By Roger Hathaway
It seems that the use of a personal name for God, specifically YHWH, came into practice during the captivities as some of the Israelites adopted this Aramaean deity. The name probably came officially to the Israelite religion when the Edomites joined the Jerusalem Temple about 150 years before Christ. There is evidence that Yahweh had been the Edomite's lord as far back as 1,400 BC. The oldest known appearance of the name YHWH outside the Holy Land was in Egypt about 1,400 BC where it is found on lists with five other sacred names. A Rameses II (1304-1237) list has it 6 times. In an Amon temple of AmenhotepIII (1417-1379 BC) the name is associated with Seir (Edom). Other evidence places it with Syria at 1,400 BC. That was near the time of Moses. What is significant and important is that the Egyptian lists do not associate the name with the Israelites who were a nearby existing community at the time. Inside the Palestine area, the earliest appearance of the name is on the Mesha Stele (9th C. BC), a royal inscription, where Mesha, the king of Moab, recounts the favor of Moab's deity in delivering Moab from control of its neighbor, Israel. It appears to me that, since the name had been connected with Edom from the 14th C. BC, it probably became important to the Jerusalem Temple after the Edomites took that over, after they had been forced by John Hyrcanus to convert to the Hebrew religion in the Jerusalem Temple.
As we know, it was only a few years after their "conversion?" that the Edomites had taken over Jerusalem, the Temple, the region politics with their own Herod as king, and the economy. The Edomites would have been right at home with Babylonian Talmudic Phariseeism and may have already held that practice before they took over Jerusalem. That religion had a mystic branch of kabbalistic magic. The sacred name, YHWH, was a key to their magic. As legend has it, the sacred name of a deity is so powerful that the person who knows it then has the power to use that name to command the deity to grant his wishes. Of the fifty four sacred names in the Jewish kabbalah, the primary one is YHWH. For the Edomites who had taken over the Jerusalem Temple and its religion, YHWH was a deity they had long worshipped as a part of their Pagan religion. Paganism was actually started by Cain, himself, and it stayed pretty much with the Cain race until spreading into Greece and Egypt and Italy. That Pagan mother-goddess religion was prevalent throughout the entire mid-east, each group having its own names for the deities. See my article on Paganism for the full history of it. Click on http://remnantradio.org/Archives/articles/PAGANISM.htm. It is likely that the name YHWH was used by Edom, along with Syria and Moab and perhaps some other close neighbors.
The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel never used any personal name to distinguish Him from any peers because He had no peers. Therefore, no personal name was ever needed. The only name He gave for Himself was "I am," which indicated that He is to be identified with all existence. The Greek Septuagint Old Testament of 285BC never used any sacred name for God, nor was such ever mentioned by other ancient writers such as the Israelite historians, Philo, and Josephus, or the later Eusebius, or even the Jewish Aristeas the Exegete who wrote his commentary on the Greek Septuagint. The word did not appear in any Old Testament text until the Masoretic Text of 1000AD!
From the viewpoint of modern theologians, it must first be understood that they all still accept the Masoretic Hebrew text of 1,000 AD as the true ancient language and Old Testament of our patriarchs. Since that Masoretic Text includes the four letter tetragrammeton, YHWH, over 6,000 times, theologians are forced to speculate that Moses must have put it in his Pentateuch. The Anchor Bible Dictionary, vol. 6, p. 1012, reads as follows: "In terms of the biblical narrative, some suggest that Moses derived the name of Yahweh from the Egyptians, while others think Yahweh was a Midianite deity worshipped by the Kenite clan. Moses would have been introduced to this new deity when he married the daughter of Jethro..." Certainly, Moses would have been acquainted with the Pagan religion of the Egyptians. But, even if the Pentateuch was actually written by Moses (which is not known for sure) in the 15th C. BC, he could not have written it in the Hebrew language which was not formed until the time of the Israelite captivities, from the 8th to 6th centuries BC, when the captive Israelites merged their native Phoenician language with the Aramaic of their captors. Now, I ask you, who wants to raise his hand to claim that Moses adopted the name of a foreign deity as a substitute for "God" or "Lord." If we set aside the closed-minded obduracy of modern scholarship, we can see that Moses did not write any text in the modern Hebrew language because it did not exist at that time, nor was there any Hebrew alphabet or script. The oldest Old Testament text known is the Greek Septuagint of 285 BC, and the word does not appear in it one single time, or in any other ancient Israelite writing, with one exception which I will mention now.
