Saying YHVH verses Adonay or Hashem
By Yochanan Zaqantov
When you hear our Rabbanite brothers they use Hashem instead of his name. Hashem literally means the name. Even some people will use Adonay instead, but why would one not use the name if its there in the Hebrew Text. We will be looking first at the reasoning for not speaking His Name. We will also examine the reasons for using his Name. So lets examine the reason for not pronouncing the Name.
Nothing in the Torah prohibits a person from pronouncing the Name of God. Indeed, it is evident from scripture that God's Name was pronounced routinely. Many common Hebrew names contain "Yah" or "Yahu," part of God's four-letter Name. The Name was pronounced as part of daily services in the Temple.
The Mishnah confirms that there was no prohibition against pronouncing The Name in ancient times. In fact, the Mishnah recommends using God's Name as a routine greeting to a fellow Jew. Berakhot 9:5. However, by the time of the Talmud, it was the custom to use substitute Names for God. Some rabbis asserted that a person who pronounces YHVH according to its letters (instead of using a substitute) has no place in the World to Come, and should be put to death. Instead of pronouncing the four-letter Name, we usually substitute the Name "Adonai," or simply say "Ha-Shem" (lit. The Name).
Although the prohibition on pronunciation applies only to the four-letter Name, Jews customarily do not pronounce any of God's many Names except in prayer or study. The usual practice is to substitute letters or syllables, so that Adonai becomes Adoshem or Ha-Shem, Elohaynu and Elohim become Elokaynu and Elokim, etc.
With the Temple destroyed and the prohibition on pronouncing The Name outside of the Temple, pronunciation of the Name fell into disuse. Scholars passed down knowledge of the correct pronunciation of YHVH for many generations, but eventually the correct pronunciation was lost, and we no longer know it with any certainty. We do not know what vowels were used, or even whether the Vav in the Name was a vowel or a consonant. See Hebrew Alphabet for more information about the difficulties in pronouncing Hebrew. Some religious scholars suggest that the Name was pronounced "Yahweh," but others do not find this pronunciation particularly persuasive.
Some people render the four-letter Name as "Jehovah," but this pronunciation is particularly unlikely. The word "Jehovah" comes from the fact that ancient Jewish texts used to put the vowels of the Name "Adonai" (the usual substitute for YHVH) under the consonants of YHVH to remind people not to pronounce YHVH as written. A sixteenth century German Christian scribe, while transliterating the Bible into Latin for the Pope, wrote the Name out as it appeared in his texts, with the consonants of YHVH and the vowels of Adonai, and came up with the word JeHoVaH, and the name stuck.” http://www.jewfaq.org/name.htm
So we see from this description that there indeed is no restriction in the Miqra for saying the name. In fact, this website admits that Elohim’s name was used through out the Tanakh. The restriction was a man made rule. No only do they restrict the writing or saying of the name but also some advocate that one substitute letters or some use hypen to block out letters of even the words like God to be G-d. The claim is made that no one knows the Vowels that were used for the name YHVH. We will examine that next.
The point was made that the vowels used were for YHVH were from Adonai. So let us examine the vowels
chatef patach – holem - qames
Adonai or Adonay
chatef-segol – holem - hireq
chatef-segol – holem - sere
Elohei or Elohey
chatef-segol – holem - qames
Elohai or Elohay
What we have above is the vowels for other words which vowels could be substituted for YHVH is this is true then one of there combinations should fit what is found in Tanakh.
Seva – holem – qames
chatef-segol – holem - hireq
The Hebrew word they claim uses the vowels of Adonay does not use the same vowels. The variation Yehovih which appears to use the same vowels as Elohim is translated as God just like Elohim. So we can see from these comparisons that indeed the substituted vowel theory is not viable. Even the Article from Judaism101 states that people used Yeho, Yahu, and Yah as shortened versions of Yehovah. This shows us that indeed the name of Yehovah was used in common speech not just for the Temple or Tent of Meeting.
