The Tetragrammaton


In the course of the history of the latest creation in which we live, the name of our Creator Yahuwah, our Father and the Father of our Savior Yahushua, was spoken aloud in praise, worship, and everyday speech for millennia by the Ibriy speaking people. He was called El (Mighty One) by many peoples of the earth before He set Yisra’el aside as His special people, but many were also aware of his true name prior to that time. The reason for this “setting aside” of that nation is quite involved and too big a story for this article, but the reason is readily apparent when you study scripture. When Yisra’el was sent into captivity in foreign countries due to their disobedience to the statues and laws given to them by Yahuwah (the correct pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton), they never forgot His name, but they did disguise it to prevent it being blasphemed by their captors. Early in their captivity they restricted its use, meaning speaking the name aloud, to private gatherings. As time went by the rabbis increased the restrictions, just as they did for the shabbath, until it was not spoken aloud at any time by anybody. When reading scripture the reader spoke the word “Adonay” whenever he came across the tetragrammaton. Eventually the name became “ineffable,” or not supposed to spoken aloud under any circumstances.

B’ereshiyth (Genesis) 2:4 is the first place in scripture where the tetragrammaton appears.

Most English versions render that passage as LORD or GOD similar to the manner of the 1611 KJV and through its several revisions right up to the 1769 KJV in use today.

  • King James Version (1611) - Genefis 2:4 ¶ These are the generations of the heauens and of the earth when they were created; in the day that the LORD God made the earth, and the heauens,
  • King James Version (1769) - Genesis 2:4 ¶ These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,

Of the English versions I have on my computer, all of the following versions follow the KJV in their rendering.

  • Amplified Version
  • Holman Christian Standard Version
  • Douay-Rheims American Version (1899)
  • English Revised Version (1885)
  • English Standard Version (2001)
  • Geneva Bible
  • God’s Word to the Nations Version
  • Good News Bible
  • Jewish Publication Society (1917)
  • New American Bible
  • New American Standard
  • New English Translation
  • New International Version (UK)
  • New International Version (US)
  • New King James Version
  • New Living Testament
  • New Revised Standard Version
  • Revised Standard Version (1952)
  • Revised Webster’s Bible (1995)
  • Webster’s Bible (1833)

Two English versions render the tetragrammaton as “YAHWEH,” which is almost as bad as “GOD.” I am sure there are others that do this also, I just don’t have them on my computer.

  • New Jerusalem Bible - Genesis 2:4 ¶ Such was the story of heaven and earth as they were created. At the time when Yahweh God made earth and heaven
  • Rotherham Emphasized Bible - Genesis 2:4 ¶ These are the geneses of the heavens and the earth when they were created,-in the day when Yahweh God made earth and heavens

Others render it as “JEHOVAH” which is admittedly an attempt at getting it right, but it misses the mark for several reasons, among them the fact that there never has been a letter in the Ibriy language that corresponds to the English letter “J” in sound or shape.

  • American Standard Version
  • Darby
  • Young’s Literal Translation
  • New World Translation

At least one version (below) continues the rabbinical disguise placed on the tetragrammaton.

  • Complete Jewish Bible - Genesis 2:4 ¶ Here is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created. On the day when ADONAI, God, made earth and heaven,

The Basic Bible in English and the TANAKH omit a rendering completely.

  • Basic Bible in English - Genesis 2:4 ¶ These are the generations of the heaven and the earth when they were made.
  • TANAKH - Genesis 2:4 ¶ Such is the story of heaven and earth when they were created.

Below is the actual transliteration of that passage from the Masoretic Text. Note that the tetragrammaton YHWH is here rendered as “adonay” also.

  • BHT (Transliterated Ibriy)- Genesis 2:4 ´ëºllè tôl•dôt haššämaºyim wühä´äºrec BühiBBä|r•´äm Büyôm `áSôt yhwh(´ädönäy) ´élöhîm ´eºrec wüšämäºyim (Requires "bwtransh.fnt" font to be installed on your computer)

Finally, the rendering from “The Sacred Scripture of Yahuwah, Restored Names Version.”

  • Restored Names Version – B’ereshiyth 2:4 ¶ This is the history of the skies and the earth when they were created, in the day that Yahuwah Elohiym made the earth and the skies,

Since we know that the tetragrammaton represents a name and not a title (lord, god, etc.), and He has given us that name almost 7,000 tmes in His written word, it seems to me that the prudent thing that we should be doing is using His name as given and not replacing it with pagan names and secular titles. Read the following passage closely and pay very close attention to the last sentence.

  • Shemot (Exodus) 3:13-15 ¶ Then Mosheh said to the Elohiym, "Indeed, when I come to the sons of Yisra'el and say to them, Eloah of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they say to me, 'What is His name?' what shall I say to them?"  14 And Elohiym said to Mosheh, "I AM THAT I AM." And He said, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Yisra'el, 'I AM has sent me to you.'"  15 Moreover Elohiym said to Mosheh, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Yisra'el, 'Yahuwah, Eloah of your fathers, Eloah of Abraham, Eloah of Yitschaq, and Eloah of Ya'aqob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever and this is My memorial to all generations.'

I will continue to ask those who insist on calling Him LORD or GOD the following question.

“Scripture is so adamant about His name and that in order to be part of His family we MUST call on that name, how then can you call on a name you do not know or refuse to acknowledge?” (See Proverbs 30:4)

C.F. Castleberry