Get To Know God Through His Names: “Yahweh”
When it comes to the “names” of the Divine Being, you will find that most so-called “names” are actually titles. However, the sacred name “Yahweh” is actually presented more than 6,000 times in the Old Testament as the actual and true Name of the God of the Bible.
The name Yahweh is actually “translated” throughout most traditional versions of the Bible into the word “LORD” in all capital letters. This is explained in the translation notes in the beginning of each Bible that does this. You may ask, “why did they do that?” Well, in the past, the name made up of the Hebrew letters Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey, or “Yahweh” was not pronounced in traditional Judaism. This was because it was held to be so sacred that it was not even pronounced in common usage. Rather, it was originally replaced by the word “Adonai” or “My Lord” when it was read out loud in the Hebrew Bible. In the first century, the Name of God was only pronounced by the High Priest on one day a year, the Day of Atonement.
This practice in Judaism eventually led to the loss of knowledge of the proper pronunciation of this Name. This tradition was carried over into traditional Bible translations with the replacement of “Yahweh” with the word LORD. More recently, archeological discoveries have helped to narrow down the choices of pronunciation to the most likely candidate, “Yahweh.”
Despite the fact that “Yahweh” is the Name of God, it actually comes from a verbal root word in the Hebrew language. That root word is “hayah” and it roughly means “to be” or “to exist.” This is its general meaning when translated into English, but it is much deeper than this.
The full extent of this Hebrew word includes the perception of active being or “being in action” and it can imply an active sustaining presence that intervenes in the real world when speaking of God. It connotes eternity and everlasting existence along with the performance of miracles that intervene in the natural order of things on humanity’s behalf.
“Yahweh” is actually very similar to the Name “I AM” (“Ehyeh” in Hebrew) that we will examine in a later post. The Hebrew word “hayah” is at the root of both these names. If “Ehyeh” means “I AM” than Yahweh means “He IS.” As I mentioned, it implies eternal existence as well as pre-existence.
I hope that this post has given you more insight into what the Bible says about God and his names, especially this sacred Name that is used thousands of times in the Bible.
Yahweh: “He IS eternal Being and existence in action.”