GESENIUS ON THE NAME JEHOVAH

[Extracted from Gesenius's Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures, 1846, pp. CCCXXXVII-VIII.
The interpolations by the translator/editor Samuel Prideaux Tregelles have been given in red.]

 

"Gesenius derives the name of Ihuh from a root huh, which root does not exist in Hebrew."Gerald Massey

 

יהוה Jehovah, pr. name of the supreme God (האלהימ) amongst the Hebrews. The later Hebrews, for some centuries before the time of Christ, either misled by a false interpretation of certain laws (Ex. 80:7; Lev. 24:11), or else following some old superstition, regarded this name as so very holy, that it might not even be pronounced (see Philo, Vit. Mosis t. iii. p. 519, 529). Whenever, therefore, this nomen tetragrammaton occurred in the sacred text (השם, המפרש שם), they were accustomed to substitute for it אדני and thus the vowels of the noun אדני are in the Masoretic text placed under the four letters יהוה, but with this difference, that the initial Yod receives a simple and not a compound Sh'va (יהוה, not יהוה.); prefixes, however, receive the same points as if they were followed by אדני, thus מיהוה ביהוה ליהוה. This custom was already in vogue in the days of the LXX. translators; and thus it is that they every where translate יהוה by ό Κύριος (אדני): the Samaritans have also followed a similar custom, so that for יהוה they pronounce שימא (i.q. השם). Where the text has אדני יהוה, in order that Adonai should not be twice repeated, the Jews readאדני אלהימ, and they write  אדני יהוה.

As it is thus evident that the word יהוה does not stand with its own vowels, but with those of another word, the inquiry arises, what then are its true and genuine vowels? Several consider that יהוה the true pronunciation (according to the analogy of פרעח יעקב) rightly appealing to the authority of certain ancient writers, who have stated that the God of the Hebrews was called ΙΑΩ (Diod. i. 94: Macrob. Sat. i. l8. Hesych. v. Όζέιας, intp. ad Clem. Alex. Strom, v. p. 666. Theod. qust. 15 ad Exod.); to which also may be added, that this same form appears on the gems of the Egyptian Gnostics as the name of God (Iren. adv. Hres. i. 34; ii. 26. Bellermann, liber die Gemmen der Alten mit dem Abraxasbilde, i. ii.). Not very dissimilar is the name ΙΕΥΩ of Philo Byblius ap. Euseb. prp. Evang. i. 9; and ΙΑΟΥ (יהו) in Clem. Al. Strom, v. p. 562. Others, as Reland (decad. exercitatt. de vera pronunciatione nominis Jehova, Traj. ad Rh. 1707, 8.), following the Samaritans, suppose that יהוה was anciently the true pronunciation, and they have an additional ground for the opinion in the abbreviated forms יהו and יה. Also those who consider that יהוה was the actual pronunciation (Michaelis in Supplem. p. 524), are not altogether without ground on which to defend their opinion. In this way can the abbreviated syllables יהו  and יה, with which many proper names begin, be more satisfactorily explained. [This last argument goes a long way to prove the vowels יהוה to be the true ones.]

To give my own opinion [This opinion Gesenius afterwards THOROUGHLY retracted; see Thes. and Amer. trans, in voc.: he calls such comparisons and derivations, "waste of time and labour;" would that he had learned how irreverent a mode this was of treating such subjects!], I suppose this word to be one of the most remote antiquity, perhaps of the same origin as Jovis, Jupiter, and transferred from the Egyptians to the Hebrews [What an idea! God himself revealed this as his own name; the Israelites could never have received it from the Egyptians]; (compare what has been said above, as to the use of this name on the Egyptian gems [but these gems are not of the most remote antiquity; they are the work of heretics of the second and third centuries]), and then so inflected by the Hebrews, that it might appear, both in form and origin, to be Phenicio-Shemitic.

To this origin, allusion is made Exod. 3: 14; אשר אהיה אהיה "I (ever) shall be (the same) that I am (to-day);" compare Apoc. l:4, 8, 6: the name יהוה being derived from the verb הוה to be, was considered to signify God as eternal and immutable, who will never be other than the same. Allusion is made to the same etymology, Hoc. l:6, יהוה זכרו "Jehovah (i.e. the eternal, the immutable,) is his name." [We have thus the authority of God in His word, that this name is derived from the idea of being, existence, and not from any relics of Egyptian idolatry.] With this may be compared the inscription of the Saitic temple, Plut. de Iside et Osiride, c. 9. [This shews how Pagans borrowed ideas from the true theology of God's revelation, and not that the latter borrowed any thing from the former.]

As to the usage of the word, the same supreme God, and the θέος [God was in an especial sense the God of the Israelites, but no idea must be admitted for a moment which would even seem to localize the God whose name is Jehovah of Hosts] tutelar God of the Hebrews, is called in the Old Testament by his proper name יהוה and by the appellative אלהימ האלהים sometimes promiscuously, and sometimes the one or the other is used according to the nature of the expressions, or the custom of the writers (see p. XLIX, B), as יהוה, etc. The use of the word is to be especially observed in the following cases.

(a) יהוה אלהים i.e. Jehovah God (in apposition, and not, as some have maintained, Jehovah of Gods, sc. the chief), the customary appellation of Jehovah in Genesis chap. 2:3, elsewhere less frequent, see however Ex. 9:30; 2 Sam. 7:22; l Ch. 28:20; 29:1; 3 Ch. 1:9: 6:41,42; Ps. 72:18; 84: 12; Jon. 4:6; also יהוה האלהים i Sam. 6 : 20; 1 Chron. 22 : 1, 19; 3 Chron. 32 : 16; Ne. 8:6. Very frequent, on the contrary, is the compound form followed by a gen., as יהוה אלהי ישראל Jos. 7:13, 19, 20; 8:30; 9:18, 19, etc. יהוה אלהי אבוהך Deu. 1:21; 6:3; 27:3; אבוהך יהוה אלהי Deu. 21; 31; 2:7; 4:5; 18:16; 26: 14; and very frequently elsewhere.

(b) יהוה צבאות "Jehovah (the God) of the (heavenly) hosts."

(c) אדני יהוה (as to the points יהוה; see above) 2 Sa. 7:18,19; 133.50:4; Jer. 32: 17; and continually in Ezekiel.