The third verse in this week’s Torah portion states, "Ki shem YHWH ‘ekra’ havu godel le’loheynu." Which translated means: I will proclaim the name YHWH; ascribe greatness unto our God. The four most used translations (KJV, NIV, NLT, and RSV) of Christendom reads LORD, and without exception every Jewish translation reads similar, or ADONAI is used, which means LORD. I had to go back to the 1890 Darby Bible to find anything close to YaHWeH, which used the English Jehovah, with the American Standard Bible and the Young’s Literal Translation following suit. I guess it’s not so literal after all. However, I was told that the the Jerusalem Bible uses Yahweh.
In his classic book, Everyman’s Talmud, Abraham Cohen states:
To profane the Name was regarded as one of the most heinous of sins. How serious was the view taken of such an offense may be gathered from the statement, “He who is guilty of profaning the Name cannot rely on repentance, nor upon the power of the Day of Atonement to gain him expiation, nor upon suffering to wipe it out; death alone can wipe it out” (Yoma 86a). In other places we find an even stricter attitude taken up, and the profaner of the Name is classed among the five types of sinner for whom there is no forgiveness (italics mine, ARN 39).1
Thus, to profane the name of YHWH was a serious offense; especially among the rabbis of the Talmudic period.
However, Cohen also states regarding first-century practice:
In the Biblical period there seems to have been no scruple against its use in daily speech. The addition of Jah or Jahu [sic] to personal names, which persisted among the Jews even after the Babylonian exile, is an indication that there was no prohibition against the employment of the four-lettered Name. . . . On the other hand, there was a time when the free and open use of the Name even by the layman was advocated. The Mishnah teaches: “It was ordained that a man should greet his friends by mentioning the Name” (italics mine, Ber. 9.5). It has been suggested that the recommendation was based on the desire to distinguish the Israelite from the Samaritan, who referred to God as “the Name” (HaShem) and not as JHVH [sic], or the Rabbinite Jew from the Jewish-Christian.2
Isn’t it interesting that today Jews, not Samaritans, use “HaShem” to refer to God? With this, isn’t easy to see why the infamous takanot (gaurds, fences) of the Talmudic rabbis were established to keep the people from “breaking” the Law? However, what they intended wasn’t what the Scriptures taught. These mandates became the Oral Traditions (Law), which were and are as binding as the Written Law to the rabbis, which actually kept the people from their true blessing and inheritance—the Name of God: Yahweh.
To profane YHWH’s name is surely an offense (Third Commandment); however, to use His name according to Scriptural standards is not! To miss out on the blessing of Yahweh’s name bestowed upon us is one of the gravest mistakes that the Jewish and Christian leaders have done—all for the sake of Tradition! Although some traditions can be good, this tradition is not. Please understand, I am not getting down on the rabbis and pastors; however, when men’s traditions become greater than the words of YHWH, then I take the higher road. YHWH is brought up about 7000 times in the Tanach. Several times He tells us that this is His Name; not HaShem, Adonai, G-d, L-rd, etc., and although it may seem respectable to use these titles to show your reverence to YHWH, it is not complete. Yahweh is the only name by which all peoples awaits salvation (Psalm 18) and Y’shua is His Anointed One, which means, “Yah is Salvation.” Hence, Y’shua manifested His salvation to mankind.; for Y’shua is Salvation.
Yeshua and the apostles were actually accused of blasphemy for the use of His name. (Look it up.) Furthermore, Yeshua says, “I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world” (John 17:6a, NRSV). The Tanach says, “YHWH said to Moshe, ‘tell Aaron and his sons to bless the people of Israel with this special blessing: May Yahweh bless you and protect you; May Yahweh smile on you and be gracious to you; May Yahweh show you His favor, and give to you shalom (peace)’ Whenever Aaron and his sons bless the people of Israel in my name, I myself will bless them” (emphases, italics, and YHWH mine, Numbers 6:22-27, NLT).
YHWH pronounced Yahweh is in the original Hebrew language of the Tanach. How long have you gone without his blessed name pronounced upon you because of man’s tradition, which nullifies the Word of Yah? It may be argued that the first name a new born baby speaks is not mama or papa but “Yah.” Since the Scriptures teach that Yahweh is spirit (Ruach—Wind, Breath, or Spirit), then when a baby takes it’s first breath he or she is literally saying Yah (Try it yourself. Breath in while saying “Yah.”) Additionally, when we die the last breath we speak is, “Weh.” Thus, we are born speaking the name of Yah, and we die speaking the name “Weh” while breathing out. All glory belongs to Yahweh!
Isn’t it time to reclaim His Name in your worship and praise to the one that parted the Red Sea? HalleluYAH! (Praise Yah!)
1Abraham Cohen, Everyman’s Talmud: New American Edition (New York, NY: E. P. Dutton & CO., INC., 1949) p. 23.
2Ibid., pp. 24-25.