The New International Encyclopædia/Jehovah

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JEHO′VAH. A word used four times in the Authorized Version of the English Bible as the name of the national deity of the Hebrews. This name was carried over from the earlier religious period of that people to the later post-exilic time, when, largely through the influence of the prophets, the transformation of the national god into the one universal God of a monotheistic faith took place. In consequence, the pronunciation of the name of the old tribal deity was avoided, partly because of associations which seemed to imply limitations to His being, partly because of the growth of the sentiment that the genuine name of the one God was too sacred, too powerful to be used except on extraordinary occasions and by any but those who were commissioned as His representatives on earth — the high priests. The name was expressed in writing, according to the usual method in Hebrew, without vowels, by the four consonants corresponding to our YHWH — the tetragrammaton, as it is called. When the vowels were added to the consonantal text of the Old Testament, several centuries after the birth of Christ, as a means of preserving the pronunciation of the sacred literature, those of Adonai, ‘my lord,’ were attached to the tetragrammaton as an indication that the holy name was to be pronounced as though it were adonai (q.v.). By a misunderstanding, Christian scholars in the sixteenth century combined the vowels of Adonai with the consonantal frame, thus producing the form Yehowah or Jehovah, j being used for the Hebrew y and v for w, as was very customary. The earliest occurrence of this word is 1520. In the English Bible the tetragrammaton is usually represented by ‘the lord.’ The avoidance of the use of the name of the Supreme Deity led to the loss of the true pronunciation, and we have no absolutely certain data for determining what it was. It is very probable, however, that it was Yahweh, and this form and pronimciation are now universally used by scholars. .Jehovah is often used as a name of God, connoting especially His power and majesty. The name of the Hebrew deity is also found in abbreviated form as Yah (as in hallalu Yah, ‘praise ye Yah’), Yahu, Yeho, and Yo, particularly in proper names. The origin and meaning of the name are not known. It has been connected with the verb haya, to be, with the meaning ‘he is,’ implying existence without limitation. Another theory connects it with the causative form of the same verb with the meaning ‘he causes to be,’ i.e. the Creator. Still another theory makes it mean ‘he who causes to fall’ (i.e. rain or lightning), a view which has some support by analogy with the use of similar terms for the Greek Zeus. Others have sought to identify Yahweh with some foreign deity, or consider it a piece of popular etymologizing like the English derivation of God from good. Consult: Dalman, Der Gottesname Adonai (Leipzig, 1896); Driver, “The Tetragrammaton,” in Studia Biblica (Oxford, 1885); Smend, Alttestamentliche Religionsgeschichte (Freiburg, 1893); Schultz, Alttestamentliche Theologie (Göttingen, 1889).