Where do we get the word “Jehovah"? Is “Jehovah" an acceptable pronunciation of the name of God?

Response: The origins of the word “Jehovah" go back to Exodus 3:14 when God reveals his name to Moses: “I Am Who Am." The Hebrew “YHWH" (also called the tetragrammaton) is generally accepted as representing this Name of God (cf. Ex. 3:14; Jn. 8:58), and “Jehovah" is an attempt at translating the Name of God. While a common pronunciation, “Jehovah" is a misnomer that developed out of an improper understanding of the Hebraic texts.

Discussion: Originally, written Hebrew had no vowels. The Jews who read the Scriptures knew what words the consonants represented. Additionally, the Jews regarded the
Name of God as holy, and in post-biblical times they ceased to pronounce it. Instead, they substituted the word Adonai (“my Lord"). Thus the true pronunciation of “YHWH" was not handed down through the generations. In writing, the Masoretes eventually pointed the consonants of the word “YHWH" with the vowels of the word Adonai in order to prompt the usage of Adonai.[1] No one knows for certain how YHWH was pronounced.

The pronunciation “Jehovah" rests on an erroneous understanding of the writing system of the Masoretes that resulted in the combination of the vowels of Adonai and the consonants “YHWH." Scholars trace the actual word “Jehovah" and its spelling to anywhere between the 1100s and the 1500s AD. The Anchor Bible Dictionary states:

The misreading of the text to form the word “Jehovah" is usually traced to Petrus Galatinus, confessor to Pope Leo X, who in 1518 AD transliterated the four Hebrew letters with the Latin letters JHWH together with the vowels of Adonai, producing the artificial form “Jehovah." (This confused usage may, however, have begun as early as 1100 AD). (“Yahweh," Anchor Bible Dictionary, vol. 6, 1011)

While not denying the possibility of Petrus Galatinus’s role in promoting the use of “Jehovah," The Catholic Encyclopedia traces its origins further back:

Drusius [a sixteenth-century professor of ancient languages]. . . represents Peter Galatinus as the inventor of the word Jehovah, and Fagius as its propagator in the world of scholars and commentators. But the writers of the sixteenth century, Catholic and Protestant (e.g. Cajetan and Théodore de Bèze), are perfectly familiar with the word. Galatinus himself . . . represents the form as known and received in his time. Besides, Drusius . . .discovered it in Porchetus, a theologian of the fourteenth century. (“Jehovah [Yahweh]," The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 8)

Scholars disagree as to who coined “Jehovah," but they agree that it is a human construct (i.e., not an authentic pronunciation of “YHWH"). And though “Jehovah" is a common pronunciation, it is not as accurate as “Yahweh." The Catholic Encyclopedia states:

The Samaritan pronunciation Jabe probably approaches the real sound of the Divine name closest . . . Inserting the vowels of Jabe into the original Hebrew consonant text, we obtain the form Jahveh (Yahweh), which has been generally accepted by modern scholars as the true pronunciation of the Divine name. It is not merely closely connected with the pronunciation of the ancient synagogue by means of the Samaritan tradition, but it also allows the legitimate derivation of all the abbreviations of the sacred name in the Old Testament. (“Jehovah [Yahweh]," The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 8)

These “legitimate derivations" include the phrase hallelu-yah (“Praise YHWH") found in the Psalms. Further, the shortened form (“Yah") of the divine name occurs several times in the Masoretic texts and is actually vocalized as such by the Masoretes.

Because it is the closest known pronunciation, the Church renders “YHWH" as “Yahweh." “Jehovah" is not found in Church documents and thus is not formally part of the language of the Church.

Today, the word “Jehovah" is commonly associated with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. History shows, however, that they were not the first to call God “Jehovah." In fact, one reason that the pronunciation “Jehovah" is so popular today is that the King James Bible translated YHWH as “Jehovah." The word “Jehovah" is also found in hymns and used in the American Standard Version of the Bible.













