Hebrew Roots/Neglected Commandments/Honouring His Name/NT-usage


Josephus records for us that it was “not lawful” to use the Name (Antiquities, bk.2, chap.12, part 4). Josephus meant that laws had been issued by rabbinical leaders forbidding the usage of the divine name. The ban seems to have been nearly universal amongst the Jews by the first century.

The Gesenius Hebrew-English Lexicon says of this name: “pr. name of the supreme God amongst the Hebrews. The later Hebrews, for some centuries before the time of Christ, either misled by a false interpretation of certain laws (Ex.20;7; Lev.24:11), or else following some old superstition, regarded this name as so very holy, that it might not even be pronounced. . . Whenever, therefore, this nomen tetragrammaton occurred in the sacred text . . . they were accustomed to substitute for it [Adonai], and thus the vowels of the noun [Adonai] are in the Masoretic text placed under the four letters [YHVH] . . . This custom was already in vogue in the days of the LXX translators . . .”

The Mishnah states: “In the sanctuary one says the Name as it is written but in the provinces, with a euphemism” (m.Sotah 7:6; b.Sotah 38b; M. Tamid 7:2). After the Temple’s destruction in 70 A.D., the Pharisees banned the usage of the Name completely. The new teaching was that the name was to be “hidden” and “kept secret” (b.Pes. 50a; b.Kidd. 71a).

The original Jewish followers of Yeshua, were zealous of Torah and continued to live by the traditions (see Acts 21:20-24 ). The divine name YHWH was and is the most sacred word in the Hebrew language, and it is known that the Jews although they were antagonistic to the "sect of the Nazarenes" the followers of Yeshua, they would not destroy the New Testament writings because they contained the divine name.

This recorded information is evidence that the apostolic writings contained the divine Name. How then did the 'erasing' of the Sacred Name in the Greek NT come about?

George Howard, Associate Professor of Religion and Hebrew at the University of Georgia, postulates that the later Gentile Christians, unlike the original Jewish believers, had no traditional reverence for the Hebrew Sacred Name and no doubt often even failed to recognise it, and that its eventual replacement with Greek surrogates paralleled its substitution in the non-Jewish copies of the Septuagint. Toward the end of the first Christian century, when the Church had become predominantly Gentile, as well as anti-Jewish, the motive for retaining the Hebrew Sacred Name was lost and the Greek substitutes 'kyrios' and 'theos' were used in the Christian copies of the Septuagint. And thus the compilers of the latter Greek NT texts, using these defective Septuagints, followed suit.


We know from both the Tosefta and Talmuds (ancient Jewish writings) that certain (Hebrew and Aramaic?) New Testament manuscripts contained the name of YHWH in their text (t.Shab. 13:5; b.Shab. 116a; j.Shab. 15c). Now our Hebrew and Aramaic manuscripts preserve for us knowledge of where "Lord" in the NT was YHWH and where it was ADON/ADONAI.

The DuTillet Hebrew manuscript of Matthew repeats the Hebrew letter YUD two or three times in a circle so as to mark places where the name of YHWH should go. The Shem Tob Hebrew version of Matthew has the Hebrew letter HEY standing alone (and in one place the word HASHEM spelled out) to mark places where the name of YHWH belongs. The Munster Hebrew text of Matthew actually contains the name of YHWH spelled out where it belongs. The Old Syriac, Peshitta and Crawford Aramaic manuscripts of NT books also distinguish between YHWH and ADON/ADONAI. These Aramaic manuscripts have Aramaic MARYA for YHWH and Aramaic MAR (or MARI or MARAN) for ADON/ADONAI. Now we have objective manuscript evidence to support placement of the sacred name into the NT.

Also a comparative study of various ancient Greek copies of the New Testament that have come down to us prove that where the sacred Name should have appeared, different texts have independently used different substitutes. This variety of substitutes can directly be attributed to different scribes independently translating the original manuscripts and early copies during the time after the "ineffable name" doctrine had taken hold. In some cases 'theos' (God) is used, in others, kurios (Lord), Christos (Christ) or Yeshua (Jesus) in the same place in the text.

The "ineffable name" doctrine begins to appear in the works of Justin Martyr (a Samaritan convert -Mid 2nd century). According to his own writings, he was influenced by the Jews. This was before the apostolic writings were compiled into a canon of scripture. Origen of the 3rd century and Jerome of the 5th century, say that the sacred Name was set in Hebrew characters, "in the accurate exemplars" of the Greek text . (Pro Gal. Preaf. in Libr. Sam. et Mal.) These copies had come from an earlier era when the Sacred Name was still used in the early assemblies.

Says Rabbi Yeshayahu Heiliczer, in “The Divine Name”: “The evidence is enormous. The texts, the translations, the recent discoveries are almost overwhelming. But it is interesting to note that the other alternative, that is, continuing the ineffability and breaking the third commandment by bringing His name to naught is supported only by that -- superstition -- and some twisted idea that mispronouncing His name or refusing to use His name or purposely misspelling His name is somehow showing respect. “The restoration of the use of the name of Yahveh with its correct pronunciation is as prophetically significant as the restoration of the true religion of Yahshua, that is, Torah observant Messianic Judaism. Such a restoration of the name of Yahveh to His people is promised in scripture:" He quotes Zephaniah 3:9; Jeremiah 16:21 and Isaiah 52:6.

“We are living in wonderful times, as Yeshua tells us, ‘You shall not see me henceforth, till you shall say: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of Yahweh”’ (Mt. 23:39).”


