Name Above Every Name : Knowing and Using The Creator’s Sacred Name Written by Bruce Paul
Full Details of the subject can be found from this website: http://name-above-every-name.com/
Purpose / Focus
The purpose of this study is to equip YAH’s people with a spiritual weapon the enemy has robbed from us. Paul says in 2Corinthians 10:4 “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” There simply isn’t a more powerful tool the church needs to learn how to wield than calling on The Creator’s sacred name.
We as a church long for the days of Elijah—where we could call on the name of the Most-High YAH and see fire come down from heaven to vanquish the spiritual forces of darkness. There is a storm coming and YAH’s people need to walk in His favor, as expressed in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. Favor, not in terms defined by prosperity theology, where YAH is just a vending machine, indulging our over-inflated egos at our every whim. Yet, neither are we called to be subjugated by the spirit of despair, simply because we don’t know how to fight a spiritual war with the spiritual weapons YAH has given us.
As we venerate and call on His name, we bring Esteem and Honor to our Creator Father, and His kingdom moves all around us. Malachi 4:2–3 says:
“But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves. Then you will trample on the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I act,” says YHWH Almighty.”
Written by Bruce Paul
Based on the title of this section, you can see where we’re going. Why is it important to establish whether the New Testament Scriptures were originally written in Hebrew, rather than Aramaic, or Greek, in the light of this discussion of The Creator’s sacred name? There are several important reasons but the single most significant reason can be summed up in the one word: context. The gospel was not an orphaned message, birthed in an inconsequential tradition or without a historical framework. The gospel message is eternally; inseparably tied to covenants (unbreakable promises) Yahuah gave to Abraham and the people of Israel.
In approaching the subject of our Creator Father’s sacred name, it’s important to spell out the fact that we’re not coming out of a pantheistic (many gods) Ancient Greek context where one could simply place an idol of Yahushah on a mantle as just another god they might esteem. This assimilation of other belief systems into one’s own existing world-view is called syncretism, and the Roman Catholic Church has been incorporating pagan rituals and deities into Christian doctrine for seventeen-hundred years. It is out of this syncretistic mind-set, not the Hebrew monotheistic mind-set that makes one believe they can call the Father or Son whatever they want.
For the most part, it appears the church has lost all discernment regarding these pagan traditions and virtues that we have assimilated into Christian tradition throughout history. Rather than searching out our roots, irrational convictions cause many to defend today’s sacred cows like the King James Bible. As if MashiYah died and gave birth to the church in 1611, and this antiquated four-hundred-year-old English translation is the only inspired version of the Scriptures on planet earth. Great mistakes have been made even by esteemed theological giants like John Calvin, who went so far in contending for the traditional practice of infant baptism; he actually had Anabaptists who disagreed with him murdered.
It has taken the church so very long, but we are now starting to come out of Babylon. As the body of MashiYah, we need to call out to Yahushah and ask for the spirit of a Berean to search the Scriptures and discern between tradition and truth. As we begin unfolding this short apologetic on the Hebrew primacy of the New Testament Scriptures, it is inevitable that some will never be convinced regardless of how much evidence is mustered. However, if you’ve made it thus far through this “less than light” study on the sacred name of The Creator, it’s likely this message is resonating in your spirit. My prayer that the following information will be more than just a series of facts, but a catalyst to draw you closer, not so much to the Hebrew language, but to the Elohim of Abraham who does not lie; to the Elohim of Jacob who keeps His promises and has not forgotten the covenant He made to His treasured possession, the people of Israel.
The Dead Sea Scrolls prove Hebrew was a Living Language
In one translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the author state:
“Prior to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the dominant view of the Semitic languages of Palestine in this period was essentially as follows: Hebrew had died; it was no longer learned at mother´s knee. It was known only by the educated classes through study, as educated medieval Europeans knew Latin. Rabbinic Hebrew…was considered a sort of scholarly invention…artificial, not the language of life put to the page. The spoken language of the Jews had in fact become Aramaic . . . ” 25
“The discovery of the scrolls swept these linguistic notions into the trash bin . . . the vast majority of the scrolls were Hebrew texts. Hebrew was manifestly the principal literary language for the Jews of this period. The new discoveries underlined the still living , breathing, even supple character of that language . . . proving that late Second-Temple Jews used various dialects of Hebrew . . .” 26
Discovered by a young Bedouin shepherd in the Qumran caves near the north/west corner of the Dead Sea in 1947, the Dead Sea Scrolls are the single greatest biblical archeological find in History. It has taken decades to sort through the fourty-thousand fragments of rolls and six-hundred partial manuscripts. What the researchers involved in the Dead Sea Scroll Project have discovered is: this body of literature not only encompasses biblical writings, but also records the daily activities of the community at Qumran. The reality that common tasks were being recorded in Hebrew at a time concurrent with Yahushah’s life on earth, together with the fact that ninety percent of these Dead Sea Scrolls were recorded in Ancient Hebrew, proves that Hebrew was a living language when the New Testament was recorded.
Other Historical Evidence for Hebrew Primacy
Together with the Dead Sea Scrolls there are several significant discoveries made by Yigael Yadin, one of Israel’s most famous archeologists, which continue establishing the fact that Hebrew was a living language during the time when the New Testament was written. In 1960, Yadin discovered the Cave of Letters at Nahal Hever, which contained fifteen letters to and from Simon bar Kokhba, the Jewish general of the AD 135 bar Kokhba revolt: ten of these letters were written in Hebrew, three in Aramaic and two in Greek. One of the Hebrew letters that bar Kokhba wrote himself contains a colloquialism or an abbreviated rendering that can only ever be attributed to a living language. The existence of these letters strongly support Hebrew as the predominant language of the Jews a hundred years after Yahushah ascended into heaven.
