Was God’s Name Forbidden To Be Spoken?
Was God’s Name Forbidden To Be Spoken?
This is an important matter for two reasons; How can we witness to others about God, and how can you pray to a god, of whom you don’t know?
The Name Satan Doesn’t Want You To Know, To Speak or Tell Others
Why is Satan so happy today? He knows that you can’t spread God’s name [Yahweh] if you don’t know God’s name. The saying “You can’t share what you never had” is true. Satan doesn’t want you to be able to inform others!
The idea of not speaking God’s Name is rooted in superstition.
When, or why, the Jews began to avoid speaking the divine name of God is uncertain, but to imply that the prophets, the apostles or Jesus (Yahshua) stopped using God’s name, YHWH (Yahweh), contradicts the Scriptures.
This Jewish practice does not come from the commandment, not to take the Lord’s Name in vain (Deut 5:11), as many suppose, although it is arguably the most frequently used justification. In Jewish thought, that commandment refers solely to oath-taking and is a prohibition against swearing by God’s Name falsely or frivolously (Lev 19:12, 20:3).
What I can tell you is that this particular Jewish custom, of not speaking God’s name, is not something that was instituted by God, it is a man-made practice. This Jewish practice never occurred during the historical time of the original writings of the Old Testament.
The Old Testament
Many common Hebrew names contain “Yah” which is part of God’s four-letter Name.
The prophets were never given instructions from God, nor did they command others, that God’s name was not to be spoken or written! Although Moses and the prophets had warned Israel not to profane the name of God (Lev 18:21, 21:6, the context was always regarding how they behaved, especially regarding idolatry. They profaned Yahweh’s name because God was associated with Israel, and they were so sinful.
It is evident from the scriptures that God’s Name was pronounced routinely. It is used over 6,800 times in the Holy Scriptures but, in many English-speaking translations of the Scriptures, the translators used the word “LORD” (H3068) in the place of God’s personal name [YHWH (H3068) ].
The Name of God Is Given
God’s name was confirmed when God spoke to the prophet Moses. When the prophet Moses was preparing to go in before Pharaoh to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, God spoke to Moses.
(Exodus 3:15 KJV)
15 And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD (H3068) God 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.
(Exodus 3:15 HCSB)
15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the Israelites: Yahweh (H3068), the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever; this is how I am to be remembered in every generation.
God ends this conversation, (similarly in all translated Bible versions), by concluding;
“THIS is MY NAME forever, and this is how I am to be remembered in every generation.
God’s Name Is Spoken From Genesis through Malachi
The verses below show various individuals speaking the name of God (KJV = “LORD” (H3068) = YHWH – Yahweh):
1). Gen 4:1 HCSB (Eve)
2). Gen 5:29 HCSB (Lamech, father of Noah)
3). Gen 9:26 HCSB (Noah)
4). Gen 10:9 HCSB (Parable)
5). Gen 13:4 HCSB (Abram)
6). Gen 16:2 HCSB (Sarai)
7). Gen 18:14 HCSB (Angel)
8). Gen 19:14 HCSB (Lot)
9). Gen 21:33 HCSB (Abraham)
10). Gen 24:12 HCSB (Eliezer)
11). Gen 24:50 HCSB (Laban and Bethuel)
12). Gen 26:22 HCSB (Isaac)
13). Gen 28:16 HCSB (Jacob)
14). Gen 29:32 HCSB (Leah)
15). Gen 30:24 HCSB (Rachel)
Below is a small reflection of various other Old Testament passages, from Genesis through Malachi (the beginning and last books of the Old Testament), and the usage of God’s name [Yahweh] being spoken.
Gen 4:1 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.
2Sa 24:10 And David’s heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the LORD, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.
Nehemiah’s prayer was similar. He said in Chapter 1 – “I beseech You, O LORD [Yahweh] God of heaven, the great and awesome God….” Neh 1:5 (NASB)
Nehemiah 9:5-7 (NASB) “… said, Arise, bless the LORD [Yahweh] your God forever and ever: O may Your glorious name be blessed And exalted above all blessing and praise! You alone are the LORD [Yahweh]. You have made the heavens, the heaven of heavens with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to all of them and the heavenly host bows down before You. You are the LORD [Yahweh], God….”
Jer 38:20 But Jeremiah said, They shall not deliver thee. Obey, I beseech thee, the voice of the LORD, which I speak unto thee: so it shall be well unto thee, and thy soul shall live.
Mal 1:1 The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi.
Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament. In this small book of only four chapters, the name “Yahweh” appears over 40 times. The name of God was never lost to the prophets who wrote the Hebrew Scriptures.
