The LORD, Jehovah, or Yahweh?

The Kingdom Bible translation is one of the very few in the world today, at least in English, to correctly translate the Name of God, which is Jehovah. Suffice it to say that almost every major English language Bible version in the world today uses a pseudonym "The LORD" to cover up the Hebrew word of Jehovah.

A quick check of six major Bible versions on Biblegateway.com and Young's Literal (not well-known and used mainly as a reference instead of a Church Bible) revealed that all but one uses "The LORD" instead of Jehovah in almost every location in the Hebrew portion of the Bible: The New King James, New International, New Living Translation, English Standard Version, and the King James Version all use the pseudonym. Only the American Standard Version of 1901 and Young's Literal Translation correctly translate the Name of God as Jehovah; and not a single one uses "Yahweh" (see Yahweh or Jehovah below). In fact, of the thirty English language versions on Biblegateway.com, only three or so contained any mention of "Jehovah" at all: the KJV (a handful), Young's Literal (all), Darby's (all), and Wycliff's Bible (once).

Why and how did this come to pass? Among the reasons given is that the ancient Jewish Hebrew scholars were so awe-stricken by "the Name" that when copying a manuscript, they would go to extremes in washing themselves both before and after writing it on the paper or whatever medium they were using; and even using different writing instruments before and after writing it down so as not to "profane" it in some way. Apparently many of them would substitute "the Lord" or Adonai as a way of insulating themselves from having to actually writing the consonants of "the Name" (YHWH). This became a tradition that passed into English usage by early Bible publishers, so that "the LORD" was substituted over "the Name"; and hence, most Bible publishers since the Middle Ages have continued this tradition so that most Christians are not even aware of this issue, because the Bible their church uses hides "Jehovah" with "the LORD".

Now friends, I grew up as a Christian using the King James version; and so I wasn't even aware that this was an issue until I began working on the Kingdom Bible. I did notice that the KJV uses "Jehovah" in a few places: Exodus 6:3, Psalm 83:18, Isaiah 12:2, and Isaiah 26:4. But I also noticed that this substitution of "the Lord" for "Jehovah" was inconsistent. For example, in Ezekiel, you see this phrase quite often: "the Lord GOD" (e.g. Ezekiel 2:4); while in Genesis, you see "the LORD God" (e.g. Genesis 2:7). Well, which is it? Is it "the LORD God" or "the Lord GOD"? Make up your mind, will you?

The inconsistency arises because "Lord" is the translation of Hebrew "Adonai", meaning master or Lord; this word is consistently translated accurately (as far as I can tell) in most Bible versions. But the Bible doesn't use a single title for God, but several: "The Lord Jehovah" (Ezekiel), "Jehovah God" [or Jehovah Elohim] (Genesis), or Jehovah of hosts (Isaiah), or just "Jehovah" (around 6,000 times, all over the Hebrew Bible). So the King James translators (and most modern versions as well) had to be extremely limber and clever when coming up with a new pseudonym to cover up the Name of Jehovah. In Genesis, "Jehovah God" became "the LORD God"; in Ezekiel, "the Lord Jehovah" became "the Lord GOD", and "Jehovah of hosts" became "the LORD of hosts" in Isaiah; and generally, "Jehovah" became "the LORD". It would be funny if the subject matter weren't so serious.

A somewhat humorous example is found in Psalm 110: "The LORD said unto my Lord, 'Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.'" (KJV)

So, "The LORD said unto my Lord"? What is that? In the quotation of this passage in Matthew 22:44, the Greek says, "The 'Kurios' said to my 'kuriw'"; in other words, the same Greek word is used in both places, so the exact meaning is unclear unless the Hebrew text is consulted. It is slightly humorous, because of the similarity in the words, so it looks a little absurd. Why not just say instead "Jehovah said to my Lord?" Seems like a simple solution.

Now friends, when updating the KJV text for the Kingdom Bible Version, I was reluctant to change very much, because I have great respect for the work that the KJV translators did. It was a landmark achievement in the history of Bible translations, and a work which God has blessed for 400 years. But I believe that God gave me very clear direction to make this change from using pseudonyms to cover up his Name to make it literally "Jehovah" in all cases.

And when this is done, you discover an amazing thing: the Name of Jehovah is a very beautiful and glorious Name! It is not something to be ashamed of, or something that should be hidden behind a pseudonym; no! The Bible becomes something quite different than what you are used to reading, because suddenly you are confronted with the occurrence of "Jehovah" in literally thousands of places in the Hebrew text; whereas before, all you could see was "the LORD" or "the Lord GOD", which makes no sense to me.

