Articles


 The Name of God

 

     1 Speaking of the time of the end of this world “under the power of the evil one” (1John 5:19) Malachi predicted: “At that time, those who fear Yahuh will speak to each other, each with his neighbor, and Yahuh will hear them and will pay attention to them, and a book of remembrance will be written before him of those who fear Yahuh and who think about his name. «They will be mine», says Yahuh of hosts, «on the day that I will create a precious good for me. Then I will have mercy on them, as a man has mercy on a son who serves him»” (Malachi 3:16-17)

 

     2 For the Disciples of Christ the fact of sanctifying God's name is essential. Matthew writes that Jesus went up a mount and began to instruct his followers. On that memorable day, he spoke of the things recorded in the so-called “Sermon on the Mount”. He said, “Blessed are those who beg asking for the spirit, because the kingdom of heaven is constituted by them”, in Greek: μακάριοι οὶ πτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύματι, ὅ̓τι αὐτῶν ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν ”. (Matthew 5:3)

     Then he taught his disciples, who certainly were part of those who beg for their spirit, how to pray in order to reach an intimate relationship with God. Jesus said: “When you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father privately, and your Father who sees in the private, will reward you”, then he said “you must pray like this: “Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be thy name” Note that in this well-known prayer, in which Jesus said to ask God for the things we need each day, he said in the first place: “Hallowed be thy name”, in Greek: “ἁγιασθήτω  τὸ ὄνομά σου·”. (Matthew 6:6-10)
But how could that which is unknown be sanctified, respected and thought about? For this reason, Jesus needed to teach his disciples the holy name of God, as John tells us, quoting the words he says to his Father:
I made your name known to the men you gave me...” (John 17:6)

 

3 Now we ask, the first disciples, were they not Jews? Why then was it necessary to make them know the name of    the Father? Is not the name of God written 6.828 times in the Hebrew Scriptures?      The reason is that due to a misunderstanding of the divine commandment recorded in Exodus 20:7 and Deuteronomy 5:11, which say: “You will not pronounce the name of your God Yahuh in vain”, grew among the people an irrational fear to say the name of God. We know that in the period of the Old Testament or Tanakh, the name of God was commonly used.  When was it that the fear to utter his name began? In the Talmud we find that this superstitious fear started around 300 years BC. A very broad perception of the word “Lashua”, which means "in vain”, made of this commandment a prohibition to use the name of God, although, as explained in the Hebrew lexicon of Koehler and Baumgartner, this word within the context of the sentence, has only the sense of “to utter the name without a reason... to use the name incorrectly”.

     Therefore, this commandment did not forbid saying the name of God, only the improper use of it. Since then, each time the readers found YHUH, replaced it with the word Adonay (Lord), and if they had to read the words Yahuh God, so frequent in Scripture, they said Adonay Elohim, which mean Lord God.

 

4 Throughout the period of the Tanakh or Old Testament, the use of the name of Yahuh, the use of the name of Yahuh, always with due respect, was common, as has been dutifully shown by the archaeological finds. A clay tablet found near the door Itsara of ancient Babylon, and dated between 595 and 570 BCE, reveals the presence in the country of the members of the royal family of Judah as prisoners.

     The list on the tablet includes the name of “Yahukin king of the land of Yahud” (Judah). Yahukin, the king's name, means “Yahuh glorifies” and this name, along with many others, demonstrates that the name of God not only was said, it was also included in the names of the people.

 

 

(1 sila = 0,84 liters; 22,9 Gallons; 88,76 Quarts)

 

     5 In May of 1893, during the removal of some debris from ancient ruins in Nippur, a group of workers made ​​a startling discovery. Buried under the rubble, there were 730 clay tablets written in Aramaic and cuneiform syllabic script, they were part of a file belonging to the Murashu family, inhabitants of Nippur in the 5th century before our era. (H.V. Helprecht, “The Babylonia Expedition of the University of Pennsylvania”. Series A: “Cuneiform Texts”, 9th vol. 1898, page 13)

     In the three tablets that we here show, is written “Yahuh is God”, and this is another example that in that period, the name of the God of Israel was commonly used.

 

 

     6 Between the years 1932 and 1938, a British archaeological commission found under the ruins of the guardhouse of the main gate of Lachish, twenty-one ostracon or fragments of terracotta inscribed in Hebrew writing that belonged to the period of the Babylonian conquest of the year 596 before our era.

     Some of these clay tablets contain urgent messages from Hoshayah, the officer of an outpost near Jerusalem, and were addressed to Yahusha, the garrison commander of Lachish, to inform of his concern for the progress of the Babylonian army. Of the eight readable fragments, seven begin with a greeting like this: “To my lord Yahusha, may Yahúh bring my lord news of peace every day”.

     The seven messages contain the name of God eleven times in total, and testify about its use in everyday life.

