Hebrew Names of God: YHWH or Yahweh

 I have been sharing with you from my study of the names of God.  I guess the reason I am doing this study is because I want to get to know God better and to pray to Him using His different names.  I think it will enrich my prayers.  I hope you get something out of it too.

 This time we are looking at the Hebrew name YHWH, most often translated as its Hebrew name Jehovah or Yahweh, and translated in the Bible in English as LORD.  Notice that all the letters of LORD in your Bible are capitalized.  So whenever you see LORD with all caps, you know that it is the Hebrew name Yahweh.  In my opinion the Bible publishers should print His name as Yahweh instead of LORD.

 Elohim appeared first in the Bible, in the very first verse, translated as God.  The name Yahweh is the second name that appears in scripture, the first appearance is in Genesis 2:4, along side His other name Elohim.  It is translated as “LORD God”.



 As I understand it, the exact transliteration of the Hebrew name is YHWH, but its true pronunciation has been lost due to the following reasons:

1.  Because the name Yahweh is associated with God’s holiness and righteousness, a group of pious Jews came to believe that it was not proper to utter His name; that it was too sacred to be uttered.  Hence, it was not uttered or read at all in the synagogues (and still isn’t, I don’t think).

 2.  Because of this fear of saying His real name, they substituted YHWH for either Adonai or Elohim.  Another group of Jews left the consonants (YHWH) intact and attached to them the vowels of Adonai.  So if you put it together the name would be pronounced something like Yahowaih.

 3.  In 300 B.C. the name became Jehovah.  Hence, the original pronunciation (of YHWH) has been lost.

4.  In four different places—in Exodus 6:3, Psalms 83:18, Isaiah 12:2 and Isaiah 26:4—it is translated in the King James Version as Jehovah (but other versions have it as LORD).  This I suppose has aided people to believe the name should be pronounced as Jehovah.

5.  More recently, it seems that scholars are saying Yahweh is more accurate.  Other spellings such as Yehovah and Jahweh are also used.  I like Yahweh myself.  It seems to match the Hebrew letters YHWH better, and I guess I just like the sound of it.



 The name Yahweh is likely connected to the Hebrew verbal root hwy or hwh meaning “to be”.  Hence, we get the meaning, “the being who is self-existent.”  We also see in His name that He in Himself possesses essential life.

 Yahweh is different than Elohim in that Elohim could be used for other pagan gods; but Yahweh is used only for the true God.  Elohim is sort of a generic name for God, but Yahweh is His personal name and appears only in the Bible, no where else.

Yahweh is the name for God given by God especially to Israel.  When Moses asked God what His name was at the burning bush He said it was “I am.”

Ex 3:14-15

 And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'”

 Though the name Yahweh was revealed as early as Genesis 2:4, Yahweh was not fully revealed to Israel until He spoke to Moses at the burning bush.  This encounter with God was the main occurrence that helped to reveal the meaning of His name.  There has been several interpretations of “I am” and “I am who I am” (listed in The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology Vol. 2, by Editor Colin Brown).  Here are three that I like:

 1) “I am because I am,” or, there is no cause for God’s existence outside of Himself.

2) “I am He who exists.”

3) “I am He who is,” or, “I am the one who is.”  He is the God who alone has real existence.


What hasn’t been said is that “I am” seems to say that God always exists in the present.  There is no past or future with God.  You could say that God sees our past and our future as in the present.  Hah, I wonder if we will see our own past and future also in the present when we get to heaven.  Far out!  But maybe not.  I know we will never be totally (completely) like God—otherwise we would be God; that will never happen!

Anyway, because of the burning bush experience, the name Yahweh can be known as the personal revelation of God, especially to His people Israel.  Elohim was God to all the nations around. But to Israel, the Elohim of Israel was Yahweh, because He had personally revealed Himself to them, not only at the burning bush, but through many and various miracles.  Hence the true meaning of His name Yahweh gradually unfolded as He revealed Himself.

The name Yahweh is also used of God when He refers to His nature, or His moral and spiritual attributes, especially in His relationship to us.  Here are some of His attributes, which are connected to His name (Notice that LORD in all caps is His name Yahweh):


His Righteousness

 Psalms 11:7

For the LORD is righteous,

He loves righteousness;

His countenance beholds the upright.


His Holiness

 Leviticus 19:2

Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.

Isaiah 6:3

And one cried to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;

The whole earth is full of His glory!”


His Judgment

Because He is holy, He pronounces judgment and metes out punishment.

 Exodus 32:33-34

 And the LORD said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book.


His Love and Compassion

Jeremiah 31:3

The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying:

“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;

Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.


Judges 10:16

So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the LORD. And His soul could no longer endure the misery of Israel.


Isaiah 63:7-9

I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD

And the praises of the LORD,

According to all that the LORD has bestowed on us,

And the great goodness toward the house of Israel,

Which He has bestowed on them according to His mercies,

According to the multitude of His lovingkindnesses.

8 For He said, “Surely they are My people,

Children who will not lie.”

So He became their Savior.

