I don’t normally address debates unless:
- God leads me to,
- I’m asked,
- I just feel I can’t remain silent anymore.
For now, I’m writing the topic for today for 2 out of 3 reasons above. Let me explain what I’m referring to.
I’ve noticed an increase in the number of people around me who are using the name Yahuah for YHVH, as opposed to Yahweh or Yehovah (Jehovah). If they do this, they also use Yahushua for Yeshua, which is a variation of Yehoshua or Joshua.
So, what are we to think of this? Are these names valid? Where do they come from? In my situation, I initially thought they were mixing the names of Yeshua with Yahweh, but that was not the case.
First, before we address these questions, let me suggest that we not become offended with each other for pronouncing things differently or offended when someone questions the reason why it’s being done. Being confused by this practice is enough of a problem.
We need to be willing to lovingly question one another and exchange thoughts on any debate or topic and still be friends. One person may have discovered new information that needs to be examined. The other may not have the skills necessary for critical analysis. A third may not ever study and just does what they like or sounds good to them. A fourth has done something one way their whole life and isn’t going to change. A fifth may not have foreign language skills to study out a matter. Since there are so many different people with different skill sets, we need to talk with each other and examine information that we encounter on the internet because there are a lot of non-scholars posting stuff out there that, at first glance, may sound right until another more qualified person comes along with more information.
Please don’t just say to someone, “this is where I’m at right now, and I don’t want to talk about it.” I strongly encourage you to examine all kinds of information with others before making serious changes to what you are doing as you walk out your faith.
I understand that we are all in different places in our walk with YHVH, but we need to be willing to hear various positions on different topics so we don’t find ourselves accepting and practicing errors.
Some things, like how we pronounce words, are not terribly serious. I don’t equate this with sin. Yet, I have found it to be somewhat distracting from the main discussions at hand. What if YHVH does too?
For those who want the bottom line, I’ll give a summary first, followed by a full explanation.
- The vav in YHVH can’t be both a vowel and a consonant at the same time. Therefore, it can’t be both a “u” sound (a shureq) and carry the “a” sound, which the consonant vav can do when functioning only as a consonant.
- Using the pronunciation “Yehuah” would require us to add another Hebrew consonant to the Tetragrammaton (YHVH) in order to carry the final “a” sound — perhaps an ayin or aleph — but then The Name would no longer be YHVH.
- There are about 44 times, mostly in Jeremiah, that YHVH is pronounced “Yehovah” because of a plene/defective holem PRECEEDING the consonant vav, which makes the long “o” sound in the prefix “Yeho-.” This vav is definitely a consonant (“v” sound) — not a holem-vav — because it has the qamets vowel, which makes the “a” sound, underneath it. Many names in the Bible, as listed below, begin with the prefix “Yeho-.” If we reject this plene/defective holem, we’d be rejecting the work of the Masoretes and have to change the way we pronounce all these other people’s names they vowel-pointed with the “o” sound.
- YHVH comes from the Hebrew verb “hayah,” which is often translated as a past tense verb — it possibly provides the suffix sound “-ah.” The participle form has the long “o” sound — masculine is “hoveh” and feminine is “hovah.” The yod (“y” sound) comes from the prefix of the 3rd person, masculine-singular imperfect tense of hayah, which is “yihyeh”. The pronunciation “Ye-ho-vah” is very likely a composite of He who was, who exists, and/or will be. This goes along with YHVH telling Moses, “Ehyeh asher ehyeh” — I will be who I will be. Ehyeh is the 1st person, masculine-singular imperfect form of hayah.
As we begin, let me tell you a true story from my days in central and eastern Europe. There was an American family that was of Polish descent that decided to become missionaries in Poland. Once they got settled in their apartment, they began language school. They were quickly informed that they and their descendants in America has been mispronouncing their last name for many generations.
Whoa… they were very surprised to hear that. But who would know this better than native Polish speakers? It was highly likely that the pronunciation of their surname was changed when their descendants first immigrated to America to help them seem less Polish and be more accepted in American culture. This missionary family chose to accept the corrected pronunciation of their Polish name and informed their family back home in America of what they had learned.
