I saw a Bible from the 1950's that used Yahweh throughout. Why the change?
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The names Yahweh or Jehovah, when used for God, are attempts to render the tetragrammaton (from the Greek, meaning "word with four letters"), which were the four letters used in Hebrew to represent the name that God had given for Himself to Moses in Exodus 3:14, as a pronounceable word. The four Hebrew letters are variously represented in English as YHWH, YHVH, JHWH, or JHVH. "Yahweh" and "Jehovah" are formed in English by interposing vowels (which the written Hebrew text does not contain). The name is translated in English as "I Am Who I Am", or "I Will Be What I Will Be" (referring to God's eternal, unchanging nature). There is some dispute as to the pronunciation of the tetragrammaton, since the Israelites neither wrote out nor spoke the name that God gave for Himself, because it was holy. Instead, other terms in Hebrew (such as "Adonai" (meaning "Lord" (with only the first letter capitalized), but referring only to God's sovereignty, rather than representing the Tetragrammaton) were substituted for the name when speaking or writing. English translations of the Bible that use the word "LORD" (where all the letters of the word are capitalized) to represent the tetragrammaton, rather than trying to render the letters as a pronounceable word (which may be incorrect anyway), follow this tradition. But the word "LORD" is to be understood as representing the name that God gave for Himself.
How GOD's Name became Yahweh, then Jehovah (the Existing One) & then LORD is difficult to explain, even more difficult to understand. Our brains work according to modern speech, in our own language, but the OT was recorded for the most part in Hebrew (some in Aramaic). Some Hebrew scholars even have difficulty. Point of fact, it might be easier to say why the sky is called sky, why heaven is called heaven or why a rose is called a rose! According to my concordance, the Hebrew word "ha Yah" (emphasis on the Y) used in Ex. 3:14 (when GOD said to Moses, "I AM that I AM") is a transliteration of YHWH. The same Hebrew word, ha Yah, is used in many other verses, as the meaning has some variances & interestingly is a verb which means 'always existing'. And it can be compared to another root word "haw vah" which literally means breath, breathe, breathing, living. Not to wander off onto a rabbit trail, but while Genesis was penned (note that I didn't say "written") by several, including Adam, Noah & Shem. Exodus was penned by Moses. When GOD spoke His Name, His Proper Name, to Moses, it was written down without vowels, that is YHWH thus making it unpronounceable. Anyone who has ever had to introduce someone by name, reading their name from a piece of paper, knows how difficult accurate pronunciation might be. And the early Jews (before Christ) didn't want to mispronounce GOD's Name & break the 3rd Commandment which said, "You shall not take the Name of the LORD your GOD in vain" (Ex 20:7.) so they wrote His Name with consonants only, YHWH. It seems they took the Commandments seriously! But at some point in time, Hebrew scribes added diacritical marks indicating vowel sounds as they copied the earlier texts. Later, those 4 letters transliterated in English from the Hebrew letters "yod, he, vav, he" became Yahweh. Anytime a Hebrew reader comes to those 4 letters YHWH, the word that is substituted in pronunciation is Adhonay or in our English Adonai. The OT has many names for GOD. His Personal Names are: 'Elohim, 'EL, 'Eloah, 'Adhon/'Adhonay, Yahweh, Tsur (Rock), Ka' dhosh, Shadday. Some of His other names are: 'Abhir, 'El 'Elohe-Yisra'el, 'Elyon, Gibbor, 'El ro'i, Tsaddiq, Qanna', Yahweh Tsebha'oth, & of course, "I AM THAT I AM" And pronouncing them is easier said than done! One must remember that it is a modern concept to have a "name" as part of one's identity. Biblically speaking, names were generally descriptive, such as Nathaniel - "gift of GOD", Samuel - "heard of GOD", Adonijah (older half-brother of Solomon) - "Yahwah is my LORD." A quick side-bar here is that it's sad that Adonijah didn't live according to his name. He would have lived longer! (1 Kings 1:4-6) We must also remember that over the centuries we have used many words as the Name of GOD. But in truth, even though He spoke to Moses as I AM THAT I AM, we have only been given a glimpse into His nature by the words that are written in the bible as His Name. He allowed us to see Him as Eternal, as He was the Beginning. And beginning that was, was Him. Jn 1:1 We call Him GOD, LORD, the Almighty, Alpha & Omega, the Beginning & the End, Creator, Savior, King Of Kings, LORD of Lords. But all of these give us only a reflection of Him, of His nature. Rev 19:11-13 are the most wonderful Scriptures & it says, "Now I saw heaven opened & behold a white horse. And He Who sat on him was called Faithful & True & in righteousness He judges & makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire & on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, & His Name is called The Word of GOD." I believe that all that we have as names of GOD are only for the moment. That one day, when we stand before Him, He will tell us His Name. For now, we are to by faith,believe in Him, trust Him, hold fast to Him, follow Him.
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