YHVH: God's Sacred Name that is Never to Be Spoken by Sinners
The Unknown Pronunciation
God’s name YHWH, unlawful for Hebrews to speak, doesn’t have its own select vowels. Evidently the name isn't meant to be spoken by anyone since many people are inclined to desecrate that which is holy, accidentally or intentionally. Scholars never seem to realize this, steadily trying to figure out the pronunciation. They vary widely in their notions of how to pronounce it, and indeed manuscripts & editions of the Hebrew text itself vary in the written or printed vocalization, all in accord with an historic lack of knowledge of the pronunciation. Various historic figures of Hebrew history have held differing opinions on the true pronunciation, and the historian Josephus even said letters of the name should all be pronounced as vowels since they've served as semi- vowels, consonants that do double duty.
God tells Moses He has never been known by this name, and in Exo.3:14 He gave it to Moses in terms of its meaning, I AM
THAT I AM, or more briefly I AM. It appears that God will not allow pronunciation of the actual name by sinful mankind, and the evidence indicates the name has not had revealed vowels since
before the origination of Exodus and the Pentateuch at ~1450 B.C, and likely throughout all of text history. The term appears in Job, the oldest book of the Bible, but God has never been known by that name since its pronunciation has never been known. The term I AM appears in the New Testament as Christ invokes it to reveal His equality with YHWH in terms of deity.
Variant Adopted Pronunciation
In cases where the name appears in the absence of another term for God, Masoretes assigned to it vowels of Adonai, with a slight modification, to yield a name that native Hebrew scholars say defies Hebrew linguistics, and can't be the actual pronunciation. When the name appears directly adjacent to Adonai in the text, Masoretes assigned vowels of Elohim, which serves to further ensure a lack of knowledge of the actual pronunciation. Hebrews pronounce the name as Adonai, or the name, or Elohim.
The sacred name is usually rendered the title LORD in English translations, but is rendered Jehovah in the KJV in places where context requires a name, rather than a title. Jehovah suits Gentiles, but isn’t a Hebrew or Aramaic name, and Hebrew has no J, so many deny it’s a name of God, but it’s long been in the KJV for a good reason. The name Jehovah, in place of unutterable YHWH, makes unapproachable holy God personal since the name was created by applying to YHWH vowels of Adonai that means my Lord. This suggests, in the Old Testament, Christ who would later make God personal as our Lord (He taught us to say our Father - Mt.6:9). In cases where YHWH appears beside Adonai in the text, assigned vowels of plural Elohim imply a reference to the plurality of the Trinity in God's person in the Old Testament (certain other entities are signified in certain contexts), and Christ’s equality with YHWH in the Trinity is His authority to make God personal.
of Christ with Adonai, Elohim and Jehovah indicates that the
meaning of YHWH, I AM THAT I AM, providentially links to Jehovah to render it an approved alternative pronunciation of YHWH revealed by God to Moses in Ex.6:3
of the KJV. Jehovah looks like a providentially-ordained pronunciation that extends to Gentiles, prevention of actual name pronunciation. This is logical since Christ brought Gentiles who believe in God into Israel's heritage (Eph. 2:11-22) so that through Christ, Gentiles too are to keep the name holy and undefiled. Through Christ, it's no longer necessary for Gentiles to leave their culture and join the Hebrew nation to be a part of God's people, which was the case in the Old Testament era (Lev.19:33,34), but all of God's people are to adopt all aspects of reverence for God. Christians should expect to keep God's sacred name undefiled since chapter 4 of the Revelation shows how greatly He is to be sanctified by God's people, Hebrew and Gentile, in His eternal kingdom.
The personal name Jehovah offers pronunciation that would be expected if an effort is made to vocalize the sacred name when vowels of Adonai are applied, and use of this name seems to be intentional, not as scholars say,
a misunderstanding of the purpose of such vowels. The purpose is to give Gentiles approved alternative pronunciation of the sacred name to avoid the actual one, as is the case with Hebrew use of Adonai.
That YHWH, known technically as the Tetragrammaton, incorporates pointing (vowel system) of other names for God shows that pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton is unique, and thus very different from that of other terms relating to God. We can easily view pronunciation of this unique name as having a special purpose.
We have noted that the sacred name is assigned vowels of Adonai when it appears in the absence of another name for God, yet when this is done, the compound shewa, hateph patach, under the gutteral first letter of Adonai changes to simple shewa without a patach under the yod of YHWH. Use of simple shewa denies the usual assignment of qere vowels, and the reason can relate to Jehovah as an alternative pronunciation of YHWH for Gentiles that avoids the true pronunciation. In the anglicizing of the term, the transliterated "e" of simple shewa supports the Jeh initial part of Jehovah and eliminates the "a" of patach in the compound shewa, and loss of patach accords with normal assignment of simple shewa to non-gutteral yod of the first consonant of YHWH. This is unique in that one grammar rule is seemingly violated to apply another one in the case of YHWH. In this matter involving the most unique term in the Hebrew text, it appears that "e" is emphasized to the extent that normal pointing of the qere perpetuum (means based on qere tradition, not a visible qere marginal note) does not apply. Thus Yehowah, while not the true pronunciation anymore than Yahweh is, can be understood as related to an intended role for Gentile use of YHWH in the form of Jehovah to avoid the true pronunciation. Indeed rise in the use of Jehovah correlated with the appearance of the long-absent Hebrew text in churches in conjunction with the 15th-century introduction of movable-type printing in Europe and the 16th-century Reformation spreading God’s Hebrew/Aramaic Word, along with the Greek, throughout Gentile cultures of Europe.