What if the opposite had happened? What if Polish nationals had moved to America, and Americans, who were not of Polish descent, started telling them that they were pronouncing their Polish name wrong? What if the non-Polish Americans proved their point by:
- Finding words of semi-equivalent meaning but of improper usage in a Polish dictionary;
- Swapping sounds from these words for the syllables of the Polish name to arrive at a new consonant and vowel sound;
- Swapping other forms of verbs and/or parts of words with semi-equivalent meanings for other syllables of the Polish name;
- Telling the Polish nationals, “This is how you are supposed to say your name, this is why, and we are going to have everyone call you that instead of how you have been pronouncing your name your whole life. Also, you need to inform your family back home in Poland that they’ve been pronouncing it wrong too and suggest they need to change it to this.”
What do you think this Polish family would say and do? I doubt it would go over very well. They would probably think that the Americans who did this, and those who agreed that it made perfect sense, were out of their minds.
I don’t know who started changing the pronunciation of YHVH and Yeshua to Yahuah and Yahushua respectively. I have seen at least one web site that gives a justification for it. It is oddly similar to what I’ve just described above. Just think what the Jews might be saying about it…
I’ll show you the thought process as best I can, then I will show you why I stick with YHVH, Yahweh, Yehovah, and Yeshua. I will color the process in blue so that if it becomes overwhelming and confusing, you can bypass it in order to get to the ways and reason for how I pronounce these names.
I found a justification for Yahuah online was based on a phrase from Exodus 3:14 where God says to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” The Hebrew for this phrase is “Ehyeh asher ehyeh.”
I do not know the author of this site. I have nothing against him or her. We all have strengths and weaknesses. This post is NOT intended to be a personal attack on this person. This person may have learned it from someone else and is re-working it for their site. I do not know. My goal is to take an in depth look at the spelling of the Yahuah to see whether or not it’s valid. I will refer to this person as “the author.” Bear in mind that because of ketiv/quere, no pronunciation may be valid; however, I think we have clues to come to a reasonable conclusion.
This author’s page is promoting the paleo-Hebrew script and defining words based on the meaning of the paleo-Hebrew letters.
Unfortunately, not every Hebrew word can be defined this way. It’s not always valid, but it is fascinating none the less. I’m NOT addressing the validity of this author’s interpretation of the paleo Hebrew.
However, this method of translating Hebrew can potentially read meaning into words that are just not there. I challenge you to take 2-3 verses of Scripture and define each word of the verse in this manner. Doing this is not practical on a regular basis.
Before we can move forward, we need some background information on the Hebrew language.
The letter vav functions as either the consonant “v” or the vowel “o” or “u” in a word. Many old and modern Biblical Hebrew textbooks confirm this. If there are additional vowel sounds for vav with an “a and u” combination for the paleo-Hebrew vav, I can’t find 2-3 scholarly resources to acts as witnesses on this issue. I suspect that someone, who hasn’t taken a Hebrew class, has posted their own modified version of a vowel chart in cyberspace somewhere.
The single letter vav cannot function both as a consonant and a vowel at the same time in a word!!! This is what people are attempting to do when they keep the other vowels in YHVH and try to make the vav a vowel instead of a consonant!! However, as Hebrew forms change for one reason or another, a consonantal vav can convert to a vowel.
We need to understand a few basics of Hebrew syllabification. There are many rules, but I want to cover what we need to know here for our purposes.
Hebrew words are usually read from right to left. Using the English manner of writing, the usual syllabification of a Hebrew word is either: Cv (consonant, vowel) or CvC (consonant, vowel, consonant). There are plenty of rules for this that I won’t cover in this post.
If the second consonant of CvCvC has a dot in it, called a dagesh forte, the consonant would be doubled for transliteration. A dagesh forte can occur in any letter except the gutturals: resh, ayin, chet, heh, and aleph. The first consonant of the doubled pair would close the previous syllable, and the second consonant would begin the next. This would create a word with this pattern: CvC-CvC. Remember, if a letter has a dot in it and that letter follows a vowel, it is a dagesh forte, and the consonant sound must be doubled.
A heh never has a dagesh forte in it, but it can have a different kind of dot for other purposes.
