Wait! God has a name? The Bible refers to our supreme deity as God, Lord or LORD. God and Lord, however, are just titles. “God” in Hebrew is Elohim (pronounced el-o-heem’) and means “mighty one”. Lord (lower case letters in your Bible) in Hebrew is Adonai (or adoni) and it means “supreme authority” or “master.” LORD, in all caps, is where the actual name of God used to be.
So what IS His name?
Wherever you see the word LORD in your Bible, it originally said YHWH. Not long into my journey for Truth, I experienced teachers referring to God as YHWH. Of course I had to know why, so I dove into research mode. I discovered that YHWH is the Hebrew name for our God. It is the name used in the original Hebrew scripture scrolls. It was changed to LORD by men in early translations of the scriptures.
Why was it changed?
Man chose to remove His Holy Name from our Bible over 7,000 times and replace it with LORD – without scriptural instruction from YHWH Himself. Here’s how it happened:
“After the Babylonian Exile (6th century BCE), and especially from the 3rd century BCE on, Jews ceased to use the Name YHWH for two reasons. As Judaism became a universal rather than merely local religion, the more common noun Elohim, meaning “God,” tended to replace YHWH to demonstrate the universal sovereignty of Israel’s God over all others. At the same time, the divine Name was increasingly regarded as too sacred to be uttered; it was thus replaced vocally in the synagogue ritual by the Hebrew word Adonai (“My Lord”), which was translated as Kyrios (“Lord”) in the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Hebrew Scriptures.
The Masoretes, who from about the 6th to the 10th century worked to reproduce the original text of the Hebrew Bible, replaced the vowels of the name YHWH with the vowel signs of the Hebrew words Adonai or Elohim. Latin-speaking Christian scholars substituted the Y (which does not exist in Latin) with an I or a J (the latter of which exists in Latin as a variant form of I). Thus, the tetragrammaton became the artificial Latinized Name Jehovah (JeHoWaH). As the use of the Name spread throughout medieval Europe, the initial letter J was pronounced according to the local vernacular language rather than Latin.
Although Christian scholars after the Renaissance and Reformation periods used the term Jehovah for YHWH, in the 19th and 20th century’s biblical scholars again began to use the form Yahweh. Early Christian writers, such as St. Clement of Alexandria in the 2nd century, had used a form like Yahweh, and this pronunciation of the tetragrammaton was never really lost. Many Greek transcriptions also indicated that YHWH should be pronounced Yahweh.
The meaning of the personal name of the Israelite God has been variously interpreted. Many scholars believe that the most proper meaning may be “He Brings into Existence Whatever Exists” (Yahweh-Asher-Yahweh). In I Samuel, God is known by the name Yahweh Teva-ʿot, or “He Brings the Hosts into Existence,” the hosts possibly referring to the heavenly court or to Israel.
The personal name of God probably was known long before the time of Moses. The name of Moses’ mother was Jochebed (Yokheved), a word based on the name Yahweh. Thus, the tribe of Levi, to which Moses belonged, probably knew the name Yahweh, which originally may have been (in its short form Yo, Yah, or Yahu) a religious invocation of no precise meaning evoked by the mysterious and awesome splendor of the manifestation of the holy.” (https://www.britannica.com/topic/Yahweh)
There is Power in His Name
Scripture is clear that YHWH wants us to use and remember His Name. Was removing His name a deception of the devil? Satan doesn’t want us to speak the name of YHWH, for there is power in His name. The devil wants us to forget His name and therefore reduce His power in our lives.
I am YHWH; that is My Name; My glory I give to no other, nor My praise to carved idols. Isaiah 42:8
But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you My power, so that My Name may be proclaimed in all the earth. Exodus 9:16
An altar of earth you shall make for Me and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen. In every place where I cause My Name to be remembered I will come to you and bless you. Exodus 20:24
And He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you My Name ‘YHWH.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” Exodus 33:19
And those who know your name put their trust in You, for You, O YHWH, have not forsaken those who seek You. Psalms 9:10
I will tell of Your Name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise You. Psalms 22:22
Because he holds fast to Me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows My Name. Psalms 91:14
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His Holy Name! Psalms 103:1
Your name, O YHWH, endures forever, your renown, O YHWH, throughout all ages. Psalms 135.13
O YHWH, you are my God; I will exalt You; I will praise Your Name, for You have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure. Isaiah 25:1
Therefore My people shall know My Name. Therefore in that day they shall know that it is I who speak; here I AM. Isaiah 52:6
Therefore, behold, I will make them know, this once I will make them know My power and My might, and they shall know that My name is YHWH. Jeremiah 16:21
How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart, who think to make My people forget My name by their dreams that they tell one another, even as their fathers forgot My name for Baal? Jeremiah 23:26-27Additional verses: Ezekiel 39:7, Malachi 1:11, Malachi 2:2, Romans 9:17
How do you pronounce YHWH?
Nobody really knows for sure how to pronounce YHWH, since the pronunciation was lost with the Jewish Rabbi’s long ago. There are three main pronunciations today – Yahweh, Yahuwah, and Jehovah – from different groups that all claim they are correct and all claim they were inspired by the Holy Spirit. If they were truly inspired by the Holy Spirit, however, there would be unity among them and not discord.
I tend to agree with Zach Bauer’s approach (video below) and choose not to take sides. It’s more important to honor Him with our heart and obedience, in spirit and truth, than to be obsessed with pronouncing His Name perfectly. If you are drawn to use the name YHWH in your spiritual walk, choose a pronunciation that you are comfortable with and use it with reverence and honor. Continue to seek YHWH’s wisdom and He will reveal Himself to you in remarkable ways.
This article explains the different pronunciations of YHWH.