Saturday, May 13, 2017

His Holy Name; How is the letter ו Pronounced?


Yahweh, Ye-WHO-ah, or Ye-Ho-Vah?

Seems everyone has a different pronunciation of His Holy Name these days. Some have done a great deal of study in this matter and have come to different conclusions, and such a work demands respect to those that have done such a study and who's love for Yehovah has led them down this road to know how to pronounce His Holy Name. Most people use the pronunciation Yahweh or Yah-Who-ah, because that has been what was taught in most Hebraic Studies courses in Seminaries across the Anglo-world. Yet there is another view also with very valid reasoning as well as a Scriptural basis.

Pay particular attention the the rhymes found in Scripture using the letter "Betב and the letter "Vav" ו . No one doubts the "v" sound of the Bet when there is no dagesh in its belly, and that sound is never associated with the "waw" sound, but the "vav" sound, so the second letter can have the sound "Bet" or "Vet". There is no dispute in this matter.

"Wow" its a vav!

No doubt different groups have different accents and have developed different pronunciations, but what is the Scriptural accent? When we see the empty Bet used as a rhyme with the letter Vav, it is a pretty good indication that the Vav is pronounced with the "Vav" sound and not the "Waw" sound.

So should we be looking to different people groups and ancient cultures for the pronunciation or the Scriptures? You decide.

But what ever you decide, look at Ezekiel where he uses a word sometimes with the Bet and sometimes with the Vav. In Ezekiel 23:35 and 43:13 the word "back" (transliterated Gav and Gab) is spelled  Gimel - Vav - Kaf  and then  Gimel - Bet, respectively, showing these letters (and sounds) are interchangeable. We also see this in 1 Kings 14:9 where the word for "back" is spelled with the Vav, as well as other examples in the Scriptures. So Ezekiel would have pronounced the Holy Name as Ye-ho-Vah, not Ye-Who-ah, or even Yahweh.

Ancient liturgical poems also use rhymes using the Vav and the Bet, if you want to look at ancient people groups in Biblical times. The waw sound comes from the Arabic pronunciation, again without dispute; but not from ancient Israel or the Scriptures.

For further reference, I recommend these videos Nehemiah Gordon did with Michael Rood on the Sacred Name.


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