There can be words with the pattern CvC-CvC in which the central consonants are different consonants.
Letters can also have a dot called a dagesh lene, which does not double the consonant; these occur in BeGaDKePHaT letters. BeGaDKePHaT letters are bet/vet, gimmel, dalet, kaf/khaf, pe/fe, and tav. In these letters, the dot can be either a dagesh forte or dagesh lene; however, a consonant with a dagesh lene never follows a vowel.
The words attah (H859) and havvah (H1942) are examples of Hebrew letters with a dagesh forte. Please do not confuse havvah (H1942) with havah (H1933/H1934).
Aleph and ayin are quiescent or silent consonants, and they carry the sound of the vowel assigned to them. However, bear in mind that these two consonants are gutturals, and based on what I’ve been told, they have a sound that we would have difficulty hearing and pronouncing. Most textbooks say they are quiescent.
An example of vowel point placement would be: YeHoVah, which is a common spelling of YHVH mostly in Jeremiah. Its pattern is CvCvCvC = Yod – sheva – Heh – holem – Vav – qamets – Heh. Here, the holem is pointed as just a holem and not a holem-vav; it comes before the vav — not above it. Normally, a holem-vav is not both a vowel and a consonant; this is not kosher, but because we have the qamets under the vav, this is how we divide it.
Other forms of YHVH include Yehvah (Yahweh), Yehvih, and Yah (contracted form).
Paleo Hebrew letters and block Hebrew letters function similarly. I do not see any value in using paleo letters; they only add another layer of confusion. The Masoretes assigned vowels and other markings to the block style letters to aid in proper pronunciation, stress, and cantillation, in addition to identifying the grammatical structure of each verse. For YHVH and certain other words, we are told that what is written (ketiv) is said in a certain way known as the qere perpetuum. YHVH is written (ketiv) in a variety of ways. Depending on what you see, the qere perpetuum for YHVH is either Adonai or Elohim::
YHVH is never spelled YaH-VuH or Yeh-Vuh in the Masoretic text. For proper syllabification, this would require dropping the first heh and having two vavs in a row, one as a consonant and one as a vowel; these would be pronounced “Vu.” The spelling would then be YVVH, not YHVH.
- Yehvah (but we say “Yahweh”) is the most common form; it’s translated LORD or YHVH, but Adonai is said. The vowel qamets (a) is to remind you of Adonai, which means “my lords. There is no sheva under the heh to close the first syllable.
- ”We also see this form used in the phrase Yehvah Elohim; it’s translated LORD God.
- Adonai Yehvih – the vowel hireq (i) is to remind you of Elohim; therefore, it’s translated Lord God, but Adonai Elohim is said. There is no sheva under the heh to close the first syllable in this form either.
- Yehovah is another spelling. Is this the correct spelling or is it a “bastard word”? I think that it may be correct if they didn’t want the correct pronunciation to be eventually lost, but who can know for sure? In the Masoretic text, the holem precedes the vav (so it’s not exactly a holem-vav), and the qamets is below the vav (indicating the vav is a consonant instead of a vowel); there is no other word for which this happens in Scripture.
- Yah is the contracted form of YHVH. The dot in the heh is called a mappiq.
- See other spellings of YHVH here: Masoretic Pointing of YHWH. This was shared with me by Charles Grebe (Animated Hebrew.com). This was done in Accordance instead of Bible Works or One Touch. The alignment of the holem is different in these programs. In Bible Works, the holem is closer to the YHVH, but in Accordance, they are move over the vav. Bear in mind how the vowels are for E-lo-him and A-do-nai. (I use the Tyndale Font Kit when typing Hebrew, and I prefer the Cardo font.)
YHVH is never spelled Ya-HuH or Ye-HuH in the Masoretic text.
YHVH is never spelled Ya-Hu-aH either. To get this pronunciation, this spelling of YHVH would probably require dropping the final heh and adding ayin for the final vowel sound. Based on words with similar sounds, it would be spelled YHV*, or maybe YHV*H with “*” being an ayin and the vav being a shureq. Perhaps YHYH is a possibility with an ayin and kibbutz instead of a shureq.
