“JEHOVAH”–God’s “personal name?”

DISCLAIMER: The purpose of this post is NOT to discourage the use of the name “Jehovah.” The purpose is to dispel the notion put forth by the Watchtower Society that it is the ONLY name we are to use when referring to God. There is nothing wrong with using “Jehovah,” nor is it the only name we can use. That said…


The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (WTBTS, OR WT for short) has spent years trumpeting that they alone use, quote, “The personal name of God.” But do they really?

Question–How many Jews, speaking Hebrew, about 4000 years ago, in the Middle East, used the sound we associate with the letter “J”?

Answer–“Yeah, I’d like to answer that. Uh, what?”

Now, I don’t claim to be a Hebrew scholar, but I have studied what many have had to say on this subject. That said, let’s take a look at the evolution of the name “JEHOVAH.”

For the sake of those of you who may be new to the Bible, whenever you see the word “LORD” in all capital letters in the Old Testament, that is how the translators render the Hebrew word יהוה (Reading right-to-left, the Hebrew characters Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh. Transliterated into our alphabet, literally, “YHVH”).

Now, keep in mind that the Hebrew alphabet has no vowels to speak of (any Hebrew scholars, feel free to correct me here). So the writer would insert dots (called “vowel points”) above, under, and/or inside the characters to indicate the proper pronunciation. And according to most Bible scholars who have studied biblical Hebrew, the correct pronunciation would be “YAW-vey.”

Next, we bring in the Hebrew word “Adonai,” which translates into “Lord.” Eventually, because of the dispersions the Jews suffered, the Hebrew language began to fade. Legend has it that about 200 years before christ, Hebrew scribes began adding the vowel points for “Adonai” to the Tetragrammaton, (Either out of reverence for God’s name, or out of superstition they would mispronounce it, depending on who you read), thus making it to read “YaHoVaH” when transliterated into English. English changes over the years, the “Y” becomes a “J”, the first “a” becomes an “e” and we now have “Jehovah.”

This is where things get tricky for the JW. According to OFFICIAL WTBTS MATERIAL [Emphasis mine],

“The first recorded use of this form dates from the thirteenth century C.E. Raymundus Martini, a Spanish monk of the Dominican Order, used it in his book “Pugeo Fidei” of the year 1270.” (from Jehovah’s Witnesses own bookAid to Bible Understanding” p.884)

In other words, the WTBTS considers the “personal name of God” to be a name erroneously invented by a 13th Century Catholic Monk. Their excuse? [Emphasis mine]

Today many Hebrew scholars prefer Yahweh as the true pronunciation.

However, consistency favors Jehovah. In what way? The pronunciation Jehovah has been accepted in English for centuries.

Those who object to using this pronunciation should also object to the use of the accepted pronunciation Jeremiah and even Jesus. Jeremiah would need to be changed to Yir·meyah’ or Yir·meya’hu, the original Hebrew pronunciations, and Jesus would become Ye·shu’a` (Hebrew) or I·e·sous’ (Greek). Hence, many Bible students, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, feel that consistency favors the use of the already well-known English-language “Jehovah” and its equivalent in other languages.

Stop! Ummmm, wait a sec. We have to pronounce it “Jehovah” in English–but it has, quote, “its equivalent in other languages.” So, if you pronounce THE EQUIVALENT in other languages, you don’t have to pronounce it “Jehovah.” But if you speak English, you have to say “Jehovah.” What about Jews? How are they supposed to pronounce it? I’m confused.

OK, so help me out here. The WTBTS is trying to tell us that the proper pronunciation of, quote, “The personal name of God” DEPENDS ON ITS ACCEPTANCE IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE (Or its equivalent in other languages)??? So, basically, Moses, David, Solomon, Abraham–these men did not know how to properly pronounce this name because THEY DIDN’T SPEAK ENGLISH!!

Oh, then there’s this one, from the Watchtower magazine itself [Emphasis mine]:

“…down through the centuries, the correct pronunciation of the divine name in Hebrew has been lost. Hence, it is uncertain what vowels should be used to fill in the name.”(Watchtower, Feb.1, 1980).

There is also evidence from other sources that “YAW-vey” is closer to the true pronunciation. From Let Us Reason Ministries [Emphasis mine]:

THE UNIVERSAL JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA says “JEHOVAH is an erroneous pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton, a four lettered name of God, made up of the Hebrew letters Yod He Vav He. The word “JEHOVAH” therefore is a misreading for which there is no warrant and which makes no sense in Hebrew. The Hebrew letters point to a Yod Y…the more correct pronunciation is Yahweh or some form deriving from the same consonants. For example Yah is used in its shorter form in Ex.15:2 and 17:15, Isa.12:2 and Ps.118:14 .

