Heb., יהוה (YHWH)
“Jehovah” (Heb., יהוה, YHWH), God’s personal name, first occurs in Ge 2:4. The divine name is a verb, the causative form, the imperfect state, of the Hebrew verb הוה (ha·wahʹ, “to become”). Therefore, the divine name means “He Causes to Become.” This reveals Jehovah as the One who, with progressive action, causes himself to become the Fulfiller of promises, the One who always brings his purposes to realization. See Ge 2:4 ftn, “Jehovah”; App 3C. Compare Ex 3:14 ftn.
The greatest indignity that modern translators render to the Divine Author of the Holy Scriptures is the removal or the concealing of his peculiar personal name. Actually his name occurs in the Hebrew text 6,828 times as יהוה (YHWH or JHVH), generally referred to as the Tetragrammaton (literally meaning “having four letters”). By using the name “Jehovah,” we have held closely to the original-language texts and have not followed the practice of substituting titles such as “Lord,” “the Lord,” “Adonai” or “God” for the divine name, the Tetragrammaton.
Today, apart from a few fragments of the early Greek Septuagint where the sacred name is preserved in Hebrew, only the Hebrew text has retained this most important name in its original form of four letters, יהוה (YHWH), the exact pronunciation of which has not been preserved. Current circulating texts of the Greek Septuagint (LXX), Syriac Peshitta (Sy) and Latin Vulgate (Vg) substitute the mere title “Lord” for God’s unique name.—See App 1C.
The text located in the U.S.S.R., namely, the Codex Leningrad B 19A, used for Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS), vowel-points the Tetragrammaton to read Yehwahʹ, Yehwihʹ and a number of times Yeho·wahʹ, as in Ge 3:14. The edition of the Hebrew text by Ginsburg (Gins.) vowel-points YHWH to read Yeho·wahʹ. While many translators favor the pronunciation “Yahweh,” the New World Translation continues to use the form “Jehovah” because of people’s familiarity with it for centuries. Moreover, it preserves, equally with other forms, the four letters of the divine name, YHWH or JHVH.—See ad under “Jehovah.”
The practice of substituting titles for the divine name that developed among the Jews was applied in later copies of the Greek Septuagint, the Latin Vulgate, and many other translations, ancient and modern. Therefore, A Greek-English Lexicon, by Liddell and Scott (LS), p. 1013, states: “ὁ Κύριος,=Hebr. Yahweh, LXX Ge. 11.5, al.” Also, the Greek Lexicon of the Roman and Byzantine Periods, by E. A. Sophocles, Cambridge, U.S.A., and Leipzig, 1914, p. 699, says under κύριος (Kyʹri·os): “Lord, the representative of יהוה. Sept. passim [scattered throughout].” Moreover, Dictionnaire de la Bible, by F. Vigouroux, Paris, 1926, col. 223, says that “the Septuagint and the Vulgate contain Κύριος and Dominus, ‘Lord,’ where the original contains Jehovah.” Regarding the divine name, A Compendious Syriac Dictionary, edited by J. Payne Smith, Oxford, 1979 reprint, p. 298, says that Mar·yaʼ “in the [Syriac] Peshita Version of the O. T. represents the Tetragrammaton.”
Jehovah’s name was first restored to the English Bible by William Tyndale. In 1530 he published a translation of the first five books of the Bible into English. He included Jehovah’s name once, in Ex 6:3. In a note in this edition Tyndale wrote: “Iehovah is God’s name . . . Moreover, as oft as thou seist LORD in great letters (except there be any error in the printing) it is in Hebrew Iehovah.” From this the practice arose among translators to use Jehovah’s name in just a few places, but to write “LORD” or “GOD” in most places where the Tetragrammaton occurs in Hebrew. This practice was adopted by the translators of the King James Version in 1611, where Jehovah’s name occurs only four times, namely, in Ex 6:3; Ps 83:18; Isa 12:2; 26:4.
Further, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Vol. 1, Chicago (1980), p. 13, says: “To avoid the risk of taking God’s name (YHWH) in vain, devout Jews began to substitute the word ʼǎdōnā(y) for the proper name itself. Although the Masoretes left the four original consonants in the text, they added the vowels ē (in place of ǎ for other reasons) and ā to remind the reader to pronounce ʼǎdōnā(y) regardless of the consonants. This feature occurs more than six thousand times in the Hebrew Bible. Most translations use all capital letters to make the title ‘LORD.’ Exceptions are the ASV [American Standard Version] and New World Translation which use ‘Jehovah,’ Amplified [Bible] which uses ‘Lord,’ and JB [The Jerusalem Bible] which uses ‘Yahweh.’ . . . In those places where ʼǎdōnā(y) yhwh occurs the latter word is pointed with the vowels from ʼēlōhim, and the English renderings such as ‘Lord GOD’ arose (e.g. Amos 7:1).”
DIVINE NAME IN THE HEBREW SCRIPTURES (NW)
The very frequency of the appearance of the name attests its importance to the Bible’s author, whose name it is. The Tetragrammaton occurs 6,828 times in the Hebrew text (BHK and BHS). This is confirmed by the Theologisches Handwörterbuch zum Alten Testament, Vol. I, edited by E. Jenni and C. Westermann, 3rd ed., Munich and Zurich, 1978, cols. 703, 704. The New World Translation renders the Tetragrammaton as “Jehovah” in all occurrences except Jg 19:18, where see ftn.
According to BHK and BHS footnotes, in Isa 34:16 and Zec 6:8 the divine name should be read instead of the first-person singular pronoun “my.” We restored the divine name in these two places and rendered it as “Jehovah.”
For an explanation of the 141 additional restorations of the divine name, see App 1B.
The name “Jehovah” occurs 6,973 times in the text of the Hebrew Scriptures of the New World Translation, including three combination names (Ge 22:14; Ex 17:15; Jg 6:24) and six occurrences in the superscriptions of the Psalms (7 sup; 18 sup [3 times]; 36 sup; 102 sup). These nine occurrences are included in the 6,828 times in BHK and BHS.
“Jehovah” in H.S. of NW
6,827 YHWH rendered “Jehovah”
146 Added Restorations
Total 6,973 “Jehovah” in Ge–Mal
THE SHORTER FORM OF THE DIVINE NAME
The shorter form of the divine name occurs 50 times in the Masoretic text as Yah, rendered “Jah.” Following is a list of its occurrences: Ex 15:2; 17:16; Ps 68:4, 18; Ps 77:11; Ps 89:8; Ps 94:7, 12; Ps 102:18; Ps 104:35; Ps 105:45; Ps 106:1, 48; Ps 111:1; Ps 112:1; Ps 113:1, 9; Ps 115:17, 18, 18; Ps 116:19; Ps 117:2; Ps 118:5, 5, 14, 17, 18, 19; Ps 122:4; Ps 130:3; Ps 135:1, 3, 4, 21; Ps 146:1, 10; Ps 147:1, 20; Ps 148:1, 14; Ps 149:1, 9; Ps 150:1, 6, 6; Ca 8:6; Isa 12:2; 26:4; 38:11, 11.
For a consideration of the 237 occurrences of “Jehovah” in the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures, see App 1D.