I’ve recently been in conversations with Jehovah Witnesses on a number of subjects. If you don’t know much about JW’s you probably still aren’t surprised to know that using the name ‘Jehovah’ for God is something that they find of great importance. So, I thought I would give a little background about the name to explore JW’s claim that we should only call God Jehovah.
One claim JW’s make about the name Jehovah is that it was taken out of the Bible. So was Jehovah taken out of the Bible? Well, No. In fact it was never even in the Bible. Let me explain. The origin of Jehovah started from what we call the tetragrammaton, this is the letters YHWH, which the writers of the Old Testament wrote down as God’s name starting in Genesis 2:4. There are two things we should note here. First, YHWH is not the only name given to God, for instance Elohim is used 35 times before YHWH is used. Second, YHWH is not the actual name. Because Jews thought the tetragrammaton was too holy to write out completely, they took out the vowels which left us with YHWH. No one knows what the original vowels were and we have no writings that contain them. Later, when the Jews were less superstitious about the name they inserted the vowels from another name for God, Adonai, to make the name Yahoweh or Yahweh.
So where does the name Jehovah come from? Even the Jehovah witnesses admit in their own sources that the name is rooted in English pronunciation of Yahweh. This means the name Jehovah is rooted in English tradition rather than the Hebrew or Greek the Bible was actually written in. Furthermore, the name also didn’t come into the English language till 1901 even according to Jehovah Witness’.
So, here is the point. Jehovah Witnesses often get very focused on Jehovah being the name we should use for God, but there are several problems with believing this.
Jehovah is a man made term that never appeared in the Bible, but only in English Translations of the Bible.
First, there are other names for God that are used such as Elohim, Adonai, Alpha and Omega, and more. There seems to be no reason why we should use the name Jehovah while ignoring the other names for God in the Bible.
Second, the name Jehovah isn’t specifically from the Bible, but from the English pronunciation of Yahweh. Yahweh is rooted in man’s insertion of vowels from Adonai into the original YHWH, so Yahweh itself is a man made word. This means Jehovah rooted in an English pronunciation of a man made term, that is made up from a word that does appear in the Bible but the term itself does not. In the end it seems we have been playing a long game of telephone and Jehovah Witness’ are insisting we use a name that has clearly changed over the centuries. It seems odd, maybe even heretical to become dogmatic about using a term which comes from man and not God for God.
Finally, even the original tetragrammaton doesn’t appear at all in the New Testament. If God wanted mankind to be so sure that we used YHWH why does no one use the name in the New Testament including Jesus?
So should we use the name Jehovah exclusively for God? Absolutely not! in fact we shouldn’t use Jehovah as a name for God at all! At best we should use Yahweh or Yahoweh that is at least rooted in Hebrew.