The WTBTS is not sure what vowels should be used. They believe that the English rendering of YHVH is to be trusted over the rendering given by those who speak the language the Old Testament was written in. They say that we non-JW’s don’t use the real, quote, “personal name of God” when they themselves don’t even know what it is.


23 thoughts on ““JEHOVAH”–God’s “personal name?”

  1. Graham,

    So you’re saying that the Watchtower didn’t translate, quote, “God’s personal name” properly into English, and you’ve been mispronouncing it all these years?

    What else has the WTBTS gotten wrong?


  2. I think JHVH was translated Jehovah long before anyone had a printing press.

    Benjamin Yetanyahu is ‘Binyaminin’ in Hebrew

    Translating Hebrew into English it is common, the norm, to change Y to J.
    Yeshua is Jesus
    Yerushaláyim is Jerusalem

    It has nothing to do with any religious group

    HalleluJAH Praise Jah Praise Jehovah Rev 19:1-6

    Graham Mewburn


  3. Uh, actually, you are right about one thing–JHVH was translated Jehovah long before anyone had a printing press.

    Well, um, considering Gutenburg didn’t invent his printing press until 1439, while this CATHOLIC monk invented the name “Jehovah” in 1270–um, yeah, the pronunciation “Jehovah” was invented about 170 years before the printing press. I’ll give you that one.

    As for the point of the article–you still maintain that God’s quote-unquote “personal name” depends on how we say it in English? Because, after all, you know, Moses spoke English, right? He spoke and wrote the quote-unquote “personal name of God” in English.

    Didn’t he?

    My point exactly. This is nothing but another made-up doctrine from the WTBTS.


  4. HalleluJAH Praise JAH Note that HalleluJAH is pronounced Yah so Yahweh is probably nearer to the Hebrew pronunciation.
    ‘Strong’s’ writes JHVH as Yhovah.
    To be consistent if you insist on Yahweh then you should call Jesus ‘Yeshua’.
    Again this has nothing to with any religious group.
    These 7 translations contain our heavenly Fathers personal name
    American Standard Version 1901 – Jehovah: 6823 times
    Bible in Living English by Steven T. Byington 1972 – Jehovah: 6823 times
    Jerusalem Bible (Catholic) 1966 – Yahweh: 6823 times
    Emphasized Bible by J. B. Rotherham 1878‑1902 – Yahweh: 6823 times
    New Jerusalem Bible 1985 – Yahweh: 6823 times
    Literal Translation by Jay P. Green 1987 – Jehovah: 6823 times
    Young’s Literal Translation – Jehovah: 6823 times
    HalleluJAH Praise JAH
    Graham Mewburn


    Most of the time Moses would have said Yahweh’s name in Hebrew. However as he grew up in Pharaoh’s house he would have spoken Egyptian when before Pharaoh. So when he went before Pharaoh he no doubt would have spoken our Father’s name in Egyptian. When Pharaoh asked ‘Who is Jehovah?’ (Ex 5:2) I doubt that he would have lowered himself to speak Hebrew. So I think it reasonable that he used the Egyptian word for the God of the Jews. I have not been able to find the ancient Egyptian word for Jehovah. Perhaps someone else knows.
    HalleluJAH Praise JAH Praise Yahweh Rev 19:1-6
    Graham Mewburn


  5. I have not been able to find the ancient Egyptian word for Jehovah. Perhaps someone else knows.

    That’s because there was no “Egyptian word” for YHVH. When Pharaoh asked “Who is YHVH?” he was obviously asking who this God of the Jews was. Pharaoh was asking Moses, “Who is YHVH? I have never heard of any god named YHVH.”

    And no, Moses did not speak God’s name in Egyptian, because it was the name YHVH that differentiated the True God from any other god. It would be utterly pointless for him to use a name for God other than the name YHVH. In fact, it was the name God commanded Moses to use when speaking to Pharaoh. Exodus 3:18–“Then you and the elders are to go to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘YHVH, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us.’

    He didn’t say, “…say to him, ‘YHVH, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us-only make sure you say my name in Egyptian so they don’t get confused.'” Unless you’re saying that God didn’t tell Moses to use His quote-unquote “personal name.”

    In regards to your previous comment about the English translations rendering “Jehovah”–again, you are making God’s quote-unquote “personal name” dependent upon a language that did not exist 3500 years ago. Unless you are saying that no one used this quote-unquote “personal name” until the English language was invented.