In my opinion, friends in Christ, there is absolutely no excuse for any Bible version to use a pseudonym to cover up God's true Name. And if you believe that the usage of "the LORD" is correct, then please give me a chapter and verse in the Bible that will support this. Did you know that there is not a single Bible verse to support this practice; and saying that "Well, traditionally this is the way it's always been done" as a fallback excuse is incredibly weak. Do you know what Jesus said about Tradition?

Then the Pharisees and certain of the scribes which came from Jerusalem came together to him. And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashed hands, they found fault: for the Pharisees and all the Jews, unless they wash their hands vigorously, do not eat, holding the tradition of the elders. And when they come from the market, unless they wash, they do not eat. And many other things there are, which they have received to hold, such as the washing of cups, pots, brazen vessels, and of tables. Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?” He answered and said to them, “Well has Isaiah prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Nevertheless in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.’ For laying aside the Commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups; and many other such like things you do.” And he said to them, “Full well you reject the Commandment of God, that you may keep your own tradition!" (Mark 7:1-13)

I am afraid, friends in Christ, that most Bible-believing Christians are still saddled with a lot of traditional thinking that is not in agreement with the Word of God; and this matter of covering up the true Name of God with a pseudonym is a classic example of that.

And as far as it being some kind of "sin" to either speak "the Name" or write it down, nothing could be further from the truth. Friends, if you read the Kingdom Bible text, which translates "the Name" correctly in all cases, you will find every prophet, king, and patriarch speaking or writing "the Name" of Jehovah over and over and over again. They were not afraid of sinning against God by using it, unless it was in vain, which of course is forbidden by the Ten Commandments. The Psalmists all used the Name of Jehovah over and over again in their prayers, and there was no sin in their doing so. Therefore there is no sin in us using the glorious, beautiful, and holy Name of Jehovah as well, as long as it is treated with reverence, love, and respect.

I said all of that to say this: the Kingdom Bible is one of the very few Bible versions available today which correctly translates "the Name" of Jehovah correctly, and it is wonderful to see it in the pages of the Word of God. We need to love the Name of Jehovah, we need to pray the Name of Jehovah, because the Name of Jesus literally in the Greek is "Jehovah Saves"! The Name of our God is Jehovah God, the Lord Jehovah, and just "Jehovah". Jesus Christ is Jehovah walking in a Temple of flesh (John 1:14).

Yahweh or Jehovah?

Is the correct word Jehovah, or Yahweh? My answer seems pretty obvious, if you think about it. Do we say, "Yah-rusalem" or "Je-rusalem"? Do we say "Yah-hoshaphat" or "Jehoshaphat"? Do we say, "Yah-sus" or "Jesus"? Of course, we always use the latter, not the former; but to listen to many of the modern-day "scholars" on this issue, you might think that somehow they have insight into the Hebrew text that even the Jews themselves did not have!! "Jerusalem" means "Jehovah is peace", and so on.

The Massorete Jews who compiled the Massoretic Hebrew text of the Bible were native speakers of the Hebrew language. By contrast, most of the modern-day "scholars" on the other side of this issue are Gentiles whose native languages are not Hebrew. Now the Massoretic Hebrew clearly uses vowel points to indicate that "Jehovah" is the correct pronunciation for YHWH, in the opinion of those native speakers of the Hebrew language. But these non-native speakers of Hebrew insist just the opposite, that "Yahweh" is correct.

Now let's think about this for a moment: let's imagine that you, a native speaker of English, begin talking to an immigrant from another nation who speaks, say, Spanish or Swahili or Italian. They have been schooled in the English language by reading books and sitting in the classroom; whereas you have had that plus you have been speaking it from your childhood, and you understand all of the cultural background and strange word forms (colloquialisms) of English. Do you think that those native speakers of Swahili or Spanish are going to really understand English as well as you? Absolutely not!

I personally have had years of experience dealing with immigrants, and I know how silly they can sound when trying to enunciate English words and phrases as we do. On the other side of the coin, when traveling to other countries, we sound pretty silly to native speakers in those nations when trying to speak their languages for the very same reasons.