An English search for the English suffix -uah also brings up the Hebrew name Shuah, which in Hebrew is really Shuach — where the shureq is followed by a chet with a furtive patach. The ending of this word is similar to the Hebrew word for “spirit,” which is ruach. This combination is accomplished by a shureq followed by a furtive patach under the final chet. Words like this usually end in a chet, not a heh.
An English search for the second syllable -vah brings up some words besides YHVH to consider. There are at least two examples of vav-qamets-heh in Scripture. This vav has a dagesh forte, so that it looks like a shureq, but it’s really not. In these two words, one is for “Eve” and one is for “commanded;” the vav is doubled because of the dagesh forte, and this final syllable is not pronounced as “oo-ah.” It’s pronounced “vah,” and the words are chav-vah (Eve) and tsiv-vah (commanded).
The author of the page I am discussing is attempting to convert the phrase “I AM who I AM” or “I Will Be – who – I Will Be” (from Exodus 3:14) to YHVH He/Who Is Ya-Hu-aH in several unusual phases.
Before we get to that, let’s look at the Strong’s definitions for the words the author mentions.
- H834, asher (spelled aleph-shin-resh). This is a demonstrative pronoun: which, whom, whose, that, etc.
- H1931, hu (spelled heh-vav [is a shureq]-aleph; *vav is a shureq). The 3rd person femine is hi (spelled heh [hireq]-yod-aleph; qere perpetuum is heh [hireq]-vav-aleph). This is an independent personal pronoun meaning he/she (3rd person, singular) It is also used as a demonstrative/resumptive pronoun: this, that.
- H1961, hayah. This means to exist, be, become, come to pass, happen.
- H1933, havah (spelled heh-vav-heh). A primitive root and rare synonym of hayah. It means: be, become.
- H1934, hava (spelled heh-vav-aleph). Aramaic: This means: come to pass, become.
Remember, the author is attempting to prove HAUAH HU HAUAH is Yah-Hu-Ah. (Yahuah) by comparing it to ehyeh asher ehyeh (I AM WHO I AM). Don’t worry. We will eventually get to what he means by HAUAH.
First change: The author substitutes asher for hu. The phrase which was ehyeh asher ehyeh is now ehyeh hu ehyeh.
Even though the meaning of the Hebrew words asher and hu that are found in a lexicon may share similarities, they are often used differently.
Also, the meaning of asher, which is based on the paleo Hebrew letters/word, cannot be the same as the meaning of the paleo Hebrew word hu because each word contains different letters.
The author gives his own definition for asher based on the paleo Hebrew letters, yet he gives the Strong’s definition for hu. Therefore, his case is built upon definitions from different kinds of sources.
Asher (H834) is usually used as a demonstrative pronoun.
EXAMPLE: YHVH is one who/that/which (asher) is omnipresent.
The 3rd person masculine singular pronoun hu is not usually necessary in a sentence because the 3rd person masculine singular pronoun is built into the suffix of the verb being used.
Hu can stand alone as a personal pronoun, and adding hu to the sentence provides some level of emphasis.
EXAMPLE: Know therefore that YHVH your God, He (hu; personal pronoun that gives emphasis) is God… (Deuteronomy 7:9).
Hu can be used as a resumptive pronoun in a sentence that has asher in it to refer back to what asher is referring to.
EXAMPLE: El is the god that (asher) whenever it thunders, he (hu) is speaking (demonstrative/resumptive pronoun referring back to “the god”). This construction typically causes a poor English translation. We would probably rearrange the phrase and drop the unnecessary “he.”
Hu can be used to refer to “himself,” and there are other ways to do this as well.
Second Change: The author who changed ehyeh asher ehyeh to ehyeh hu ehyeh now substitutes ehyeh with hayah. The phrase is now hayah hu hayah.
This changes the translation:
- I will be who I will be >>>
- I will be – He/That – I will be >> >
- He was – He/That – He was.
Again, the author’s goal of doing this is to eventually transliterate his form of YHVH.
You shouldn’t be allowed to change verbs or verb forms or add your own vowels to paleo or block Hebrew letters to suite your goals.
Third Change: The author exchanges hayah for havah. However, havah does NOT transliterate to HaUaH. The author HAS NOT reached his goal.
