JEHOVAH. A misleading representation in English of the only name (as distinct from titles) of God in the OT. Since it is uncertain what vowels should be attached to the Hebrew consonants YHWH that make up the divine name, actual pronunciation must remain hypothetical, but there are reasonable grounds for thinking that the name was Yahweh. At a late date it became a matter of binding scruple not to pronounce the divine name, and Jews (in reading the Scriptures) customarily substituted the noun adhonai, which means “Lord.” LXX followed this lead, using the Greek kyrios, “Lord,” to stand for the divine name—a significant thing in the light of the usual NT designation of Jesus as kyrios. But the formulation “Jehovah” arose by inserting the vowels of adhonai into the consonants YHWH, thus producing a name that never was!
Two further points must be mentioned. First, in the light of the total biblical revelation in the Old and New Testaments, the name Yahweh is not to be identified only with Lord ”—in caps and small caps. When adhonai is used independently and in its own right in the OT as a divine title, it appears as “Lord.”——JAM, but rather with the Holy Trinity. The way OT passages are made to refer alike to Father, Son, and demonstrates this; and we should always beware of cramping our theological understanding by thinking of the God of the OT simply as God the Father—while at the same time recognizing that the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, while latent in the OT, is not discoverable there without the definitive revelation of the NT. Second, our English Bibles generally (the Jerusalem Bible is an exception) follow the scruple that avoids using the divine name. Printers have agreed on the convention that Yahweh is represented by the word “
The traditional English spelling, introduced by Tyndale, of the Hebrew name for the God of Israel; it is generally agreed today that the correct spelling should be “Yahweh.” The earliest MSS of the books of the Hebrew Bible contained no vowels, so the sacred name appeared simply as YHWH (“the Tetragrammaton”); for knowledge of the pronunciation we are indebted to the Greek writers and Theodoret. Even before the Christian era, the Jews refused to pronounce the name at all and substituted the word “my Lord” (in Hebrew adonay); in later (Massoretic) MSS the vowels of this word were therefore attached to the consonants of Yahweh, as a guide to synagogue readers to substitute adonay. The erroneous reading of this hybrid form as “Jehovah” dates from the medieval period. The KJV and its successors usually prefer to translate the Tetragrammaton as “the Lord” (in capitals). The original meaning of the name is uncertain; suggestions include “He who is,” “He who is present,” and “He who causes to be.”
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
See GOD, NAMES OF, II, 5.