4 Presently Boaz arrived from Bethlehem. He greeted the reapers, “Yehovah be with you!” And they responded, “Yehovah bless you!”
In Hebrew, Boaz said to the reapers יְהוָֹה עִמָּכֶם Yehovah ‘Imekhem or Yehovah be with you all. The Reapers return the greeting to him and say יְבָרֶכְךָ יְהוָֹהYevarekh’kha Yehovah or He bless you Yehovah. So we see that with this one example all the people here were just average Yisraelim and not Kohenim or Levi’im. So were does the idea come from that the Kohenim did the blessings. In Bamidbar, chapter 6.
22 Yehovah spoke to Moses: 23 Speak to Aaron and his sons: Thus shall you bless (Tevarakhu -They will bless them תְבָרֲכוּ) the people of Israel. Say to them:
24 Yehovah bless you and protect you! (Yevarekh’kha Yehovah veyish’merekha יְבָרֶכְךָ יְהוָֹה וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ)
25 Yehovah deal kindly and graciously with you! (ya’er Yehovah panayv eleykha viychunekha יָאֵר יְהוָֹה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וִיחֻנֶּךָּ)
26 Yehovah bestow His favor upon you and grant you peace! (Yissa Yehovah panayv eleykha veyasem lekha shalom יִשָּׂא יְהוָֹה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם)
27 Thus they shall link My name with the people of Israel, and I will bless them.
Thus we see in first blessing part of the blessing given by the Reapers to Boaz. Thus, showing that using a blessing is not only for the Priest but a average Yisraelim can bless too. The Name used in all three of these is Yehovah from YHVH. Thus, this was the name they were to use. We have seen so far that there is no restriction on the saying of the name so far.
10 There came out among the Israelites one whose mother was Israelite and whose father was Egyptian. And a fight broke out in the camp between that half-Israelite and a certain Israelite. 11 The son of the Israelite woman pronounced (vayiqov – and he pierces וַיִּקֹּב) the Name in blasphemy (vayeqalel – and he cursed וַיְקַלֵּל), and he was brought to Moses—now his mother’s name was Shelomith daughter of Dibri of the tribe of Dan—12 and he was placed in custody, until the decision of Yehovah should be made clear to them.
13 And Yehovah spoke to Moses, saying: 14 Take the blasphemer (et-ham’qalel – the one from cursing אֶת־הַמְקַלֵּל) outside the camp; and let all who were within hearing lay their hands upon his head, and let the whole community stone him.
15 And to the Israelite people speak thus: Anyone who blasphemes (yeqalel – he curses יְקַלֵּל) Elohayv shall bear his guilt; 16 if he also pronounces (venoqev – and pierces וְנֹקֵב) the name Yehovah, he shall be put to death. The whole community shall stone him; stranger or citizen, if he has thus pronounced (banaq’vo – in pierce him בְּנָקְבוֹ) the Name, he shall be put to death.
Vayiqov is the Qal future tense of Naqav a verse in the Qal simple which means to pierce or cause damage. Thus, this person was piercing at the Name to cause harm. It is reference number 5344. The next word is Vayeqalel, which is to condemn or lightly esteem. In another words, he did not hold up Yehovah’s name in the awe it should be held. He despised Yehovah. This word is reference number 7043. The word most used for when a person speaks is Amar (אמר 559) or sometimes Davar ( דבר 1696). Here we seen different words used but again because of the translator’s agenda we have a text in English, which perpetuates a man made rule of no pronouncing.
So let us look at some of the ways Yehovah’s name is used.
We see we are to swear by his name.
13 Revere only Yehovah Eloheykha (יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ) and worship Him alone, and swear only by His name.
Here we see that one must swear by his name. Thus, one must speak it to swear by it.
20 You must revere Yehovah Eloheykha (יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ): only Him shall you worship, to Him shall you hold fast, and by His name shall you swear.
