What Does Jehovah Mean? A Biblical Study On The Word Jehovah

What Does Jehovah Mean? A Biblical Study On The Word Jehovah August 20, 2015

Does the word “Jehovah” appear in the Bible? Was in inserted by translators? What is the meaning of the word Jehovah if it does appear in the Bible?

Jehovah’s Origin

To many people’s surprise, the word Jehovah does not appear in the Bible anywhere at all. It is not found in the Old Testament, where many assume it would be, but neither does it appear in the New Testament either. The origin of the word “Jehovah” is a mystery to most Bible scholars. For one thing, the Hebrew language does not have any vowels. They pronounced vowel-like sounds in their words but they were never in written form. Some translators concocted the name of Jehovah from YWHW which is spelled Yahweh (pronounced “YAH way”) but the ancient Israelites were so afraid of mispronouncing God’s name that they never used this form of His name. We really don’t know how YWHW was pronounced at all.

Disagreements

There is no universal agreement about how to pronounce God’s name YWHW. Some write it out “Yehowah” or “Yahuweh” but this is only an estimate of how it might sound since YWHW is a tetragrammaton and there is far too much uncertainty to be sure about how to pronounce YWHW. The Jews, in fear of misusing God’s name, preferred the names “Elohim” or “Adonai.” The spelling of “Jehovah” entered the English language through William Tyndale’s translation of the Bible completed in 1537 but Tyndale transliterated the tetragrammaton into the English language by using the Masoretic vowel markings as those used in the Renaissance so this shows that there is very likely error in Jehovah being God’s literal name. For one thing, God has many names and His many names have to do with His attributes or characteristics such as Elohim, Adonai, EL-ELYON, El OLAM, EL-ROI, EL-SHADDAI, and dozens more attached to the names of God but even the word “Yahweh” in the original Hebrew is “YWHW” and we can only guess about how this was pronounced.

And-there-is-salvation

The Only Name

Even though there are many names for God there is but one name that believers know about whereby they can be saved and it is mentioned in Acts 4:12 (among many other places),”And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Even though this name is pronounced Yah SHOE Ah, which is from the Old Testament Hebrew name Joshua, we know it as Jesus and whoever believes in Jesus Christ can be saved (Rom 10:9-13). Jesus’ name means, like Joshua’s, “God saves” or “God is salvation” or simply “salvation” which is essentially the same thing. When Mary was told earlier that she was to give birth to Jesus, an angel proclaimed to Joseph, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matt 1:21). The Jehovah Witnesses’ false believe that not using Jehovah as God’s name at all times is likened to idolatry even though there is zero evidence that this name is in the original manuscripts.

Conclusion

The Son of God is Jesus Christ and that is the most vital name to know about how to be saved. Paul wrote “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says that “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame” (Rom 10:9-11) because Jesus is “the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom 10:12-13). That’s all we need to know about God concerning how we might be saved because as the jailer asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:30-31).

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon.

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  • A B

    All very interesting, so what should we do with the names Jehonadab, Jehoash, Jehozadak, Jehhozadab, Jehoaddah, Jehoram etc. etc?
    And the English name Jesus; is it the original Bible spelling and pronunciation?

    • Jack Wellman

      Thank you AB. Jesus is not actually English. The name Jesus used in the English New Testament comes from the Latin form of the Greek name Ἰησοῦς (Iēsous), a rendition of the Hebrew Yeshua (ישוע), related to the name Joshua. As for the other names, what do they have to do with this article? These are names from men in the Bible and this article is referring to the origin of Jehovah.

      • A B

        Thanks Jack. I suppose the point I was trying to make is that although we don’t know the exact pronunciation, there was a name and the name was given by God himself.
        We use many names in various forms and pronunciations. For example William could be Wilhelm or Guillaume but we know the person and their personality and qualities, just as we know God, whether he be Yahweh or Jehovah, or the hundreds of other spellings and pronunciations that exist.
        When I mentioned Jehonadab, Jehoash and the others, surely these are simply derivatives of Jehovah?

      • Darryl

        So how do you say Gods name (YHWH) ? If you don’t use Jehovah then all the other names would have to be changed would they not? Of course Jesus is the is the accepted name of the son of God(WHWH) in English.