Speaking prophetically, the Psalmist says, "I will declare (apagello - tell, publish) Your name unto My brethren: in the midst of the assembly I will praise You," Psalms 22:22; and, quoted in Hebrews 2:12 regarding Yeshua revealing and manifesting the Father's Name to the ones He had been given, as He said, "I have manifested (Efanerosa - revealed) Your name unto the men which You gave me out of the world: they were Yours, You gave them to Me; and they have kept Your word. Now they have known that all things which You have given me are from You" John 17: 6-7.

"And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your own name those whom You have given me, that they may be one, as We are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name: those whom You gave me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled," John 17:11-12.

"O righteous Father, the world hath not known You: but I have known You, and these have known that You have sent Me. And I have declared (Gnorizo - made known) unto them Your name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith You have loved Me may be in them, and I in them," John 17:25-26.

The writer of Hebrews places in the lips of Yeshua, Psalm 22:22 - "I will declare Your Name to My brethren" (2:12). In John Yeshua is quoted as saying, that He had uncovered/revealed the Name (v.6) and made it known (v.26). This is more than demonstrating the Father's attributes in His exemplary life. Although it was the tradition established by the rabbis not to speak the Name, Yeshua was faithful to the Father and made His Name known.

When He stood up to read in the synagogue cited in Luke 4:16-20, the passage of the Tanach that He chose contained the divine Name, not substituted as it is today, but written in ancient Hebrew in gold letters.Yeshua would have spoken the Name in reading the text. As well as declaring the scripture fulfilled in Himself, would the utterance of the Name have stirred the crowd to anger? (verses 28-30)There are many occasions in the New Testament where the Tanach is quoted containing passages with Yahweh's Name. There is some justification for 'assuming' that in these instances the Name definitely was spoken when being read. As established previously, the original texts of the New Testament contained the written Name and some manuscripts still show evidence of the placement of the Name in the text.

At His betrayal in the garden, Yeshua declared the Name when the soldiers were seeking Him, and the power of the spoken Name threw them to the ground (John 18: 5-8) This was an instance of Him declaring Himself to be Yahweh manifest in the flesh.

In His trial, (Matthew 26:59-66), Yehsua was accused of blasphemy for saying He was able to destroy the temple of 'God' and raise it in three days. In the Tanach, it was always referred to as the "temple of Yahweh", and they were quoting Him using a substitute for the Name. Matthew 26:61

When adjured by Caiaphas to reveal who He was, He applied Psalm 110.1 & Dan.7:13 to Himself, to that Caiaphas said, "What further need do we have of witnesses? .. .. You have heard His blasphemy" (v. 64,5)

According to the Talmud, "He who blasphemes is liable only when he will have fully pronounced the Divine Name. Said R. Joshua ben Qorha, "on every day of the trial they examine the witnesses with a substituted name. When sentence was to be given they did not declare him guilty of death with the substituted name, but they put everyone out and ask the most important of the witnesses, saying to him, "Say what exactly did you hear?" And he says what he heard. And the judges stand on their feet and tear their clothing, and they may not mend them again." (m.San. 7:5 from the Mishna)

(The word 'God' in verse 61, and 'power' in v. 64 were 'euphemisms' or substitutes used by the Sanhedrin in such trials as these, in place of the Name). He concluded His trial by using the Name in Psalm 110.

According to this pattern, verse 65 describes this very proceeding. And Yeshua was as a result sentenced for blasphemy, which was not possible unless He had actually spoken the Divine Name.So according to His own testimony, He had revealed the Father's Name to His brethren, and did declare it until the end and His faithfulness to the declaration of the Name was His point of condemnation.


Yeshua taught the disciples the pattern prayer "Hallowed be Your Name", exalting the Name of the Father. Following it as a pattern would involve using the Name. Matthew 6:9Reverencing and sanctifying His Name requires it to be given a place of honour and importance.

Yeshua directed all worship to the Father John 4:23; Matthew 19:17 He proclaimed His dependence upon the Father as the greater - John 14:28; for the things He spoke, 8:28; and to do the works which He did, - 5:36; 14:10-11; 5:19-20He said, "I have come in my Father's name" John 5:43 - and at His triumphal entry into Jerusalem as their King, the people cried out prophetically, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the Name of Yahweh! the King of Israel!" John 12:13; Psalm 118:26

Yeshua said the works that He did were done in " My Father's Name" John 10:25

They were not done in His own authority. Yeshua was Yahweh's representative acting and speaking with Yahweh's inspiration, power, and authority. Not only was He the messenger, He was the message.

All that He did was to glorify the Father's Name, and in His prayer before His final hour, He prayed "Glorify Your Name", to which the Father replied with an audible voice from heaven, "I have both glorified it and will glorify it again" John 12:28 Yeshua was the pattern Son Who lived as an example for us to follow, glorifying the Father in all He did.

In His final hours of preparing His disciples, He instructed them of the authority they would have to use His Name, which He told them the Father would honour. John 14:13-14 This was a transfer of authority from the works being done in the Father's Name to being done in Yeshua's Name. He was given a Name which is above every name in heaven, on earth and in the regions below after His ascension to the throne. Ephesians 1:21; Philippians 2:9-11; Colossians 3:17; Hebrews 1:4

Yet still, although we confess in this way His lordship, authority and power, it is still "to the glory of God the Father" (Phil.2:11), and "giving thanks to God the Father through Him" (Colossians 3:17)

Last modified on 7 July 2009, at 04:53