Now friends, this is something we need to understand clearly when dealing with the issue of "Yahweh" vs. "Jehovah". I personally am going to trust the judgment of a native speaker of Hebrew rather than the opinion of someone who has only learned it from a textbook. The Massorete Jews of the first Millennium after Christ said that "Jehovah" is the correct pronunciation, and even if some modern-day Jew says differently, I think that the Massorete Jews from the tenth century or so were a lot closer to understanding true Hebrew than modern-day Jews. In fact, the knowledge of how to speak Hebrew was almost lost until the twentieth century, and I personally doubt that modern-day speakers of Hebrew in Israel are speaking it the exact same way it was spoken in Biblical times.

On a more personal note, I believe that God is pleased with the pronunciation of his Name as "Jehovah" rather than "Yahweh". It is my personal opinion, judging from how God has directed me in the production of the Kingdom Bible Version, that God wants his Name to be pronounced this way, and not as "Yahweh".

To me, "Yahweh" sounds like the name of some alien from another planet on Star Trek rather than the glorious Name of my God. It just doesn't ring true to me. So that is my position on this issue.

What about the "Jehovah's Witnesses"?

Friends, I bring this up at the end because I know, as a Fundamental, Bible-believing Christian, how the so-called "Jehovah's Witnesses" cult has poisoned the discussion of this issue among Bible-believing Christians. I know that the Jehovah's Witnesses disparage Bible-believing Christians many times because they do not use Jehovah but instead use the pseudonym of "the LORD" to cover it up. I know that the JW's are an Arian cult that deny the Deity of Jesus Christ and insist that He is actually a lesser god or even an angel of some sort rather than an equal member of the Triune Godhead with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.

But friends, even a stopped clock is right twice a day! It is useless as a clock and not something you would want to actually use, but it can be said to be correct on those two occasions every day. So just because the JW's are in terrible soul-damning error on the Deity of Jesus Christ doesn't mean that everything they say is wrong.

Every cult uses the same technique of trying to look "Orthodox" by adopting Orthodox language on some particular issue that they then trumpet as something that makes them "right", and all others "wrong", but then they take heretical positions by redefining the Bible in their own terms. If they can get professing Christians to say, "Wow, they are right about that", then the cult will use that as a "beach-head" to then say, "See, we are right about that one issue; here are some other issues that we are also right about"; and then they begin poisoning their target with false teachings such as "Jesus isn't really God", "There is no Hell", and so on.

So some Bible-believing Christians have their "false teaching radar" alerted when they read about a doctrine that sounds like the Jehovah's Witness cult. I understand that, which is the reason for this discussion.

On the issue of "the Name", I have to say that the JW's are correct, insofar as it should be translated literally rather than covered up with a pseudonym. I can't agree with almost anything else that the JW's have to say, especially on the issue of soul-sleep, their denial of Hell, and a multitude of other false teachings. But I am saying is that just because the "Jehovah's Witnesses" say it, doesn't automatically mean it is wrong. We need to investigate what we believe and compare Scripture with Scripture, as the noble Bereans did (Acts 17:11). We need to evaluate every teaching on its Biblical merits; not whether it happens to be used as a favorite doctrine of a cult or not.

After I translated "the Name" literally and began to read the updated manuscript of the Kingdom Bible, I was surprised and shocked by what I was reading; not only was the Bible much more beautiful and meaningful, but I was also chagrined that I had been denied this pleasure for most of my Christian life, simply because of the Bible version I had been using, which was the King James Version.

Replacing the NAME of Jehovah with a pseudonym is wrong! It is no different than the Jews of today who write "G-d" rather than "God", or "Hashem" rather than "Jehovah" or "Adonai"/"the Lord". Why was it fine for Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, and all the kings, priests, and prophets of the Old Covenent to FREELY use the Name of Jehovah (and there are thousands of examples from Scripture to prove it), but now it is somehow a "sin" or "disrespectful" to do so? That doesn't make sense!! That is a foolish belief that needs to be cast away, and fast!

  • "And he said to them, “Full well you reject the Commandment of God, that you may keep your own tradition!" (Mark 7:13)

Tradition is a very powerful force among Fundamental Bible Christians today, make no mistake about that. And those pastors who hold to the King James Version and insist that it is "the best thing since sliced bread" are denying their flock some of the greatest blessing that the Word of God has to offer. We need a new Bible version for Fundamental, Bible-believing Christians; one that is not only correctly formatted, as the Kingdom Bible is, but one that casts aside these ungodly Medieval traditions in favor of a more literal rendering of the original languages of the Bible.

The Kingdom Bible Version is just such a Bible version, and I offer it to you for your prayerful consideration and acceptance, in the beautiful and glorious Name of our God, the Lord Jesus [Jehovah Saves] Christ.