wife speaking of her husband (Genesis 20:30),
landowners (Joshua 24:11), "lords of the nations" (Isaiah 16:8),
owners of various items (Exodus 21:28,34; 22:8; 2 Kings 1:8), creditors
(Deuteronomy 15:2), Yahweh (Isaiah 54:5; Hosea 2:16), and to false gods
(Judges 2:11,13). NOTE: The Theological Workbook to the Old Testament abbreviates
the names of Bible books; we have given them with full names.
Likewise, its English translation, "Lord," is used in the
similar ways. A person can be "lord of his home," or he can
"lord it over a group." As such we should not be afraid to use
this term, for the word itself, if used as above, in no way gives worship
to a false god, or idolatry. Indeed, the word can be also be translated
"Master," or "Mister." In Spanish (and some other
languages), there is only one word for "Lord" and
"Mister": Seņor. (37) However, it is improper to use the term
"the Lord" (Spanish "El Seņor") in such a manner as
to make it the proper name of the deity we worship. There was also a
specific Canaanite god called "hab-Baal", that is, "the
Lord." It is when the word "Baal" or "Lord" is
used in this sense, or as a substitute for God's name, that it becomes an
element of false idol worship.
only a few scriptures that tell us how Yahweh felt about the worship of
other gods: "I am [Yahweh] your God, who brought you out of the land
of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before
me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of
anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that
is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve
them; for I [Yahweh] your God am a jealous God." -- Exodus 20:2-5,
Revised Standard Version "Observe what I command you this day. . . .
Take care not to make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land to which
you are going, or it will become a snare among you. You shall tear down
their altars, break their pillars, and cut down their sacred poles (for
you shall worship no other god, because [Yahweh], whose name is Jealous,
is a jealous God." -- Exodus 34:11-36, New Revised Standard Version.
"When you have had children, and children's children, and become
complacent in the land, if you act corruptly by making an idol in the form
of anything, thus doing what is evil in the sight of [Yahweh] your God,
and provoking him to anger, I call heaven and earth to witness against you
today that you will soon utterly perish from the land." --
Deuteronomy 4:25,26, New Revised Standard Version.
Nevertheless, the scriptures tell us that the Israelites did indulge
themselves with the idolatrous gods of the lands in which they resided.
Among these gods one name keeps occurring over and over, that is, Baal, or
"the Lord." Regarding this, the Theological Wordbook of the
OT states: Throughout the period of the judges, Israel succumbed to
this infectious cult (Jude 2:11ff.; 6:25) and had to be rescued from its
tragic consequences by Yahweh's judges. During the period of the Omrides,
Baal worship became the official state religion of the northern kingdom (I
Kings 16:31). Leah Bronner has presented convincing argument that Israel's
miracles by Elijah and Elisha served as a polemic for God against the very
powers attributed to this pagan nature deity, namely, fire (I Kings
18:17ff.; II Kings 1:9-16), rain (I Kings 17:1; 18:41-46), food (I Kings
17:1-6, 8-16; II Kings 4:1ff.); children (II Kings 4:14-17);
revivification (I Kings 17:17-23; II Kings 4:18-37; 13:20-22, The Stories
of Elijah and Elisha as Polemics Against Baal Worship, Leiden, 1968.) But
their miracles did not rid the land of this degraded cult and it brought
about the captivity of the northern kingdom (Hosea). It also infiltrated
the southern kingdom (II Kings 11:18; 21:2ff.), and in spite of Josiah's
reform (II Kings 23:4ff.), brought the nation into exile (Ezekiel 16; 23,
etc.). The Hosea discourse describes how Israel, who received gifts of
grain and oil from YHWH, used these for the worship of Baal (Hosea 2:8 [H
10]). NOTE: The Theological Workbook to the Old Testament abbreviates
the names of Bible books; we have given them with full names.
god named Baal is later called Tammuz. Tammuz (or Baal, "the
Lord") worship was closely associated with the cross, tree, and sun
worship. (See Restoration Light Publication No. 37: Cross or Impalement?)
This worship is still carried on amongst most traditional Christian groups
in the form of the cross, Christmas trees, wreaths and Easter. (40) Once a
disciple of Messiah learns the truth concerning these matters, he or she
should immediately remove all these forms of Baal ("the Lord")
worship from their lives! "Come out of her my people!"
(Revelation 18:4) Yes, get out of all kinds of worship that entertains
Satan's deceptions of idolatry!
THE DIVINE NAME IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
back to the name of God, some claim that since the New Testament
"translates" into Greek as "Kyrios", also meaning
"the Lord," then we should do the same. However, evidence
indicates that the "New Testament" Bible writers did not
substitute God's name with "Kyrios," ("the Lord").
According to Mr. George Howard, Associate Professor of Religion and Hebrew
at the University of Georgia: "In 1944, W. G. Waddell discovered the
remains of an Egyptian papyrus scroll (Papyrus Fuad 266) dating to the
first or second century B.C. which included part of the Septuagint. In no
instance, however, was YHWH translated kyrios. Instead the Tetragrammaton
itself -- in square Aramaic letters -- was written into the Greek text.
This parallels the Qumran Covenanters' use of the paleo-Hebrew script for
the Divine Name in a document which was otherwise written in square
Aramaic script. . .
"We have three separate pre-Christian copies of the Greek Septuagint
Bible and in not a single instance is the Tetragrammaton translated kyrios
or for that matter translated at all. We can now say with near certainty
that it was a Jewish practice, before, during and after the New Testament
period to write the divine name in paleo-Hebrew or square Aramaic script
or in transliteration right into the Greek text of Scripture. . . .
