The English term “the Lord,” follows the translation of the Septuagint ΚυρίοV (“Lord”) for the Hebrew tetragrammaton יְהֹוָה (“Jehovah”). The name יְהֹוָה is believed to be derived from the root הָיָה a common “to be” verb. The most expressive definition is found in God revealing His name to Moses in Exodus 3:14-15 with the famous” I AM THAT I AM.” Christ argued the present tense of the “I Am” statement implied the dead patriarchs were presently alive (Matthew 22:32; Mark 12:26; Luke 20:37-38). The timeless expression has no tense as Christ identified Himself with in John 8:58, “Before Abraham was, I am.” This is likely paralleled to Christ’s revelation of Himself in Revelation 1:8, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” The implication of identifying Himself as the “Alpha and Omega” may be alluding to the Psalmists expression, “from everlasting to everlasting” (Psalms 41:13; 90:2; 103:17; 106:48). The simple sense of the name Jehovah is the existing One Who is outside of the time dimension. As theologian John Gill explained the name as “his necessary and self existence, for God naturally and necessarily exists; which cannot be said of any other[.]”1)John Gill, Complete Body of Doctrinal and Practical Divintiy: or A Sysem of Evangelical Truths, Deduced from the Sacred Scriptures, Baker Book House (Grand Rapids, MI: 1839, 1978), Vol. 1, p. 42 Philo gave similar expression writing in the first century, “the living God is not of a nature to be described, but only to be.”2)Philo, On Dreams, 1. 230; in The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged New Updated Version (Trans. C. D. Yonge), (Peabody, MA: 1997), p. 385 Justin Martyr concurred with this thought, expressing,

On this account, then, as I before said, God did not, when He sent Moses to the Hebrews, mention any name, but by a participle He mystically teaches them that He is the one and only God. For, says He; I am the Being; manifestly contrasting Himself, the Being, with those who are not, that those who had hitherto been deceived might see that they were attaching themselves, not to beings, but to those who had no being…. On this account He said to Moses, I am the Being, that by the participle being He might teach the difference between God who is and those who are not. Men, therefore, having been duped by the deceiving demon, and having dared to disobey God, were cast out of Paradise, remembering the name of gods, but no longer being taught by God that there are no other god.3)Justin Martyr, Horatory Address to the Greeks, 21; in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson; 1885-1887, Hendrickson (Peabody, Massachusetts) 1994, fifth edition 2012, Vol. 1, p. 281

Thus, the very name is unique and can belong to none other but Jehovah (Psalm 83:18; Isaiah 42:8). The Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah explicitly states this: “I praised the One who is not named and is unique[.]”4)The Ascension of Isaiah the Prophet, 7:37; in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Ed. James H. Charlesworth) Doubleday (New York, NY: 1985), Vol. 2, p. 168

There is a debate over the personal name of God is its proper pronunciation. “The pronunciation of the tetragrammaton yhwh was lost when the Jews avoided its usage for fear of desecrating the holy name (cf. Exod. 20:7)…. The pronunciation fell into disuse after the Exile when the Jews began to pay careful attention to the practice of the law.”5)Willem A VanGemeren, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (ed. Walter A. Elwell), Baker Books (Grand Rapids, MI: 1984), p. 1080 It was clearly used after the captivity as is evident being used by Ezra (37 times), Nehemiah (17 times), Haggai (35 times), Zechariah (133 times), and Malachi (46 times). The concern of speaking God’s name is presented by Jesus son of Sirach around 250 B.C., stating, “Accustom not thy mouth to swearing; neither use thyself to the naming of the Holy One. For as a servant that is continually beaten shall not be without a blue mark; so he that sweareth and nameth God continually shall not be faultless.” (Ecclesiasticus 23:9-10)6)The Apocrypha (ed. Manuel Komroff, Barnes & Noble Books (New York, NY: 1992), p. 188 An early portion of The Ascension of Isaiah the Prophet, presumably dated to the second century B.C., states, “As the LORD lives whose name has not been transmitted to this world[.]”7)The Ascension of Isaiah the Prophet, 1:7; in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Ed. James H. Charlesworth) Doubleday (New York, NY: 1985), Vol. 2, p. 157 In a later Christian interpolation a similar comment is made of “the Lord Christ, who is to be called in the world Jesus, but you cannot hear his name[.]”8)The Ascension of Isaiah the Prophet, 9:5; in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Ed. James H. Charlesworth) Doubleday (New York, NY: 1985), Vol. 2, p. 170