9 In all their affliction He was afflicted,

And the Angel of His Presence saved them;

In His love and in His pity He redeemed them;

And He bore them and carried them

All the days of old.


His Salvation And Deliverance

 Ex 6:6-7

Therefore say to the children of Israel: ‘I am the LORD; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.

 The name Yahweh is not only given to Israel but to every believer.  We can call Him Yahweh too.  He is our Yahweh.  He forever exists to save us, deliver us, and help us to be holy as He is.  And He does that for every believer through the person of His Son Jesus Christ.  Through Christ you can know and experience the eternal Yahweh.



Yahweh appears 6828 times in the Old Testament.  Sometimes Yahweh is used alone, sometimes along side of His other names, and sometimes connected to other names—as a compound name.

 In Genesis two, God’s name Yahweh is used for the first time along side of His other name Elohim.  It can be read as God (Elohim) the LORD (Yahweh), or the LORD (Yahweh) God (Elohim).  In chapter two, after the use of just Elohim (in chapter one), God’s emphasis turns to man, the focus of His creation; and He introduces Himself as Yahweh.  Hence, He says “I am Yahweh Elohim”—or, “I am your personal God.”  So here, I think the reason why Elohim and Yahweh are written next to each other is for God to introduce Himself to man as being more than just his creator, but as his personal God.

 When Yahweh is used alone, I suppose it is because He needs no explaining.  And when Elohim is used alone, it is probably because God is not portrayed in a personal way or His holy attributes are not at stake.

 When Yahweh is used as a compound name, this of course is to point out or highlight one of His attributes.  I can hardly wait to start studying them!

At this point I want to look more closely at how Yahweh is used in Genesis two and three.  As I see it, we can see in the name Yahweh that He created the earth because He cares for us; and He put us on the earth for a good purpose.  Going through all the verses that contain the name Yahweh here’s what I see:

1.  He (Yahweh) made the earth and the heavens for us (v. 4).

2.  He (Yahweh) caused it to rain on the earth so that things would grow—for us (vv. 5, 6).

3.  He (Yahweh) formed us and gave us life (v. 7).

4.  He (Yahweh) made a garden—for us (v. 8).

5.  He (Yahweh) gave us a duty—to keep the garden (v. 15).

6.  He (Yahweh) gave us boundaries—to eat of any tree except one (vv. 16, 17).

7.  He (Yahweh) gave us companionship (vv. 18, 19).

8.  He (Yahweh) dealt with us after we sinned (3: 15-18).

9.  He (Yahweh) clothed us (3:21).

10.  He (Yahweh) became our protector and guide (3:22-24).



Though the name Yahweh is recorded in scripture right from the creation in Genesis 2:4, we don’t know if everyone knew His name.  We know that everyone did not speak His name.  The serpent and Eve, for instance, did not use the name Yahweh.  When speaking of God they used Elohim (“has God [Elohim] said” and “God [Elohim] has said.”

Here are some possible reasons why the serpent and Eve did not use Yahweh:

1.  The serpent didn’t want to make reference to Yahweh because it would remind him of who He was.

2.  Adam and Eve may not of known His name yet.

3.  Eve was under the spell of the serpent and was being tempted.  When we are tempted we tend to forget about whom God is, that He cares for us.


In Genesis 4:1 we see that Eve did speak the name of Yahweh.  This is the first reference of anyone speaking His name.

Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, “I have acquired a man from the LORD.”



Sometime later, after Cain slew his brother Abel, Eve bore another son, Seth.  And from Seth came Enosh.  From that time on, through the line of Seth, “men began to call on the name Yahweh” (Gen. 4:26).  Hooo Yaa!!

 Here are the recorded names of those who followed in the line of Seth, whom I believe knew God and prayed to Him as Yahweh (although we don’t know for sure):






            Enoch (who walked with God)





After Noah the next person recorded to call Him Yahweh was Abraham (Gen. 12:8; 13:4).

 David also called on Yahweh.  Psalms 116:4 says,

 Then I called upon the name of the LORD:

“O LORD, I implore You, deliver my soul!”


We of course can call on Yahweh at any time.  He is our salvation and our personal God.  Romans 10:13 says. “For whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”  Notice that “LORD” is in all caps in your Bible.  That means that LORD here is Yahweh.  Yes Yahweh is even found in the New Testament, because Romans 10:13 is a quote from Joel 2:32, which indicates the name of Yahweh

Last, I want to warn you to be careful not to see God as many Gods.  There is only one God, but we see Him and can get to know Him better by His many names.







About Stephen Nielsen

I'm an author, a self publisher, and a painting contractor. I live in beautiful Minnesota, USA . Welcome to my blog site.
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2 Responses to Hebrew Names of God: YHWH or Yahweh

  1. Micayhwh Ben Yisrael says:

    I purchased a bible written in English with real Hebrew names. It has been stolen and I want to repurchase and the websites offer no remedy. YHWH is HIS name not Yahweh. If you know where I can find this book with that name only please let me know.

    thank you
    Micayhwh Ben Yisrael

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