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10 comments

  1. Miriam Capistrano Reply

    I’m catholic ,it doesn’t matter if they use Jehovah ,for me its the name of their religion,Jehovah is the father in heaven,and Jesus is the son ,they praise the father and son only 15 years ago I work to one family the lady is Jehovah but husband is Catholic and kids I meet a lots of missionaries and I never hear from them to critisize other religon

    1. Zaldy Reply

      JEHOVAH OR YAHWEH IS NOT THE TRUE NAME OF GOD ALMIGHTY. Watch the video on youtube

  2. Miriam Capistrano Reply

    Catholic and Jehovah have the same God but different thought and belief

  3. Kathy Donohue Reply

    I don’t know that’s how. I was thinking it was of a different faith. A friend of mine, who’s a Messianic Jew, told me also that it’s of Hebrew. Oh a doctor told me to learn a different language. It’s Hebrew. There was a Messianic group I liked before the operation so learned a tad before. Like I thought that Shalom. Just means Hello and Goodbye. Oh now I learned it means much much more.

  4. Judith Bosch Reply

    People who speak English only quibble about the pronunciation of God’s name but here are the pronunciations of many countries – America is not the only country in the world – Languages and Dialects Containing the Divine Name in the Main Text of the Christian Greek Scriptures
    Language or Dialect: Divine Name
    Aneityum: Ihova
    Arawak: Jehovah
    Awabakal: Yehóa
    Bangi: Yawe
    Batak (Toba): Jahowa
    Benga: Jěhova
    Bolia: Yawe
    Bube: Yehovah
    Bullom So: Jehovah
    Chácobo: Jahué
    Cherokee: Yihowa
    Chin (Hakha): Zahova
    Chippewa: Jehovah
    Choctaw: Chihowa
    Chuukese: Jiowa
    Croatian: Jehova
    Dakota: Jehowa
    Dobu: Ieoba
    Douala: Yehowa
    Dutch: Jehovah
    Efate (North): Yehova
    Efik: Jehovah
    English: Jehovah
    Éwé: Yehowa
    Fang: Jehôva
    Fijian: Jiova
    French: IHVH, yhwh
    Ga: Iehowa
    German: Jehovah; Jehova
    Gibario (dialect of Kerewo): Iehova
    Grebo: Jehova
    Hawaiian: Iehova
    Hebrew: יהוה
    Hindustani: Yihováh
    Hiri Motu: Iehova
    Ho-Chunk (Winnebago): Jehowa
    Ila: Yaave
    Iliku (dialect of Lusengo): Yawe
    Indonesian: YAHWEH
    Kala Lagaw Ya: Iehovan
    Kalanga: Yehova; Yahwe
    Kalenjin: Jehovah
    Kerewo: Iehova
    Kiluba: Yehova
    Kipsigis: Jehoba
    Kiribati: Iehova
    Kisonge: Yehowa
    Korean: 여호와
    Kosraean: Jeova
    Kuanua: Ieova
    Laotian: Yehowa
    Lele: Jehova
    Lewo: Yehova
    Lingala: Yawe
    Logo: Yehova
    Lomongo: Yawe; Yova
    Lonwolwol: Jehovah
    Lugbara: Yehova
    Luimbi: Yehova
    Luna: Yeoba
    Lunda: Yehova
    Luo: Yawe
    Luvale: Yehova
    Malagasy: Jehovah; Iehôvah
    Malo: Iova
    Marquesan: Iehova
    Marshallese: Jeova
    Maskelynes: Iova
    Mentawai: Jehoba
    Meriam: Iehoua
    Misima-Paneati: Iehova
    Mizo: Jehovan; Jihova’n
    Mohawk: Yehovah
    Mortlockese: Jioua
    Motu: Iehova
    Mpongwe (dialect of Myene): Jehova
    Muskogee: Cehofv
    Myene: Yeôva
    Naga, Angami: Jihova
    Naga, Konyak: Jihova
    Naga, Lotha: Jihova
    Naga, Mao: Jihova
    Naga, Northern Rengma: Jihova
    Naga, Sangtam: Jihova
    Nandi: Jehova
    Narrinyeri: Jehovah
    Nauruan: Jehova
    Navajo: Jîho’vah
    Ndau: Jehova
    Nembe: Jehovah
    Nengone (or, Maré): Iehova
    Ngando: Yawe
    Ntomba: Yawe
    Nukuoro: Jehova
    Polish: Jehowa
    Portuguese: Iáhve
    Rarotongan: Jehova; Iehova
    Rerep: Iova
    Rotuman: Jihova
    Sakao: Ihova; Iehova
    Samoan: Ieova
    Seneca: Ya’wĕn
    Sengele: Yawe
    Sesotho: Yehofa
    Sie: Iehōva
    Spanish: Jehová; Yahvé; YHWH; Yahweh
    Sranantongo: Jehova
    Sukuma: Yahuwa; Jakwe
    Tahitian: Iehova
    Teke-Eboo: Yawe
    Temne: Yehṓfa; Yehofa
    Thai: Yahowa
    Toaripi: Jehova; Iehova
    Tonga: Jehova
    Tongan: Jihova; Sihova
    Tshiluba: Yehowa
    Tswana: Jehofa; Yehova; Yehofa
    Umbundu: Yehova
    Uripiv: Iova
    Wampanoag: Jehovah
    Welsh: Iehofah
    Xhosa: Yehova
    Zande: Yekova
    Zulu: Jehova; YAHWE