 

 

7 In the Ptolemy’s period, the High Priest called Simon the Just, ceased to pronounce the name of God in the blessings, (Talmud, Yoma 49b) and later on, it was only said in the Temple. The Mishna says: “In the Sanctuary, the name is said as it is written but in the provinces, only by reference” (Talmud, Sotah 7:6, Sotah 38b, Tamid 7:2)

    ; In the first century, when commenting on the events described on the third chapter of Exodus, Flavius Josephus mentions the prohibition to use the name of God and says: “Behold God declared Moses his holy name, a name that never before had been declared to men and which I am not allowed to pronounce”. (Jewish Antiquities 2: 12:04) In the days of Jesus the Scriptures were read in the Temple and the Synagogue, but the regulation of reading the Tetragrammaton as Adonai was in effect. This is why Jesus says to his Father: “I made them know your name and will make it known”. (John 17:26)

 

     8 The influence of Greek philosophy supported the fear to say the name of God. The writings of a contemporary of Jesus, the Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria who regarded the Greek Plato as a man inspired by God, are a clear example of the intrusion of philosophy in the beliefs of the Hebrews. The “Lexikon des Judentums” or Lexicon of Judaism says under the name “Philo”, that he “integrated the language and concepts of Greek philosophy (Plato) to the revealed faith of the Hebrews” and “clearly influenced the Fathers of the Christian Church”. He argued as did Plato, that God was indefinable and therefore, nameless.

     It has been said for a long time that the New Testament never contained the name of God, even when it quoted the Hebrew Scriptures from the Greek translation of the “Seventy”, because the only terms appearing in it are Kyrios o Theos. However, has this claim a solid foundation?

     Jerome, who in his “Latin Vulgate” translated the Greek “Septuagint” o “Seventy”, writes in his preface of the books of Samuel and Kings: “We find the name of God, the Tetragrammaton, even now, written in ancient Hebrew letters in some of the Greek books”. And the three fragments of the version of the "Seventy" we present here, demonstrate the veracity of his claim.

 

 

 

 

 

     9 The presence of the Tetragrammaton in the text of the Hebrew Scriptures and in its Greek version of the “Seventy” is beyond doubt, even if we do not find it in the manuscripts of the New Testament we have, except in Revelation 19:1..6, where it is enclosed in the word “ἁλληλούϊα AlleluYa” (Praise Yha) We may find in some verses, evident traces of the presence of God's name, such as in Matthew 6:9, in John 12:28, and 17:6 and 26, or in we find in some verses, evident traces of the presence of God's name, such as in Matthew 6:9, in John 12:28, and 17:6, 26, or in Hebrews 6:10.

     Although we have no manuscripts containing the Tetragrammaton, we must remember that we do not have the originals texts and that the oldest copies available, come from fourth and fifth centuries. But even if these manuscripts do not include the name of God, we have indirect evidence that the first texts did.

     For example, the first part of the Babylonian Talmud entitled “Shabbat” contains a set of rules to establish the activities permitted on a Sabbath day, and display an argument on the option to save from fire the manuscripts of the Scriptures. We read: “the blank pages (hagilyonim) and the books of the Minim (Seferi-minim) cannot be saved from fire. Rabbi Joseph said: «On weekdays it is necessary to cut the Names of God that the books contain, hide them and burn the rest». Rabbi Tarphon said: «May I bury my son, if I do not burn, along with the names of God contained in them, all those arriving to my hands». (Taken from the book “Who Was a Jew?” of Lawrence H. Schiffman)

     This Talmudic text translates as: “We do not save from fire (on Saturday) the Gospels and the books of the Minim. They must be burned where they are, they and their Tetragrammaton”.

 

10 Who were those called Minim? The word “min”, in plural “minim”, means “heretic, sectarian or schismatic, and dissident”. (Hebrew-Spanish Dictionary by Judith B. Tarragona) Doctor H. Freedman explains that the term “minim” was used to name the Jews who accepted the Christian faith.

And what are the gilyonim? This word can be translated as “blank spaces”, and in this context refer to the writings of those considered “heretics”, like Peter, Paul, John and all the apostles and disciples of Jesus.

     Some words in the Talmud, previous to the argument of burning books in Sabbath, day, read: “The books of the Minim are like gilyonim (blank spaces)” and the above mentioned dictionary, among the senses of the word gilyonim, includes “the Gospels”.

     To further support of the presence of God's name in the original New Testament writings, Professor George Howard, from the University of Georgia (USA) notes: “When the “Seventy” (version) that the New Testament church used and quoted, contained the divine name in Hebrew characters, the New Testament writers no doubt included the Tetragrammaton in their quotations”. (Biblical Archeology Review, March 1978) And we also have indirect evidence that Jesus and his apostles used freely the name of God, through the fact that after his death, the Jews accused him of working miracles “only because he had taken over the secret name of God”. (The Book of Jewish Knowledge)

 

     11 But which is the correct pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton? Until the Middle Ages, the text of the Hebrew Scriptures called ketib remained without vowels, and whenever the Tetragrammaton appeared in it, the reading was Adonay or Elohim.