        • Darryl

          Preachers really get hung up on Gods name . When they do any of their followers who study the matter can see how they haven been taught the truth of the matter. Many are content with just listening.One preacher said he preached for 30 years. No one ever caught on that there is no such verse as Deutaromy 6:3

          • zocolofishing

            I didn’t catch the last part.. There is a Deut 6:3. However ‘Jack’ above is hung up on the use of “God’s” name.

          • Darryl

            They must have edited my comment . I wrote it. Second Deutaromy 3:6

      • zocolofishing

        What do you mean ‘Jesus’ is not actually English’? By that reasoning: Jehovah also comes from the latin ‘Iehovah’…as do other bible names. See the Tyndale Bible in 1530, he used Iehovah. Slowly this was changed to ‘Jehovah’ as was the rest of all the other bible names.

  • Lots of inaccuracies here, the tetragrammaton is “YHWH” not “YWHW” as you spell it in this article, and that is just the start. Can you provide your sources for this statement “The Jehovah Witnesses’ false believe that not using Jehovah as God’s name at all times is likened to idolatry”. Most JW literature is available online at jw.org, I can’t find any statements like this anywhere, where did you hear this?

    • kingtoocole

      The fact that JWs predominantly use Jehovah as a false name for God and say that Jehovah is the name given by which anyone can be saved, is a substitute for Jesus Christ and therefore fits the definition of using the name of a false god, which is idolatry.

  • James

    I have the 1611 King James version given to me by my Grandmother. It has Jehovah in it @ PSALMS 83:18. My aunt showed this just last week. I highlighted it.

  • James
  • James

    Let me see if I can upload the pic from my bible.

  • James

    I googled God name King James and found this too.

    http://www.dnkjb.net/

  • James

    You state that “the Hebrew language does not have any vowels. They pronounced vowel-like sounds in their words but they were never in written form” as reasoning for not using the commonly accepted pronunciation of “Jehovah”. By this reasoning we can’t truly know the exact pronunciation of Joshua, Jehonadab, etc. By that same reasoning then, we can’t truly be sure of the original pronunciation of the name Jesus either. You also fail to mention that Jesus was very clearly drawing attention to the importance of God’s name at John 17:26 “and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known” (NAS). At Matt. 6:9 Jesus prayed (to God, his Father) “let YOUR name be sanctified”. At John 12:28 Jesus again prayed to God (his Father), “Glorify YOUR name”. If Jesus himself said God’s name is important, how can YOU tell others that it is not?

  • SJ

    I have been following some of the writings and seen some of the Followers of Yah videos and they know quite a bit on ancient conspiracies and controversies over God’s name.

    Short videos:

    The Set Apart Ones
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=a81e8cKNJmA

    The Set Apart Name of ElOHiM
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OGoWhOfDG74

    The Great Conspiracy, Part One
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=IbO9kPfD6IY

    The Great Conspiracy, Part Two
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_5zrTL7LnSA

    The Great Conspiracy, Part Three
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=DYV0GvphAJo

    I think whether or not we use the right name of God could have huge ramifications for the world and God’s people yet we also know that God can read hearts and minds and understand our groanings in our imperfect state. Still in spite of the institutionalization and traditionalization of the non Hebrew forms of the names of the Son of God I am starting to deliberately use, pray and call on the name Yahushua HaMasiach…..Because I know God does everything for the sake of His name and I do believe He likes it when we call on Him using the correct name because He is a person and people always like to be called by their correct name and usually correct you when you mispronounce their name.

    Fortunately for us, God knows all things so He knows about this conspiracy to change His name. But it is wonderful to have access to the Hebrew form of The Name….some Messianic Jews like to refer to God as HaShem which means The Name so they don’t mispronounce or misuse His name accidentally.

  • generalstratos

    I’ve studied on and off with Jehovah’s Witnesses over the years and know enough to know that the author of this article needs to do a little more studying and a little less talking. It’s articles like this that kick me in the butt and make me want to become a baptized witness. I need to call my Bible study teacher…

    • SJ

      Why are you expecting total perfection?

      If we were already totally perfect then Yahushua didn’t have to come.