  5. Judith Bosch Reply

    People who speak English and also live in America seem to feel that they are they only ones around – here are all of the pronunciations of God’s name worldwide Languages and Dialects Containing the Divine Name in the Main Text of the Christian Greek Scriptures
    Language or Dialect: Divine Name
    Aneityum: Ihova
    Arawak: Jehovah
    Awabakal: Yehóa
    Bangi: Yawe
    Batak (Toba): Jahowa
    Benga: Jěhova
    Bolia: Yawe
    Bube: Yehovah
    Bullom So: Jehovah
    Chácobo: Jahué
    Cherokee: Yihowa
    Chin (Hakha): Zahova
    Chippewa: Jehovah
    Choctaw: Chihowa
    Chuukese: Jiowa
    Croatian: Jehova
    Dakota: Jehowa
    Dobu: Ieoba
    Douala: Yehowa
    Dutch: Jehovah
    Efate (North): Yehova
    Efik: Jehovah
    English: Jehovah
    Éwé: Yehowa
    Fang: Jehôva
    Fijian: Jiova
    French: IHVH, yhwh
    Ga: Iehowa
    German: Jehovah; Jehova
    Gibario (dialect of Kerewo): Iehova
    Grebo: Jehova
    Hawaiian: Iehova
    Hebrew: יהוה
    Hindustani: Yihováh
    Hiri Motu: Iehova
    Ho-Chunk (Winnebago): Jehowa
    Ila: Yaave
    Iliku (dialect of Lusengo): Yawe
    Indonesian: YAHWEH
    Kala Lagaw Ya: Iehovan
    Kalanga: Yehova; Yahwe
    Kalenjin: Jehovah
    Kerewo: Iehova
    Kiluba: Yehova
    Kipsigis: Jehoba
    Kiribati: Iehova
    Kisonge: Yehowa
    Korean: 여호와
    Kosraean: Jeova
    Kuanua: Ieova
    Laotian: Yehowa
    Lele: Jehova
    Lewo: Yehova
    Lingala: Yawe
    Logo: Yehova
    Lomongo: Yawe; Yova
    Lonwolwol: Jehovah
    Lugbara: Yehova
    Luimbi: Yehova
    Luna: Yeoba
    Lunda: Yehova
    Luo: Yawe
    Luvale: Yehova
    Malagasy: Jehovah; Iehôvah
    Malo: Iova
    Marquesan: Iehova
    Marshallese: Jeova
    Maskelynes: Iova
    Mentawai: Jehoba
    Meriam: Iehoua
    Misima-Paneati: Iehova
    Mizo: Jehovan; Jihova’n
    Mohawk: Yehovah
    Mortlockese: Jioua
    Motu: Iehova
    Mpongwe (dialect of Myene): Jehova
    Muskogee: Cehofv
    Myene: Yeôva
    Naga, Angami: Jihova
    Naga, Konyak: Jihova
    Naga, Lotha: Jihova
    Naga, Mao: Jihova
    Naga, Northern Rengma: Jihova
    Naga, Sangtam: Jihova
    Nandi: Jehova
    Narrinyeri: Jehovah
    Nauruan: Jehova
    Navajo: Jîho’vah
    Ndau: Jehova
    Nembe: Jehovah
    Nengone (or, Maré): Iehova
    Ngando: Yawe
    Ntomba: Yawe
    Nukuoro: Jehova
    Polish: Jehowa
    Portuguese: Iáhve
    Rarotongan: Jehova; Iehova
    Rerep: Iova
    Rotuman: Jihova
    Sakao: Ihova; Iehova
    Samoan: Ieova
    Seneca: Ya’wĕn
    Sengele: Yawe
    Sesotho: Yehofa
    Sie: Iehōva
    Spanish: Jehová; Yahvé; YHWH; Yahweh
    Sranantongo: Jehova
    Sukuma: Yahuwa; Jakwe
    Tahitian: Iehova
    Teke-Eboo: Yawe
    Temne: Yehṓfa; Yehofa
    Thai: Yahowa
    Toaripi: Jehova; Iehova
    Tonga: Jehova
    Tongan: Jihova; Sihova
    Tshiluba: Yehowa
    Tswana: Jehofa; Yehova; Yehofa
    Umbundu: Yehova
    Uripiv: Iova
    Wampanoag: Jehovah
    Welsh: Iehofah
    Xhosa: Yehova
    Zande: Yekova
    Zulu: Jehova; YAHWE

