God Has a Name!
What is God’s name? Humans all have personal names. Why, many people even name their pets! Would it not be reasonable for God to have a name? Having and using personal names is unquestionably a vital part of human relationships and interactions. Should it be different when it comes to our relationship with God? Ironically, millions who profess faith in the God of the Bible do not use his personal name. Yet, God’s name has been known for centuries. As you read this series of articles, learn of times when God’s name was widely used. More important, learn what the Bible says about getting to know God by name.
BY THE 17th century, several European countries were minting coins featuring the name of God. A German coin minted in the year 1634 prominently featured the name Jehovah. Such coins became popularly known as the Jehovah talers, or Jehovah coins, and were circulated for decades.
Jehovah* is a rendering of God’s name that has been recognized for centuries. In Hebrew, a language that is read from right to left, the name appears as four consonants, יהוה. These four Hebrew characters—transliterated YHWH—are known as the Tetragrammaton. God’s name in this form was also inscribed on European coins for decades.
God’s name can also be found on buildings, monuments, and works of art as well as in many church hymns. According to the German Brockhaus encyclopedia, at one time it was customary for Protestant princes to wear an insignia composed of a stylized sun and the Tetragrammaton. The symbol, also used on flags and coins, was known as the Jehovah-Sun insignia. Clearly, the deeply religious Europeans of the 17th and 18th centuries knew that Almighty God had a name. More significantly, they were not afraid to use it.
The name of God was no mystery in Colonial America either. Consider, for example, the American Revolutionary soldier Ethan Allen. According to his memoirs, in 1775 he demanded that his enemies surrender “in the name of the Great Jehovah.” Later, during the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, several advisers made frequent mention of Jehovah in their letters to Lincoln. Other American historical documents containing the name of God are available for public review in many libraries. These are but a few examples of how the name of God has for centuries been prominently displayed.
What about today? Has the name of God been forgotten? Hardly. Various Bible translations feature the personal name of God in many verses. A quick visit to a library or a few minutes of research in your own dictionaries will likely reveal that the name Jehovah is widely accepted as the vernacular equivalent of the Tetragrammaton. For example, the Encyclopedia International pointedly defines the name Jehovah as the “modern form of the Hebrew sacred name of God.” A recent edition of The New Encyclopædia Britannica explains that Jehovah is the “Judeo-Christian name for God.”
‘But,’ you may wonder, ‘is God’s name a matter of concern to people today?’ The name of God, in one form or another, is still featured in many public areas. For instance, the name Jehovah is inscribed on the cornerstone of a building in New York City. In the same city, the name has also been found in Hebrew in a colorful mosaic decorating a busy subway station. It is safe to say, however, that of the thousands of people who have walked by these locations, few have attached any significance to the inscriptions.
Is the name of God important to people in your part of the world? Or do most refer to the Creator as “God,” as if this title were his actual name? Your personal observation might be that many people do not give any thought to whether God even has a name. What about you? Do you feel comfortable addressing God by his personal name, Jehovah?
This series of articles displays 39 forms of the name Jehovah as used in over 95 languages.
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A King Who Made Known the Name of Jehovah
In 1852 a group of missionaries set out from Hawaii for the islands of Micronesia. They carried with them a letter of introduction that bore the official seal of King Kamehameha III, the then ruling monarch of the Hawaiian Islands. This letter, originally written in Hawaiian and addressed to the various rulers of the Pacific Islands, said in part: “There are about to sail for your islands some teachers of the Most High God, Jehovah, to make known unto you His Word for your eternal salvation. . . . I commend these good teachers to your esteem and friendship and exhort you to listen to their instructions. . . . I advise you to throw away your idols, take the Lord Jehovah for your God, worship and love Him and He will bless and save you.”
King Kamehameha III
Hawaii State Archives
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The Tetragrammaton, meaning “four letters,” spells out the personal name of God in Hebrew