Know what the Name is! Using or Not Using the Hebrew Name of God
The Story of the Bible begins with Creation, the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob), Joseph and going down to Egypt. We then, with the Book of Exodus, hear of the Children of Israel being oppressed in Egypt and Moses being called upon to go and save them from Egyptian Oppression.
In a sense the Appearance of the Almighty to Moses makes for a New Beginning!
Moses did expect it to happen.
It just did. Moses asks God what HIS NAME is.
The Almighty replies:
13 Then Moses said to God, Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they say to me, What is His name? what shall I say to them? 14 And God said to Moses, I AM WHO I AM. And He said, Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you. 15 Moreover God said to Moses, Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.
The Hebrew translated as I AM WHO I AM is "EHEYE ASHER EHEYE." This is in the future tense. A simple straight-forward understanding would render the expression as, 'I Will Be What I Will Be.'
In continuation it says,
# And He said, Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you. #
Here too, 'I AM' is in the future tense, in Hebrew 'Eheye,' i.e. 'I WILL BE.'
This brings us to the question what does the four-lettered ineffable name (YHVH) mean?
No-one really knows but it is obviously comprised of elements from the verbal root HOVEH i.e. "to be".
An approximate translation might perhaps render it as, "HE WHO IS." This also fits in with the context and the other names and attributions such as 'I WILL BE,' etc. We are forbidden to pronounce the name (as explained shortly) but nevertheless we should hallow it, take cognizance of it, and consider its meanings.
The Priestly Blessing and the Holy Name.
The brother of Moses, Aaron (Aharon) became the Forefather of the Cohens (Priests) who were commanded to bless Israel:
22 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
23 Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the sons of Israel. You shall say to them:
24 The LORD bless you, and keep you;
25 The LORD make His face shine on you,
And be gracious to you;
26 The LORD lift up His countenance on you,
And give you peace.
27 So they shall invoke My name on the sons of Israel, and I then will bless them.
Placing the Name of God on the Children of Israel means intending that the essence of the Almighty HIMSELF be with us.
Revealing the Secret
In the Hebrew Bible the name of God has four letters roughly equal to YHVH or IHWH or something similar. This name is not pronounced though in the past it was. Where this name occurs in the Hebrew Bible the English Translations usually render it as LORD, or God, or the Almighty, etc. In the past this name was rendered in English as 'Jehovah'. In Modern works it is sometimes given as 'Yahwah'. In effect it should not be pronounced and attempts should not be made to pronounce it as explained below.
There is NO KNOWN CORRECT PRONUNCIATION OF THE HOLY NAME!!!
In Biblical Times the Ancient Hebrews did use the name of God but very warily.
In Leviticus ("Emor") 24: 10-23 we hear of an Israelite son of an Israelite woman and Egyptian father who cursed his fellow man using the Holy Name.
He is condemned to death. The whole congregation is commanded to stone him! We learn from this passage that whoever cursed another person using the Name of God could be put to death by stoning. If you cursed someone without using the name nothing would happen. Maybe you would have to pay a fine or something (as you might have to today) but nothing more than that. Using or rather misusing the name made all the difference.
It was taken very seriously.
The Bible takes it seriously.
It is not something that does not matter one way or the other.
We should not want people incurring liabilities when there is no need for it.
We have an obligation towards other people to reprove them, if possible, when they do wrong:.
17 'You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
Historically, the pagan Edomite-Romans also misused the name of the Almighty. The god of the Romans known as Jupiter (the Greek "Zeus") was also known as "Jove." In Ancient Latin "Jove" may have been pronounced close to how it is written in Hebrew.
Archaeological findings show that in Ancient Times there were periods when the Name of God was being misused by non-Israelite pagans or by Israelites under pagan influence. We also find Gentile Egyptians, and Greeks, and Jewish pagans using the name inappropriately. Even now we find amongst people who try to use the Holy Name would-be magicians, all kinds of nut-cases, and enemies of God and the Jewish People. Certain religious movements in the USA that use the name have attracted mentally disturbed, homicidal, and Jew-hating adherents.
These are not types a self-respecting person should associate with.
The Bible warns of this.
16 Moreover, the one who blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall certainly stone him. The alien as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death.
The words translated as "blaspheme" in Hebrew are derived from the root "NeKeV" meaning to "say expressly." The LORD does NOT want HIS name used indiscriminately. In fact in our generation HE does not want HIS name used at all!
The Holy Name in the Bible is spoken of as something that is sacred and in need of protection against misuse.
You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that takes his name in vain.
In Exodus 3:15 we see the Holy Name revealed to Moses for the first time BUT what does the verse really say?
Exodus 3: 15 Moreover God said to Moses, 'Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: 'The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.'
Note the expression, "This is My name forever" (Exodus 3:15). It says "forever!"
Or does it? Really?
In the Hebrew text the word translated here as "forever" is written as "Le-elam". This can ALSO mean "to be Hidden". If we were reading the verse AS IT IS WRITTEN we could read it as saying, "This is My name TO BE HIDDEN" i.e. at some time in the future it would need to be hidden
That is what it says when read LITERALLY!!!
[ Rabbi Yaacov Tsvi Mecklenberg (1785-1865), "Ha-Ketav ve-HaKabbalah" (In Hebrew, "Scripture and Tradition") discusses this in some detail in light of the grammatical points contained within the passage].