To place this information in proper context, recall that the northern kingdom of Israelites, who had turned to other gods, had been purged from the Holy Land during the 8th century BC, along with most of Judea. It would not be until 586 BC that the last three unconquered cities of Judea, namely Jerusalem, Azekah, and Lachish, would be defeated. Archaeologists have found eighteen ostraca (clay sherds) in the city of Lachish from about 590 BC, most of them being letters from subordinates to a man named Yaosh, the military governor of Lachish. It is unknown if the writer was Israelite or Babylonian. I will quote one of the letters which uses the name YHWH casually as is typical in other documents of that time, certainly not with any reluctance to use a sacred name!
Ostracon III reads as follows: "Thy servant Hoshayahu hath sent to inform my lord: May Yahweh bring you peaceful tidings! And now (you have sent a letter but my lord did not) enlighten your servant concerning the letter which my lord sent to your servant yesterday. For the heart of your servant has been sick since you did send to your servant. And now when my lord said, 'You don't know how to read a letter!' as Yahweh lives, no one has ever tied to read a letter to me, and indeed any letter which may have come to me, I have certainly not read it . . . at all.
And your servant has been informed, saying, 'The commander of the army, Konyahu, son of Elnathan, has gone down on his way to Egypt, and Hodawyahu, son of Ahiyahu, and his men have sent me to obtain . . .'
And as for the letter of Tobyahu, servant of the king, which came to Shallum, son of Yaddua, though the instrumentality of the prophet, saying 'Take care!' your servant has sent it to my lord."
You can note the casual use of the name Yahweh without any hesitance in this military correspondence, certainly not with any hint that the name was so sacred it shouldn't be spoken or written! Furthermore, many of the other personal names contain yahu as parts of the names. At the time of this letter in 590 BC, it would only be four more years before Lachish was conquered as a punishment from God because His Israelite children had gone chasing after Pagan gods. Yahweh was likely one of them! The Pagan religion was being practiced in the Jerusalem Temple. Ezekiel had been taken captive to Babylon in 598 BC, where he was shown a vision from God in 593 BC, about iniquities inside that Temple. Ezekiel 8:13, 14 - "(13)Then He said to me, you shall see still greater transgressions which they are committing. (14) Then He led me to the vestibule of the gate of the house of the Lord facing the north, and behold here were women sitting there, weeping for Tammuz." Tammuz was the dead son for whom worshippers wept in that religion of lamentations.
Edomites were evicted from their land in 312 BC by the Nabateans, then emigrating to a region of southern Judea which was called Idumea. Then in 132 BC, the leader of Jerusalem, John Hyrcanus, forced the troublesome Edomites to be circumcised and convert to the Jerusalem temple religion of Talmudic Phariseeism. Within a century, Judea was being run by an Edomite dictator, Herod the Great, followed by his descendant Herods. The Edomites had become Judeans. When Jesus called His sheep away from that corrupt temple religion, to be Christians, the Edomites continued to be called Judeans, which is translated into English as Jews.That race of Edomites continues to be called Jews to this day. They are the eternal enemies of Christ, and certainly NOT God's chosen ones. But, I'm getting off track.
A Christian brother, who has honored the name of Yahweh, recently referred me to a couple fragments of parchment, found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are Greek texts that contain the name YHWH. While the general text is Greek, the tetragrammeton is written in what modern scholars call "Paleo-Hebrew" letters, implying that ancient Hebrews had an early script of their own. But, the letters are actually Phoenician characters. Anyway, one of these parchment fragments is dated from between 50 BC and 50 AD. The other is dated in the first century AD, but it would have to be prior to 68 AD when the scrolls were buried. Finding the tetragrammeton in Greek Septuagint text is nearly like finding the Holy Grail for one who wants to believe God has a sacred name. These fragments have supported the Yahwists, who can point to them and say, "See, this proves that the tetragrammeton was used in the ORIGINAL Septuagint!" In their court, they can proudly sit down and say, "The defense rests. Case closed." They have subsequently decried the Greek Septuagint texts of the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus manuscripts as faulty, assuming the tetragrammeton was deliberately removed. If the Yahwists were right in drawing the conclusion that YHWH was in the original Septuagint, I would personally apologize for my criticisms of it, and would honor that sacred name for God with sincere enthusiasm. But, wait just a moment. There is more to this story, and it supports an opposite conclusion.