Again, if we must swear by his name then we must speak his name.
1 If you return, O Israel —declares Yehovah (יְהוָה)— If you return to Me, If you remove your abominations from My presence And do not waver, 2 And swear, “As Yehovah lives (Chai Yehiovah חַי־יְהוָה),” In sincerity, justice, and righteousness— Nations shall bless themselves by you And praise themselves by you.
Swearing by his name in sincerity, justice and righteousness is part of returning to him. If we never use his name in swearing or taking oaths are we fully returning to him?
Taken in Oaths
Melekhim Aleph/I Kings 1:29-30
29 And the king took an oath, saying, “As Yehovah lives (Chai Yehovah חַי־יְהוָה), who has rescued me from every trouble: 30 The oath I swore to you by the Lord, the God (baYehovah Elohey בַּיהוָה אֱלֹהֵי) of Israel, that your son Solomon should succeed me as king and that he should sit upon my throne in my stead, I will fulfill this very day!”
Melekh David made an oath and in doing so use Chai Yehovah or As Yehovah lives which is swearing by his name.
Melekhim Aleph/I Kings 17:1
1 Elijah the Tishbite, an inhabitant of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As Yehovah lives (Chai Yehovah חַי־יְהוָה), Elohey of Israel whom I serve, there will be no dew or rain except at my bidding.”
Here Eliyahu is making an oath also and using Chai Yehovah too.
Melekhim Bet/II Kings 2:2
2 Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here, for Yehovah (יְהוָה) has sent me on to Bethel.” “As Yehovah lives and as you live (chai Yehovah veChei naf’shekha
חַי־יְהוָה וְחֵי־נַפְשְׁךָ),” said Elisha, “I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel.
Here Elisha makes an oath by Yehovah and Eliyahu lives that he will not leave Eliyahu.
14 Thus said Yehovah (יְהוָה): As for My wicked neighbors who encroach on the heritage that I gave to My people Israel—I am going to uproot them from their soil, and I will uproot the House of Judah out of the midst of them. 15 Then, after I have uprooted them, I will take them back into favor, and restore them each to his own inheritance and his own land. 16 And if they learn the ways of My people, to swear by My name—“As Yehovah lives (Chai Yehovah חַי־יְהוָה)”—just as they once taught My people to swear by Baal, then they shall be built up in the midst of My people.
Here we see that one of the things a person must learn to do be built up in the midst of his people is learn to swear by his name.
Shemu’el Aleph/I Samuel 20:42
42 Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace! For we two have sworn to each other in the name of Yehovah (יְהוָה): ‘May Yehovah (יְהוָה) be [witness] between you and me, and between your offspring and mine, forever!’”
Here Jonathan and David swore to each other by the name of Yehovah. You can see without going through every single reference in the Tanakh that there is ample proof that Yehovah’s name was used by the people and were required to swear by it.
They called upon his Name:
26 And to Seth, in turn, a son was born, and he named him Enosh. It was then that men began to invoke Yehovah by name (liq’ro bashem Yehovah לִקְרֹא בְּשֵׁם יְהוָה).
Liq’ro is the infinitive form of Kara that is to call. Bashem is in name. This means that men called in name Yehovah in this time. They used his name at this time.
Bereshit/Genesis 24:26-27, 35
26 The man bowed low in homage to Yehovah (leYehovah לַיהוָה) 27 and said, “Blessed be Yehovah (Barukh Yehovah בָּרוּךְ יְהוָה), Elohey of my master Abraham, who has not withheld His steadfast faithfulness from my master. For I have been guided on my errand by Yehovah (יְהוָה), to the house of my master’s kinsmen.”
We see that the servant owned by Avraham was unafraid to use Yehovah’s name in speaking of the great thing in making his errand a success.