Yigael Yadin also explored Masada, King Herod`s Dead Sea stronghold from 1963 to 1965. Yadin found fourteen scroll fragments, more than four-thousand coins, and over seven-hundred inscribed pottery fragments. The Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Latin were all represented in these finds, but like the Dead Sea Scrolls, the ratio of Hebrew to these other languages is nine to one, and every coin minted in Israel that was found at this site was inscribed in Ancient Hebrew.
These archeology discoveries are corroborated by Josephus, the famous Jewish historian of the first-century who testified that Hebrew was the language of the first-century and most Jews did not know Greek:
“I have also taken a great deal of pains to obtain the leanings of the Greeks, and understanding the elements of the Greek language although I have so long accustomed myself to speak my own language, that I cannot pronounce Greek with sufficient exactness: for our nation does not encourage those that learn the languages of many nations.” 27
Linguistic Evidence for Hebrew Primacy
There are other internal evidences within the Greek text that testify to the Hebrew origin of the New Testament. The Greek text is full of what are called Hebraisms that don’t make sense in Greek, but flow with a poetic style known to Hebrew. Similarly, there are other literary devices like parallelisms that are commonly used by Hebrew writers for poetic purposes. There are also numerous mistranslated words from the Hebrew into Greek, where the Greek rendering doesn’t quite fit, but the Hebrew equivalent works perfectly. In his Companion Bible, E. W. Bullinger states, “While the language is Greek, the thoughts and idioms are Hebrew.” (Appendix 94)
This subject has a technical, academic facet that extends beyond the scope of this study, but you can freely pull up a shorter primer on the subject by Michael D. Marlowe called, The Semitic Style of the New Testament. Here, Marlowe reviews the most common Semitisms found in the New Testament, such as: the order of words, missing conjunctions, coordination of clauses, redundant pronouns, substitutes for the indefinite pronouns, redundant use of prepositions, the use of the positive adjective for a comparative or superlative, contrast in extreme terms, adjectival substitutes, future indicative used as an imperative, verb and cognate noun expressing emphasis, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
Difficulties / Variations within the Greek New Testament
Out of about 5,700 Greek New Testament manuscripts we have in existence today, there are so many variations between these texts that some early church leaders openly criticized the neglect in which these Scriptures were being transcribed:
“The differences among the manuscripts have become great, either through the negligence of some copyists or through the perverse audacity of others: they either neglect to check over what they have transcribed, or, in the process of checking, they make additions or deletions as they please.”
(Origen, Commentary on Matthew 15:14)
“When my fellow-christians invited me to write letters to them I did so. These the devil’s apostles have filled with tares, taking away some things and adding others. For them the woe is reserved. Small wonder then if some have dared to tamper even with the word of the lord himself, when they have conspired to mutilate my own humble efforts.” (Dionysius)
Bart D. Ehrman suggests in his book, “Misquoting Jesus” that heretical and/or pagan antagonists intentionally made changes in these sacred texts to subvert the church. This may be possible, but a much more likely explanation for many of the variations was that less than competent scribes were translating the Scriptures from Hebrew into Greek and rendered poor interpretations.
New Testament references confirming Hebrew Primacy
The following New Testament passages are a list of the more obvious references affirming that Hebrew, and not Aramaic or Greek, was the language of the Jewish people at the time the New Testament was recorded:
Matthew 5:18– “For, truly I say to you, till that the heaven and the earth may pass away, not one jot (yoot) or one tittle (the little “crown” on top of the yoot) may not pass away from the law, till that all may come to pass.” Both of these terms, jot and tittle, refer to the Hebrew alphabet and not the Aramaic or Greek alphabets.
Mark 14:36– “And he said, ‘Abba, Father, all things be possible to thee, bear over from me this cup; but not that I will, but that your will be done.’” Abba is an endearing Hebrew word for father “daddy” that has been left in the text.
Luke 23:38– “And there was also a superscription written over him, in letters of Greek, and Roman, and Hebrew, ‘This is the King of the Jews.’” If the language of Israel at this time was Aramaic, why is Aramaic not found on this list?
John 5:2– “And there is in Jerusalem by the sheep-gate a pool that is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porches.” Why would John bother informing his audience what the Hebrew name of this pool was if Hebrew was not the language of the Jews?
John 19:13, 17-20 – “ Pilate, therefore, having heard this word, brought Jesus without — and he sat down upon the tribunal — to a place called, `Pavement,’ and in Hebrew, Gabbatha . . . and bearing his cross, he went forth to the place called Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew Golgotha; where they crucified him, and with him two others, on this side, and on that side, and Yahushah in the midst. And Pilate also wrote a title, and put it on the cross, and it was written, `Jesus the Nazarene, the king of the Jews;’ this title, therefore, read many of the Jews, because the place was nigh to the city where Jesus was crucified, and it was having been written in Hebrew, in Greek, in Roman Latin.” Hebrew, Hebrew, Hebrew!
Acts 21:37– “As Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the commander, ‘May I say something to you?’ And he said, ‘Do you know Greek?’ he replied.” The commander is shocked that Paul, a Jew, spoke Greek.
Acts 21:40– “When he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the stairs, motioned to the people with his hand; and when there was a great hush, he spoke to them in the Hebrew dialect.” When Paul goes to address the crowd, he speaks to them in . . . Hebrew.