The New Testament
Jesus never hesitated to speak God’s name and taught the disciples to reverence His name.
When Jesus read the Scriptures in the Temple and synagogues he did so from Hebrew manuscripts, not the Septuagint.
The Greek language was the language of the Gentiles and not the Jews. We have no biblical reason to think Jesus read the Septuagint or that he even knew the Greek language.
The Hebrew manuscripts, even to this day, have the Hebrew word (הוהי) which is transliterated as YHWH and pronounced Yahweh. Most English Bible translators decided to follow the Jewish tradition and not use God’s proper name. They replaced it with the word “LORD.” For some reason, those who translated the New Testament Scriptures into English decided to copy from the Septuagint rather than the Hebrew manuscripts and thereby eliminated God’s name, “Yahweh.”
When Jesus read the Hebrew Scriptures, he did not read the Greek word Kurios or the English word “LORD;” rather, he read what was written which is YHWH, Yahweh. We have no biblical or historical reason to believe that in the times of Jesus, the Septuagint would ever have been read in the temple or synagogues that were in Israel. The Jews would have taken issue with the holy writings being in any language other than their own. They resented and resisted the Gentile influences in the Palestine area.
Jesus explained God, according to John 1:18 (NASB) – “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” And before his suffering and death, Jesus prayed to His Father and said, “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world.” Hebrews 2:12 (NASB) states: “I [Jesus] will proclaim your name to my brethren, in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.” How could Jesus make known God’s name if he was afraid to say it?
On two separate occasions, Jesus also taught his disciples how to pray. He said when you pray say, “Hallowed be Your name” (Luke 11:2 NASB). Jesus never considered that there would be a time when his disciples would not know the name of God as it is today. He never said, “Don’t speak God’s name” or “Never write God’s name.”
To keep God’s name “hallowed” means to keep it holy, consecrated, and revered, not keep it a secret.
Writing the Name of God
Judaism does not prohibit writing the Name of God per se; it prohibits only erasing or defacing the name of God. Observant Jews, however, avoid writing the name of God casually because of the risk that the written Name might later be defaced, obliterated or destroyed accidentally or by one who does not know better.
The commandment not to erase or deface the name of God comes from [Deut. 12]. In the third passage, the people are commanded that when they take over the promised land, they should destroy all things related to the idolatrous religions of that region, and should utterly destroy the names of the local deities [Deut. 12:3 (NASB)]. Immediately afterward, they are commanded NOT to do the same to our God [Deut. 12:4 (NASB)]. From this, the rabbis inferred that they are commanded not to destroy any holy thing, and not to erase or deface the Name of God.
It is worth noting that this prohibition against erasing or defacing Names of God applies only to Names that are written in some kind of permanent form, and recent rabbinical decisions have held that writing on a computer is not a permanent form, thus it is not a violation to type God’s Name into a computer and then backspace over it or cut and paste it, or copy and delete files with God’s Name in them. However, once you print the document out, it becomes a permanent form. That is why observant Jews avoid writing the Name of God on websites like this one: because there is a risk that someone else will print it out and deface it.
The Jewish people try to avoid both speaking and writing the Name of God (including His titles) by substituting letters or syllables, for example, writing “G-d” instead of “God.”
Understandably, Satan doesn’t want anyone to know who God is, and when we knowingly misrepresent God’s true name, as if it belonged to someone else (Jesus), we are breaking 2 commandments of God. The Jewish practice may be well intended but has the potential of playing into the hand of Satan and his intent to deceive. There are two reasons why.
1). We are not to bear false witness.
Bearing false witness against anyone, or against God, is a sin. When a person says “LORD,” when the transliteration of the text is YHWH or when the translation of the text (YHWH) is Yahweh or Jehovah, they are being dishonest with the text. To indicate to people that the word “Lord” (which is a title, not a name, and does not translate into YHWH) is the name of God to be honored, we are knowingly misrepresenting the text and are found to be liars. If your name is Bill and I tell someone else that your name is James, I am bearing false witness.
We are “bearing false witness” against God when we credit Jesus for the words spoken, and the many events God (YHWH) himself performed, in the Old Testament scriptures.
Note: Capitalizing the word “lord” (LORD) is also very misleading because it does not give any more meaning to the title than ruler or owner. This is important to understand, especially when we are asked the name of God.
2). We are not to add or take away from the Word of God.
Those who say “LORD” instead of “YHWH” (or Yahweh) are doing both of these evils. By not saying “YAHWEH” (or the original transliteration YHWH), they take away from it, and by saying “LORD” (which does not have the SAME meaning ) they add to it.
We must decide how we draw our conclusions about what we believe. We can be influenced by tradition or by what is written!
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