Ark of the Covenant - Bible History Online
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Naves Topical Bible Dictionary

jehovah Summary and Overview

Bible Dictionaries at a GlanceBible Dictionaries at a Glance

jehovah in Easton's Bible Dictionary

the special and significant name (not merely an appellative title such as Lord [adonai]) by which God revealed himself to the ancient Hebrews (Ex. 6:2, 3). This name, the Tetragrammaton of the Greeks, was held by the later Jews to be so sacred that it was never pronounced except by the high priest on the great Day of Atonement, when he entered into the most holy place. Whenever this name occurred in the sacred books they pronounced it, as they still do, "Adonai" (i.e., Lord), thus using another word in its stead. The Massorets gave to it the vowel-points appropriate to this word. This Jewish practice was founded on a false interpretation of Lev. 24:16. The meaning of the word appears from Ex. 3:14 to be "the unchanging, eternal, self-existent God," the "I am that I am," a convenant-keeping God. (Compare Mal. 3:6; Hos. 12:5; Rev. 1:4, 8.) The Hebrew name "Jehovah" is generally translated in the Authorized Version (and the Revised Version has not departed from this rule) by the word LORD printed in small capitals, to distinguish it from the rendering of the Hebrew "Adonai" and the Greek "Kurios", which are also rendered Lord, but printed in the usual type. The Hebrew word is translated "Jehovah" only in Ex. 6:3; Ps. 83:18; Isa. 12:2; 26:4, and in the compound names mentioned below. It is worthy of notice that this name is never used in the LXX., the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Apocrypha, or in the New Testament. It is found, however, on the "Moabite stone" (q.v.), and consequently it must have been in the days of Mesba so commonly pronounced by the Hebrews as to be familiar to their heathen neighbours.

jehovah in Smith's Bible Dictionary

(I am; the eternal living one). The Scripture appellation of the supreme Being, usually interpreted as signifying self-derived and permanent existence. The Jews scrupulously avoided every mention of this name of God, substituting in its stead one or other of the words with whose proper vowel-points it may happen to be written. This custom, which had its origin in reverence, was founded upon an erroneous rendering of #Le 24:16| from which it was inferred that the mere utterance of the name constituted a capital offence. According to Jewish tradition, it was pronounced but once a year, by the high priest on the day of atonement when he entered the holy of holies; but on this point there is some doubt. When Moses received his commission to be the deliverer of Israel, the Almighty, who appeared in the burning bush, communicated to him the name which he should give as the credentials of his mission: "And God said unto Moses, "I AM THAT I AM (ehyea asher ehyeh); and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you." That this passage is intended to indicate the etymology of Jehovah, as understood by the Hebrews, no one has ventured to doubt. While Elohim exhibits God displayed in his power as the creator and governor of the physical universe, the name Jehovah designates his nature as he stands in relation to man, as the only almighty, true, personal, holy Being, a spirit and "the father of spirits," #Nu 16:22| comp. John 4:24 who revealed himself to his people, made a covenant with them, and became their lawgiver, and to whom all honor and worship are due.

jehovah in Schaff's Bible Dictionary

JEHO'VAH (he will be), a title of the supreme Being, indicative of the attribute of eternal and immutable self-existence. Ex 6:3. It is similar in import to the title I am. Ex 3:14. In the English Bible it is usually translated "Lord" and printed in small capitals. It occurs first in the second chapter of Genesis. As distinct from Elohim, it signifies the God of revelation and redemption, the God of the Jews, while Elohim is the God of nature, the Creator and Preserver of all men. See Jah, God.