  6. Judith Bosch Reply

    Most people who speak English just think about God’s name being Jehovah since that is English without realizing that all over the world people say God’s name in their language – i.e. Languages and Dialects Containing the Divine Name in the Main Text of the Christian Greek Scriptures
    Language or Dialect: Divine Name
    Aneityum: Ihova
    Arawak: Jehovah
    Awabakal: Yehóa
    Bangi: Yawe
    Batak (Toba): Jahowa
    Benga: Jěhova
    Bolia: Yawe
    Bube: Yehovah
    Bullom So: Jehovah
    Chácobo: Jahué
    Cherokee: Yihowa
    Chin (Hakha): Zahova
    Chippewa: Jehovah
    Choctaw: Chihowa
    Chuukese: Jiowa
    Croatian: Jehova
    Dakota: Jehowa
    Dobu: Ieoba
    Douala: Yehowa
    Dutch: Jehovah
    Efate (North): Yehova
    Efik: Jehovah
    English: Jehovah
    Éwé: Yehowa
    Fang: Jehôva
    Fijian: Jiova
    French: IHVH, yhwh
    Ga: Iehowa
    German: Jehovah; Jehova
    Gibario (dialect of Kerewo): Iehova
    Grebo: Jehova
    Hawaiian: Iehova
    Hebrew: יהוה
    Hindustani: Yihováh
    Hiri Motu: Iehova
    Ho-Chunk (Winnebago): Jehowa
    Ila: Yaave
    Iliku (dialect of Lusengo): Yawe
    Indonesian: YAHWEH
    Kala Lagaw Ya: Iehovan
    Kalanga: Yehova; Yahwe
    Kalenjin: Jehovah
    Kerewo: Iehova
    Kiluba: Yehova
    Kipsigis: Jehoba
    Kiribati: Iehova
    Kisonge: Yehowa
    Korean: 여호와
    Kosraean: Jeova
    Kuanua: Ieova
    Laotian: Yehowa
    Lele: Jehova
    Lewo: Yehova
    Lingala: Yawe
    Logo: Yehova
    Lomongo: Yawe; Yova
    Lonwolwol: Jehovah
    Lugbara: Yehova
    Luimbi: Yehova
    Luna: Yeoba
    Lunda: Yehova
    Luo: Yawe
    Luvale: Yehova
    Malagasy: Jehovah; Iehôvah
    Malo: Iova
    Marquesan: Iehova
    Marshallese: Jeova
    Maskelynes: Iova
    Mentawai: Jehoba
    Meriam: Iehoua
    Misima-Paneati: Iehova
    Mizo: Jehovan; Jihova’n
    Mohawk: Yehovah
    Mortlockese: Jioua
    Motu: Iehova
    Mpongwe (dialect of Myene): Jehova
    Muskogee: Cehofv
    Myene: Yeôva
    Naga, Angami: Jihova
    Naga, Konyak: Jihova
    Naga, Lotha: Jihova
    Naga, Mao: Jihova
    Naga, Northern Rengma: Jihova
    Naga, Sangtam: Jihova
    Nandi: Jehova
    Narrinyeri: Jehovah
    Nauruan: Jehova
    Navajo: Jîho’vah
    Ndau: Jehova
    Nembe: Jehovah
    Nengone (or, Maré): Iehova
    Ngando: Yawe
    Ntomba: Yawe
    Nukuoro: Jehova
    Polish: Jehowa
    Portuguese: Iáhve
    Rarotongan: Jehova; Iehova
    Rerep: Iova
    Rotuman: Jihova
    Sakao: Ihova; Iehova
    Samoan: Ieova
    Seneca: Ya’wĕn
    Sengele: Yawe
    Sesotho: Yehofa
    Sie: Iehōva
    Spanish: Jehová; Yahvé; YHWH; Yahweh
    Sranantongo: Jehova
    Sukuma: Yahuwa; Jakwe
    Tahitian: Iehova
    Teke-Eboo: Yawe
    Temne: Yehṓfa; Yehofa
    Thai: Yahowa
    Toaripi: Jehova; Iehova
    Tonga: Jehova
    Tongan: Jihova; Sihova
    Tshiluba: Yehowa
    Tswana: Jehofa; Yehova; Yehofa
    Umbundu: Yehova
    Uripiv: Iova
    Wampanoag: Jehovah
    Welsh: Iehofah
    Xhosa: Yehova
    Zande: Yekova
    Zulu: Jehova; YAHWE