Let's recall that the Edomites took over the Jerusalem Temple and the religion more than a century prior to Christ. Let's also understand that the Dead Sea Scrolls are collections of widely diverse writings of all types which are from private libraries of people of Jerusalem; perhaps some of them are even from the Temple. The scrolls were buried about 68 AD because the Edomites of Jerusalem (the Jews) were under attack by Rome. They buried their precious writings because such scribal products were very valuable - no printing presses! The Edomites had taken over Jerusalem and had persecuted and oppressed the true Israelites, pushing most of them out of the city to the fringes where many of them suffered poverty. So, these scrolls are mostly, probably ALL, from Edomites who had changed the Hebrew religion to their Talmudic Phariseeism. It appears that they were altering Old Testament texts to read YHWH where the original Septuagint had "God" or "Lord." So, the parchment fragments do NOT prove the original Septuagint used the tetragrammeton.
My own personal conclusion is more firm than ever, that the Edomite Jews have once again usurped something valuable of Israel, and have duped Jesus' sheep into calling upon the name of their Pagan lord, Yahweh. I would plead with our people to be very suspicious of anything Edomites offer us, especially their so-called Hebrew translation of our Old Testament, their Masoretic Text, which showcases the sacred name of THEIR lord.
If you are interested in a study of the many sacred names which the Jewish mystics use, I would recommend a book, Gates of Light, by Rabbi Joseph Gikatilla, who was born in 1248AD. The book was published in 1994 as one of the Bronfman Library of Jewish Classics. Here are a few quotes from the book.
"Gates of Light is an encyclopaedia of God’s Names as well as a map which reveals the connections between the words in the Torah and the Names of God." (p. xvii)
"The ineffable Name YHVH represents God’s core and proves God’s unmediated link between His core and the Jewish people." (p. xix)
"The one who knows which Name of God to petition for what he wishes is like one who has the proverbial keys to the kingdom." (p. xx)
"those who want their needs fulfilled by employing the Holy Names should try with all their strength to comprehend the meaning of each Name of God as they are recorded in the Torah, names such as EHYE, YH, YHVH, AdoNaY, EL, ELOH, EloHIM, ShaDaY, TZVAOT. One should be aware that all the names mentioned in the Torah are the keys for anything a person needs in the world." (p.5)
"you need to know that there are fifty-four quadriliteral Names connected to YHVH which add up to two hundred and sixteen letters. These fifty-four Names contain the secret for drawing from the power of all that exists in the world; they are like the soul of the two hundred and sixteen letters which are contained in the verses [of Exodus 14:19-21]. Everything created is included in these fifty-four Names, and these Names are the means for fulfilling the needs of every creature through the intercession of AdoNaY." (p. 15)
Well, that should give you some idea of what the sacred names mean to the Edomite Jews, even still today. It saddens me deeply that so many good Christians are turning away from the Greek (which EVERYONE spoke at Jesus’ time in the entire Middle East because Alexander had forced it) to the Aramaic or pseudo-Hebrew/Jewish names for Jesus and for God. Aramaic is a language of the Afro-Asian language tree, not the Indo-European tree which our ancestors used from their time in the garden of Eden, on down through Sanskrit, Phoenician, Greek, and finally the Germanic languages and English. The so-called "Hebrew" is a mongrel language that developed during the captivities when the Israelites mixed their native Phoenician language with the Aramaic of their captors. The Hebrew language never even had an alphabet until the Herodian script was invented near the time of Christ, so the Old Testament could not have been written in it. The Aramaic languages were native to the Cain race which migrated into the Sumer region (Babylon) prior to Noah's descendants. Without understanding better, many of our people are scorning the language of God’s race in the Bible, and they are choosing the language of Christ’s enemies, the race of Satan from Cain and from Edom. Our Bible NEVER promoted any such magic practices, nor is there any hint that God has some kind of sacred name which has a power in itself. All that nonsense is from the Jews, and they must be laughing to watch good Christians venerating their blasphemous "names." We have followed the arch-deceivers into their pit again!
