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Return to I am Yahweh Page

THE INCOMMUNICABLE NAME [YAHWEH]
(By Joseph Rotherham in his Emphasized Bible, written in 1902; footnotes not included.)

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As it might appear premature, at the outset of this chapter, to spell out that Divine Name which some regard as not only incommunicable but unpronounceable, it will be con­siderate to begin the present investigations by the aid of circumlocution and abbreviation,  especially as no inconvenience will be occasioned thereby. The Tetragrammaton, or name of four letters (in allusion to the four letters Y H W H), is a technical term frequently employed by scholars, and will here, for a little, serve a useful purpose. Besides employing this term, we can reverently speak of "The Name," or can set down the first letter only, "Y," in the same way as critics are wont to use the Hebrew letter yod as the initial of the Divine Name intended. This understood, we can intelligibly proceed. Our very first sub-division will indicate the serious turn which this inquiry necessarily takes.

I.-THE NAME SUPPRESSED.

The Fact.

It is willingly admitted that the suppression has not been absolute; at least so far as Hebrew and English are concerned. The Name, in its four essential letters, was reverently transcribed by the Hebrew copyist, and therefore was necessarily placed before the eye of the Hebrew reader. The latter, however, was instructed not to pronounce it, but to utter instead a less sacred name-ADONAY or ELOHIM. In this way The Name was not suffered to reach the ear of the listener. To that degree it was suppressed. The Septuagint, or ancient Greek version, made the concealment complete by regularly substituting Kurios; as the Vulgate, in like manner, employed Dominus; both Kurios and Dominus having at the same time their own proper service to render as correctly answering to the Hebrew Adonay, confessedly meaning "Lord." The English versions do nearly the same thing, in rendering The Name as LORD, and occasionally GOD; these terms also having their own rightful office to fill as fitly representing the Hebrew titles Adonay and Elohim and El. So that the Tetragrammaton is nearly hidden in our public English versions. Not quite. To those who can note the difference between "LORD" and "Lord" and between" GOD" and "God," and can remember that the former (printed with SMALL CAPITALS) do while the latter do not stand for The Name to such an intimation of the difference is conveyed. But although the READER who looks carefully at his book can see the distinction, yet the mere HEARER remains completely in the dark respecting it, inasmuch as there is no difference whatever in sound between "LORD" and "Lord" or "GOD" and "God." It hence follows that in nearly all the occurrences of The Name (some 7,000 throughout the Old Testament) the especial Name of God is absolutely withheld from all who simply hear the Bible read. "Nearly all," for there are about half a dozen instances in the A.V., and a few more in the R.V., in which this concealment does not take place. In other words there are these very few places in which the Tetragrammaton appears as "Jehovah"; and although it may be asked, "What are they among so many!" still their presence has an argumentative value. If it was wrong to unveil the Tetragrammaton at all, then why do it in these instances! If, on the other hand, it was right to let it be seen in these cases, then why not in all? "With the exceptions explained, however, it remains true to say, that in our public versions the one especial Name of God is suppressed, wholly concealed from the listening ear, almost as completely hidden from the hastening or uncritical eye.

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