He is likely confusing havah (H1933/H1934) with hav-vah (H1942), which means something totally different. Hav-vah (H1942) is spelled heh-vav (with dagesh forte)-heh. This vav looks exactly like a shureq, but that’s not what it is!
This would cause one who is inexperienced with Hebrew to think the verb should be spelled Ha-U-aH, but this is NOT correct. Instead, this vav should be doubled due to the dagesh forte in the vav.
If this is not bad enough, this word doesn’t even have the right definition for the author’s purposes.
Again, the author HAS NOT successfully gained the U he thought he had.
Unfortunately, this can happen to anyone. I feel so bad about this.
Final Changes: Thinking he has proved HaUaH is the same as ehyeh, he continues to make final substitutions.
Again, I’m not too concerned about the translation of the paleo Hebrew. My issue is with HaUaH. The author then indicates:
AahYAH (Strong Leader reavealing YAH) = HaUaH
Aleph – first, Strenth Leader – H (silent)
Heh – The, To Reveal – ah
Yod – Work, a Deed, to Make – Y
Heh – The, To Reveal – ah
But my question is, “can eHYeH = HaUaH”?
Ehyeh: (Aleph-seghol-Heh): The seghol follows the quiescent aleph to make the sound “eh.” The first syllable of ehyeh is “eh,” not “ah.”
HaUaH: (Heh-qamets-Vav): The author indicates heh is silent, but this is not correct; it makes the “h” sound. The first syllable of havah (H1933) and hav-vah (H1942) is “hav,” not “haU.”
Ehyeh: (Yod-seghol-Heh): The second syllable of ehyeh is “yeh,” not “Yah.”
HaUaH: (Vav-qamets-Heh): The second syllable of havah (H1933) is “vah,” not “Yah.” Even if hav-vah (H1942) was errantly used, it’s still “vah,” not “Yah.”
Most qal verbs have an “a” sound in both syllables, hence the verb havah is STILL DEFINITELY NOT Ha-U-aH.
As the author indicates, the prefix heh can mean “the,” but it is never pronounced “ah.” It is usually “Ha-___.” Therefore, I don’t know why he’s including the definition for it. He’s presenting irrelevant stuff while attempting to make his point, which creates a lot of confusion.
With the last two letters, the author is trying to get us to see the suffix “Yah.”
He’s translating the word eh-yeh, which he fully equates with Ha-U-aH, as “Strong Leader revealing YAH” based on the meaning of the paleo Hebrew letters.
The author now converts HAUAH HU HAUAH to “YAH-U-AH” by:
- Replacing the first HAUAH (an improper spelling of hav-veh) with YAH (which is now being used as a prefix, but is really the second syllable of hayah, the lexical form of ehyeh.
- Keeping the U from the hu he swapped for asher.
- Replacing the final HAUAH (again, an improper spelling of hav-veh) with AH, which he improperly indicates comes from the first syllable of ehyeh), to form YAH-HU-AH, as if all of this manipulation has justified this pronunciation.
Then he says: AahYAH (HAUAH) Asher (HU) AahYAH (HAUAH) and equates that again with the Hebrew phrase ehyeh asher ehyeh (I AM who I AM/I WILLE BE who I WILL BE).
Since the author has substituted the V for U in the middle of YHVH, he similarly substitutes U for O in Yeshoshua, which is another name for Yeshua, to form Yeshushua.
Once this is done, the author then gives several “witnesses for YHUH” that don’t witness anything except that THE NAME is spelled YHVH.
The author continues discussing things such as other words with similar sounds/letters: Yehuda, Yehoshua (Joshua), and Yeshua (Jeshua).
I was confused by all of this. It took me several days to figure it all out. This is simply not correct.
I’m not claiming I have complete fluency in Hebrew. I don’t, but I understand how the language functions. I’m aware of how to properly use language tools, and I have tried to equip people to understand some basics and how to use various tools for study. There’s always room for more learning, but I have a busy life full of stressors that demand my time, and I have to prioritize my time and energy, which doesn’t leave me time to master the language.
I have just demonstrated what is not “kosher.” This is NOT okay.
Now, let’s approach the subject in a simpler way.