  7. Judith Bosch Reply

    Most people who speak English just think of pronouncing God’s name as Jehovah but there are people all over the world who pronounce God’s name in their own language i.e. Languages and Dialects Containing the Divine Name in the Main Text of the Christian Greek Scriptures
    Language or Dialect: Divine Name
    Aneityum: Ihova
    Arawak: Jehovah
    Awabakal: Yehóa
    Bangi: Yawe
    Batak (Toba): Jahowa
    Benga: Jěhova
    Bolia: Yawe
    Bube: Yehovah
    Bullom So: Jehovah
    Chácobo: Jahué
    Cherokee: Yihowa
    Chin (Hakha): Zahova
    Chippewa: Jehovah
    Choctaw: Chihowa
    Chuukese: Jiowa
    Croatian: Jehova
    Dakota: Jehowa
    Dobu: Ieoba
    Douala: Yehowa
    Dutch: Jehovah
    Efate (North): Yehova
    Efik: Jehovah
    English: Jehovah
    Éwé: Yehowa
    Fang: Jehôva
    Fijian: Jiova
    French: IHVH, yhwh
    Ga: Iehowa
    German: Jehovah; Jehova
    Gibario (dialect of Kerewo): Iehova
    Grebo: Jehova
    Hawaiian: Iehova
    Hebrew: יהוה
    Hindustani: Yihováh
    Hiri Motu: Iehova
    Ho-Chunk (Winnebago): Jehowa
    Ila: Yaave
    Iliku (dialect of Lusengo): Yawe
    Indonesian: YAHWEH
    Kala Lagaw Ya: Iehovan
    Kalanga: Yehova; Yahwe
    Kalenjin: Jehovah
    Kerewo: Iehova
    Kiluba: Yehova
    Kipsigis: Jehoba
    Kiribati: Iehova
    Kisonge: Yehowa
    Korean: 여호와
    Kosraean: Jeova
    Kuanua: Ieova
    Laotian: Yehowa
    Lele: Jehova
    Lewo: Yehova
    Lingala: Yawe
    Logo: Yehova
    Lomongo: Yawe; Yova
    Lonwolwol: Jehovah
    Lugbara: Yehova
    Luimbi: Yehova
    Luna: Yeoba
    Lunda: Yehova
    Luo: Yawe
    Luvale: Yehova
    Malagasy: Jehovah; Iehôvah
    Malo: Iova
    Marquesan: Iehova
    Marshallese: Jeova
    Maskelynes: Iova
    Mentawai: Jehoba
    Meriam: Iehoua
    Misima-Paneati: Iehova
    Mizo: Jehovan; Jihova’n
    Mohawk: Yehovah
    Mortlockese: Jioua
    Motu: Iehova
    Mpongwe (dialect of Myene): Jehova
    Muskogee: Cehofv
    Myene: Yeôva
    Naga, Angami: Jihova
    Naga, Konyak: Jihova
    Naga, Lotha: Jihova
    Naga, Mao: Jihova
    Naga, Northern Rengma: Jihova
    Naga, Sangtam: Jihova
    Nandi: Jehova
    Narrinyeri: Jehovah
    Nauruan: Jehova
    Navajo: Jîho’vah
    Ndau: Jehova
    Nembe: Jehovah
    Nengone (or, Maré): Iehova
    Ngando: Yawe
    Ntomba: Yawe
    Nukuoro: Jehova
    Polish: Jehowa