No-one knows today how the Name was really pronounced!
Without going into details here it is enough to say that the Name of God in the Hebrew Bible is nowhere given with its original vowel points. The letters of the name are Y(I)HV(W)H. We do not know whether or not the name contains the sounds "e, a, ay, oo, u, i, y" [or some kind of combination or permutation of them] anywhere or everywhere before, after, and/or in between its four letters.
We also do not know how all the letters were actually pronounced. Different possibilities exist.
The Name of the Almighty is not to be pronounced and nobody today can pronounce it. Attempts to do so should not be made. They are dangerous and God does not want it. The Holy Name was to be hidden as predicted. The Bible (Exodus 3:15) says that the Holy Name will be revealed in the future but for now it is not known and attempts should NOT be made to know it!
Rabbi Avraham Feld and the Message of 'HaShem' i.e. 'The Name'!
God does not want HIS Name to be pronounced at present. In the Messianic Era things will be different. For the present we should refer to God as God, or as the LORD, or as the Almighty, or as the Father, or as any one of a number of names were it is evident that the God of Israel is meant.
In ordinary conversation or in discussions when the name of God needs to be mentioned Religious Jews often say 'HaShem' meaning literally 'The Name.'
Rabbi Avraham Feld points out that this usage is given by the Torah itself, i.e.
Deuteronomy 28 [Literal translation]:
58 IF YOU WILT NOT OBSERVE TO DO ALL THE WORDS OF THIS LAW THAT ARE WRITTEN IN THIS BOOK, TO FEAR THIS NAME [Hebrew: "HaShem] WHICH IS GLORIOUS AND FEARFUL, THE LORD THY GOD.
Rabbi Avraham Feld notes further:
# It says TO FEAR HASHEM [i.e. the Name], which is glorious and awesome. THE-Name, G-d, your G-d. That's right! The Hebrew text literally states that HaShem is the way G-d, your G-d, is referred to! #
God in the Bible may be telling us to fear HIM and contemplate who HE Is BUT HE is also saying that HIS NAME as it is written is not to be pronounced!
A shorter form of the name of God as found in the Bible is "Yah." The Ten Tribes and Judah.
Indications are that both the Jews of Judah and the Ten Tribes before and after their Exile when pronouncing this appellation did not say "Yah" but rather "Yam." They apparently did this out of respect for the Name. In Judah King "Abiyam" son of Rehoboam (1-Kings 14:31, 15:1) is also referred to as Abiyah (1-Chronicles 3:1, 2-Chronicles 11:22, 12:16, etc). and as Abiyahu (2-Chronicles 13:20, the KJ renders this name as simply ABIJAH). A contemporary son of King Jeroboam of Israel bore the same name (1-Kings 14:1). The variation of "Abiyam" (instead of Abiyah) found for the King of Judah may reflect a practice said, according to some archaeological finds, to have held more in the northern Kingdom of Israel. The Ten Tribes in the north seem to have deliberately pronounced the "Yah" as "Yam" or "Yim." The theophonic element "yah" was optionally replaced by "yam".
Concerning the four-letter name the Northern Israelites did not usually spell it as it is in the Bible but used a shortened form "Yaho"
(See AHITOV, Shmuel. 'HaKetav VeHaMiktav,' [Hebrew Language] Handbook of Ancient Inscriptions from the Land of Israel and the Kingdom Beyond the Jordan from the Period of the First Commonwealth, Jerusalem 2005).
In the early Second Temple Period the Holy Name was only pronounced once a year by the High Priest in the Temple on the Day of Atonement.
Eventually it was forgotten altogether.
Even heretical Jews in Ancient Times who rebelled against mainstream Judaism avoided pronouncing the name:
"the Name is printed in many Hebrew manuscripts (particularly in the Dead Sea Scrolls) in a Paleo-Hebrew script, even when the rest of the text comes from a later period and is not written in Paleo-Hebrew. It is also pointed out that in the earliest manuscripts of the Septuagint the Name is written in Hebrew, not Greek. "
The fact that the name was kept separate in the Greek Translation (Septuagint) of the Bible and in the Dead Sea Scrolls would indicate that even groups that were outside of mainstream Judaism respected the name and did not try to pronounce it..
In the FUTURE correct usage of the Name will be RESTORED! We have however not yet reached that point. The Ten Tribes were taken away by the Assyrians and lost consciousness of their ancestry. Their descendants stayed together and eventually all moved to the west. Eventually the Ten Tribes shall return and re-unite with Judah. There will be a rule of the Messiah and the Name shall once again be in use.
9 And the LORD shall be King over all the earth.
In that day it shall be
"The LORD is one,"
And His name one.
For the Present Age, Knowing the Name Means Understanding it!
17 And the LORD said to Moses, 'This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.'
God says that HIS knowing YOUR name is a mark of favor. This means HE knows who you are through and through, your very being. It does not mean HE looked your name up in the phone book tosee how it is spelled. So too knowing the Name of God means becoming familiar with who HE is. It may also be efficacious to contemplate the actual meaning of the Name but this does not mean trying to pronounce it.
There are obviously reasons as to why the Name should not be pronounced in our time.
We however for the present do not have to know what the reasons are.
It should be enough for the time being to understand this is the Bible message. This is what the Almighty wants so this is how we will do it.