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Yahweh, as depicted by Michelangelo.
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Yahweh, also known as Jehovah and YHWH (or JHWH), is the notional god of the Bible — "notional" because the text fails to present a consistent or coherent picture of the nature, characteristics, abilities or utterances of this deity such as would encourage one to acknowledge that a single real entity is being described. This situation no doubt results from the fact that the Bible is a post-hoc assemblage of texts from a number of different eras and mythic traditions, in some of which the male creator-god is omniscient, invisible, non-physical and all-powerful, while in others he is fallible, visible, requires food, can be heard walking, has limited power, and so on.

"Then he said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God."

Exodus 3:6 Bible-icon.png


The Tetragrammaton

The Tetragrammaton is four Hebrew letters representing the name of the god of Israel in the Hebrew Bible, namely יהוה (YHWH). The written Hebrew language does not make clear the correct use of vowel points in the name, and, as such, the correct historical pronunciation it not known.


According to Jewish tradition, the name is sacred and not to be said aloud in casual speech, reading, or even in prayer. The name is instead substituted with one of several titles. Modern-day Jews practice this by writing G-d instead of God, so that the full name is not communicated.

Different vowel points are added to the Tetragrammaton to indicate the title being substituted in, and its pronunciation. For example, the Masoretic Hebrew text has the name written as יְהֹוָה (YHWH with the vowels from "Adonai" added) and as יֱהֹוִה (with the vowels from "Elohim" added) to indicate the reader should substitute the name with "Adonai" or "Elohim", respectively.

Note that the vowels from appropriate titles are added to allow for vocalization of the title in reference to God. They are not the "correct" pronunciation of the name itself because the pronunciation of vowels is unknown in all words.


Christians do not have an issue with saying the name of God, however the exact pronunciation is ambiguous. Since vowels were not recorded, the names Yahweh and Jehovah are based on adding likely vowels to complete the name. It is uncertain if these are the correct vowels. Jewish tradition holds that the name should not be spoken, so this only is a practical problem for Christians.

"However, there is no correct pronunciation for the name of God because the letters are only consonents, not vowels. So we cannot tell what the "real" name of God is YAHWEH, or YEHWAH, or YAHWAH, or YEHWEH, etc. [1]"

The majority view is that Yahweh is more historically accurate.[2] The most popular theory of the origin of the name Jehovah is that it takes the consonants from YHWH and the vowels from adonai ("Lord" in Hebrew). Some Christians claim the J sound in Jehovah is consistent with the translation of the name Jesus from Iesous in Greek and Yeshua in Hebrew.

Jehovah's Witnesses claim that God's name has effectively been removed from the Bible by substituting it with "Lord". Although they prefer the name Jehovah, they argue that the exact pronunciation is not that important:

"Even though the modern pronunciation Jehovah might not be exactly the way it was pronounced originally, this in no way detracts from the importance of the name. While many translators favor the pronunciation Yahweh, the New World Translation and also a number of other translations continue the use of the form Jehovah because of people's familiarity with it for centuries."

— The Divine Name Brochure p.10

See also


  1. [1]
  2. [2]
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