Acts 22:2– “Brethren and fathers, hear my defense which I now offer to you.” And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew dialect, they became even more quiet.” In all the commotion with Roman soldiers pushing and controlling the crowd, Paul speaks to the crowd in Hebrew, and everyone goes silent.
Acts 26:12-14– “While so engaged as I was journeying to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests, at midday, O King, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining all around me and those who were journeying with me. And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’” What language does our glorified Savior Yahushah address Paul in? In Hebrew of course!
Final Comments on Hebrew Primacy
Taking all the historic and biblical evidence into consideration, it is clear that Hebrew and not Greek nor Aramaic was the language of Yahushah’s time. Because we know that most of Yahushah’s disciples, other than Paul and Luke, were not educated (Acts 4:13), it simply isn’t reasonable to believe that these simple Galilean disciples could have recorded the Scriptures in any language other than their own Hebrew tongue. Together with the overwhelming quantity of linguistic evidence that points to a Semitic origin for all of the New Testament Scriptures, the truth of this evidence will eventually build momentum within the scholarly community. Yet, such a fundamental shift in our understanding of the New Testament is taking some time for scholarly communities to accept.
Whole books are being devoted to the subject of the language primacy of the New Testament, so I’m hardly expecting to make a vital contribution here. But, so little of this information has made its way into the broader church community that it’s essential to examine the topic, as it establishes a foundation by which we can confidently affirm the use of the Father and the Son’s sacred Hebrew names in the New Testament. The New Testament authors didn’t just decide one day to abandon fifteen-hundred years of Scriptural tradition and change the language by which all Scripture had been recorded or contemplate changing the sacred name of God. They would not! They could not, under any imagined circumstances, possibly conceive of making such a change.
Since almost every copy of the Hebrew New Testament is either hidden somewhere in a secret Vatican vault, or was destroyed by the Roman Catholic Church, we need to look to another resource to examine how the Father and the Son’s names were originally used in the New Testament.
Written by Bruce Paul
without question is that the gospel of Matthew was originally recorded in Hebrew. There is overwhelming evidence on record from a number of early church fathers, whose combined statements categorically affirm Matthew’s Hebrew authorship:
Papias of Hierapolis, a disciple of the Apostle John, wrote: “Matthew collected the oracles (or sayings about Yahshua) in the Hebrew language.”(Eusebius, H.E. 3.39.16)
Saint Irenæus stated: “Matthew published among the Hebrews a Gospel in their own language.” (Irenaeus; Against Heresies 3:1.1)
Eusebius referenced Origen as saying: “As having learnt by tradition concerning the four Gospels, which alone are unquestionable in the Church of God under heaven, that first was written according to Matthew, who was once a tax collector but afterwards an apostle of Jesus Christ, who published it for those who from Judaism came to believe, composed as it was in the Hebrew language.” (Eusebius, H.E. 6.25.4)
Epiphanius wrote: “They (the Nazarenes) have the Gospel according to Matthew quite complete in Hebrew, for this Gospel is certainly still preserved among them as it was first written, in Hebrew letters.” (Epiphanius; Panarion 29:9:4)
Saint Jerome frequently affirmed Matthew’s Hebrew origin and used Matthew’s Hebrew text to solve difficulties of interpretation (Ad Damasum, xx; Ad Hedib., iv):
“Matthew, also called Levi, apostle and aforetimes publican, composed a gospel of Christ at first published in Judea in Hebrew for the sake of those of the circumcision who believed, but this was afterwards translated into Greek though by what author is uncertain. The Hebrew itself has been preserved until the present day in the library at Caesarea which Pamphilus so diligently gathered. I have also had the opportunity of having the volume described to me by the Nazarenes of Beroea, a city of Syria, who use it.” (On Illustrious Men, Chapter 3)
Other early church leaders include: Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, Saint Gregory of Nazianzus, Saint Epiphanius, Saint John Chrysostom, Saint Augustine, and many of the commentators of the Middle Ages repeatedly affirmed that Matthew wrote his gospel in Hebrew.
Fascinating isn’t it! The very idea that this Hebrew version of Matthew would have the Father and the Son’s names, clear as day, recorded throughout its text. Wouldn’t it be great to find a copy of this Hebrew gospel and dispel all this confusion as to what we should call the Father and the Son? Can you believe it, after over one-thousand years of the Roman Catholic Church’s anti-Semitic attacks, burning and destroying every Hebrew document they could find; there is still at least one Hebrew language copy of Matthew’s gospel.
In the late 1300’s, the Jewish community in the Iberian Peninsula was under enormous pressure to convert to Catholicism through widespread massacres such as the Castle to the Crown of Aragon program in the summer of 1391, or from legislation that severely restricted the religious liberties of the Jews. As a result, Spanish Jews experienced mass conversions of whole communities. The Spanish Inquisition traveled from town to town throughout Spain, debating the truth of their gospel with Jewish rabbis. If the rabbi insulted the Catholic Church or lost the disputation, the town would have to convert or leave Spain. If the rabbi won the debate, only he would have to leave the country.
One of these debates pitted Shem Tov ben Isaac ben Shaprut against Cardinal Pedro de Luna on the topic of “original sin and redemption” in Pamplona, Spain, on December 26, 1375. Shem Tov won his debate in front of numerous bishops and Catholic theologians. He later used this experience to write a polemical treatise called “The Touchstone,” showing other Jews how to answer Christian scholars in these community debates. He contended that if the Spanish community of rabbis were to win these debates, they had to know the Christian Scriptures, so he included a Hebrew language version of the gospel of Matthew in the twelfth volume of the Touchstone treatise. The question is where did Shem Tov get this Hebrew version of Matthew? Did he or another Jewish scholars translate it from the Greek or Latin biblical texts, or had it been copied from the original Hebrew gospel of Matthew?