"The divine name YHWH was and is the most sacred word in the Hebrew
language. So it is hardly likely that Jews of any sort would have removed
it from their Bibles. Furthermore, we know now from discoveries in Egypt
and the Judean desert the Jews wrote the Tetragrammaton in Hebrew even in
their Greek texts. In all likelihood Jewish Christians felt the same way
about the divine name and continued to preserve it in Hebrew in their
Bibles. A famous rabbinic passage (Talmud Shabbat 13.5) discusses the
problem of destroying heretical texts (very probably including books of
Jewish-Christians). The problem arises for the rabbinic writer because the
heretical texts contain the divine name, and their wholesale destruction
would include the destruction of the divine name. This further suggests
that Jewish Christians did not translate the divine name into Greek.
"But Gentile Christians, unlike Jewish Christians, had not
traditional attachment to the Hebrew Tetragrammaton and no doubt often
failed to even recognize it. Gentile scribes who had never before seen
Hebrew writing (especially in its archaic form) could hardly be expected
to preserve the divine name. Perhaps this contributed to the use of kyrios
and theos for the Tetragrammaton. . . . "Thus toward the end of the
first Christian century, the use of surrogates (kyrios and theos) and
their contractions must have crowded out the Hebrew Tetragrammaton in both
(45) But why
would the early Christians substitute kyrios (the Lord) or theos (God) for
the divine name? We must remember that from 66 CE to 135 CE there were
several Jewish revolts and much persecution by Roman authorities upon any
who appeared Jewish. After the apostle's deaths, there was a great falling
away from the true faith. (2 Thessalonians 2:3; 2 Peter 2:3) Most of the
Jewish Christians were killed by the Roman authorities, leaving mostly
"Gentile" Christians. These Gentile Christians wanted to appease
the Roman authorities and gain approval amongst Romans in general. They
began to discard almost anything that made them look Jewish. The Greek
philosophies were put on par with the Holy Scriptures. (2 Timothy 6:20,21)
Under these circumstances, we can see how all scriptures containing the
divine name were more than likely destroyed, leaving only copies that
contained the substitutes, kyrios or theos.
Therefore we reason that the Christian Bible writers did indeed use the
divine name in their writings, either in its Hebrew form or more probably
some Greek form. To believe other than this would mean that we believe our
Savior and the apostles came in the name of a god named Kyrios and not in
the name of Yahweh. According the Hebrew Scriptures, if this were so, we
should then reject all of the Christian writings as being messages of a
false god: "But any prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, or
who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded the
prophet to speak -- that prophet shall die." -- Deuteronomy 18:20.
there are many who claim to be prophets who come to us in the name of
"the Lord," all of whom we can readily recognize as not being
sent by the true God, Yahweh. A true prophet will come in the name of
Yahweh, not in the name of a god called "the Lord." A true
prophet will speak in agreement with the written Word of God. Everything a
true prophet of Yahweh prophesies will come to pass, else he is a false
(48) Are all
those, then, who worship by using "the Lord" or
"Jehovah" calling upon a false god? Well, yes and no. We must
remember that we are a long way from the first century, and Satan has
caused a great deception, so that even the servants of the Master may not
know what to do. (Luke 12:46-48) Each is responsible for what he has been
given. (Luke 12:48) Thus we should expect, at least in the beginning of
the final harvest, that most of the Master's servants do not recognize the
importance of the divine name as opposed to using the name of a false god.
This does not make them at heart worshippers of a false god. But as the
message travels around the world, we should expect that Yahweh's holy
spirit will direct it so that all who are truly his will have at least
heard the true message.
then, should we honor the name of our Creator? Certainly not by
substituting "the Lord" for his name. But neither does it honor
his name to make the use of his name our main message, perhaps trying to
"prove" one pronunciation of his name as against another. Yet
all who truly want to worship in spirit and truth should immediately begin
to "remove the names of Baalim" from their mouths. (John
4:23,24; Hosea 2:17) Thus, as loving children of Yahweh, we should desire
to "Praise Yahweh," not "Praise the Lord [Baal]." --
Psalm 111:1-5; 150:6. (50) To give praise to Yahweh should draw us closer
to him and to each other. We recognize that all who love this world,
including all who love the popular traditions of men, are about to be
taken in destruction, leaving those who are under the blood of the
Messiah. -- Matthew 24:37-42; Revelation 7:13,14; Zephaniah 2:2,3.
(51) But the
good news is that their destruction is to discipline and humble them, not
to send them to eternal destruction as taught by the Watchtower leaders.
(Isaiah 2:11; 5:15,16; 10:33; Psalm 94:10) Yahweh will sanctify his name
when says to all whom he destroyed: "Return, O you sons of men!"
(Psalm 90:3) After the destruction of Satan's kingdom and Yahweh's kingdom
has full sway over all the earth, all who have died will return to the
earth (with the exception of the joint-heirs with Christ, who will already
be resurrected -- Romans 8:17; Revelation 20:4) to be judged by the
righteous judge. (Revelation 20:12) As a result "many people will go
and say: `Let us go up to the mountain of Yahweh, and He will teach us of
His ways, and we will walk in His paths." (Isaiah 2:3) It is at that
time that the "desire of all nations will come." (Haggai 2:7)
Then the "glory of Yahweh will be revealed, and all flesh will see it
together." (Isaiah 40:5) And the saying in Psalm 83:18 will be
fulfilled upon those who perished, as spoken of in Psalm 83:17. "And
let them know that Your name is Yahweh, that You alone are the Most High
over the whole earth." At that time, "they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest of them." (Jeremiah 31:34)
"And I will magnify Myself and sanctify Myself; and I will be known
in the eyes of the many nations; and they will know that I am
Yahweh." (Ezekiel 38:23) Praise Yah!