We just need to work with the existing text and standard transliterations as they have been given to us without all of these strange substitutions and manipulations of words while not forgetting the lesson of the two stories from the beginning of this this post.
It is clear the name YHVH comes from the verb hayah, which means “be, exist, become, happen,” etc.
Hebrew verbs undergo many kinds of changes. This is the hardest part of learning Biblical Hebrew. The lexical form is the 3rd person qal perfect.
Perfect verbs have 6 forms, 3 persons with each having singular and plural suffix. This form is often used for past tense. Qal, one of several binyanim, is the most basic form of the verb.
Imperfect verbs have 6 similar forms for the qal, but these have both prefixes and suffixes.
There are several binyanim (singular is binyan) for both perfect and imperfect, which causes the number of forms to multiply quickly. Imperfect is often used for the future.
There are also imperatives, infinitive constructs, infinitive absolutes, participles, etc. I will say that the masculine singular participle of the hollow verb hayah, which is used for the present tense, is hoveh, and the feminine singular participle is hovah.
All of these verbal forms have different vowel patterns. There’s no point in favoring one pattern over another. A shureq, which produces the long “u” sound, is not present in any singular forms of the verb hayah, which would seem to negate the pronunciation Yehuah. It is as if YHVH is formed from some kind of combination of the masculine future to capture the yod and the feminine participle hovah, which would further support the pronunciation Yehovah. If one desired to create a pronunciation from only masculine forms, one might suggest Yihoveh, which would be better than Yehuah since there is no consonant to support the “a” sound if the vav is changed to a shureq to promote a sound not present in the singular forms. A shureq is the masculine plural ending for ANY Hebrew word and is not applicable here.
According to the BDB lexicon, the Bible has a prefix and suffix for YHVH that is applied to many people’s names.
The PREFIX is “Yeho.” This prefix is usually transliterated in English as “Jeho.”
“Yahu” is used as a SUFFIX, not a prefix. This suffix is usually transliterated in English as “iah” or “jah.”
These lists are not all inclusive. They can be confirmed in Strong’s Concordance.
|Prefix “Yeho”||Suffix “yahu,” “yah”|
Jehoshua (Joshua, Yeshua) and Jehovah (Yehovah) would fall into this PREFIX category and not the SUFFIX category.
There are many more of these, but the trend is the same. “Jeho” is a PREFIX, and “yahu” or “yah” are SUFFIXES.
For the name Jehoahaz , the double vowel sound “o-a” in English was accomplished in Hebrew with the silent consonant “aleph” — “holem-vav (o) – aleph – qamets (a).” So, there are not two vowels in a row in Hebrew.
When I was trying to learn some Ukrainian, the American kids could learn the language faster than their parents. When the parents were struggling to learn either Russian or Ukranian, they’d ask their kids for help. The kids would simply provide an answer, and the reason for their answers would be “because it just sounds right.”
As we consider the name of YHVH, how can we change YHVH to Yahuah, and how can we change Yehoshua to Yahusha or Yahushua without any examples of these forms/prefixes in Scripture or in a lexicon?
Anyone experienced with reading the Scriptures should know that “Yeho” occurs at the beginning of a name, and “yahu” occurs at the end of a name. This just sounds right.
We know that a contracted name for YHVH is the single syllable, Yah, and that most of the time, the Masoretes pointed YHVH as Yehweh/Yehveh (Y’hweh/Y’hveh). They were likely protecting the Name from misuse. There are about 44 times in which they pointed YHVH as Yehovah (yod [sheva] – heh [holem] – vav [qamets] – heh; this is mostly in Jeremiah. This is not exactly a legitimate spelling because a holem-vav does not take another vowel, such as the qamets. Also, this is not a typical holem-vav because the holem is preceding the vav instead of being directly on top of it.
Despite this, Yehovah is a combination of three verb forms: hayah (he was), hoveh (he is), and yihyeh (he will be); this describes Yeshua. The spelling Yehovah captures what I think the spellings Yahweh and Yahuah don’t. Some people choose to spell the sacred name (HaShem) as Y-H-V-H. It is still certainly acceptable to use the qere Adonai or Elohim depending on the ketiv.