Most Christian scholars had believed Shem Tov’s Matthew copy was simply translated from the Greek text for the purposes of adding it to his polemic work, until George Howard released his book entitled, Hebrew Gospel of Matthew. Howard’s approach to this Hebrew gospel of Matthew is conservative, but opens the door to the possibility that it may actually represent the original Hebrew Matthew text:
“Shem-Tob’s Hebrew Matthew is the most unusual text of the First Gospel extant. It contains a plethora of readings, which are not to be found in any of the Christian codices of the Greek Gospel. Its unusual nature may be explained by the fact that it underwent a different process of transmission than the Greek, since Jews preserved it, independent from the Christian community.
A textual profile of Shem-Tob’s Matthew reveals that it sporadically agrees with early witnesses, both Christian and non-Christian. Sometimes it agrees with readings and documents that vanished in antiquity only to reappear in recent times. The profile thus suggests that a Shem-Tob type text of Matthew was known in the early Christian centuries.” 23
Since Howard’s book, more copies of the Shem Tov Matthew Gospel have been located in Russia that appear to be less tampered with “revision designed to make it conform more closely to the standard Greek and Latin texts of the Gospel during the Middle Ages.” Nehemia Gordon, a Jewish-Karaite Hebrew scholar and assistant on the Dead Sea Scrolls Publication project, reviewed one of these Russian Shem Tov manuscripts and is convinced that it represents an authentic copy of the original book of Matthew.
For an explanation of the specific proofs Nehemia Gordon applied to the text to demonstrate that Shem Tov’s Matthew was not translated from Greek or Latin but was derived from the original Hebrew, see Nehemia Gordon’s book, The Hebrew Yeshua v.s. the Greek Jesus. Other evidences that Shem Tov’s Matthew is truly ancient, but are not reviewed in Nehemia Gordon’s book includes: the fidelity found in the genealogy list in the Hebrew Matthew compared to the Greek Matthew, and variants found in Shem Tov’s Matthew that match quotes of early Christian bishops and church leaders.
Shem Tov’s Hebrew Matthew is far from perfect, having been preserved by a Jewish community that didn’t view its contents as sacred Scripture. Yet the majority of the text bares distinctive marks of its authentic composition.
One final piece of evidence that both affirms the authenticity of Shem Tov’s Matthew and more importantly . . . gets us back on track in identifying what the Father and Son’s names should be recorded as in the New Testament, is the references in Shem Tov’s Matthew to God’s sacred name. The following sixteen verses in Shem Tov’s Matthew simply contain the Hebrew letter Hey as a marker to identify the name of God (1:22, 1:24, 2:13, 2:19, 3:3, 4:7, 4:10, 21:9, 21:12, 21:42, 22:31, 22:32, 22:37, 22:44, 27:9). This letter Hey is commonly used by Jewish scribes as a short form of the Hebrew word HaShem, meaning “The Name,” a rabbinic replacement word for God’s sacred name:
“No Jew of the Middle Ages, especially a scribe, would ever willfully insert the Tetragramaton into a text simply because all pious traditional Jews would substitute or mask the Name by abiding under the rabbinical ban of NEVER writing or pronouncing it. The very fact that the first letter hey for HaShem appears proves that Shem Tov wrote HaShem wherever he found YHVH. The fact that he didn’t use Adonai or Kurios proves that HaShem was used everywhere the 19 times Yahuwah’s Name was recorded by Matthew himself! HaShem was only a substitution for Yahuwah NEVER for Adonai or Kurios which would have been left intact!
The MashiYah and the disciples used only the true Name Yahuwah when referring to Elohiym. Terms such as Kurios, Adonai and Theos do not appear in Matthew’s Shem Tov, for if they did Shem Tov would gladly have copied them intact. The vary fact that Shem Tov HAD TO SUBSTITUTE HASHEM into an existing document, PROVES THAT WHAT WAS THERE ORIGINALLY WAS THE DIVINE NAME WHICH SHEM TOV indicates by his INSERTED usage of the letter hey for HaShem.” 24
How marvelous! The thought that we have solid evidence that God’s sacred name Yahuah continued to be used seamlessly from the Old Testament through to the New Testament. Most of these references for Yahuah mentioned above are easily transportable between the Hebrew and English, which is to say, the context makes it clear that they are in reference to Yahushah or God the Father. There are, however, four references worthy of note as they add significant light to the text’s meaning and this message of God’s sacred name. The final reference in verse 28:9, however, is very special as it gives us fresh insight into how the Son used His Father’s name:In Matthew 3:3 and 21:9—quotes taken from the Old Testament, the English translators used the term Lord, it’s difficult knowing within Matthew’s text whether the verse is referring to God the Father or God the Son. One could find the original references in the Old Testament, and use a lexicon to see that the verse identifies Yahuah, the Father, but the Father’s name is right here in the original Hebrew text of Matthew.
The Greek Matthew verse 21:12 says, “And Yahushah entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves.” But the Hebrew Matthew verse 21:12 says, “And Yahushah entered the house of Yahuah.” This wasn’t simply the temple of the Jews; this was the House of Yahuah.