As for the name of God, our Indo-European language tradition has an impressive and consistent history. In Sanskrit, the name was dyus; in Phoenician & ancient Briton it was dias; in Greek it was theos and zeus; in Latin it was deus. The word YHWH never entered our Bible until nearly 1,000 AD when the Masoretic Text (MT) in Hebrew was completed and presented to the Roman Catholic church as the authentic original language and text of the Old Testament. The eastern half of Christendom at that time rejected the text as fraudulent and retained the Greek Septuagint of 285 BC, which they still use today.
The name, "Jesus," is the proper English pronunciation for His true Greek name of IESU. The Aramaic pronunciation for IESU is "yahshua." That Aramaic name is then translated into English as Joshua. It was a IESU who led the Israelites across the Jordan into Canaan, their promised land. And it will be IESU again who leads God's people from this kingdom of World into the Kingdom of Heaven. To use the Aramaic pronunciation, namely "yahshua," is a mistake. Jesus, his disciples, and everyone else spoke Greek. Some of the Cain races who were their neighbors retained their native language of Aramaic along with the common language of Greek. Certainly, Jesus and his friends knew some Aramaic (He even spoke a phrase of it from the cross, Eli, Eli, lamasabachthani, where "El" was a generic name for God. But Greek was their first language because it had naturally evolved from the Phoenician language of their ancestors. Those who claim that Jesus' first language was Aramaic are simply wrong. Greek is the language of our people.
Ultimately, the case for or against the sacred name YHWH is just circumstantial. There is little material evidence to support the Edomite claim that the name was even known to any patriarch or existed in any ancient scripture. There was no Hebrew language until after the captivities and there was no Hebrew alphabet until the Herodian Script which was invented just before Jesus arrived. There was no Hebrew Old Testament text until 1,000 AD. The sacred name idea was unknown to Josephus and Philo. The name YHWH was never used in the Greek Septuagint of 285 BC. Perhaps the most convincing argument against the sacred name usage is that it is part of the religion of a race of people who are notorious liars, as Jesus accused them in John 8:44. Also, there is no place in the entire Bible that God ever suggested a personal name for Himself, and certainly there is no favorable support of a religion of magic for the sake of attaining worldly desires. Lastly, the name YHWH is from the Afro-Asian language family, not from the Indo-European (Aryan) family which is the language lineage of Adam, Noah, Abraam, and Israel. I would welcome information from anyone that might suggest ANY circumstantial evidence in support of the sacred name YHWH as authentic for pre-captivities Israelites.
So, the conclusion of this case is left to each person as an individual. If you feel attracted to call upon the Pagan god of the Edomites, you may have found your proper place in the eternal program. If you feel that the highest form of religion is to seek worldly wealth and to use techniques and rituals, then you might even feel drawn to the magical Kabbalah. But, if you feel that your spiritual relationship with God is personal and intimate and something beyond rituals, worldly concerns and magic names, then you will probably feel more attracted to Jesus as your Lord. Jesus said, in the last chapter of His revelation to John, "Let the one who is unrighteous still be unrighteous, and the filthy one be filthy still, and let the righteous one do righteousness still, and let the holy one be holy still." It is not my wish to convince anyone of anything; I merely present some information for your consideration. I offer nothing for sale and have no vested interest in whatever God might choose to do with my work. As I have been freely given, so do I give freely. You may consider what I say, or not. The matter is between you and your God, whichever one of them you choose.
The following is a letter which I wrote to a yahwist with whom I have corresponded over a period of months. He did present to me all of the arguments which support the yahwist claim of sacred-name. But those arguments were shallow and easily refuted by historical known facts. Somewhat edited, here is the jist of that letter.