We then ask why a compound shewa appears under yod of the Tetragrammaton when Elohim pointing is utilized, and that's likely due to emphasis on the half- vowel seghol “e” of this compound shewa, resulting in by-passing the transliterated “e” of simple sheva that is less notable in this regard.* Evidently "e" in Jeh is emphasized to the degree that application of a simple shewa for a non-gutteral yod is by-passed when pointing of Elohim applies, as application of a minor rule of full vocalization of qere perpetuum is by-passed when the pointing of Adonai applies. A simple shewa that is required in one case, and denied in another, indicates that the “e” of Jehovah is being emphasized, and that YHWH is a most unique name with an authority that transcends grammar rules.
*It appears that pointing of plural Elohim producing Jehovih in English is an indirect reference to the dual plurality of Eloah, from which the multi-plurality Elohim appears to derive. Eloah can reflect an emphasis on God in conjunction with the Son of God so that Jehovih would be supportive of the Trinity doctrine. The pointing of Eloah would maintain the spelling Jehovah in a reference to God the Father since the result would be the appearance of the term Lord Jehovah in English, the supreme Jehovah of the Trinity [Christ said my Father is greater than I (Jn.14:28), which is a matter of authority, not deity, and plural Elohim, in reference to the true God, makes Christ our Jehovah in regard to the Trinity; Christ is the image of the supreme Jehovah (Jn.10:30, 14:9) so that Isa.9:6 equivalences Him with the everlasting Father].
Summary & Conclusions
Pronunciation of YHWH in approved forms would be for emphasis likely relating to Christ's personalization of unapproachable YHWH associated with Adonai and the plurality of Elohim in the sense of the Trinity that is the basis of Christ's authority to make God personal. In the case of Elohim, God the Father and Christ in the Trinity both relate to I AM, and thus to Jehovah (the name Jehovah includes past, present & future senses of I AM (see www.Hope-of-Israel.org/tetragram.html).
While Yehowah doesn't represent the true pronunciation anymore than Yahweh does, it can be understood as related to a unique intended role for
Gentile use of YHWH in the form of Jehovah
to avoid the true pronunciation. Since God was never known by the Tetragrammaton name prior to the incident with Moses in Exo.3:14 at ~1450 B.C, and since He gave the name to Moses in terms of its meaning, I AM THAT I AM, it appears that the true pronunciation never was, and never will be, given to sinful mankind. Indeed the fact that its letters could have served as consonants or semi- vowels helps ensure that the true pronunciation remains unknown. Further, assigning of the vowels of Adonai and Elohim serves to keep the pronunciation unknown since resultant terms are inconsistent with Hebrew grammar. We readily conclude that the name is sacred, and not to be subjected to abuse like that heaped upon the name Jesus Christ by sinful men, though our Savior ultimately avoids the desecration through His tie to the sacred name through His tie to I AM.
The I AM of Exo.3:14, written ~1450 B.C., relates to Jehovah, and it appears that use of this name through use of the vowels of Adonai did not originate with the Masoretes (contrary to scholars), but has always been a part of text history, in the form Yehowah that's meant to prevent the true pronunciation by sinners. The Elohim pointing for YHWH serves a similar purpose, and would have a similar text history. Of course, it may be that the Masorete pointing is a later form of vocalization properly preserving an earlier one that conveyed the same language.
God's hand on the text accounts for an ancient origin of Jehovah that was meant to apply to the Gentile church much later in history, seeing that ancient Hebrew scribes could have no concept of such matters, and no appreciation for a term not consistent with Hebrew language. The scribes' only concern was avoidance of pronunciation of the sacred name. The revelation of the use of the name Jehovah became popular with men late in time in association with movable-type printing & the Reformation.
God’s Hand on the Text Long after Closing of the Canon
Now Masorete pointing appears in a text masking knowledge of Christ and the Trinity that both act as a basis for approved pronunciation of the sacred name by Hebrews. For Christians, both act as a basis for subtle revelation on the meaning of the sacred name, and provide approved pronunciation of the name in other-language texts. Thus aspects of Hebrew-text tradition and KJV translation, practiced long after the canon closed, show evidence of guidance by God’s hand. We seem to have evidence of God’s hand on approved Hebrew-manuscript tradition, and also on an approved translation to inform those unacquainted with Hebrew language.