De Moor IV:6: Vriemoet's Mediating Position concerning the Pointing of יְהוָֹה/Jehovah

The Most Illustrious VRIEMOET, Adnotationibus ad Dicta classica Veteris Testamenti, part 1, chapter III, pages 140-143, takes a middle way here, and maintains that on the one hand the Name יְהוָֹה/Jehovah is indeed to be read according to the Letters; but on the other hand he believes that the Points of the Name אֲדֹנָי/Adonai were subjoined to it; nevertheless, they were not put in the place of the genuine points by human authority, but by divine authority through the Holy Writers themselves, from the first writing of the Codex. But with the leave of that Celebrated man I would say that the things that he sets forth on behalf of this opinion do not yet move me, that I might recede from the opinion of our AUTHOR.

א. The Points that are read under יְהוָֹה/Jehovah he attempts to prove not to be genuine, writing on page 140, “For, since, with the י/ Yod as a preformative marker of the future/imperfect, and again with the name אֶהְיֶה/Eheyeh,[1] being equivalent to it, urging, it properly belongs to those proper names that have the form of the third person, singular, masculine, future/imperfect, yet by its points it represents a far different form.”


Responses: 1. I acknowledge the great agreement of יְהוָֹה/Jehovah with אֶהְיֶה/Eheyeh with respect to sense, and more, if you wish, only not their equivalence. 2. I concede אֶהְיֶה/Eheyeh in the third person to be יִהְיֶה. 3. I deny that it follows thence that יְהוָֹה/Jehovah is without the genuine points. For, α. יְהוָֹה/Jehovah is not necessarily the third person of the future/imperfect, of which the first person is אֶהְיֶה/Eheyeh: if God were wanting to teach us that in Exodus 3:14, 15, why would He not likewise retain in the Name of the third person as of the first person the letter י in the middle? הָוָה and הָיָה are indeed of the same significance, and the letters אהוי are easily interchanged: yet that distinction of the letters is not without reason in these Names, Exodus 3:14, 15, with the expressions immediately succeeding one another: indeed, so much the less is this to be neglected, because concerning the analogy of the points of the Name יְהוָֹה/Jehovah a far lesser doubt is able to appear to be left, if ו is read in the midst of the word, than if י is read there. β. It is better to say that יְהוָֹה/Jehovah is a Name formed from the third person of the future/imperfect verb הָוָה, as the letter י, preformative of the third person, indicates, yet the points of which it does not necessarily preserve in all respects: but, that those points that are read under יְהוָֹה/Jehovah sufficiently agree with the genius of that tongue, we have already seen above. To this the name יְהוּדָה/Jehudah/Judah ought to be thoroughly compared, of which the Most Illustrious Vriemoet wisely did not make mention: no one doubts that to be formed from the third person, singular of the future/imperfect verb יָדָה in the third conjugation, in comparison with Genesis 29:35, Leah said אוֹדֶ֣ה אֶת־יְהוָ֔ה, I will praise the Lord; therefore she called his name יְהוּדָה/Judah. If one should speak this name with precision, he will praise, he will confess, it would be formed from אוֹדֶה in the third person of the future/imperfect hiphil, יוֹדֶה/Jodeh; or, if after the manner of the Chaldeans the characteristic of the preterite be retained, יְהוֹדֶה/Jehodeh, which occurs in Nehemiah 11:17.[2] Or, if you have recourse to the hophal passive conjugation, the third person singular of the future/imperfect would be יוּדֶה/Judeh, or with the characteristic of the preterite retained, יְהוּדֶה/Jehudeh; as this name signifies, He, whether the Lord or Judah, shall be praised, by comparison with Genesis 49:8.[3] However, this name is pointed differently, that is, יְהוּדָה/Judah, yet who therefore would say that this is done anomalously? and not rather that יְהוּדָה/Judah is a verbal noun, which perhaps denotes confessor, praiser, or one worthy of praise? Similarly יְהוָֹה/Jehovah will be a verbal noun formed from הָוָה, with a heemantic י added, characteristic of the third person singular of the future/imperfect; neither will it simply denote He will be, as it would indeed if יִהְוֶה or יִהְיֶה were read, but it will be able to describe him more extensively, who is, or possesses essence, in the most perfect manner.


ב. But, that the points of יְהוָֹה/Jehovah are borrowed from אֲדֹנָי/ Adonai, the Most Illustrious VRIEMOET thinks learned Men to have rightly gathered, α. From the pointing, with which prefixed letters מוכלב are consistently added to the Name יְהוָֹה/Jehovah: but to which argument we have already previously made satisfactory answer. It is not so strange, if in this most singular Name certain singular things also obtain, the reason of all which is not able to be explained with such ease. But it recedes much further from analogy, to substitute foreign points to the whole Name, as it is done when under יהוה are read the points of the Name אֲדֹנָי/Adonai. Neither are we much more moved by this argument, how the Most Illustrious Man himself professes himself to be moved by the בגדכפת letters after יהוה, having the Dagesh lene, page 143. β. From the tradition of the ancient Jews: but which here is no less able to deceive than in this, that they also maintain that אֲדֹנָי/Adonai is to be read in the place of יְהוָֹה/Jehovah; and also in this, that they assert that אֱלֹהִים/Elohim nowhere occurs in any other sense except Judges, which is also an ancient tradition of the Jews, which this Most Illustrious Man nevertheless rejects, pages 124, 125. Thus the Jews also maintain that the word צְבָאוֹת/Sabbaoth is a proper Name of God; but, that this opinion does not stand on a very firm foundation, we saw above in § 4. γ. From this, that the Alexandrian Translators and the Writers of the New Testament render this Name by Κύριος/Lord: to which argument we have already responded above.


