The Name of God YHVH

In the Hebrew bible, God's personal name is the most frequently used noun—occurring over 6,800 times. In the Hebrew text it is spelled with only consonants: Y-H-V-H, and is called the “Four-Letter” name or “Tetragrammaton” in Greek.[i]

Jewish sages say the four letters represent: Hayah, Hoveh, and Yiyeh—He was, He is, He will be. So His name is actually three-in-one: Yehovah, Yehoveh, and Yehovih. Therefore the name is unpronounceable because we cannot pronounce three variants concurrently. It is phonetically impossible.

It is His written name because He is the Word of God. And, the name simply describes that He is the all-encompassing One—the Alpha and the Omega, the Aleph and the Taph, the beginning and the end, the past, present and future. Just as Yeshua’s name means salvation, God’s name means that He is everything. His name characterizes who He is.

Nothing in the Torah prohibits a person from pronouncing the Name of God.[ii] In fact, it is evident from scripture that God's Name was pronounced routinely. Many common Hebrew names contain Yah or Yahu, part of God's four-letter name. The name was pronounced as part of daily services in the temple, and currently the Temple Institute in Jerusalem is training Kohanim to pray the Aaronic blessing using the full name of God for service in the future temple. [iii]

The strongest evidence in favor of Hovah (as in Ye-ho-vah), is that in Hebrew Ye is the future tense of “to be” as in “shall;” ho is the present tense of “to be” as in “is;” and ah is the past tense of “to be” as in “was.” Thus Ye-ho-ah can mean “who was, who is, and who shall be.” This is in perfect alignment with God’s own words, “I am that I am.” When we insert the Vav (V sound) we have the pronunciation of: Ye-ho-v-ah.

There is much debate about the actual pronunciation of the Lord’s name, and from the above we can see why. The most important thing however is to realize that YHVH (יְהוָה) is His personal name, and we must read His word from that place of intimacy. Using the words God and Lord are generic and do not speak to His sovereignty and authority, neglect the attributes of His character that are attached to His name, and leave us speaking to or hearing about God rather than speaking to or hearing from God. I personally choose to use the name Yehovah in most of my prayers, but that is just my personal preference.

[i] Sumner, Paul. HaShem — The Name. Hebrew Streams.
[ii] Rich, Tracey R. The Name of G-d. 1996-2011. Judaism 101.
[iii] Numbers 6:24-26.