And the Greek Matthew verse 28:9 says, “And behold, Yahushah met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him.” But the Hebrew Matthew verse 28:9 says, “And behold, Yahushah met them, ‘May The Name deliver you’. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him.” Yahushah suddenly appears to the two Mary’s as they were running back from His tomb to tell the disciples He had resurrected from the dead. He meets these precious friends with the salutation, “May The Name (HaShem) deliver you,” as though it was His customary greeting. All of the other references simply use the Hebrew letter Hey to represent YAH’s sacred name. In this reference, we see HaShem written out, suggesting that the words “The Name” were actually in the text.
ABSTRACT – NAME ABOVE EVERY NAME Written by Bruce Paul
Few topics can be more contentious than using YAH’s sacred name. Yet, scripture resounds with assurance of blessing or the certainty of judgment for those who remember or abandon using His true name. Was the utterance of YAH’s celebration name (Exodus 3:15) lost, or was it intentionally obscured? Is it just another name, or does YAH’s sacred covenant name actually hold a key to vanquish the spiritual forces of darkness (Revelation 19)?
Written by Bruce Paul
The Creator’s Name Shrouded in AmbiguityThe quandary starts with the Jewish people, who are the custodians of the Hebrew language, and who by and large have contended for several millennia that we should not, or cannot, speak YAH’s sacred name. Jews from Talmudic tradition have actually forbidden their own people from speaking the sacred name. They refer to The Creator’s sacred name as the unspeakable Tetragrammaton, a Greek term identifying a four letter word. To these Jews, the true name of the Creator is so sacred, some go so far as to declare that anyone who attempts to pronounce this name would not have a part in the world to come.
Are Jews forbidden to speak The Creator’s name?Do an Internet search and pose a question like: “Why don’t Jews speak The Creator’s name?” and you’ll uncover the major traditional arguments, such as:
Many Jews believe that The Creator’s name was too holy to use in daily conversation.
The Creator’s sacred name would have only been used by priests in the Jerusalem Temple, so since there is no Temple, His true name cannot be used.
The sacred name of The Creator has power and using His true name is exercising a power we have no right to use frivolously.However, the most common argument used to explain why most Jews will not speak out The Creator’s sacred covenant name is that the correct pronunciation of His name has been lost. Devout Jews are concerned that they might mistakenly violate the third commandment, which states in Deuteronomy 5:11 “You shall not take the name of (YHWH), your ELOHIM in vain, for (YHWH) will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.These all seem to be reasonable points, and to be sure, we certainly don’t ever want to take Elohim’s name in vain. Do these arguments actually line up with the truth of Scripture and what we know of how The Creator’s sacred name was used by the Israelites historically? As a matter of fact, the arguments don’t even line up with the rabbinic Jews’ own Talmudic tradition.In his book, The Kuzari, Judah Halevi proved that speaking The Creator’s sacred name was a common practice of Jews in the past. Both Judah Halevi and the famous Jewish scholar Maimonides after him, pointed to several sources in the Talmud that demonstrated the frequent use of the sacred name in ancient Israel:
In Qiddushin 71a of the Talmud, it is recorded that this sacred name was passed on from rabbis to their sons.
In Yoma 39b of the Talmud, it is stated that the pronunciation of Elohim’s name was widely used before the priesthood of Simon the Just.
Simon the Just was a Jewish high priest who lived during the time of the Second Temple, sometime around 310–273 BC. This period presents an interesting correlation that can shed some light as to why and when it was that YAH’s covenant people stopped speaking His name.
Greek Subjugation of IsraelThe Jews had recently returned from the Babylonian exile in 538 BC, only to be conquered by the Greeks. When Alexander the Great died in 323 BC, his generals divided up his empire. Ptolemy I, who ruled the African region of this Greek kingdom from Alexandria, Egypt, seized control of Judea in 322 BC, and from this point forward, Greek satraps controlled Israel for hundreds of years. Through this time, Judea would be effectively Hellenized. Prominent upper class Jews even built a gymnasium in Jerusalem, had their citizens compete in Greek games, and abandoned the covenant of circumcision. Under the Seleucids satrap Antiochus Epiphanes, the encroachment of Greek culture into Jewish life became a legal obligation. It’s hard to know why Antiochus Epiphanes was so obsessed with totally Hellenizing the Jews, but he burned every copy of the Torah (Old Testament) he could find, and made the possession of any Jewish Scriptures a capital offense. He banned most Jewish customs, including: Temple sacrifice, Sabbath observance, commemorating the feasts, and circumcision.
The final insult came in 164 BC, when Antiochus Epiphanes placed a statue of Zeus in the Second Jerusalem Temple and had swine sacrificed to the idol. The Jews revolted under the leadership of Judas Maccabee, who led an army of Jewish dissidents to victory over the Seleucid dynasty that same year by deploying guerrilla warfare tactics. The Jews never completely reclaimed political independence from outside rule, but successfully preserved their religious autonomy until the Romans destroyed the Second Jerusalem Temple in AD 70.In relation to how the Jews stopped speaking YAH’s name, it’s important to point out that one of the principle outcomes of this successful rebellion against the Seleucid Empire was that John Hyrcanus, the nephew of Judas Maccabee, established a new priestly monarchy in 152 BC called the Hasmonean dynasty. This dynasty would favor Pharisaic tradition to the point where Pharisees ended up dominating the ruling council of the Temple, the Sanhedrin, at the time of Jesus’ ministry. As a consequence, Pharisaic tradition and their Oral Law would become the prominent theological institution of the Jewish people in Israel.There isn’t a historical reference to denote any evidence of Pharisaic tradition before the Hasmonean dynasty. However, once the Romans sacked Jerusalem, and destroyed the Temple, Pharisaic beliefs became the basis for rabbinic Judaism. Jews no longer had the ability to fulfill the requirements of Torah’s sacrificial regulations, so the esoteric interpretations of Torah in what rabbinic Judaism ascribe as their Oral Law dominated Jewish belief. It was considered to be their only recourse in retaining their Jewish distinctiveness without the temple.
