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The most important name for God in the OT. The name is formed from the Tetragrammaton, i.e., the consonants YHWH, which occur 6,828 times. God’s name was intentionally written without vowels to discourage its being pronounced aloud, and the actual pronunciation of the word has been lost to history. Nevertheless, the name is typically written as “Yahweh” today. This name occurs in all OT writings except Ecclesiastes, Esther, and the Song of Solomon. Its shortened forms (e.g., “Yah”) occur in many personal names, where the letters may be transliterated into English as “jah,” joh,” “iah,” or a number of other combinations (e.g., Jeremiah, Jonathan). An older system of transliteration rendered the Hebrew consonants YHWH as JHVH instead; thus, in some literature the name Yahweh is written as “Jahveh,” “Yahveh,” or “Jahweh.” Likewise, the name Jehovah is simply an archaic form of Yahweh used in the KJV. It was produced by inserting the vowels for the Hebrew word for “Lord” between the consonants JHVH. In many English Bibles, the name Yahweh is simply rendered as “Lord” (with small capital letters). (Gen 4:26) traces the revelation of the name Yahweh to human beings to the primeval period, while other texts present Moses as the first to receive the knowledge of this name (Exod 3:14; Exod 6:2-3). In the latter two passages, the deity is specifically identified with the God of the ancestors (Exod 3:13; Exod 3:15; Exod 6:3-4). The meaning of the name probably derives from a form of the Hebrew verb “to be.” In (Exod 3:14), God responds to Moses with the ambiguous statement, “I am who I will be.”

  • Powell, Mark Allan, ed. HarperCollins Bible Dictionary. Abridged Edition. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2009.