As some of you may know, back in the 1990’s, I began taking Hebrew classes at the Jewish Community Center.  My goal was to read the Old Testament Scriptures (the New is written in Greek) through in their original language.  I completed my goal and continue daily my Hebrew Scripture reading.  I say that not to brag but as an introduction for what is to follow.

Recently, I have become quite disturbed by something. Yahveh (Jehovah in English) appears approximately 7,000 times in the Hebrew Old Testament Scriptures, yet Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance lists “Jehovah” only 7 times.  That never triggered anything with me the entire time I was reading through the Hebrew Bible.

Following are the seven references in Strong’s from the King James Version:  Ex. 6:3; Ps. 83:18; Is. 12:2; Is. 26:4; Gen. 22:14; Ex. 17:15; and Judges 6:24.

You might wonder why I write “Yahveh” and not “Jehovah.”  I am corresponding with a delightful, intellectual, Jewish word scholar in Israel, the author of a best-selling book on Hebrew verbs.  He has graciously contributed the following:  “The closest acceptable name in serious literature would be “Yahveh” (the “w” came instead of the “v” in Europe, mainly Germany, where their “v” is pronounced as our “f” and their “w” is pronounced as our “v”).”  He added, “There is no actual meaning to this as a word — only as the acronym of three statements.  It is a combination which stands for:  “I was” + “I am” + “I shall be.”  (I loved that part!) Yahveh is 4 letters in Hebrew: (a combination of) 2 of those letters are used when writing past tense, 2 are used when writing present and 2 are used when writing future.”

The thing that so disturbs me about all of this is that in my conservative religious upbringing, we adamantly espoused that the Bible is the infallible, inerrant Word of God, that all Scripture is God-breathed and that “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law” . . . Matt. 5:18.

Incredibly, both Jews and Christians have removed His specified Name (whether you say Yahveh or Jehovah) from the Scriptures! We both have substituted a generic term.  There are many so-called gods, lords, etc.: Buddha, Allah, Mohammad.  Actually, I could even call my husband “lord,” but there is only one Yahveh.  No other so-called deity has that exclusive Name.

I decided to go to Malachi, considered by Gentile scholars as the last book in the Old Testament, thinking that if Yahveh wanted us to stop using His Name, then it would surely have ceased by that time.  But, to my surprise, the mere four chapters of Malachi record Yahveh a remarkable 46 times.  So, when and why did “we” discontinue and substitute His God-breathed Name?  And, surely it was because we were given specific instructions from on High to do so, right?

I can’t find such a place, but this is what I did find:

Ex. 3:13-15 (all underlined words are from the original Hebrew):  And Moses said unto Elohim, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, El of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name?  What shall I say unto them?  And Elohim said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.  And Elohim said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, YAHVEH, El of your fathers, the El of Abraham, the El of Isaac, and the El of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.

Jer. 16:21 says, “Therefore I will teach them this time; I will teach them my power and might.  Then they will know that my name is Yahveh (LORD in KJV).”

Joel 2:32 says, “And everyone who calls on the name of Yahveh (LORD in KJV) will be saved.”

Listen to Ex. 20:7 (the Ten Commandments):  You shall not misuse the Name of Yahveh (not LORD) your God, for Yahveh (not LORD) will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses His Name.”  HAVE WE BEEN MISUSING HIS NAME?  HAVE WE BORNE THE GUILT OF MISUSING HIS NAME?

Quoting from Wiki.answers.com:

At some point a superstitious idea arose among the Jews that it was wrong even to pronounce the divine name Jehovah. Just what basis was originally assigned for discontinuing the use of the name is not definitely known. Some hold that the name was viewed as being too sacred for imperfect lips to speak. Yet the Hebrew Scriptures themselves give no evidence that any of God's true servants ever felt any hesitancy about pronouncing his name. Non-Biblical Hebrew records, such as the so-called Lachish Letters, show the name was used in regular correspondence in Palestine during the latter part of the seventh century B.C.E.
**Another view is that the intent was to keep non-Jewish peoples from knowing the name and possibly misusing it. However, Jehovah himself said that he would 'have his name declared in all the earth' (Ex 9:16; compare 1Ch 16:23, 24; Ps 113:3; Mal 1:11, 14), to be known even by his adversaries. (Isa 64:2).

The real travesty in all of this is that I have found several problem areas in the King James when substituting LORD for Yahveh.  It would seem that we could just read the English Scriptures and everywhere the word Lord is all caps, we could simply substitute Yahveh.  However, in Matt. 21:42, the whole verse is all caps, so is Lord in that verse just Lord, or is it Yahveh (LORD)?  Matt. 22:37 is also written in all caps.  It is a quote from Deut. 6:5 and in Hebrew is Yahveh, but how would we know?  Matt. 22:44 presents a huge challenge: the verse is also in all caps containing LORD two times; however, one is correctly Lord and the other is Yahveh, although they are both written LORD.  This is so unfair to the student who is seeking in earnest, and God didn’t do it, man did.  Incidentally, all of the above references are quotes from Jesus, himself.  I feel it slanderous to say he would have altered God’s Word.

Additionally, I find it provoking that at the very outset of the Lord’s Prayer Jesus said, “hallowed be thy Name.”  What Name?

There is also another Scripture that I find extremely troubling.  It is Malachi 3:16.  This is actually making reference to one of the five books (scrolls) that will be opened and read in Heaven.  “Then those who feared Yahveh talked with each other, and Yahveh listened and heard.  A Scroll of Remembrance was written in His presence concerning those who feared Yahveh and honored His Name.”  (NIV translation with my changing their LORD to Yahveh as it is in the original Hebrew.) If we take this verse literally, then one has to wonder how many of us really are going to be listed in that Scroll?  What does it mean to honor His Name — what Name?

I feel that as I write and as you read, we are talking with each other about Yahveh, His real Name, and my fervent prayer is that we will be among those written in this Scroll of Remembrance.

In the early stages of this writing, I decided to “test the waters” and send this article to several people, most of whom are in ministry and whom I hold in high esteem spiritually.  I received only one negative comment.  But, one in particular that really blessed me came from a brilliant mind, loving, full of years, retired Baptist pastor.  He wrote:

Dear Sister,
        You have hit on something that has been a problem for me for so many years that I cannot recall when I first discovered it.  Fortunately, I still have a copy of:  "The Holy Bible, containing the Old and New Testaments, translated out of the original tongues being the version set forth A. D. 1611 compared with the most  ancient authorities and revised A. D. 1881-1885, newly edited by the American Revision Committee A. D. 1901 Standard Edition."  Published by Thomas Nelson Publishers.  This is commonly known as The American Standard Bible of 1901.  In my seminary classes this was considered as the last reliable translation of the Bible.
        In the Preface I quote, "The change first proposed in the Appendix — which substitutes “Jehovah” for “Lord” and “God” (printed in small capitals) — is one which will be unwelcome to many, because of the frequency and familiarity of the terms displaced."
        . . .
Now, we must ask if this substitution is blaspheming God's Holy Name.  If so, who will be held accountable?  Keep on with your studies and thank Him every day for the presence of The Holy Spirit who leads us in righteousness.
Sincerely, Jim Allen.  Matthew 13:57.
Yahveh, Most High God, if we have “misused” your Holy Name, please have mercy and pardon and help us to get it right!

Diane McNeil