De Moor IV:6: Defense of the Masoretic Pointing and Pronunciation of יְהוָֹה/Jehovah

D. Our AUTHOR thinks that there is scarcely sufficient reason why we should not admit the Points of the Name Jehovah as Genuine. Since


α. They are not inconsistent with these letters according to the genius of the Language. There is certain nothing more common than that an heemantic and preformative י/Yod taken from a future/imperfect verb might have a Shewa (ְ) under it; as you may see in יְחֶזְקֵאל/Ezekiel, יְחִזְקִיָּהוּ/Hezekiah, etc. Nothing is more common than that a ו/Waw might be pointed with a Holem (ׄ), as much as with a Shurek (וּ), which was less suitable here, where the ו/Waw is not quiescent, but passes as mobile on to the following syllable, as in הוָֹה/hovah,[1] which is from the same root, הָוָה or הָיָה, to be, with יְהוָֹה/Jehovah. Finally, nothing is less strange than that a final ה/He might have a Qametz (ָ) before it; which you may see, as in innumerable other masculine words, so also in the name יְהוּדָה/Jehudah/Judah, which in other aspects also is able to be compare with this and urged: with GATAKER noting in addition that names of the same termination, derived from those ending in ה/He, are rarely pointed at the end by a Holem (ׄ), but either by a Segol (ֶ) or a Qametz (ָ).


β. They do not at all agree with those letters of the word אֲדֹנָי/Adonai, while under the י/Yod in יְהוָֹה is a simple Shewa (ְ), not the composite hateph-patach (ֲ), agreeing more with the guttural א/Aleph: which sort does not obtain in יֱהוִֹה,[2] in which that is thought to receive its pointing from אֱלֹהִים/Elohim, when under the י/Yod is found a hateph-segol (ֱ); and that happens not rarely, but, as DRUSIUS noted out of Elias, two hundred and twenty-two times; or, as GOMARUS taught, in two hundred and seventy places. But if יְהוָֹה actually has the three points of the Name אֲדֹנָי/Adonai, it would not thence follow that for this reason the letters of the latter Name are to be substituted in the place of those four, יהוה; seeing that a great many words, altogether distinct with respect to letters, receive the same vowels points, yet for this reason those words are not to be confounded or exchanged according to our will, with the consonant letters completely disregarded, which more principally constitute and distinguish those words.


γ. Those points are received in the compounds יְהוֹנָתָן/ Jehonathan, יְהוֹיָדָע/Jehoiada, יְהוֹשָׁפָט/Jehoshaphat, etc., that some Jews incorrectly deny to proceed from the Tetragrammaton, namely, under that pretext, which BUXTORF, Dissertatione de Nominibus Dei Hebraicis, § 24, adduced out of Ibn Ezra on Joel 3, that it is not appropriate that the glorious Divine Name enter a human name by composition. Of course, in compound human names, the first and last part of the Name יְהוָֹה/ Jehovah is pointed differently, when it is annexed to the end of words, thus to coalesce more suitably with them, and to end them appropriately; for then it is wont to be read יָהוּ/yahu: but at the beginning, where the same reason for that change is not found, but it is able best to retain its own proper Points with which it begins, it is absolutely pointed by ְ and וֹ, and so is read by all as יְהוֹ/Yeho. Which ought to furnish for all free of prejudice the greatest argument for the same pointing of the simple Name יהוה.


δ. Neither is the Irregularity of the Pointing to be objected, which obtains in the Name יְהוָֹה/Jehovah, if it might be said that it enjoys its own proper Points, and that it is to be read according to the Letters. For example,


a. Of servile Letters Prefixed by Patach (ַ). That is, the letters מ/from, ו/and, כ/like/as, ל/to/for, ב/in, before the Name יְהוָֹה/Jehovah ought to have a Hirek (ִ), according to rule; If two Shewas concur at the beginning, the first is changed into a Hirek (ִ), and the second, if it be under a י/Yod, is removed. But now they are pointed before יהוה according to the form of the pointing of אֲדֹנָי/Adonai; whence also they maintain that the Name itself is to be read using אֲדֹנָי/Adonai, which AMAMA urges at length. Instead of בִּיהוָֹה and לִיהוָֹה, is found בַּיהוָֹה and לַיהוָֹה, as א in אֲדֹנָי/Adonai after ו/and, כ/like/as, ל/to/for, ב/ in, is wont to quiesce unto the Patach (ַ) of the preceding servile letter. Thus a prefixed מ/from has a Tzere (ֵ) in the place of the Hirek (ִ), as it is wont before אֲדֹנָי/Adonai, מֵיְהוָֹה instead of מִיְהוָֹה.

