Tuesday, December 5, 2006

A bit on YHWH.

I received a random note from a fellow on YouTube today. I used to obsessively check YouTube and make videos once a week, but I've become lazy and uninterested. The note I received from the fellow had a video attached about the "Reason for the Season" and whether Jesus was it. Evidently he's an ex-Jehovah's Witness who still feels very strong about a lot of the precepts. He sent me another message about Jehovah and the message, etc. I started to wonder, where DID the word "Jehovah" come from and what precisely does it even mean? I sort of always understood it as another name for Jesus, maybe a bastardization of the word.

And then, out of the blue, there's my 10 Minutes of Torah e-mail with this note about YHWH or yud-hei-vav-hei:

"The G-d of Israel is forever unique, invisible and unknowable. We sometimes refer to G-d as HaShem, The Name. Of one thing we are certain: the Shem of HaShem is not 'Jehovah.' As Rabbi W. Gunther Plaut tells us in his commentary on B'reishit, a sixteenth-century Christian writer, unaware of Jewish custom, misunderstood the vowel signs under the four letter symbol of G-d's shem and trasliterated the Hebrew ... as 'Jehovah.' His error has been perpetuated ever since.

"Indeed, even if we wished to, we no longer know the pronunciation. The Shem was so holy that, in the days of the Temple, only the High Priest had the authority to voice it, and on only one day of the year, Yom Kippur. With the destruction of the Temple, the knowledge of the pronunciation disappeared."

I went to Wikipedia (the journalist's source of places to start when looking for legitimate sources) where I discovered that the evolution of the word went something like this ... Iehouah (1530 C.E.) to Iehovah (1611 C.E.) and finally, Jehovah (1769 C.E.). Evidently the pointing of the vowels created quite the uproar from the destruction of the Second Temple till, well, now. There's disagreements about what vowels were REALLY in YHWH in certain instances (as in, with certain prefixes like mem). Interesting. There's oodles of interesting stuff ... which I don't quite have the time to delve into right now. But feel free to share anything you know, mmk?

And that is your morsel of knowledge for the evening.