Keith Johnson earned his Masters of Divinity in 1991 and has been studying biblical Hebrew with Nehemia Gordon for the last eight years. As a result of his studies he has been given access to information that would normally be inaccessible to those of us who are interested in this topic of the Name of our heavenly Father. He is also willing to dialogue with those who have questions or comments via email firstname.lastname@example.org . The short article he is sharing with us comes from a in-depth study called His Hallowed Name Revealed Again and is available at www.biblicalfoundationsacademy.com
The Wrong Tool
I have been made aware of a teaching that is making the rounds that is disturbing. Even though it is really not worthy of serious linguistic consideration, I will address the somewhat popular “rumor” that the name יְהֺוָהYehovah is based on the Hebrew word “disaster”. The people that make this sensational and unfounded argument are using the wrong tool to dig for the truth. They usually will start by offering to give the “secret” to the meaning of the Hebrew name Yehovah or (Jehovah in anglicized English).
In order to convince the interested reader, they will pull out the ever-popular research tool called The Strong’s Concordance of the Bible. This is a wonderful tool that can help people see Hebrew words that are behind the English words in the KJV Bible. The Strong’s Concordance is fairly reliable in many of its lexicon definitions in light of the fact that it is relying on 19th century scholarship. One of the best ways to determine the true meaning of a word is to look up that word in a Hebrew or Greek Lexicon to see how it was translated in various places. Also, Hebrew has various verb forms, tenses and stems that can have different meanings. The Strong’s Lexicon doesn’t do much to address this important aspect of the Hebrew language. This is the main problem with the following argument. They are using a helpful tool but they create a harmful result. I do not want to diminish their desire for truth or degrade the debate, but the root of the argument is flawed.
The starting point is that the word הֹוׇה “hovah” means mischief, ruin or disaster. They will give the Strong’s number (H1943 or 01943) for support. They will then say the root of this Hebrew word is הַוׇּה “havah” which means evil desire, ruin or destruction. They will again give the Strong’s number (H1942 or 01942) as further evidence. Then they present their revelatory conclusion. Since הֹוׇה “hovah” sounds just like the last two syllables of Yehovah, the meaning of the name is the same as the word. Sometimes they get really sensational and conclude that since Satan is the one who is the author of mischief, ruin and disaster, he is behind the meaning of the name Yehovah. What they fail to do is look at all of the meanings for the root word .הוה If they checked this out they would see that there are six different possible meanings of these three letters depending on the vowel combination, as is the case with many Hebrew words.
For those who are interested, here are the different words that have the same three letter root word as .הוהThere is a verb which is found in various forms but that comes from this root which means to become. There is a feminine noun that can mean chasm, destruction, ruin, disaster or desire. As you can see, I could argue that the word desire uses the same three root letters as the word disaster. Suffice it to say, I could make a similar argument if I wanted to force the letters or sounds into my desired meaning.
The root word of the name יְהֺוָה is not הֹוׇה “hovah” but rather it is היה “hayah”. The word “hovah” הֹוׇה is a feminine noun. The word יְהֺוָה is a proper noun that comes from the masculine verb form היה “hayah”. In other words, the argument regarding הֹוׇה “hovah” sounds good but does not fit the grammatical evidence in the Hebrew text. Those who are making such claims need to add some good Hebrew grammar resources to their tool box. If you are interested in taking an in-depth look at the issue of the Name based on evidence found in Hebrew manuscripts, you can obtain the study, His Hallowed Name Revealed Again at www.biblicalfoundationsacademy.com