At the same time, that Most Illustrious Man again learnedly ignores here, that יְהוָֹה/Jehovah does not have the points of the Name אֲדֹנָי/Adonai throughout; seeing that under the י a hateph-patach (ֲ) is not read, but rather a simple shewa (ְ), which is not to be lightly dismissed; so much the less, 1. since this reading is so consistent and invariable: 2. while, on the other hand, under יֱהוִֹה/Jehovih hateph-segol (ֱ) is always read, which is no more proper to a non-guttural letter than hateph-patach (ֲ). Therefore, if God wished the points of the Name אֲדֹנָי/Adonai to be place under the Name יְהוָֹה/Jehovah, why did He not take care that this be done in every respect, so that we might recognize it so much more easily? But if you should say that these things are trivialities, then I in the same manner shall declaim concerning the pointing of the prefixed מוכלב before יְהוָֹה/Jehovah.


ג. Moreover, with respect to the Author of the Points added to the Name יְהוָֹה/Jehovah, with which it is evidently marked today, into which that Most Illustrious Man then inquires,


α. We do not consider it to be necessary here to have recourse to the superstition of the Jews while the Second Temple was standing, since we acknowledge these points to be the genuine points of that Name.


β. But, as from the hypothesis of reading אֲדֹנָי/Adonai in the place of יְהוָֹה/Jehovah the Jews were able, as that Most Illustrious Man affirms, to inscribe a Dagesh lene in בגדכפת letters after יהוה; so with respect to the patach (ַ) of the servile letters prefixed to יהוה, unless a certain general anomaly be acknowledged, there does not appear to be anything hindering, why we may not admit from the same hypothesis of the reading of אֲדֹנָי/Adonai that a slight alteration of one vowel was made, with the sense remaining the same and all the letters preserved.


γ. The superstitious care of the Jews for the integrity of the Sacred Codex prevented even the slightest alteration in other things: but here the same superstition, namely, superstitious reverence for the Name יהוה was able to drive them to this slight alteration, not of the points of the Name יהוה itself, but of the letters מוכלב prefixed, so that the reading of אֲדֹנָי/Adonai might be so much the more established; if only, with letters of this sort prefixed, the points always be added so carefully at the beginning.


δ. But, just as against the alteration of the points of the Name יְהוָֹה/Jehovah the Celebrated Man also seeks an argument from the reading of יְהוֹ/Yeho in names compounded from יְהוָֹה/Jehovah; so by this same argument I would wish him to be lead to the acknowledgement of the genuineness of these points under these letters, in the recognition of which there is certainly nothing alien or anomalous.


ε. Finally, the twofold rationale, added by the Illustrious Man, page 141, why God would will the Sacred Writers to make use of this pointing under this Name, departing from the first origin of the Name according to the hypothesis proposed, avails little in our judgment.


1. Not the first reason, which is: So that this most sacred and, as it were, sacramental Name of God might not be made vile by excessively common use: since, a. now, on the other hand, that Name Name in its genuine pronunciation, according to the hypothesis proposed, remains altogether hidden from us. If you should say, that Name becomes sufficiently known to us by the letters, even if the points lie hidden: I reply, b. that Name is also able enough to be made vile through the abuse of these letters, even if they be drawn up with alien points; while all the sanctity does not cleave to the vowels, indeed, not the vowels, but the letters, constitute the more principal part of words, whereby they are chiefly distinguished from others, according to the Celebrated Man on page 142. c. Not by a reverent reading of this Name, although drawn up with the genuine points, as often as it occurs in the Sacred Books, is the same able to be made more vile, than the Most Holy Deity Himself represent to us by this, and by so many other Names additionally.


2. Nor the second reason, namely, Perhaps also, so that that theocracy might be tacitly indicated, which God willed to erect among the Israelites from this time, in which He might especially begint to show by the lessons of events the force and emphasis of this Name, as אֲדֹנָי/Adonai and at the same time יְהוָֹה/Jehovah. This is certain an ingenious conjecture indeed, but perhaps, if one might say, has more of shrewdness, than of solidity. a. If one would remove such mystery from the reading of the name יְהוָֹה/Jehovah, he would have to be duly persuaded concerning the placement of the points of the Name אֲדֹנָי/Adonai upon this other Name; neither would one easily fall into a meditation of this sort, if he was believing with us that the points of the Name יְהוָֹה/Jehovah are genuine. b. So that so great a mystery might more easily approve itself to the mind, it would be of no small advantage, if the points of the Name אֲדֹנָי/ Adonai were perfectly read under יְהוָֹה/Jehovah, and so the hateph-patach (ֲ) under the י in the place of the shewa (ְ). c. But not even in this way should any such thing even come into mind a little, unless it please God Himself to reveal it, which we do not read was done. d. It was not necessary that the genuine points of the proper Name of God be changed unto this end; but the same God, if He should wish, was able to teach the Israelites more clearly, through the Names יְהוָֹה/Jehovah and אֲדֹנָי/Adonai employed distinctly and and also conjoined in the same passages.

[1] Exodus 3:14, 15: “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AMאֶֽהְיֶ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר) אֶֽהְיֶ֑ה): and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM (אֶהְיֶה) hath sent me unto you. And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The Lord God (יְהוָ֞ה אֱלֹהֵ֣י) of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.”


[2] Nehemiah 11:17a: “And Mattaniah the son of Micha, the son of Zabdi, the son of Asaph, was the principal to begin the thanksgiving in prayer (הַתְּחִלָּה֙ יְהוֹדֶ֣ה לַתְּפִלָּ֔ה, the beginning gave thanks in prayer)…”


[3] Genesis 49:8: “Judah (יְהוּדָה), thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise (יוֹדוּךָ): thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies…”

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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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