Five Reasons “Jehovah” is Correct | Franciscus Gomarus

Excerpted from an upcoming translation of Johannes Hornbeek’s “Institutes of Theology Harmonized from the Best Authors” (pp. 57-59) by Charles Johnson of Reformed Theology Delatinized.

Franciscus Gomarus (1563–1641) on the Pronunciation of the Divine Name (YHWH)

For, although God, on account of the infinite eminence of his nature, and the limited acumen of created intellect, cannot be comprehended, and therefore, is perfectly expressed neither by words nor by name, for which he was rightly called ‘nameless’ by the ancients (for, what is his name, if you know it? Prov. 30:4), nevertheless, some names of God are extant in Scripture (Exodus 3:14-15 & 6:3). By which names he has shadowed forth himself (in order that he might be known and worshipped unto salvation according to our measure) as by some harmonious analogy. (Gregory Nazian. Orat. 36, or 2, on the Son). 

The proper name of God, which befits him alone (Ps. 83:19), his ordinary and eternal name is יהוה (Yehova; Ex. 3:15, Ps. 135:13). Which is not only more ancient than the eheje [I AM] that precedes it, but also, by the distinction of the word from its verb, more ideal. It is derived either from היה (haya), by the changing of yod (י) into vav (ו) (Ibn Ezra on Ex. 15:2), or it is from הוה (hava) in the same sense. Which name God commended to the Israelites, not to be concealed, but to be remembered in a sanctified manner — whenever he even calls it His “Memorial” (Ex. 3:15; Hos. 12:5), blessing the people with it, thrice repeated (Num. 6:24-26), and commands the people to even swear by it in a holy way (Dt. 6:13, 10:20; Jos. 9:19).

Concerning the right pronunciation of which, seeing as the learned contend, so there is still a dispute on this point. For some affirm that Jehovah is the genuine pronunciation. Others, on the other hand, deny it, and contend that vowels which do not belong have been added to this name. And they support both with their arguments. We do not temerously esteem that, just as the second sentence is to be tolerated, so also the former sentence is still to be preferred. 

1. The first reason is that the vowels of the name Jehovah (יְהוָה), written with the consonants, are able to agree with them, (no less than those of Jehudah [יְהוּדָה] to his name). Neither is there any necessary, underlying reason why the vowels must be judged not to belong. Which fact, from an examination of the opposing sentence, is not obscurely known. [1]

2. The other is, because the first half of the name Jehovah; namely, יהו, is extant with entirely the same points in the words composed from it, and is without controversy read by all in the same way. Which sort of names, on this account, are called ἰαωφόρα, τετραγραμματοφόρα, (Yah-bearing, Tetragrammaton-bearing) by the most famous Drusius. Of which kind are Jehonathan (יְהוֹנָתָן), and with a contraction, Jonathan (יוֹנָתָן that is, θεόδωρος, God-given), and no few similar names. 

3. The third reason is, from the testimony of the LXX translators, who from the words of Jeremiah 23:6, “Jehovah our righteousness” (יהוה צדקנו), constructed the name, Ιωσεδὲκ [Josedec] from Jehovah and tsedek, righteousness, (ιω for Jeho, by contraction, fitting the useage of the Scripture and the genius of the Greek language). 

4. The fourth reason is, from the ancient custom of the Jews, who abstained from the pronunciation of the whole name, Jehovah, guided by some ancient religion. Yet they pronounced its very parts, which were present in the words composed from it, and it was freely put forth in them with a similar freedom in place of the whole Jehovah. That is, certainly, Iaho, and in Greek, ἰαὼ. (Diod. Biblioth. bk. 1; Theod. qu. 15 in Ex., & Therap. bk. 2). Changing sheva, not into an “e”, as is often done, but with a smoother sound into “à”. Just as the LXX proposed נבו, Nabo (Num. 32:38); שבא, and דדן, σαβὰ, δαδάν (Gen. 10:7); שמואל, σαμουῆλ (1 Sam. 1:20).

5. Finally, the fifth argument for the former sentence emerges from our retort of the object of this first reason. For if Jehovah (יְהוָה) were to have the points of the name Adonai (אֲדֹנָי), then from it, similarly, the first point would not be a simple sheva [e], but a sheva with patach [ă]: just as, when, certainly, the points of the name Elohim (אלהים), the first ones, are quite fittingly sheva with segol [ŏ].

[1] The Formula Consensus Helvetica (1675) affirms in canon I, that due to God’s “singular grace and goodness” the Church “has, and will have to the end of the world (2 Pet 1:19), a ‘sure word of prophecy’ and ‘Holy Scriptures’ (2 Tim 3:15), from which, though heaven and earth pass away, ‘the smallest letter or the least stroke of a pen will not disappear by any means’ (Matt 5:18).” Then the Formula applies this specifically to the extant Hebrew apographa (i.e. the Masoretic Text) in canon II:

“But, in particular, The Hebrew original of the OT which we have received and to this day do retain as handed down by the Hebrew Church, ‘who had been given the oracles of God‘ (Rom 3:2), is, not only in its consonants, but in its vowels—either the vowel points themselves, or at least the power of the points—not only in its matter, but in its words, inspired by God. It thus forms, together with the Original of the NT the sole and complete rule of our faith and practice; and to its standard, as to a Lydian stone, all extant versions, eastern or western, ought to be applied, and wherever they differ, be conformed.”

One thought on “Five Reasons “Jehovah” is Correct | Franciscus Gomarus

  1. Thanks for the article. Where on earth did Yahweh come from? I can’t find anything on when it came to be. Do you know about how it came about? Thanks! #haveahappythanksgiving


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