     The fact that God's name was not said or read for hundreds of years, made its pronunciation be forgotten and led to different interpretations of its reading. Between the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the Masoretes or Sopherim added the vowels to the ketib, which then took the name of Masoretic text, and the vowels of Adonay and of Elohim were inserted into the Tetragrammaton, to suggest what word should be used according to the rule called “kere”, which means: “it is written so... but I'll read it this way”, or, “if you find “a”, you will read Adonay, and if you find “e”, you will read Elohim”.



     This resulted in the spread of erroneous readings, as Jehovah or Yehovah, and in the twentieth century, the reading became Yahweh (Yahueh), from in the reading attributed to the Samaritans by Theodoret, of the word Ἰάω. (Theodoreti Cyrensis Quaestiones in Octateuchum, Madrid, 1979, page 112)

     However and because of its systematic default, the name by which the Creator was identified and was known by his people, has been replaced in most versions of Scripture by the titles of Lord and God, thus following the tradition of the Hebrew copyists. But in fact, all evidence shows that the correct pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton must be Yahuh.

 

12 Let us return to the time of its origin, to the moment when from the burning bush and through an angel, God identified Himself as the God of Abraham. (Exodus 3:6) Moses, who would be sent to Egypt, a country with many gods and goddesses, felt that if he declared the children of Israel: “The God of your fathers has sent me to you”, they would want to know how they should name him, so he asked: “If they tell me «What is his name?» What shall I answer them?” (Exodus 3:13) Then God, to distinguish Himself from the all false gods, from the gods made by man, replied: “ehyeh asher ehyeh”. (Exodus 3:14) With these words that have the sense of “I am the one who is”, God refers to himself as the only one to possess life from ever and forever, and says to Moses: “You shall say to the children of Israel «I am (ehyeh) sends me to you»”. Since then, Moses and the people of Israel called him Yahuh, (“He is”) a term from the third person singular of the verb “to be” (yahuhé) that loses the final e to become a name.

     In our language, verbs are called by the infinitive: to be, to believe, to do etc. but in the Hebrew language the verbs are called by the third person: he is, he believes, he sees, and so on. Thus, the name of Yahúh that comes from the verb yahuhe, includes the grammar root and the full meaning of the verb. The apostle John, who knew the significance of all these things, writes out their real meaning when he calls God:
ο ων και ο ην και ο ερχομενος”, "He who is and who was and who comes". (Revelation 1:4)

 

13 Even if the non syllabic Hebrew writing, makes difficult the restoration of the right pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton, we can restore it through the syllabic cuneiform characters, that the archaeological research in the Assyrian-Babylonian area makes available by providing several tablets that record many Hebrew names that include the Tetragrammaton in them, for example: Yiremiyahu or Jeremiah, and many others.

 


 

     Clement of Alexandria who lived in the second century of our era, supports this reading by writing the name of God in Greek as “Ιαού”, in Greek the diphthong ού reads ύ. (Stromata V; 6:34) And a credited historian like Giuseppe Ricciotti, supports in his History of Israel (Ed. Luis Miracle, 2nd volume, page 174) the fact that Yahuh is most probably, the correct reading of the Tetragrammaton.
The famous Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4 reminds us that:


      SHMAA      YISRAEL     YAHUH       ELOHEINU                 YAHUH     ECHAD
       HEAR          ISRAEL     YAHUH       IS OUR GOD               YAHUH     IS ONE

 

14 Before ascending in heaven, Jesus said to his disciples: “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go and make disciples of all nations in my name, teaching them to observe all the things I commanded you. And see! I am with you every day until the world ends”. (Matthew 28:18..20)

     Jesus had said to his father: “I made your name known to the men you gave me...” and these words of his are certainly in harmony with the will of God, that since ancient times tell us through his prophets: “Make my name be known throughout the earth”, (Exodus 9:16) and “Certainly, my people will know my name”, (Isaiah 52:6) “because he is attached to me, I will save and defend him, for he knows my name”. (Psalm 91:14)

         Moses told the people: “Listen O Israel, Yahuh, our God Yahuh, is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4), and the psalmist wrote: “Those who know your name will trust you, since you, Yahúh do not forsake those who seek you”, (Psalm 9:10) “Praises to Yahúh, my mouth will announce and all the living will constantly bless his holy name forever and ever”. (Psalm 145:21)

     At this time, near his arrival, Jesus fulfills again his promise to His Father: “I made them know your name and will make it known”. How does he do it? He does it through his disciples, who are those who seek above all, the truth that quenches the thirst of the spirit and who strive to obey and publish all the things he ordered. Let us do all the necessary things to make known the name of our loving God and Father, Yahuh.