Beliefs RNS Press Release Service

The original Hebrew name of God re-discovered in 1,000 Bible manuscripts

On January 21, 2018, Bible Scholar Nehemia Gordon and his team of researchers discovered the 1,000th Hebrew Bible manuscript containing the original name of God in Hebrew with vowels.

For two hundred years, scholars have believed based on Greek sources and conjecture that the Hebrew name of God was originally pronounced “Yahweh.” In late 2016, Gordon found never-translated traditional Jewish sources that explicitly identified the vowels of God’s name in Hebrew as “Yehovah.” This is similar to the English Jehovah, but with a “Y” and the emphasis on the final syllable.

God’s name, known as the Tetragrammaton, is written in most Hebrew Bible manuscripts with one of its vowels missing, making it unreadable in accordance with an ancient Jewish ban on speaking the name. Despite this, Gordon had previously discovered five Bible manuscripts with a full set of Hebrew vowels proving the pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton was known to Jewish scribes as “Yehovah.”

The project to find new evidence corroborating this discovery, began in February 2017 and in less than one year Gordon found 1,000 more Hebrew Bible manuscripts with the full vowels “Yehovah.” These included the two earliest known Hebrew Bible manuscripts with vowels, Russian National Library, Evr. II B 100 from the year 894 AD and the Cairo Codex of the Prophets from 895 AD. Gordon and his team also found the vowels “Yehovah” in three manuscripts written with the lost “Babylonian Pointing,” discovered in the Cairo Genizah in 1896.

Gordon is the host of the “Hebrew Voices” podcast, which was downloaded 5.1 million times in 2017. He is also the author of the popular book Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence, which discusses the Jewish ban on speaking the “ineffable” name. Gordon holds a Masters Degree in Biblical Studies and a Bachelors Degree in Archaeology from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has worked as a translator on the Dead Sea Scrolls, and as a researcher deciphering ancient Hebrew manuscripts. Gordon has written two popular books on the Hebrew origins of Christianity and is active in interfaith dialogue, speaking at synagogues and churches around the world.

For more information on this discovery see:
https://www.nehemiaswall.com/nehemia-gordon-name-god

Photo caption: The Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4) in the 10th century Damascus Crown with the recovered vowels of the Tetragrammaton.

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