The Names of God: YAHWEH and JEHOVAH

Written by: Richard Krejcir
Featured image for “The Names of God: YAHWEH and JEHOVAH”

“These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.” (Genesis 2:4)

“Then Moses said to God, ‘If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?’ God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am.’ And he said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’ God also said to Moses, ‘Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.’” (Exodus 3:13-15)

When you call out to God, what do you mean? Who is God? How do we know how to address him?

We can learn who God is through his names and titles. Through this blog-series, we will get to know God through these Biblical names for him. We all know that names are important. Our personal name conveys our identity, who we are, how we perceive ourselves, and how we relate to others.

The first name to study is YAHWEH. This is the quintessential name of God in the Old Testament and for the Jewish nation. It is usually translated as “LORD” (all capital letters) in our English Bibles. YAHWEH essentially means God is, or the Great I AM!

The name YAHWEH has been the central name of God in the minds of Jews and then Christians for the past four millenniums. 

YAHWEH is the covenant name of God. This name tells us that he is not a god, or even God; rather the LORD GOD, as revealed to Moses through the burning bush (Exodus 3). This name asserts his power over all the earth and his sovereignty in any situation. This is the name for us to lean on when we doubt or wonder if our circumstances are too difficult to handle. Nothing is to big for YAHWEH, he is Lord of all!

JEHOVAH also refers to Yahweh. Interestingly, the name ‘Jehovah’ is not actually in the Hebrew Bible. It is a combination of the consonants of YAHWEH and the vowels of Adonai, and in English, it becomes Jehovah.

Why this change to God’s name? The ancient Hebrew language used no vowels in written form. They either were lost, never existed or simply were saving space on rare and expensive papyrus and tablets. Oral traditions passed down vowel sounds through the centuries, and some believe that the ‘J’ sound might have been the secret pronunciation of YAHWEH. Jehovah is usually attached to another word to describe a characteristic of God. This helps us to know more about him, so let’s look at some of these:

JEHOVAH ELOHIM means “LORD God” and is a very powerful revelation of who God is as the ‘Strongest One’, the Mighty One, who is all-powerful. He has all of the resources and control of the universe to meet all of our needs. Jehovah Elohim deserves our trust. (Judges 5:3, Zephaniah 2:9, Psalm 59:5)

JEHOVAH-M’KADDESH means “The Lord Who Sanctifies” or “God my Sanctifier”. The Lord declared he would be the Sanctifier of Israel, if they would obey him. He sets us apart and cleanses us. Jehovah M’Kaddesh is reliable. (Exodus 31:13; Leviticus 20:8).

JEHOVAH-ROHI means “The Lord Our Shepherd” In Psalm 23, David stated, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want”. This name tells us of the close intimacy we can have with God, his pure, trustworthy leadership. Once we know our Lord as Shepherd, Jehovah-Rohi, we will see the promises of Psalm 23 become a reality in our daily walk with him.

These special names for God draw us into his presence and allow us to know him in a more intimate way.

Through his names and what he reveals to us through Scripture, God provides an intimate relationship for us as his children, the followers of the one true God, the great I AM. Through Christ, we can commune with YAHWEH, God the Father. What an incredible gift to us!

How does knowing these ancient names help you to see God differently? Which name and characteristic is most important to you today?

Check out an earlier post by Dr. Richard Krejcir here.