The Sacred Name of God

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In Hebrew, the sacred, divine name of God is spelled with four Hebrew letters: yod, hei, vav, and hei, or, in English, YHVH. This four-lettered name is called the tetragrammaton, which means "four letters."

This name, YHVH, is found 6,823 times in the Hebrew Bible. Hebrew scholars and rabbis all agree that the exact pronunciation of these four letters has been lost throughout the centuries. Some suggest the name is pronounced Yehovah or Yahweh, while westerners say Jehovah, replacing the first letter Y (yud in Hebrew) with the English letter J, which does not exist in the Hebrew alphabet.

It is Jewish practice never to write this sacred name, but to replace it with the name Adonai, meaning, "the Lord." There is also a rabbinical tradition of saying God's name simply as Ha-Shem, meaning "the Name."

The Jewish Mishna teaches that the high priest would pronounce the tetragrammaton when pronouncing the priestly blessing (Num. 6:24-27). However, outside of the temple, the name was replaced with Adonai.

The Mishna also teaches that on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), the sacred name was spoken, causing the people to fall upon their faces and begin blessing the name of the Lord.

If you have ever read a Jewish religious book, you will notice something that appears odd to non-Jewish readers. When writing the name GOD, the Jewish writer will leave out the O and write it G-D. One reason is because if the paper gets lost, erased, or placed in the garbage, God's name has not been fully written; therefore, it is not defiled. The same is true if it were written fully on paper; they do not wish to erase or defile God's name.

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