De Moor IV:8: Gentile Misuse of the Divine Name

The name of JOVE appears to have flown from thence among the Gentiles by a stratagem of the Devil, by which he transferred, as other Hebrew Names of God, so also this one, to the Gentiles. VOSSIUS derives the name of Jove from ζεῦς/Zeus, by division, addition, and mutation. Many others, with Aulus Gellius in Noctibus Atticis,[1] book V, chapter XII, maintain that Jove was so called from juvando/helping, so that he might be Jupiter or Juvans Patrem, the one helping the Father, κατ᾽ ἀντίφρασιν, by antiphrasis;[2] Juvans Patrem, helping Father, which is commended out of CICERO himself, book II de Natura Deorum, chapter XXV, But Jupiter himself, that is, juvan pater, helping father, whom, with the cases changed, we call Jove from juvando/helping, etc. Now, this origination appears to have arisen from ignorance of the true foreign origin, and of any apt signification. At least, neither etymology appears to be preferable to the derivation of the name Jove from יְהוָֹה/Jehovah, which GATAKER observes to be urged by many, and which FULLER painstakingly defends; while FULLER out of PRISCIAN,[3] and SELDEN[4] in de Diis Syriis out of ENNIUS,[5] VARRO,[6] HYGINUS,[7] and AUGUSTINE, together note that Jovis was also nominative among the ancients. Now, FULLER maintains that Jupiter was formed from the name Jovis, with an epithet of the most ancient and consummately natural Principate adjoined, father, hence Jovispiter, whence finally, with the syllable -is- removed, Joupiter, or Jupiter. Neither with this Etymology of the name Jove is incompatible, either, 1. the elided ה/He in the name Jovis, which is also quite common among the Hebrews in words compounded thence. 2. Or the u read in the place of the o in Jupiter; which in derivatives is otherwise, while these vowels are sufficiently close and interchangeable; moreover, from the conjunction of Holem (ׁ) with Waw (ו) in יְהוָֹה/Jehovah that less certain sound was able to have arisen. 3. The termination of Jovis in -is, rather than in -a or -as; which FULLER derives from the other reading of יֱהוִֹה/Jehovih, but which is also able to be attributed to a sufficiently familiar custom of the Latins. 4. What would appear less likely, that God willed to loosen the reins of Satan to such an extent that that apostate might usurp to himself that Most Holy Name, which alone in Sacred Scripture is proper to God. But GATAKER refutes this at length, both by all the divine honor that God has allowed to be usurped by Satan; and by the other proper Names of God, which were likewise transferred to false Gods; and by יְהוָֹה/Jehovah itself, in another pronunciation ἰάω/Iao, etc., applied to the false Gods of the Gentiles: see our AUTHOR’S Exercitationes Textuales X, Part V, Textual Exercise § 14, pages 285-287.


But if Jovis be derived from יְהוָֹה/Jehovah, thence also a not improbable argument also arises for the ancient reading and pronunciation of this Name according to the Letters, and for the genuineness of today’s Points subscripted to this Name: see our AUTHOR’S Exercitationes Textuales X, Part V, Textual Exercise § 14, pages 285, 287, 288.

[1] Aulus Gellius (c. 125-c. 180) wrote Attic Nights, a collection of diverse notes on grammar, philosophy, history, etc., in twenty books. This work finds its principal value in their preservation of quotations of earlier writers, which sayings would be otherwise lost.


[2] That is, words used in a manner opposite to their literal signification.


[3] Priscianus Cæsariensis (late fifth, early sixth century) wrote a Latin grammar, Institutiones Grammaticas. Priscianus’ illustrations of grammatical principles preserve portions of works which are otherwise lost.


[4] John Selden (1584-1654) was one of the most learned men of his age. His mastery of Rabbinic literature was profound. He sat as a lay member of the Westminster Assembly and was perhaps the Assembly’s most powerful proponent of Erastianism.


[5] Ennius (237-167 BC) was a Roman heroic poet, perhaps the first. His work survives only in fragments.


[6] Marcus Terentius Varro, or Varro Reatinus (116-27 BC), was a Roman statesman and scholar, called “the most learned of the Romans.”


[7] Gaius Julius Hyginus (c. 64 BC-17 AD) served Augustus as the curator of the Palatine library.

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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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