The Masoretic text consistently spells יְהֹוָה with the proper transliteration as Yehowah, or as the traditional spelling has been Jehovah. Current scholarship has perpetuated the opinion of the pronunciation as Yahweh יַהְוֶה. However, it is important to understand that the later vocalization of the tetragrammaton is never found in any Hebrew text. “For one who maintains Biblical presuppositions, it is inconceivable that God would allow the correct pronunciation of His Name to be lost (cf. Exodus 3:15; Psalm 9:10; Proverbs 18:10; Joel 2:32), so the pointing actually in the Hebrew text must represent the correct pronunciation, Yehowah or Jehovah.”9)Thomas Ross, Evidence for the Inspiration of the Hebrew Vowel Points, p. 47; available at https://faithsaves.net/inspiration-hebrew-vowel-points/ The current consensus pronunciation of Yahweh יַהְוֶה falls under serious pressure from the burden of proof, not just from the lack of manuscript evidence, but also from grammatical problems. First, the claim is based on radical idea that scribes altering manuscripts to remind readers not to pronounce the tetragrammaton. “The vowels of ’adōnāy (a-ō-ā) were placed under the tetragrammaton to remind the reader that he was not to pronounce yhwh but instead was to read the word as adōnāy.”10)Willem A VanGemeren, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (ed. Walter A. Elwell), Baker Books (Grand Rapids, MI: 1984), p. 1080 But this does not explain accurately the vowels of יְהֹוָה (Jehovah not Jahovah). So it becomes further needed to speculate that the a is reduced to an e for no apparent reason. The second major issue is that this vowel reduction defies Hebrew grammar. The ה is considered a guttural and “gutturals are never followed immediately by ə.”11)Thomas O. Lambdin, Introduction to Biblical Hebrew, Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd (London: 1973), p. xx That is to say, the Hebrew consonant He with the vowel point Shewa הְ is not grammatically acceptable. Could it be possible that such an elementary grammatical rule would be ignored 6,820 time in 1,001 verses in the Hebrew Scriptures?

This calculation is based on Ernst Jenni tabulation, though it depends upon which manuscript one is utilizing. Jenni offers the following tabulation of the uses according to each book:

Genesis 165; Exodus 398; Leviticus 311; Numbers 396; Deuteronomy 550; Joshua 224; Judges 175; Ruth 18; 1 Samuel 320; 2 Samuel 153; 1 Kings 257; 2 Kings 277; 1 Chronicles 175; 2 Chronicles 384; Ezra 37; Nehemiah 17; Esther 0; Job 32; Psalms 695; Proverbs 87; Ecclesiastes 0; Song of Solomon 0; Isaiah 450; Jeremiah 726; Lamentations 32; Ezekiel 434; Daniel 8; Hosea 46; Joel 33; Amos 81; Obadiah 7; Jonah 26; Micah 40; Nahum 13; Habakkuk 13; Zephaniah 34; Haggai 35; Zechariah 133; Malachi 4612)Ernst Jenni and Claus Westermann, Theological Lexicon on the Old Testament, Hendrickson Publishers (Peabody, Mass.: 1997), p. 522

Not only would the 6,820 times the tetragrammaton is used, but also the multitudes of names of men in the Bible that carry God’s name as the basis or there spelling would also have to have been corrupted with this grammatical error. Consider the names of Jehoadah (1 Chronicles 8:36), Jehoaddan (2 Chronicle 25:1), Jehoahaz (2 Kings 10:35), Jehoash (2 Kings 11:21), Jehohanan (1 Chronicles 26:3), Jehoiachin (2 Kings 24:6), Jehoiada (2 Samuel 8:18), Jehoiakim (2 Kings 23:34), Jehoiarib (1 Chronicles 9:10), Jehonadab (2 Kings 10:15), Jehonathan (1 Chronicles 27:25), Jehoram (1 Kings 22:50), Jehoseph (Psalm 81:5 [Hebrew verse 6]), Jehoshabeath (2 Chronicles 22:11), Jehoshapht (2 Samuel 8:16), Jehosheba (2 Kings 11:2), Jehoshua (Numbers 13:16), Jehozabad (2 Kings 12:21), Jehozadak (1 Chronicles 6:14).13)Thomas Ross, Evidence for the Inspiration of the Hebrew Vowel Points, p. 49-50; available at https://faithsaves.net/inspiration-hebrew-vowel-points/ Furthermore, names ending with iah, depicted in names such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah, reveal the shortened name יָהּ Yah (Psalm 86:4) expose the dependence of the ending of Jehovah in contrast to Yahweh. Similarly, familiar words like Hallelujah הַֽלְלוּ־יָֽהּ (Psalm 104:35; 105:45; 106:1, 48) as well as the Greek transliteration Ἁλληλουϊά (Revelation 19:1, 3, 4, 6) further confirm the ah ending of Jehovah. Additionally, Greek fragments of Leviticus 4:27 discovered with the Dead Sea Scrolls transliterate the name with the Greek letter Iao (4Q120 fr. 20, 4),14)The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls In English (Trans. Geza Vermes), Penguin Classics (London, England: 1962, 2004, p. 472 which cannot be explained when Yahweh makes no reason for the letter “o” while Jehovah can explain it as well as the phonetically similar sound of the Hebrew Shewa being transliterated with an “a” over other Greek vowels. These fact reveal how foolish it is to claim that the pronunciation of Jehovah began to be “falsely read” in the Middle Ages.15)Ernst Jenni and Claus Westermann, Theological Lexicon on the Old Testament, Hendrickson Publishers (Peabody, Mass.: 1997), p. 522