  6. I told my sister (she is s Jehovah’s witness and I’m a Christian who goes to a Baptist church) why does she call her Father God Jehovah by his name I think that totally disrespectful I would never call my earth father by his name out of respect and because he would slap me! I call God my Father not Jehovah. and if God wanted us to call him by his name he would have said so I am sick and tired of JW going from door to door spreading lies and they want us to read there little fliers but will not read out of the true word of God Bible because they feel it is contradicting.
    Just as Jesus called God Father when He prayed I feel so should we being his children through Christ.


  7. Please forgive me for breaking God’s command ‘Do not go beyond what is written’. 1 Cor 4:6 NIV NJB ASV Ampified
    I have about ten English translations of the ‘Holy Bible’. As previously reported there are seven English translations containing either Jehovah or Yahweh as God’s name in English. I don’t yet have all of them. Every word in an English translation did not exist more than a some hundred years ago, including Jehovah. All the claims made about the age of the word ‘Jehovah’ should be considered in the light of truth. Most of the English words in an Englsh translation are at best a few hundred years old, with the exception of the KJV. Old English dates back more than a millenium, but is nowhere near as old as Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, the languages in which God’s word is originally written.
    Graham Mewburn


  8. Graham,

    This is the same useless drivel you posted in response to this same post over at my blog. Drivel which I answered there and will not belabor to here.

    When are you going to get it through your head that when God spoke His name to Moses, He did not refer to Himself as “Jehovah” but YHVH. This business about the “English translations”–which, by the way, did not come about until after the pronunciation “Jehovah” was invented by a ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK– is nonsense.

    I know that you can’t believe your precious Watchtower could be duped, but they were.


  9. There are many complications. However, the basic truth is that the Almighty God wants to have a personal relationship with each one of us; He has graciously revealed His Name to everyone who reads Exodus 3:15. Our relationship with God requires growth. Let those of us who love God demonstrate growth by showing an increasing understanding. Some of us have watched our children grow from infancy to maturity. We are proud when they point to us and tell others, “I am the child of John Smith….” They don’t tell the world, “I am the child of Daddy.” Daddy is the familiar term used in private with respect; in the greater world at large, when we are in public or in the presence of strangers, we call our earthly parent and father by the same name everyone else uses – by his actual name. So don’t anyone fail to develop your relationship with God by neglecting to call Him by His glorious Name JEHOVAH. And don’t get confused about exact spelling or pronunciation. We call the Frenchman Jean, the Spaniard Juan, the Englishman John…but we understand that it is all the same name. It will be helpful on this topic to urge everyone to read the preface to their Bibles. Study the derivations and abbreviations and connotations until your intellect has absorbed what is pertinent to an understanding of God’s plan to preserve His Word and Message through the millenia up until today so that it can be translated into the English language for you to read. A surpassingly beautiful part of that Word, the Holy Bible, is the part in Exodus 3:15, where God reveals His Name to everyone, the Name by which we are to call upon Him.


  10. If I may interject . . . what saith the Word of God?

    Thus saith the Lord:

    Pray, then, in this way:
    Our Father who is in heaven,
    Hallowed be Your name. – Matthew 6:9

    And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.” – Mark 14:36

    For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!
    – Romans 8:15

    Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!– Galatians 4:6

    (Emphasis are mine)

    – The Pilgrim


  11. Harvard,

    As I said in the first paragraph of my post, The purpose of this post is NOT to discourage the use of the name “Jehovah.” The purpose is to dispel the notion put forth by the Watchtower Society that it is the ONLY name we are to use when referring to God. There is nothing wrong with using “Jehovah,” nor is it the only name we can use.

    My purpose in posting this was to highlight the hypocrisy of the Watchtower society, which says you MUST pronounce it “JEHOVAH”–a pronunciation that would have been absolutely foreign to Old Testament Jews (since the did not have a “J” in their alphabet), and in fact did not exist until the 13th century AD. In fact, it was not until the 2nd century BC that the vowel points for “Adonai” were inserted into the Tetragrammaton.

    I simply found it ironic that with all the fuss the WTBTS makes about pronouncing YHVH “Jehovah”, that pronunciation is only a few hundred years old.


  12. fourpointer,

    I should have clearly stated at the start of my reply that I am mainly in harmony with your original posting. Since the English language had not yet evolved at the time of Moses or Isaiah, it only stands to reason that our English spelling or pronunciation of the Name of the Almighty cannot be a precise equivalent of that written in another language using a different alphabet thousands of years earlier. My understanding is that the Almighty God JEHOVAH has only one Name, but many titles or descriptive names. Just as a man can be brother, son, father, quarterback, captain, husband, hero, preacher…, so also does God have many wonderful titles or descriptive names. My understanding is that the Word and Message of God has been revealed to mankind and preserved for millenia in the Holy Bible, and in that Book the Almighty God clearly tells us His Name (Isaiah 42:8). So, yes! there are many ways to make specific reference to the One True Almighty Everlasting Lord of the universe, but He has only one Name. Some of the descriptive names of God we read in the Holy Bible originated with the people of God who lived and worshipped JEHOVAH before He ever revealed His Name to Moses.