Responses: 1. A general Anomaly is able to be admitted here, which sort also is in בֵּאלֺהִים, in Elohim, which by blending is wont to be read instead of בֶּֽאֶלֺהִים; and which keeps this Name no more from Reading than from Writing, and which is quite common beyond the Tetragrammaton Name itself. 2. One may acknowledge with GOMARUS that this irregular pointing was introduced by the superstition of the Masoretes, so that they might establish the reading of אֲדֹנָי/Adonai in the place of יְהוָֹה/Jehovah, yet with the points of יְהוָֹה/ Jehovah retained in the rest of the word, because these were also agreeing with אֲדֹנָי/Adonai: while, nevertheless, the Masoretes passed by Deuteronomy 32:6, where it is הַלְיהוָֹה or הַליְהוָֹה.[3] 3. But also otherwise, the Most Illustrious LEUSDEN says, Philologo Hebræo, Dissertation XXIX, § 3, with two Shewas concurring at the beginning, the first is not always changed into a Hirek (ִ), but also quite frequently into a Patach (ַ), as in נַפְשׁוֹ, his soul: and why, asks he, could not this pointing also have a place in the name יהוה?


b. A similar Irregularity is here observed of Dageshed Letters following. That is, it is noted that the Letters בגדכפת, following immediately after the Name יהוה, have within them the Dagesh lene; which, as it does not agree with a quiescent ה/He as a Terminal letter, after which those letters when initial ought to be marked with a Raphe,[4] unless a distinguishing Accent or King[5] comes between, so doubtlessly leads us to the reading word ending not in a quiescent, but in a mobile letter, as are אֲדֹנָי/Adonai and אֱלֹהִים/Elohim.


Responses: 1. In these pointings also, not having regard to the Name יהוה, is able to be admitted some Anomaly from the common Rule concerning the writing of the Dagesh lene in the letters בגדכפת at the beginning of words, if the preceding word does not end in a quiescent letter or long vowel. Just as all Rules, so especially this one concerning marking the letters בגדכפת with a Dagesh lene, have their frequent Exceptions, which one may see in BUXTORF’S Thesauro Grammatico, book I, chapter V, pages 48-50, and indeed the Exceptions are eight in number; among which, 2. is also this Exception, When a word, ending with a quiescent letter, has a King Accent attached: and so wherever יְהוָֹה/Jehovah is marked with a King Accent, necessary for the following letter, if it be of בגדכפת, a Dagesh lene ought to be inscribed: neither in this case does יְהוָֹה/Jehovah recede from that which in other similar words, marked with a King Accent, is wont to obtain. 3. בָם, among them, is also found without the Dagesh lene after אֲדֹנָי/Adonai, Psalm 68:17.[6] 4. In addition, the Learned again acknowledge here the superstitious industry of the Masoretes, whereby they have even wished thus to come against the native reading of יהוה.


c. Neither is a lesser Irregularity observed in the Pointing of this Name, when conjoined with אֲדֹנָי/Adonai is found יֱהוִֹה/Jehovih, which are thought to be the Points of אֱלֹהִים/Elohim, applied to the Name יהוה in the place of the points of אֲדֹנָי/Adonai, lest אֲדֹנָי/Adonai be read twice. But learned men observe, 1. There is nothing preventing the pointing of one and the same word in two ways, so that one pointing is more common, the other less. 2. ֱ, וֹ, and ִ, are indeed the points of the Name אֱלֹהִים/Elohim, but not of אֱלֹהִים/Elohim alone. 3. There are frequent anomalies everywhere and especially in proper Names, the true reasons of which are also unknown. 4. Even if this pointing be foreign, so that Jehovih be not quite correctly read, not even so do they believe it to be directed against the common pointing and reading of יְהוָֹה/Jehovah, as if this latter were likewise foreign and hence to be disapproved, although this latter is not pressed with the same difficulties, and is a thousand times more common. 5. It is nothing but mere conjecture that that reading, יֱהוִֹה/Jehovih, less common and regular, occurs so that אֲדֹנָי/Adonai might not be read twice; in which, as there is nothing discordant, so also that is necessary and is done in accordance with the Jews, where יְהוָֹה/Jehovah is twice, in Exodus 34:6,[7] while the distinction of יְהוָֹה/Jehovah and אֲדֹנָי/Adonai through diversity of sound is no more able to be judged to be necessary in one and the same place than in diverse places. 6. Here, GOMARUS also simply acknowledges the superstition of the Masoretes, who, when the Name יְהוָֹה/Jehovah occurs conjoined with אֲדֹנָי/Adonai, lest אֲדֹנָי/Adonai be said twice, substituted the points of the Name אֱלֹהִים/Elohim, so that they might established by a fixed law, as it were, a vicarious and customary, customary by more recent practice, reading.


