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The Tetragrammaton in Paleo-Hebrew script, old Aramaic script, and square Hebrew.


The etymology of this theonym has been discussed very extensively in scholarly literature, but remains uncertain.

For the scholarly consensus, see the Wikipedia article on the Tetragrammaton's etymology; for other proposals, see Lewis (2020).[1]


  • In the Biblical Hebrew of antiquity (before 400 BCE), the word was probably pronounced approximately /jahˈwe/.
  • Audio:(file)

Proper noun

יהוה (YHWHm

  1. The Tetragrammaton, one of the names of God.
  2. The proper, personal name of the Jewish and Christian God.

Usage notes

  • The word is written in the Hebrew Bible either without vocalisation or as יְהֹוָה, using the vocalization of the word אֲדֹנָי (adonái, my Lord), because of the prohibition of uttering the name. It is thought that the original pronunciation was probably lost around the Hellenistic era. In some cases, when preceded by the word אֲדֹנָי (adonái, my Lord), it is written as יֱהֹוִה, using the vocalization of the word אֱלֹהִים (elohím, God).
  • Secular Jews in Israel pronounce the word as אדוני / אֲדֹנָי (adonái) usually, under most circumstances.
  • Religious Jews pronounce it as אֲדֹנָי (adonái, my Lord) only for liturgical purposes, otherwise they use other terms such as הַשֵּׁם (hashém, the name).
  • Samaritans pronounce it as ࠔࠝࠌࠠࠀ (šəmā, the name) — from שְׁמָא (šəmā, the name), the Aramaic equivalent of Hebrew הַשֵּׁם (hashém) — under all circumstances, even in liturgy.
  • Although Jews would not be likely to use the Tetragrammaton to refer to the Christian God, Hebrew-speaking Christians (and Messianic Jews) may, and it is used in translations of the New Testament.

Derived terms


See also


  1. ^ Lewis, Theodore J. (2020) “The Origin of Yahweh”, in The Origin and Character of God: Ancient Israelite Religion through the Lens of Divinity, New York: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, Section I: The Meaning and Revelation of the Name Yahweh in the Hebrew Bible, pages 210-227

Further reading