    • Jack Wellman

      So is “Jehovah” in the original manuscripts? Show me proof then. Maybe you can study too or do call your Bible study teacher. Maybe they can help you.

      • generalstratos

        First of all, if you can’t even spell YHWH right, then go back to school or correct your article. No, Jehovah was not in the original manuscript. It was the Tetragrammaton. Jehovah is an English spelling designed to make the name easy to say. In Greek (my native language) it’s Ιεχωβά. Was that in the original Hebrew manuscript? No, but that’s the closest the Greeks could come to pronouncing YHWH. I don’t understand why this big hangup on the name Jehovah. Every language has their own way of saying it. Anyways, here’s what gets me: Why did Jesus think it was so important for his followers to know God’s name? Matthew 6:9 New International Version (NIV): 9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
        “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” How can one make a name hallowed or sanctified if one doesn’t know that name? John 17:6 English Standard Version (ESV): 6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.” Jesus seemed to think it was pretty important to make God’s name known to people.

        Now I’m just a simpleton, and not a Jehovah’s Witness, but I just did some simple online research and found the above information. I believe that salvation is through Jehovah God’s only begotten son, Jesus Christ. I like knowing that the Almighty God has a personal name that I can use. The Bible clearly shows that God knows my name (the hairs of my head are numbered), so why shouldn’t I know and use His name?

        • Shikinah

          Will you get the name Jesus in the original manuscripts no, does that mean that we should stop using it?

      • zocolofishing

        ‘Jehovah’ is an English translation, just like Jesus, Joshua, Jehoshaphat, Jonathan are all English translations of bible characters. In the beginning there were no ‘J’s in bible names. Why the fuss over the ‘Divine Name’ and not a fuss in the name of the other bible characters? None of which are being pronounced in English as there were originally in Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic. Maybe closer are some of the Spanish pronounciations, but we still don’t really know. A lot of them are completely lost. I don’t see the big deal. Every where on earth they are prounounced differently. Whether we are talking about… Jehovah.. Yehohu, Yehovah…Yehohua…..Many different spellings.. The same with Jesus… How is it prounounced in Spanish? More like Hey-sous? Right. A little bit closer to the Greek version, but still not quite right.

      • zocolofishing

        A great example: It is absolutely impossible to pronounce ‘Jack Wellman’ in Chinese. So you would have to be given a Chinese-Name. You see when translating from one language to another often changes must happen, if not always. Over time, somehow the ‘J’ appeared in the bible characters. Maybe it just rolled off the tongue in the Germanic languages. But it is no reason to just single out just the ‘Divine Name’. Only because it has been suppressed in later centuries, and the only people that generally use it in mass are the ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses’. I’m saying this is clouding your logic circuits. In Chinese Jehovah sounds like ‘Yeah-ha-hwah’.

      • Ben KARLIN

        Jack, I am trying to understand your point and your challenge. You must know original manuscripts of the Bible are not available, right? We only have the work of copyists over the centuries.

        We believe the manuscripts were written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. That means the words trinity, hell, soul, lord, God, and cat are not in the Bible. No English words were used, just as no Esperanto, Latin, Spanish or Zulu was. In fact, modern Hebrew and Greek differ from the language used by Bible writers.

        What I have trouble with is “So what’s your point?” Is this not the sort of thing the King James Version of the Bible calls “profane and vain babblings”? — 1 Tim 6:20; 2 Tim 2:6.

  • agzela

    (Jeʹsus) [Lat. form of the Gr. I·e·sousʹ, which corresponds to the Heb. Ye·shuʹaʽ or Yehoh·shuʹaʽ and means “Jehovah Is Salvation”].

    • Shikinah

      You are correct.

  • agzela

    Eph 3:14,15 says, “14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name.”NIV

    Who is the Father?

  • agzela

    By the way when you guys sing
    Hallelujah you are saying Praise Jah or Jehovah

    • Shikinah

      Exactly Hallelujah praise Jah or Jehovah, we also have the name Jeremiah, Elijah, they all consist of Jehovah’s name..

  • Shikinah

    So what about name Jesus how comes we accept that when in Hebrew it’s Yeshua that has vowels. So how comes the name Jehovah in English is not accepted?