The Seventy are able to be said to have translated יְהוָֹה/Jehovah by Κύριος/Lord, not therefore because the were reading אֲדֹנָי/Adonai in the place of יְהוָֹה/Jehovah; but because they were without a Greek work by which they might be able properly and fully to express the force and emphasis of the Name יְהוָֹה/Jehovah, as was said on § 3. While they also sometimes rendered יְהוָֹה/Jehovah by Θεὸς/God, as in Genesis 15:6;[8] 18:1;[9] likewise יֱהוִֹה/Jehovih by Κύριος/Lord, not by Θεὸς/God.[10] Moreover, there are those today that read יְהוָֹה/Jehovah in accordance with the letters, not as אֲדֹנָי/Adonai, and yet translate that as Lord, Heere. This decree of Session XII of the National Synod of Dordrecht concerning the best translation of the Name יְהוָֹה/Jehovah is on record: “The second question was, How is the Name יְהוָֹה/Jehovah in the Old Testament to be translated? Is it to be retained in the Dutch, or is it to be expressed through the word Heere, as hitherto, or something similar? It was the considered decision that, since another suitable and common Dutch word is not extant, whereby the force of that Name might be expressed, the Translators translate the word יְהוָֹה/Jehovah by the word Heere, and that this word be expressed in capital letters in the text. But wherever the word יְהוָֹה/Jehovah appears to have peculiar emphasis, there an asterisk is to be placed, and the word Jehovah is to be added in the margin. The Translators are also to be advised that, where this word has the points of the word אֱלֹהִים/Elohim, they consider in those passages whether it be not able to be translated more suitably by the word Godt/ God then by the word Heere/Lord.” Yet this did not seem so to the Translators, who also in passages where יֱהוִֹה/Jehovah has under it the points of the Name אֱלֹהִים/Elohim render it in Dutch by the word HEERE, written in capital letters.


Moreover, it is vain to flee for refuge to the Termination in ה/He with a Qametz (ָ) preceding, as if this implied the feminine gender. For, 1. AMAMA himself, who in his Antibarbaro Biblico vigorously argues for the reading Adonai, expressly states on page 324, “No Rule of the Grammarians is against the reading of Jehovah. Neither is it unusual for a proper name of the masculine gender to end in ָה. For, behold, an example in יְהוּדָה/Jehudah/Judah.” 2. The same also obtains in other Languages; just as, for example, in the Latin Tongue many names with the feminine Termination are found that are bestowed upon Men, which on that account are also of the masculine gender, as Catilina/Catiline,[11] Jugurtha,[12] Scævola,[13] Spinoza. 3. But if it appears absurd and disgraceful to God to pronounce God’s proper Name under the form of feminine nouns: why does it not appear likewise absurd to write this Name under a feminine Termination, which nevertheless is done in the Sacred Books. But, if this latter be not absurd, the former ought not to be reckoned such.

[1] See Ezekiel 7:26: “Mischief shall come upon mischief (הֹוָ֤ה עַל־הֹוָה֙), and rumour shall be upon rumour; then shall they seek a vision of the prophet; but the law shall perish from the priest, and counsel from the ancients.”


[2] See, for example, Genesis 15:2: “And Abram said, Lord God (אֲדֹנָ֤י יֱהוִה֙), what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?”


[3] Deuteronomy 32:6a: “Do ye thus requite the Lord (הֲ־לַיְהוָה֙ תִּגְמְלוּ־זֹ֔את), O foolish people and unwise?...”


[4] Sometimes, when a letter is expected to receive a Dagesh, but does not, the letter will be marked with a Raphe (ٙ).


[5] The strongest accents, the Soph Pasuq/Silluq (ֽ׃), are sometimes called “Emperors”. Slightly beneath them in strength are the “Kings”, Segolta (֒), Shalshelet (֓), Zaqeph parvum (֔), Zaqeph magnum (֕), and Tipha (֖). There are also other, weaker disjunctive accents known as “Dukes” and “Counts”.


[6] Psalm 68:17: “The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them (אֲדֹנָ֥י בָ֜֗ם), as in Sinai, in the holy place.”


[7] Exodus 34:6: “And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God (יְהוָ֣ה׀ יְהוָ֔ה אֵ֥ל), merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth…”


[8] Genesis 15:6: “And he believed in the Lord (בַּיהוָה; τῷ θεῷ, in the Septuagint); and he counted it to him for righteousness.”


[9] Genesis 18:1a: “And the Lord (יְהוָה; ὁ θεὸς, in the Septuagint) appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre…”


[10] See, for example, Judges 6:22: “And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the Lord, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord God (אֲדֹנָ֣י יְהוִ֔ה; κύριέ μου κύριε, in the Septuagint)! for because I have seen an angel of the Lord face to face.”


[11] Lucius Sergius Catilina (108-62 BC) was a Roman Senator, involved in a plot to overthrow the Roman Republic.


[12] Jugurtha (c. 160-104 BC) was a Numidian King.


[13] A Latin cognomen, held by several famous men in Roman history.

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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