By the time the Septuagint was translated the sacred name of God had ceased to be used as seen in the fact that the translators did not transliterate the name into Greek but wrote “the Lord.” This practice was followed by Jesus Christ and the New Testament authors. The earliest expression fallacious pronunciation of Yahweh is probably from Clement of Alexandria, who never knew Hebrew but read and wrote in Greek, saying: “the mystic name of four letters which was affixed to those alone to whom he adytum was accessible, is called Jave, which is interpreted, ‘Who is and shall be.’”16)Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata, or Miscellanice, book 5, chapt. 6; in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson; 1885-1887, Hendrickson (Peabody, Massachusetts) 1994, fifth edition 2012, Vol. 2, p. 452 Clement’s Greek spelling appears as Iaouai/e. A few manuscripts of Life of Adam and Eve from the ninth (S), tenth (T), and twelfth century (M) have a passage with the spelling IHU.17)Life of Adam and Eve, 14:2; in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Ed. James H. Charlesworth) Doubleday (New York, NY: 1985), Vol. 2, p. 262, see fn. 14b. A Coptic Gnostic text strings together what appears to be random vowels

I I I I I I I I I I I I

Ē Ē Ē Ē Ē Ē Ē Ē Ē Ē Ē Ē

O O O O O O O O O O O O

U U U U U U U U U U U U

E E E E E E E E E E E E

A A A A A A A A A A A A A

Ō Ō Ō Ō Ō Ō Ō Ō Ō Ō Ō Ō18)The Holy Book of the Great Invisible Spirit, in The Nag Hammadi Scriptures: The International Edition (ed. Marvin Meyer), HarperOne (New York, NY: 2007), p. 255

It has been suggested that this is meant to be read as an acrostic spelling IĒOUEAŌ. This is explained:

it spells out IEOU Ē A (alpha) Ō (omega). The word IEOU is actually the name for God in some third-century sources (such as the Books of Jeu, where the name Jeu = Ieou). The letter E (epsilon) may stand here for the number five (epsilon, the fifth letter of the Greek alphabet and used to represent numbers). Five, in turn, was a symbol of wholeness and may represent the original Pentad of beings in the highest aeon. Finally, the letters A(alpha) and Ō (omega) are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet and also symbolize the wholeness of God; in the New Testament’s book of Revelation, Jesus states that he is the “Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Rev 22:13). To put this all together, the string of vowels represent not a meaningless chant, but a condensed symbol for God, or God’s ineffable name.19)Nicola Denzey Lewis, Introduction to “Gnosticism,” Oxford University Press (Oxford N.Y.: 2013), p. 171

The common opinion of the ancient world was that the name of a god could be used to preform magic, called voces magicae. These late texts have no bearing on the proper pronunciation of the name Jehovah as they are produced in foreign languages by people far removed from the Hebrew culture and time when God’s people stopped using the proper name of the Lord. Philo suggests that it was Moses who established the law to not pronounce the LORD’s name. “You have seen that it was worse to name God than even to curse him; for you would never have treated lightly a man who had committed the heaviest of all impieties, and inflicted the heaviest punishment possible on those who committed the slightest faults; but you fixed death, which is the very greatest punishment imaginable, as the penalty for the man who appeared to have committed the heaviest crime.”20)On the Life of Moses, 2.204; in The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged New Updated Version (Trans. C. D. Yonge), (Peabody, MA: 1997), p. 509 If an educated Greek speaking Jew such as Philo acknowledged the sacred name has not been spoken for such a long time, surely Greek or Coptic speaking Gentiles would be utterly clueless of the proper pronunciation.