  • zocolofishing

    Yahweh is generally a ‘transliteration’ not a translation. Jehovah is an English translation of the tetragrammaton (YHWH). There are certain bibles that use ‘Yahweh’ in their translations in English such as the Jerusalem bible. These are nice translations. Is the writer for no ‘Translations’ of bible names, or for some?’ which is it? And why specifically want to block the translation of ‘YHWH’? I say he says that because in English the name ‘Jehovah’ is now linked with “Jehovah’s Witnesses”. Because hardly anyone else uses it. Acts 15:14 “…God for the first time turned his attention to the nations to take out of them a people for his name.”

  • zocolofishing

    Classic John Cleese ‘buys it’ uttering Jehovah…’I wanna make this absolutely clear…’ LOL
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYkbqzWVHZI

  • zocolofishing

    This progression has taken place for all ‘J’ names in the Hebrew bible.

  • Vlad Impaler

    What poorly written article. Exodus 13:3 “But Moses said to the true God: “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your forefathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is his name?’ God CLEARLY gave Moses his name. JEHOVAH. it is suppose to be in the bible. in term as not having vowels YHWH that is true, but the Divine name IS translated. Jehovah is not pronounced the same in every language.

    • evangelist

      did God actually call himself Jehova or IAM?

      • Vlad Impaler

        BOTH. he first says his name is ” I am that I AM…. then in the following verse he states his formal name, Jehovah.

    • evangelist

      did God actually call himself Jehova or IAM?

  • Eric Cunningham

    You should edit your thing after all everyone is pressuring you…
    Why Not? Look on the internet a lot of stuff prove that you’re wrong. Jw. Org is the most widely translated website IN THE WORLD. the watchtower the most widely translated magazine in the world. AND LOOK AT THE PROOF ABOVE see it all? just please change that. isnt this supposed to be a dictionary? Well jehovahs witnesses don’t “falsely” claim that not using gods name is idolatry. And jehovahs witnesses dont “overuse” his name. Besides basically everything was contradictory to those things. I Mean THE CAMPAIGN WAS CALLED WHAT “CHRISTIANS”WANT TO KNOW!!! ITS SO AGGRAVATING.

  • Eric Cunningham

    oh jehovahs doesn’t appear anywhere at all in the old testament/new yeah because it did the opposite to the intro THEY REPLACED IT WITH LORD. GODS NAME APPEARS OVER 1000 TIMES IN THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS oh theres proof… jehovah is gods name you even said that BUT its contradictory to the paragraph entitled jehovahs origin. And the ancient israelites weren’t afraid to use gods name, the translators that were in the 17-18th centuries were. NOW NOBODY USES THE NAME JEHOVAH EXEPT JEHOVAHS WITNESSES

  • Eric Cunningham

    And thier bible students / a small amount of other people

  • Eric Cunningham

    Zocofishing your video didn’t help at all

  • evangelist

    I think there is a lot of contradiction about how God introduced himself to Moses. If
    he called himself YHWH and the jews would not pronouce his name for fear of misusing it. Then YHWH could not have been translated to be Jehovah. For the fact that the jews easily and freuquently used the word Je or jeho or jah in their names. Would not they have seen it as abomination to insert a name they so dread or fear in the names of their children. Even though the name of jesus was common in his days, who would call himself today Jesus without fear of abomination.

  • Ricki Gartside

    I clicked on this site to find the meaning of the name Jehovah and I could not find an answer. Jehovah is the name God uses in His forming a relationship with man. He is the self existing and ever existing one. He is the I AM THAT I AM. His name means TO BE. In the new testament Jesus is described as having no beginning or end of days. In the garden He referred to Himself as I am and in Hebrews HE IS. We are nothing HE IS. I am the bread, I am the life , I am the light, I am the truth, I am the way, I am the resurrection. Stop all your debating over doctrine and call on His name and you will be saved. He is rich to all that call upon His name. His name is for us to enjoy whether you call Jehovah or Jesus. When you call you will enter into a relationship with Him. In 1 corinthians 12:3 it says no one can say Lord Jesus except in the Holy Spirit.