YAH’s Name in the SeptuagintConcurrent to all of the conflict the Jews experienced with totalitarian Greek and then Roman rule, and beginning sometime around 300 BC, a number of Hebrew scholars in Alexandria, Egypt, started translating the Hebrew Scriptures into Koine Greek. We know this translation work as the Greek Septuagint. It started with the translation of the first five books of the Torah, but continued through the years until it incorporated all the books of the Hebrew Bible. These Greek translations initially rendered the sacred name of YAHd in the Paleo-Hebrew letters, Yud, Hey, Waw, Hey. However, later versions of the Septuagint in the Christian era, transliterated YAH’s sacred name into Greek characters and replaced it with the term Lord.
When the Jews stopped speaking YAH’s Name There are countless mystical elements of rabbinic Judaism’s Oral Law, which are often attributed to the Jews exposure to mystic cults they encountered during their Babylonian captivity. However, among the most cryptic ideas found within this oral law, nothing is so remotely arcane and shrouded in mystery as YAH’s sacred name.An example of the curious treatment Pharisaic Rabbis placed on the divine name can be found within some of the debates recorded between the Pharisees and Sadducees in the Jewish Mishnah. In Yadayim 4:8, the Pharisees say:“We complain against you, Galilean Sadducee, for you write the name of the ruler with the name of YAH on the same page. And furthermore, you write the name of the ruler above the name of YAH.”Rabbinic Judaism continued to add layers of esoteric principles to using YAH’s name, which are clearly evidenced by Kabalistic representations of the divine name, which are encoded with images of pyramids, pentagrams, and depictions of the Babylonian pantheon.The historical context for why and how the sacred name of YAH became veiled, is starting to come together. But before we put this all together, let’s try to nail down a time frame in which we know for certain the Jews openly called on YAHs name.We find all of Israel calling on the sacred name of YAH during the time of Moses, as we read in Exodus 14:10, “As Pharaoh drew near, the sons of Israel looked, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they became very frightened; so the sons of Israel cried out to YHWH.” The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, who recorded the events surrounding the destruction of the Second Temple, records that “when Romans attacked the Temple, the Jews called upon the fear-inspiring name of YAH “ (The Jewish War V:438).”From the time of the Exodus, to the destruction of the Second Temple in AD 70, the Hebrew people knew how to speak YAH’s sacred name, and as we will soon discover, used His name frequently. Having established this time frame, we are now able to advance the following three principle reasons why YAH’s sacred name was at first suppressed and then completely obscured from both Jewish and Christian communities:
First—A new religious order, known in Jesus’ time as the Pharisees, viewed using YAH’s sacred name in a very legalistic way and they became the predominant Jewish sect after the destruction of the Temple in AD70. Application of their regulations regarding YAH’s name made it too complicated for ordinary people to employ YAH’s name in everyday life. Later, rabbinic Oral Law followed these Pharisaic regulations, adding layers of tradition, as well as Babylonian mysticism that altogether shrouded the phonetic utterance of YAH’s holy name in secrecy, and concealed His name from the Jewish people for over a thousand years.
Second—The translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into the Greek Septuagint exposed what Jews considered to be sacred, to Gentile Greeks who had a long history of subjugating the Jews and threatening their way of life. So when Christians started taking the sacred name of YAH, which was recorded in the Septuagint in Paleo-Hebrew, and transcribing these Hebrew letters into Greek characters, they unwittingly untied an essential legacy of the Christian church from its Jewish roots. First-century Jews, who might have considered Christians as another Jewish sect, now regarded them as just another Gentile cult, as the church’s connection to the Hebrew language and the name of YAH was broken. More importantly, Christians would no longer have a point of reference to correctly understand how all the references Jesus and other New Testament writers made to “the name,” actually referred to this very sacred covenant name of YAH.
Third—The following third point will be discussed in more detail later; but as soon as the church era began, colluding forces within the church worked together to obscure YAH’s name. Christian scholars began viewing Rabbinic Judaism’s beliefs and symbolism surrounding YAH’s sacred name with suspicion. Subsequently, as an anti-Semitic attitude set in as dogma within the Roman Catholic Church, Christian leaders seemed intent to only identify the pagan elements that Rabbinic Jews had artificially embedded into YAH’s sacred Name. As incredible as it may seem to those who have studied Christian history and realize how much paganism was absorbed into the early church, Christian leaders accused the Jews of pagan worship and associated YAH’s sacred name with worshiping the Roman god Jupiter.
YAH intended for His name to be known and yet we find these two powerful forces of the church and rabbinic Judaism conspiring to redefine His name into a secretive unspeakable enchantment known only to a shrinking number of rabbinic Jews. Since much of the confusion surrounding the pronouncement of YAH’s name was created through rabbinic teaching, we should start by testing the soundness of their regulations that effectively silenced speaking God’s name, in the light of Scripture.
Rabbinic Tradition Contradicts God’s Purpose for His NameMany would admit it does seem odd to think that YAH would disclose His sacred covenant name to Moses, record this name over six-thousand eight-hundred times throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, and then find a Jewish sect attempting to repress using this name. Yet, when judged against the clear, intended meaning of the Jews’ own Scriptures, it’s a simple matter to demonstrate how rabbinic traditions absolutely contradict YAH’s clearly stated purposes in how His name is to be used:
YAH’s intention is to make His name known among the nations:
In a message YAH instructs Moses to give to Pharaoh, we find in Exodus 9:16 “But, indeed, for this reason I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power and in order to proclaim MY NAME through all the earth.”