    Portuguese: Iáhve
    Rarotongan: Jehova; Iehova
    Rerep: Iova
    Rotuman: Jihova
    Sakao: Ihova; Iehova
    Samoan: Ieova
    Seneca: Ya’wĕn
    Sengele: Yawe
    Sesotho: Yehofa
    Sie: Iehōva
    Spanish: Jehová; Yahvé; YHWH; Yahweh
    Sranantongo: Jehova
    Sukuma: Yahuwa; Jakwe
    Tahitian: Iehova
    Teke-Eboo: Yawe
    Temne: Yehṓfa; Yehofa
    Thai: Yahowa
    Toaripi: Jehova; Iehova
    Tonga: Jehova
    Tongan: Jihova; Sihova
    Tshiluba: Yehowa
    Tswana: Jehofa; Yehova; Yehofa
    Umbundu: Yehova
    Uripiv: Iova
    Wampanoag: Jehovah
    Welsh: Iehofah
    Xhosa: Yehova
    Zande: Yekova
    Zulu: Jehova; YAHWE

  8. Laura Burnworth Reply

    It is not so important as how we pronounce Yahweh as many other translations above show but it’s important to use his name as Jesus even told us in Matthew 6:9 in the model prayer he says to sanctify God’s name. That means you praise His name. God is a title the scriptures tell us that there are many gods and many lords but there is only one true God and one mediator which is Jesus who we pray through to our Heavenly Father Jehovah. The name Jehovah however you pronounce it in any language is important to use because we are approaching him in prayer and as you would talk to her friend you would not talk to them as a girl or boy you would use their name. How much more important it is to use our Creator’s name who deserves all the praise in the world above all others. So we use his name so we can have a close relationship with him as our true friend and helper. So you can do that all you want about the name Jehovah and what vowels to use. But use his name. Even Jesus Christ told Satan the devil during The Temptations that Satan was throwing at him when he offered him all the kingdoms of the Earth he said it is Jehovah your God you must worship. So even Jesus used his Heavenly father’s name. But usually in prayer it would be as his own father. Because it was a father and son relationship.

  9. Judith Bosch Reply

    Well I certainly have to apologize for having my comment put on here so many times – I was having a hard time checking in and didn’t think my comment went through. If there is a commentator on here please delete the extra ones – apparently I can’t. Sorry about that. Judith

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