  13. Harvard,

    Understood. And yes, God goes by many titles. Elohim, El Shaddai, YHVH, Jehovah, YHVH-Rapha, and many many others. And He does indeed have a Name, which He revealed to Moses and to us. Unfortunatley, the Watchtower seems to be stuck on one particular anachronistic pronunciation.


    You’re obviously not paying attention. I said in the original post and in the comment I left last night that I am not discouraging the use of the pronunciation “Jehovah.” My point was to refute the Watchtower’s stance that this is the ONLY pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton that has ever been known.

    That said, your last two comments have disappeared, and any further comments you leave will find the recycle bin as well. If you can’t follow what’s been written, and your only apparent reason for posting comments is to…..well, I don’t believe I can find a point in your repetitive ramblings. But you have none the less had your last say. Good bye.


  14. multipleman,

    DefCon isn’t a repository for backlinks to your own blog. If you have an argument to make, make it here, but don’t expect to receive a platform. Also I think it would behoove you to take a few moments to acquaint yourself with our Rules of Engagement.

    The reason Jehovah’s Witnesses are a cult – and are guilty of teaching a soul daming false gospel – is because they deny the Deity of Jesus Christ, thus undermining the truth of scripture. Try this little exercise, just read through the New Testament in your own New World Translation and every time you see any reference to the Lord Jesus Christ insert “Michael the Archangel” into the text and perhaps then, by the grace of the One True and Living God, you’ll see the horrendously spectacular blasphemy of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.

    In Christ,


  15. multipleman,

    Please see my last response to you. If you have an argument to make, then by all means make it, but as long as you continue in your present unproductive pattern of behavior you’ll continue receiving the same response.

    In Christ,


  16. multipleman
    marlon.grau@hotmail.com Submitted on 2009/04/01 at 7:40pm
    ang gagaling nyo mag-ingles pero sinasayang nyo lang mga knowledge nyo….

    I thought I’d share this little gem just in case any of our regular readers happen to be wondering why “multipleman’s” comments aren’t being posted. I’ve been politely asking him for a coherent argument as opposed to the bizarre rants he’s been attempting to post, and this is his response. Very telling indeed.

    But it is worth noting that his nonsensical gibberish reads a whole lot like one of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society’s Awake! publication prophecies…in fact it sounds like their entire system of teaching – babble.

    In Christ,


  17. But it is worth noting that his nonsensical gibberish reads a whole lot like one of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society’s Awake! publication prophecies…in fact it sounds like their entire system of teaching – babble.

    As they would say across the pond, “Spot on!”


  18. Amen, FP! There are some very suble forms of abominable, damnable deception out there, but the JW cult isn’t one of them – their abominable, damnable deception is obvious.


  19. Jesus said that there are only two groups :1) That large group, and 2) the little group of sheeplike ones Matthew 7:13,14 . Obviously, the latter group will be conspicuously different and despised but shepherded by the King, Jesus C. I can condense the bible into one simple sentence. Jehovah’s plan of a Paradise Earth among His vast creation for mankind’s everlasting joy. My Email is ” hnarsing@gmail.com” Will be happy for a friendly exchange. Incidentally, now in the Jewish month of Nisan,after sundown, April 3, will be celebrated the sacrificial death of Jesus C , commemorative of Jesus’s instruction to do this in remembrance of his redemptive mission from our loving Creator- 22:19,20. Now, mankind needs the Truth more than ever as our lives depend on it.


  20. When we condemn or judge the conclusion of others, we are climbing the wrong tree. Jesus never in his 33 year ministry, argue with any one ; he merely taught as a wise teacher commissioned by his Father to rescue errant humans from the grave. He knew his accusers were on the erroneous track no doubt cleverly concocted like Eve by the traitorous Satan who wishes to thwart the promised happy earth society planned by Jehovah, by having God destroy mankind as unfit to be worthwhile saving.


  21. I would love anyone to say what name this one of the ten commands was referring to, about the needless use of the Divine name. The name of Jesus ( the Christ) appeared over one thousand years after. Would that name in Moses’ hand not be the name as in Exodus 6:3,4? It is unreasonable to equate Jesus C with his Heavenly Father as entering into a common grave fir mankind. Presumption if ever it is.


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