35 “Yehovah (vaYehovah וַיהוָה) has greatly blessed my master, and he has become rich: He has given him sheep and cattle, silver and gold, male and female slaves, camels and asses.
Here the servant tells in normal speech how Yehovah had blessed his servant.
13 Moses said to HaElohim, “When I come to the Israelites and say to them ‘Elohey of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 And Elohim said to Moses, “Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh
(אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה).” He continued, “Thus shall you say to the Israelites, ‘Ehyeh (אֶהְיֶה) sent me to you.’” 15 And Elohim said further to Moses, “Thus shall you speak to the Israelites: Yehovah (יְהוָה), Elohey of your fathers, Elohey of Abraham, Elohey of Isaac, and Elohey of Jacob, has sent me to you: This shall be My name forever, This My appellation for all eternity.
Many people confuse Eh’yeh as Yehovah’s name but he clearly says Yehovah and says this is his name. Eh’yeh is the Kal Future of Hayah that is a verb and reference number 1961. This particular conjugation of the verb is one that uses the meaning “Shall be” The Aleph in the front as a prefix is generally used to say “I” Thus Eh’yah is “I shall be” and so he is saying Eh’yah asher Eh’yah or “I shall be which I shall be”
16 “Go and assemble the elders of Israel and say to them: Yehovah (יְהוָה), Elohey of your fathers, Elohey of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, has appeared to me and said, ‘I have taken note of you and of what is being done to you in Egypt, 17 and I have declared: I will take you out of the misery of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, to a land flowing with milk and honey.’ 18 They will listen to you; then you shall go with the elders of Israel to the king of Egypt and you shall say to him, ‘Yehovah (יְהוָה), Elohey of the Hebrews, manifested Himself to us. Now therefore, let us go a distance of three days into the wilderness to sacrifice to Yehovah Eloheynu ( לַיהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ).’
Moshe spoke Yehovah’s name to the Elders, the People and Pharaoh. Again if this was not a name to use then why was it used so much. One can’t say this was only for prayer but in normal speech.
1 Afterward Moses and Aaron went and said to Pharaoh, “Thus says Yehovah (יְהוָה), Elohey of Israel: Let My people go that they may celebrate a festival for Me in the wilderness.” 2 But Pharaoh said, “Who is Yehovah (יְהוָה) that I should heed Him and let Israel go? I do not know Yehovah (יְהוָה), nor will I let Israel go.” 3 They answered, “Elohey of the Hebrews has manifested Himself to us. Let us go, we pray, a distance of three days into the wilderness to sacrifice to Yehovah Eloheynu
(לַיהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ), lest He strike us with pestilence or sword.”
Again in all the discussions with Pharaoh they used his name and so did Pharaoh.
12 Is this not the very thing we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us be, and we will serve the Egyptians, for it is better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness’?” 13 But Moses said to the people, “Have no fear! Stand by, and witness the deliverance which Yehovah (יְהוָה) will work for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you will never see again. 14 Yehovah (יְהוָה) will battle for you; you hold your peace!”
Moshe spoke to the people telling them what Yehovah would do.
1 Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to Yehovah (לַיהוָה ). They said:
I will sing to Yehovah (לַיהוָה), for He has triumphed gloriously;
Horse and driver He has hurled into the sea.
2 Yah (יָהּ) is my strength and might;
He is become my deliverance.
This is Eli and I will enshrine Him;
Elohey of my father, and I will exalt Him.
3 Yehovah (יְהוָה), the Warrior—Yehovah (יְהוָה) is His name!
4 Pharaoh’s chariots and his army
He has cast into the sea;
And the pick of his officers
Are drowned in the Sea of Reeds.
5 The deeps covered them;
They went down into the depths like a stone.
6 Your right hand, Yehovah (יְהוָה), glorious in power,
Your right hand, Yehovah (יְהוָה), shatters the foe!
7 In Your great triumph You break Your opponents;
You send forth Your fury, it consumes them like straw.