And later, YAH reaffirms to Moses that His intention is to make all of Egypt know His sacred name in Exodus 14:4 and 14:18.
In a message YAH gives at the end of the Old Testament, YAH declares in Malachi 1:11, “For from the rising of the sun even to its setting, My name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense is going to be offered to My name, and a grain offering that is pure; for My name will be great among the nations,” says YHWH of hosts.”
We find Gentiles and Gentile kings speaking YAH’s sacred name, in fulfillment of YAH’s declaration that His name would be known among the nations: We find Pharaoh, king of Egypt speaking YAH’s sacred name in Exodus 5:2, 8:8, 8:28, 9:27, 10:11, 10:16, and 10:24. And Pharaoh’s servants speaking YAH’s sacred name in Exodus 10:7. The Gentile prophet Balaam, son of Beor, who was asked by Balak, king of Moab to curse the Israelites, uses YAH’s sacred name in Numbers 22:8, 13, 18, 23:26. The Gentile prostitute Rahab of Jericho uses YAH’s sacred name in Joshua 2:9. The Moabite Ruth uses YAH’s sacred name in Ruth 1:17. Cyrus king of Persia uses YAH’s sacred name in Ezra 1:2–3.
This is YAH’s memorial-name—When YAH told Moses at the burning bush, “This is My name forever, and this is MY memorial-name to all generations,” the term defined here by the word memorial is zêker in Hebrew, and is identified in Strong’s Dictionary as #2143. Translating zêker into this word memorial is unfortunate at several levels. Within our English vernacular, the term memorial conjures images of a solemn funeral service, or the sixty seconds of silence we offer our fallen troops on Memorial Day. But zêker engenders a very different thought:
The primitive Hebrew root for zêker is zâkar (Strong’s #2142), which not only conveys the idea of bringing something to mind, but extends a more active connection to what is being remembered. It suggests we cause or provoke each other to recollection, and even audibly proclaim the cherished thought to which we would remind ourselves. In our culture, zêker would identify our experience of singing our national anthem after our country wins a medal at the Olympics.In constructing this concept of remembrance, the primitive Hebrew root zâkar extends the thought of something being permanently carved or marked in us. This submits a fascinating tie to later Scripture describing how the Father’s name will be written on every saint’s forehead (Revelation 14:1).With this fresh perspective in understanding the Hebrew term zêker, we could confidently paraphrase the last sentence of Exodus 3:15 in the following way: “This is My name for all eternity, and this is My name I have marked in you to celebrate for every generation to come.”
ReviewLet’s review what we’ve discovered so far. YAH’s sacred name was openly used and spoken by the people of Israel, from the time of the Exodus to the destruction of the Second Temple: At the dawn of the Christian era, a new Jewish sect called the Pharisees began suppressing the use of YAH’s sacred name through regulations in their oral tradition.The church’s legacy with their Hebraic roots was lost when Christian scribes started substituting the Paleo-Hebrew characters that identified YAH’s sacred name in the Septuagint, for Greek letters of the word “Lord”.The church became increasingly anti-Semitic, eventually connecting YAH’s sacred name in Hebrew to the pagan worship of the Roman god Jupiter.Separated from the Temple and the ability to fulfill YAH’s commandments to cover their sins through a sacrificial offering, the Jews adopted the Pharisees’ Oral Law to retain some semblance of righteousness. The Apostle Paul cited this Oral Law in Romans 10:3 when he was reflecting on the lost condition of his own people, the Jews, “For not knowing about YAH’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own.” But the traditions of rabbinic Judaism that have obscured YAH’s sacred name, do not line up with the clear mandate YAH defines in Scripture; when and in what circumstances we are to use His sacred name. More evidence will be uncovered that will further substantiate this argument, but the points forwarded to demonstrate how YAH isn’t interested in hiding His name include:
It is YAH’s explicitly stated mandate to make His sacred name great among the nations.
Gentiles are recorded in Scripture pronouncing YAH’s sacred name and are never reproved for doing so. YAH reveals His sacred, covenant name to Moses and orders Moses to celebrate this sacred name forever.Gentiles are recorded in Scripture pronouncing YAH’s sacred name and are never reproved for doing so.
YAH reveals His sacred, covenant name to Moses and orders Moses to celebrate this sacred name forever
Written by Bruce Paul
Speaking YAHs Sacred NameWe’re going to jump right into unraveling this mystery of how to phonetically sound-out YAH’s true name. Flawed alternatives of YAH’s sacred name that have been popularized within the church and the Jewish community, such as Yahweh and Jehovah, will be examined in the light of the historical interpretation of YAH’s name. What we will discover is that there has been a covert agenda to keep both Christians and Jews from knowing and using YAH’s name. For now, we’ll focus on how one would correctly pronounce the sacred name of YAH.