The Decalogue in Philo

The ancient Greek version of Exodus contains a fascinating alteration within the Ten Commandments which is further altered by Philo. Likely due to the Greek interest in rhetoric, the Ten Commandments as discussed by Philo reveal a chiastic structure which is missing from the Masoretic Hebrew. With the Ten Commandments divided into two tables of stone (Exodus 31:18; Deuteronomy 4:13; 9:10-11; 1 Kings 8:9), it is historically assumed “there is an equal division into two numbers of five; the first of which contains the principles of justice relating to God, and the second those relating to man.”21)Philo, Who is the Heir of Divine Things, 168; in The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged New Updated Version (Trans. C. D. Yonge), (Peabody, MA: 1997), p. 290 The first table would contain a chiasm which is also evident in the Hebrew:

1. Thou shall have no other gods

2. Thou shall make no graven images

3. Thou shall not take the LORD’s name in vain

4. Remember the Sabbath day

5. Honour thy parents

The second table from the Septuagint version places the sixth commandments against murder as the eighth following the prohibition of adultery and stealing (Exodus 20:13-15 [LXX]). Philo follows the order of the LXX in The Decalogue 36;22)Philo, The Decalogue, 36; in The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged New Updated Version (Trans. C. D. Yonge), (Peabody, MA: 1997), p. 521 however, elsewhere Philo expounds on the topic but only switches the sixth and seventh commandments around which produces a chiasm that is absent from the Hebrew text.

6. Thou shall not commit adultery

7. Thou shall not kill

8. Thou shall not steal

9. Thou shall not bear false witness

10. Thou shall not covet23)Philo, The Decalogue, 168-174; in The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged New Updated Version (Trans. C. D. Yonge), (Peabody, MA: 1997), p. 532-533

This second table according to Philo is also evident in the New Testament (Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20; Romans 13:9; but Matthew 19:18 follows Masoretic order) depicting a chiasm connecting the prohibition of adultery with not coveting. The command to not covet is specifically related to “thy neighbor’s wife” (Exodus 20:17). The command to not kill is parallel to not bearing false witness, which by such perjury in a court case potentially carries the death sentence (1 Kings 21:10; Proverbs 25:18). This leaves the command to not steal as the pivot point of the second table.

The first table is consistent in order in all versions and portrays an interesting emphasis against taking the LORD’s name in vain as the pivot point. First note that the first command against having other gods is connected to the honour of parents. Relating these two commands was common in ancient Jewish literature. Philo states, “Therefore the law says, ‘Honour thy father and thy other next after God;’ assigning to them the second place in honour, on the same principle as nature herself has ranked them in her decision of their proper place and duties.”24)Philo, The Special Laws, 2. 235; in The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged New Updated Version (Trans. C. D. Yonge), (Peabody, MA: 1997), p. 590 Josephus concurs, “The law ordains also, that parents should be honoured immediately after God himself, and delivers that son who does not repay them for the benefit he has received from them, but is deficient on any such occasion, to be stones.”25)Josephus, Against Apion, 2.206; in The New Complete Works of Josephus (Revised and Expanded) (Trans. William Whiston, Introduction and Commentary by Paul L. Maier), Kregel Publications (Grand Rapids, MI: 1999), p. 973 The book of Jubilee says, “And in the twenty-eighth jubilee Noah began to command his grandsons with ordinances and commandments and all of the judgments which he knew. And he bore witness to his sons so that they might do justice and cover the shame of their flesh and bless the one who created them and honor father and mother[.]”26)Jubilees, 7:20; in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Ed. James H. Charlesworth) Doubleday (New York, NY: 1985), Vol. 2, p. 69-70 Pseudo- Phocylides declares, “Honor God foremost, and afterward your parents.”27)The Sentence of Pseudo-Phocylides, 8; in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Ed. James H. Charlesworth) Doubleday (New York, NY: 1985), Vol. 2, p. 574 The Sibylline Oracles comments on the Jews who “honor only the Immortal who always rules, and then their parents.”28)The Sibylline Oracles, 3.593; in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Ed. James H. Charlesworth) Doubleday (New York, NY: 1983), Vol. 1, p. 375 Clearly these two commandments were commonly connected.

The second and fourth commandments associate the concepts of braking the sabbath with idolatry. This leaves taking the name of the LORD in vain as the central emphasis on the first table. This command does not only restrict the use of God’s name with a cuss word, but any general use of His name being taken lightly without the proper reverence it deserves. By understanding that this commandment is identified as the middle command on the first table we can understand why Philo presented the idea that Moses was the one who originally commanded not to speak the name of the LORD.29)On the Life of Moses, 2.204; in The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged New Updated Version (Trans. C. D. Yonge), (Peabody, MA: 1997), p. 509 Though the Masoretic Hebrew text do not contain the chiasm of the second table which is further confirmed by the order of the commandments as quoted in Matthew. However, the Hebrew does have the chiasm evident on the first table. The Septuagint is very likely to have had ancient versions that existed with the order of the second table containing the chiasm since that specific order is related by independent textual witnesses such as Philo, Mark, Luke, and Paul.

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