8 At the blast of Your nostrils the waters piled up,
The floods stood straight like a wall;
The deeps froze in the heart of the sea.
9 The foe said,
“I will pursue, I will overtake,
I will divide the spoil;
My desire shall have its fill of them.
I will bare my sword—
My hand shall subdue them.”
10 You made Your wind blow, the sea covered them;
They sank like lead in the majestic waters.
11 Who is like You, Yehovah (יְהוָה), among the celestials;
Who is like You, majestic in holiness,
Awesome in splendor, working wonders!
12 You put out Your right hand,
The earth swallowed them.
13 In Your love You lead the people You redeemed;
In Your strength You guide them to Your holy abode.
14 The peoples hear, they tremble;
Agony grips the dwellers in Philistia.
15 Now are the clans of Edom dismayed;
The tribes of Moab—trembling grips them;
All the dwellers in Canaan are aghast.
16 Terror and dread descend upon them;
Through the might of Your arm they are still as stone—
Till Your people cross over, Yehovah (יְהוָה),
Till Your people cross whom You have ransomed.
17 You will bring them and plant them in Your own mountain,
The place You made to dwell in, Yehovah (יְהוָה),
The sanctuary, Adonay (אֲדֹנָי), which Your hands established.
18 Yehovah (יְהוָה) will reign for ever and ever!
19 For the horses of Pharaoh, with his chariots and horsemen, went into the sea; and Yehovah (יְהוָה) turned back on them the waters of the sea; but the Israelites marched on dry ground in the midst of the sea.
20 Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her in dance with timbrels. 21 And Miriam chanted for them:
Sing to Yehovah (לַיהוָה), for He has triumphed gloriously;
Horse and driver He has hurled into the sea.
You can see Yehovah is used here as well as Yah a shorten version of Yehovah’s name.
Shemot/Exodus 20: whole chapter
1 Elohim spoke all these words, saying:
2 I Yehovah am Eloheykha (יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ ) who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage: 3 You shall have no elohim besides Me.
4 You shall not make for yourself a sculptured image, or any likeness of what is in the heavens above, or on the earth below, or in the waters under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them. For I Yehovah Eloheykha (יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ) am an impassioned [God], visiting the guilt of the parents upon the children, upon the third and upon the fourth generations of those who reject Me, 6 but showing kindness to the thousandth generation of those who love Me and keep My commandments.
7 You shall not swear falsely by the name of Yehovah Eloheykha (יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ); for Yehovah (יְהוָה) will not clear one who swears falsely by His name.
8 Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath of Yehovah Eloheykha (לַיהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ): you shall not do any work—you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, or your cattle, or the stranger who is within your settlements. 11 For in six days Yehovah (יְהוָה) made heaven and earth and sea, and all that is in them, and He rested on the seventh day; therefore Yehovah (יְהוָה) blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.
12 Honor your father and your mother, that you may long endure on the land that Yehovah Eloheykha (יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ) is assigning to you.
13 You shall not murder.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
14 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house: you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female slave, or his ox or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor’s.
15 All the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the blare of the horn and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they fell back and stood at a distance. 16 “You speak to us,” they said to Moses, “and we will obey; but let not Elohim speak to us, lest we die.” 17 Moses answered the people, “Be not afraid; for Elohim has come only in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may be ever with you, so that you do not go astray.” 18 So the people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick cloud where Elohim was.
19 The Lord said (Vayomer – and He spoke וַיֹּאמֶר) to Moses:
Thus shall you say to the Israelites: You yourselves saw that I spoke to you from the very heavens: 20 With Me, therefore, you shall not make any gods of silver, nor shall you make for yourselves any gods of gold. 21 Make for Me an altar of earth and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your sacrifices of well-being, your sheep and your oxen; in every place where I cause My name to be mentioned I will come to you and bless you. 22 And if you make for Me an altar of stones, do not build it of hewn stones; for by wielding your tool upon them you have profaned them. 23 Do not ascend My altar by steps, that your nakedness may not be exposed upon it.