Dear . . . . . . . . ,
I wish to thank you for discussing the yahweh issue with me this past year. I have learned a lot. It has been my only real opportunity to examine the thinking of a yahwist, and has been something of an eye-opener for me. I’ve known only a few yahwists before and found that none of them were willing to defend their religion with evidence. You, at least, did present to me the evidence that you had, all of which was easily refuted. I showed you that from ancient records there is evidence that the tetragrammeton was the name of one of the Edomite gods but there is no evidence that Israel ever shared that same god. From the Bible we can understand that they certainly would not share the same god. We know that Esau married into the Cain race and adopted their Pagan religion which had actually originated with Cain himself, in the worship of his father, Satan, called at that time Enlil, but in later centuries Bel. For a study of Paganism, see http://remnantradio.org/Archives/articles/PAGANISM.htm. We know from the Bible that most all of the neighboring races around Israel worshipped Bel, aka Baal. But, as one studies the many names of deities of those peoples, it gets very confusing. The names of the deities varied a lot, each nation selecting its own names, even though the basic religion was fairly consistent. Anyway, I am simply saying that the Edomites were one of the nations/families who worshipped Satan through that Pagan religion. Given that fact, we then learn from Egyptian records that one of the Edomite deities was named YHWH. On their list of deities, the Egyptians made no mention that Israelites (who were a large presence there at that time of 1400 BC) honored the same god. Further, there is no evidence that Israel ever used the YHWH name. The name next shows up in the Dead Sea Scrolls which were buried by Edomites around 70 AD. Still no indication that the Greek speaking Israelites ever used the word. Instead, from the Greek Septuagint of 285 BC, we find no hint of any personal name ever being claimed by the Almighty God. Next, about 1,000 AD, the Masoretic "Hebrew" text of the O.T. appears, having been created by the Edomite Jews, the name YHWH appears frequently. Well, Roman Catholicism accepted that spurious Jewish text as authentic and as the original language of the ancient Bible people. The Eastern half of Christendom did not then, nor have they ever accepted it as anything but a fraud. What happened is understandable when we realize the Roman church was influenced by Jews from the time of Constantine (325 AD) and many popes were admitted Jews. So, they accepted the fraud. Next, in the middle ages, we find the Kabbalistic branch of the Jew’s Talmudic religion using the name as their chief of fifty four deity names. Still, no evidence that Israelites or Christians ever used it.
When the Protestant Reformers corrected some of the egregious and most blasphemous teachings of the Paganist Roman church, they did not address the text-language problem of the scriptures because they were primarily interested in getting Bibles printed for the common people. Sadly, the masoretic text was used for the O.T., and still is the basis of English versions which are all printed by Jewish publishing companies. One has to search for a copy of the Bible which Jesus used, namely the Greek Septuagint (but Brenton's translation is available from CBD, "www.christianbook.com").
If you really care about researching that yahweh name, it would be well worth the purchase of a book titled GATES OF LIGHT, subtitled "Sha’are Orah" by Rabbi Joseph Gikatilla who was born 1248 AD, translated into English by Avi Weinstein. The book "is an encyclopaedia of God’s Names as well as a map which reveals the connections between the words in the Torah and the Names of God." (p. xvii). He says on p. xx: "The one who knows which Name of God to petition for what he wishes is like one who has the proverbial keys to the kingdom." He goes on to say on page 5: "...those who want their needs fulfilled by employing the Holy Names should try with all their strength to comprehend the meaning of each Name of God as they are recorded in the Torah, names such as EHYE, YH, YHVH, ADoNaY, EL, ELOH, EloHIM, ShaDaY, TZVAOT. One should be aware that all the names mentioned in the Torah are the keys for anything a person needs in the world." On page 15, he says regarding ADoNaY: "Therefore the name instills authority and it is the rightful Name of the Master of the earth through the power invested by the Name YHVH which dwells therein." Most Christians know whom Jesus said was the lord of this world! It appears that Rabbi Gikatilla also knew.
So, where are we now? Some individuals have adopted the YHWH name from the Edomite Jew's O.T. as their sacred name for God. The ancient evidence points to that name being a god of the Paganist Edomites, a name which they brought to Jerusalem when they took over the temple during the Herodian period prior to Christ. Yahweh is, according to ALL evidence, a god of the Edomites, and in their Pagan religion, that would be Satan himself.
