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The Pronunciation of the Divine Name - 

     The divine name is pronounced:   ee ah oo eh or ee ah oo ay.   "ee" as in "feet," and "ay"5 as in "bay".  It is usually spelled consonantly  either YHWH or YHVH.  The "Y" is pronounced as in "Lily" or "yes".    The waw (W) or vav (V) acts as a vowel here, and in fact is a shureq written fully, if we are to express it as YHVH ()2, or a waw, pronounced "oo" as in "boot" if we are to write it as YHWH ()1.   You will notice that all of the consonants are vocalized as vowels, since according to Josephus the divine name was four "vowels."3.   Josephus was both a priest and a Pharisee.  The fact that the divine name was four vowels shows that the pronunciation "Yahveh" is incorrect, and for those who must argue that "vav" was not anciently "waw," I will say that "vav" only need be rendered as the shureq to turn it into the necessary vowel.   The spellling YHVH comes from the German JHWH or JHVH, in which language "J" was pronounced "Y", and "W" as "V"!  The "V" sound  is in turn derived from the old Latin, in which language "V" and "U" were the same letter, which no doubt is the source of the Ashkenazi confusion.  That the "waw" or "vav" is a vowel in the divine name is further proven by the fact that the names of many of the prophets, like Ayliyahu end in a shureq waw.  By the way, the accent in the divine name is on the last syllable.  That is why there is a short vowel on the first syllable. 
     Clement of Alexandria spelled the divine name Iaoue and Iaouai6 which is prounounced in Greek ee ah oo eh, just as in Hebrew, and ee ah oo ay.  Probably the variation "Y ah oo ay" is more correct than "Y ah oo eh."  The spelling Iabe  found in some places is due to the fact that in ancient Greek b carried the value of the Latin "v" (Spanish uses "b" for "v" also).  Strictly speaking, this translation is an erorr, but since Latin "v"  and "u" were the same, we can see why it happened.

     1. sec. 102m, Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar.  The grammar says that these vowels are "original". 
     2. For those who might doubt the possibility of this form, you should compare it with Prov. 12:23: 
     3.  Josephus, Wars 5.5.7 (235f).  Josephus is commenting on Exodus 28:36-37, "36 And thou shalt make a plate of pure  gold, and grave upon it, like the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO Yahweh. 37 And thou shalt put it on a blue lace, that it may be upon the mitre; upon the forefront of the mitre it shall be." 

  •      His head was covered by a tiara of fine linen, wreathed with blue, encircling which was another crown, of gold, whereon were embossed the sacred letters, to wit, four vowels. 

 4.  This graphic is the paleo-Hebrew form of the divine name, which was written into texts.  The character forms were preserved, even when the way the rest of Hebrew was written changed.  It is based on the photo below. 

  •      "This is a photo of Psalms 119:59-64 in the Dead Sea Scrolls which are a collection of Hebrew Scriptures that date back 2000 years. Note Yahweh's name in the ancient hebrew script while  the rest of the text is in a more modern Hebrew that was used at the time. Also note that each line begins with the Hebrew letter "Heth" which corresponds with it's part in the acrostical 119th psalm." (www.eliyah.com).   Note the blue arrow pointing to the divine name, which is written in Paleo-Hebrew.  Paleo-Hebrew is the ancient Hebrew writing before the present letters (derived from Aramaic) took over after the Babylonian exile.


    • 59 I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.  
      60 I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.  
      61 The bands of the wicked have robbed me: but I have not forgotten thy law.  
      62 At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgments.  
      63 I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts. 
      64 The earth, O , is full of thy mercy: teach me thy statutes. 

 5. The "ay" is a possible pronunciation of "segol" in Hebrew.    See Gesenius Hebrew Grammar, section 8a, "Preliminary Remark."  I have had difficulty in deciphering the linguistic values of the phonetic system used by Gesenius, but the segol can be "e" as in "met," (standard) or "a" (Langenscheidt) as in "bad" or "a" as in "bay" (Baumgartner) depending on various factors like tone, and prohibited vowel combinations.  For the divine name Koehler/Baumgartner gives: [translated from the German] Yahvay and [the English editor] Yahway, who took the liberty of correcting the German without telling us! 
6.  According to A.T. Robertson the scribes could interchange ai and e according to personal taste.  The pronunciation is really the same, the difference being only in spelling.  


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