The Yisraelim heard Yehovah Speak if there was to be a restriction put upon saying his name would not here be a good place for it. It is very specific when not to use his name. That leads us into the next section.
We are not to swear falsely by his name:
7 You shall not swear falsely by the name of Yehovah Eloheykha (יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ); for Yehovah (יְהוָה) will not clear one who swears falsely by His name.
When we just read this one as part of the whole chapter this is what he says to not use his name for. False swearing which also includes false witnessing. In saying an oath with his name we are making Yehovah our witness that what we say is true. If it is not true we swear falsely and thus false witness.
12 You shall not swear falsely by My name, profaning the name of Eloheykha (vechillal’ta et Eloheykha) וְחִלַּלְתָּ אֶת־שֵׁם אֱלֹהֶיךָ): I am Yehovah (I Yehovah אֲנִי יְהוָה).
How does one harm his name? Swear Falsely by it. In doing so we cause his name to be common in its used which is reflected in the use of the Hebrew word chalal which we know is to make something set-apart as common or every day.
11 You shall not swear falsely by the name of Yehovah Eloheykha (lo tissa et-shem-Yehovah Eloheykha לֹא תִשָּׂא אֶת־שֵׁם־יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ); for Yehovah (יְהוָה) will not clear one who swears falsely by His name.
Here is the repeat of Shemot 20. Again Moshe repeats what we should not do with the name Yehovah.
We can see that indeed the name Yehovah is used in the Tanakh over 5000 times. If this name was not to be spoken why have it listed so many times. Instead of Yehovah why does it not tell us to speak Hashem or Adonay instead? Chiefly, we have seen because he wants us to know him and his ways. We are commanded to swear by his name Yehovah.
So where do they say Hashem came about and the restriction of the name?
“The restriction upon communicating the Name proper probably originated in Oriental etiquette; in the East even a teacher was not called by name. For naming his master Elisha, Gehazi was punished with leprosy (II Kings viii. 5; Sanh. 100a). After the death of the high priest Simeon the Righteous, forty years prior to the destruction of the Temple, the priests ceased to pronounce the Name (Yoma39b). From that time the pronunciation of the Name was prohibited. "Whoever pronounces the Name forfeits his portion in the future world" (Sanh. xi. 1). Hananiah ben Teradion was punished for teaching his disciples the pronunciation of the Name ('Ab. Zarah 17b). It appears that a majority of the priests in the last days of the Temple were unworthy to pronounce the Name, and a combination of the letters or of the equivalents of the letters constituting the Name was employed by the priests in the Temple. Thus the Twelve-Lettered Name was substituted, which, a baraita says, was at first taught to every priest; but with the increase of the number of licentious priests the Name was revealed only to the pious ones, who "swallowed" its pronunciation while the other priests were chanting. Another combination, the Forty-two-Lettered Name, Rab says, was taught only to whomever was known to be of good character and disposition, temperate, and in the prime of life (Kid. 71a; comp. Rashi to 'Ab. Zarah 17b). Maimonides, in his "Moreh," thinks that these names were perhaps composed of several other divine names.” http://jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=52&letter=N&search=Names%20of%20God
So they have concocted a story that the priests stopped using the name in the temple because of its sanctity. This would be an anti-torah enactment since we have seen that we are indeed to use the name in speaking of him, praying to him and swearing by his name. We see that Adonay being substituted was for the same reason but more specific for Prayer. So we can see that in the Tanakh they used his Name Yehovah which the vowel pointing clearly indicates in the Tanakh in key verses where the Holem-hey is still present. We also see the theory of Adonay vowels with the letters of YHVH is not accurate as we have seen the vowels are different. So my conclusions are that one should say the name. What we need to not do is swear falsely by his name and treat his name in a way, which causes damage to it like searing falsely.