Christians like myself often think that ancients who worshiped Pagan gods must have been stupid or simple, but we are wrong to think that way. Those who worshipped Cain’s god knew the reality of his presence in their lives, and they knew his power. He who reigns over the kingdom of World is a powerful god indeed as he negatively serves the Almighty’s divine plan of the ages. Soon he is to be overthrown, and then no more yahweh! Jesus will lead us into the kingdom of Heaven and we shall be free from the influence of the great deceiver, that archetype liar of whom Jesus spoke in John 8:44.
From a servant of Jesus,
Roger Hathaway, January 2006
(1) The May/June 2001 issue of BIBLICAL ARCHAEOLOGY REVIEW has an article by Ephraim Stern, titled PAGAN YAHWISM, The Folk Religion of Ancient Israel, beginning on page 21. The article begins with"The Bible imagines the religion of ancient Israel as purely monotheistic. And doubtless there were Israelites, particularly those associated with the Jerusalem Temple, who were strict monotheists. But the archaeological evidence (and the Bible, too, if you read it closely enough) suggests that the monotheism of many Israelites was far from pure. . . . Some Israelites believed that Yahweh had a female consort. And many Israelites invoked the divinity with the help of images, particularly figurines. I call this Israelite religion pagan Yahwism.
The archaeological evidence we will look at comes mostly from Judah in what is known in archaeological terms as the Assyrian period, the span from 721 B.C.E., when the Assyrians destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel, until 586 B.C.E., when the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple and brought an end to the Davidic dynasty in Judah."
The lengthy article contains lots of information regarding the digs and their finds, including one picture of three figurines which are upper-half bodies of females who are holding up their large breasts with their hands. These female figures represent the consorts of Yahweh. It was common among Israel's neighbors that each deity had his own consort, all of which were known by the common names of "Asherah" or "Ashtoreth" or "Astarte." The figurines in the picture in this article are Asherahs of Yahweh.
(2) The November/December 2001 issue of BIBLICAL ARCHAEOLOGY REVIEW has a response to the above article by another archaeologist, who says, regarding some inscriptions that were found, "The main texts, the blessings 'to Yahweh and his Asherah' are in fact the standard format for the opening of a business letter.
It appears pretty clear that all evidence confirms that the personal name YHWH was borrowed from Israel's pagan neighbors during the captivities by Israelites who also borrowed MUCH from the Chaldean Mystery Schools before they returned to Jerusalem with a religion properly called, Babylonian Talmudic Phariseeism. Egyptians records connect YHWH with some of Israel's neighbors but not with Israel. One need only read the Old Testament to understand that Israel's God was a jealous God whom other nations recognized as Israel's God and not theirs. What scholar wants to speculate that Israel's God was adopted by other nations who were enemies of Israel? I would suggest that those individuals who feel compelled to worship that pagan deity might as well include his Asherah alongside him on their altars. But, for those who care what God's truth really is, let them present some evidence that YHWH was really a proper name for the God of Israel in pre-exile times. Their main evidence is quite limited to the Masoretic fraud in the Edomites' Old Testament of tenth century A.D.
And for those who think the Hebrew language was the language of our patriarchs, where is any evidence to support that? It doesn't exist. Consider this. The Edomite Jew Masoretes spent three hundred years preparing the Masoretic Text (MT), supposedly just separating the words and adding diacritical marks. Has any scholar asked what manuscript the Masoretes worked from to create their MT? It is assumed that they must have worked from an ancient Hebrew manuscript. BUT, the square letter Herodian Script was only invented during the century before Jesus was born. And there is NO evidence that any Old Testament existed in the Hebrew language or Herodian Script at the time of Jesus. Jewish scholars like Philo and Aristeas the Exegete used the Greek Septuagint exclusively for their exegetical work, assuming that the secrets to understanding God's communique were in the Greek words and nuances. What's more, they made no reference to, nor hint of, any Hebrew text which might be more authentic. As a matter of fact, NO ancient writer hinted that any such text existed.
It is puzzling beyond belief that there are individuals, who pretend sincere faith, who care not about historical facts. Rather, they adopt beliefs for their religions in spite of strong conflicts against them. Just as with much of mainstream Christianity, religion trumps facts.