El and Yah – Ancient Biblical Names for YAHIn the region of Southern Israel, known as the Negev desert, a number of ancient Semitic inscriptions have been found on pottery fragments and rock surfaces that are now believed to date back somewhere between 1200 and 1600 BC. Initially, these inscriptions were thought to be a much younger variation of pre-Talmudic writing, which is related to the South Arabic writing. But research conducted between 1994 and 1997 by archeologist J. R. Harris, and research assistant Dann W. Hone, verified that the script was a local variation of Proto-Canaanite known as Old Negev—a language closely associated to Ancient Hebrew.Harris and Hone successfully translated elements from 140 panels they located in the Negev and discovered that twenty-five percent of the inscriptions contain the names of the Elohim of Israel in the form: Yah, El/Yah, Yahu, and Yahh. Several Proto-Sinaitic inscriptions of The Creator’s name EL have been found in the Sinai, dating back from between the 15th and 17th centuries BC. Together with the references to The Creator’s name here in the Negev, El and Yah are without question, the most ancient Scriptural names of The Creator identified in the archeology record.Harris and Hone also made a most exciting find while examining these inscriptions from the Negev. They discovered a link between both of these names, El and Yah in certain pictographic symbols that represent these names.“We have numerous examples of the seven branched tree used as an icon for Yah and sometimes in an El/Yah combination with such a tree and/or a ram. The Tree of Life icon projects the conception of Yah as the life and light of the world and the simple but powerful representation on [Mount] Har Karkom is hard to discount as a commemoration of the bush that burned but was not consumed before the eyes of Moses (Exodus 3:1–2).” 1Why is the connection of these pictographic symbols with these particular names of The Creator so exciting?
Well, one reason we can celebrate this evident relationship of this seven branch tree pictographic and The Creator’s name, is we now have a basis to believe there is a far more profound connection between the menorah lamp stand the Israelites placed in the Temple/Tabernacle and The Creator’s name Yah.The second reason is just as marvelous, but far more applicable to our discussion surrounding The Creator’s true name. Most scholars consider Yah to be a shortened, poetic form of the sacred “yud, hey, waw, hey” name, but since we have found all these ancient inscriptions of Yah in the Negev, and because the Yah name is associated with a symbol as significant as the Temple/Tabernacle menorah, we know the name must stand on its own. God was known to the ancient Israelites as both El and Yah.Scripture confirms this fact. When the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, leaving Pharaoh’s army behind, swept away by the waters of the sea, we can observe Moses in a moment of supreme praise, as he uses both of these names in Exodus 15:2, singing: “Yah is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation; This is my El and I will praise Him; My father’s Elohiym, and I will extol Him.”Yah and the Egyptian ConnectionAs a final piece of evidence confirming the fact that Yah was a principle name for Elohim by people who had lived in the land we now know as Israel, are references we find made three-thousand seven-hundred years ago in Egypt regarding the god Yah. Many would say that the Canaanite conquerors of Egypt known as the Hyksos introduced Yah to the Egyptians during the Middle Kingdom. But many of the references we find are hundreds of years earlier than the Hyksos. Royalty during this Middle Kingdom often took names that included Yah, such as Queen Ahhotep, which could be read “Yah-hotep”, or the famous Queen Ahmose Nefertari, which is really, “Yah-mose-Nefertari.”This last point is a controversial argument as the name Yah eventually becomes identified in Egypt with a moon deity, akin to the Akkadian moon-god Sin. This fact seems likely, considering how often the identity of various Egyptian gods were merged with other more popular deities. But regardless of how this name was used in Egypt, most agree that the name originated from the Levant, and experienced a period of popularity shortly after the time that Joseph would have ruled Egypt.How El and Yah are used in ScriptureBoth El and Yah are expressed names for The Creator in the Old Testament. El is referenced in the Strong’s dictionary as #410, and appears 245 times in Scripture. But El is better known by a number of compound terms that employ El to identify aspects of The Creator’s character. These compound names include:EL SHADDAI – meaning, “ (El) Almighty” EL ELYON – meaning, “ (El) Most High” EL ROI – meaning, “ (El) Sees” El SIMCHATH GILI – meaning, ” (El) My Exceeding Joy” El HAAKABODH – meaning, “ (El) of Glory” El HAY – meaning, “Living (El) ” Eli MAELEKHI – meaning, “ (El) My King” El SALI – meaning, “ (El), My Rock”There are also a number famous people in the Bible that incorporate The Creator’s name El into their own name, including:
Daniel (DaniEl) – meaning, “Judge of El”
Ezekiel (YechzqEl) – meaning, “El will strengthen”
Gabriel (Gabriy’El) – meaning, “Man of El”
Israel (YisraEl) – meaning, “He will rule (as) El”
Michael (Miyka’El) – meaning, “Who is like El?”
Samuel (Shemuw’El) – meaning, “Heard of El”
The name Yah is referenced in the Strong’s dictionary as # 3050 and appears at least 50 times in Scripture. Yah appears to be used interchangeably with God’s sacred name in Scripture (Exodus 17:16; Psalms 89:8; 104:35, 106:48, 111:1)Like the name El, there are a number famous people in the Scripture that incorporate God’s name Yah into their own name, including:
Urijah (Uwriyah) – meaning, “Yah is my light”
Dalaiah (Dĕlayah) – meaning, “Yah has drawn”
Hoshaiah (Howsha`yah) – meaning, “Yah as saved”
Zechariah (Zĕkaryah) – meaning, “Yah remembers”
Hezekiah (Chizqiyah) – meaning, “Yah is my strength”
Tobiah (Towbiyah) – meaning, “Yah is good”
Jedidiah (Yĕdiydĕyah) – meaning, “Beloved of Yah”
Jonathan (Yĕhownathan) – meaning, “Yah has given”
Jeremiah (Yirmĕyah) – meaning, “Yah has appointed”
Isaiah (Yĕsha`yah) – meaning, “Yah has saved”
Moriah (Moriyah) – meaning, “Chosen by Yah”
Nehemiah (Nĕchemyah) – meaning, “Yah comforts”
Zedekiah (Tsidqiyah) – meaning, “Yah is righteous”