jehovah in Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Jahaveh or Yahaveh is probahly the correct form (the vowel pointing in Jehovah is derived from A-d-o-n-ay) from the substantive verb haawah (found only six times in the Bible; obsolete in Moses' time; retained in Chaldee and Syriac from a time anterior to the division of the Semitic languages), for the more modern haayah , to be; a proof of the great antiquity of the name: "I A M T HAT I A M " is the key of the name (Exodus 3:14), expressing unchanging Being. The name was old and known long before; it appears compounded in Jo-chebed and Mor-iah, and simply in Genesis 2 and afterward. But its significance in relation to God's people was new, and now first becoming experimentally known. (See GENESIS , see GOD , see EXODUS ) Exodus 6:2,3: "I am J EHOVAH , and I appeared unto Abraham,... by the name of God Almighty (El-Shaddai), but by My name J EHOVAH was I not known": its full and precious import is only now about to be revealed. To the patriarchs He was known, when giving the promises, as GOD, Almighty to fulfill them (Genesis 17:1); to Moses as Jehovah unchangeably faithful (Malachi 3:6) in keeping them; compare Hebrews 13:8, which identifies Jesus with Jehovah. Elohim can do all that He wills; Yahweh will do all that He has promised. Elohim (the plural expressing the fullness of God's powers) is appropriate to creation (Genesis 1-2:3); J EHOVAH E LOHIM to paradise and to the covenant of grace at the fall; the combination identifies the Jehovah of the moral government with the Elohim of creation. If J EHOVAH had been a name of more recent introduction, the whole nation would never have accepted it with such universal reverence. Elohim appears in the trial of Abraham's faith (Genesis 22); Jehovah, in its triumph. The last 19 chapters of Genesis, from Jacob's meeting the angels and Esau, have Elohim alone (except in the history of Judah and Pharez, Genesis 38; and Joseph's first entrance into Egypt, Genesis 39; and Jacob's dying exclamation, Genesis 49:18: the beginning and close of the longperiod of sorrow and patient waiting) to prepare by contrast for the fuller revelation to Moses, when Jehovah is made known in its full and experimental preciousness. "To be made known"(Exodus 6:3) means to be manifested in act (Psalm 9:17; 48:3-6), making good in fact all that was implied in the name (Ezekiel 20:9) (nodatiy ). The name was not new to Israel, for it occurs before Exodus 6:3 in 3:16; 4:1. E LOHIM , from aalah "to be strong" (Furst), rather than from Arabic aliha astonishment, alaha worship (Hengstenberg), the Deity, expresses His eternal power and Godhead manifested in nature, commanding our reverence; J EHOVAH the Personal God in covenant with His people, manifesting boundless mercy, righteousness, and faithfulness to His word. So "Immanuel" is used not of the mere appellation, but of His proving in fact to be what the name means (Isaiah 7:14). The "I AM" (Exodus 3:14) is to be filled up thus: I am to My people all whatever they want. Prayer is to supply the ellipsis, pleading God's covenanted promises: light, life, peace, salvation, glory, their exceeding great reward, etc. I am all that My word declares, and their threefold nature, body, soul, and spirit, requires. I am always all this to them (John 8:58). "Before Abraham began, to be (Greek) I am" (Matthew 28:20). The Jews by a misunderstanding of Leviticus 24:16 ("utters distinctly"instead of "blasphemeth") fear to use the name, saying instead "the name," "the four lettered name," "the great and terrible name." So Septuagint, Vulgate, and even KJV (except in four places "Jehovah": Isaiah 12:2; 26:4; Exodus 6:3; Psalm 83:18) has "T HE L ORD ,"which in C APITALS represents J EHOVAH , in small letters Adonai. Maimonides restricts its use to the priests' blessings and to the sanctuary; others to the high priest on the day of atonement, when entering the holy of holies. The Samaritans pronounced the name Yabe (Theodoret); found also in Epiphanius; Yahu in such names as Obadiah (Obad-yahu). So that Jahveh or Yahveh seems the correct pronunciation. The Hebrews said the Elohim, in opposition to false gods; but never the Jehovah, for Jehovah means the true God only. Again, My God, Elohay , but not My Jehovah, for Jehovah by itself means this covenant relation to one. Again, the Elohim of Israel; but not the Jehovah of Israel, for there is no other Jehovah. Again, the living Elohim, but not the living Jehovah; for Jehovah means this without the epithet. Jehovah is in Old Testament the God of redemption. The correlative of Elohim is man, of Jehovah redeemed man. Elohim is God in nature, Jehovah God in grace (Exodus 34:6,7). Elohim is the God of providence;Jehovah is the God of promise and prophecy; hence, the prophets' formula is, "thus saith Jehovah," not Elohim. Elohim is wider in meaning, embracing the representatives of Deity, angels and human judges and rulers (Psalm 82:6; John 10:34,35). Jehovah is deeper, the incommunicable name. The more frequent use of the name Jehovah from Samuel's time is due to the religious revival then inaugurated, and to the commencement of the regular school of prophets. In the first four verses of the Bhagavat God says to Brahma, "I was at first ... afterward I A M T HAT W HICH I S , and He who must remain am I." (Sir W. Jones).