Here is the "Authorised Version" from the Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia
Yahweh. This is the most significant name of God found in the Old Testament in that it is the personal proper name Israel had for their God. For this reason, in post-Exilic times it began to be considered so holy that it was never pronounced. Instead, usually the term Adonai was substituted ... Strictly speaking, this is the only personal name of God belonging to Him alone. When Moses asked God what was the significance of His name, He replied, "I am that I am; and he said, Thus shall you say to the children of Israel, I am hath sent me to you" (Ex 3:14). Thus God revealed to Moses what was the very inner meaning of His name as Yahweh.
Hermit disagrees. As usual. The following is multi sourced, but well checked. Primarily "From Ancient Tablets to Modern Translations" ISBN 0-310-45730-0, Arnold Toynbee's "A Study of History, and of course, Strong's Concordance at work.
The Jewish gods were originally called by many names prior to their
conversion to monotheism somewhere between 950BCE and 600BCE. Before
"Moses'" alleged encounter with their god in the Midianite desert, their
prime god was known generally as "God of the Fathers" and was coupled with a goddess who was later written out of their "mysteries" although despite all efforts to erase from history the memory of the Goddess in the Old Testament, some traces still remain, particularly in the early (and in some non canonical Jewish scripture). For example, the truth of her existence slipped by the redactor's pen at 1 Kings 11:5, where Solomon "went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Simonians." Various names were used for God under this conception, most of which were associated with the primitive Semitic word El.
Zeus, aka "Zeus Pateras," who we now automatically believe to be a myth
and not a historical figure, takes his name from the Indian version,
"Dyaus Pitar." Dyaus Pitar in turn is related to the Egyptian "Ptah,"
and from both Pitar and Ptah comes the word "pater," or "father." "Zeus" equals "Dyaus," which became "Deos," "Deus" and "Dios" - "God." "Zeus Pateras," like Dyaus Pitar, means, "God the Father," a very ancient concept that in no way originated with the Jews, "Jesus" or Christianity. There is no question of Zeus being a historical character.
Dyaus Pitar becomes "Jupiter" in Roman mythology, and likewise is not representative of an actual, historical character. In Egyptian mythology, Ptah, the Father, is the unseen god-force, and the sun was viewed as Ptah's visible proxy who brings everlasting life to the earth; hence, the "son of God" is really the "sun of God." Indeed, according to Hotema, the very name "Christ" comes from the Hindi word "Kris" (as in Krishna), which is a name for the sun.
Looking some more at the Jews, El is a generic term for a god or deity. It appears in ancient languages other Hebrew. One can see the similarities to the modern Arabic word for their god, Al or Allah. The word El refers to an awesome power that instills within humankind a mysterious dread or reverence.
Even though El was a term for god in pagan or polytheistic religions, it is a designation for an impersonal force like one would find in animism. Pagans El is a high and lofty god. He was the chief god in the Canaanite pantheon.
The word El in the Bible is often a reference to deity as opposed to the historical revelation associated with the name JHWH (see below). More often than not, however, it is used interchangeably as a synonym for JHWH, the chief god of ancient Israel, today translated as god.
In the following god names, one can see the strong coupling of EL with the Jewish gods. Other names used for the Jewish god include:
Baal. The chief god of the Canaanite pantheon. In some ancient religions, Baal and El could be used interchangeably. There were tendencies within Israel to worship Baal with Yahweh, but Baal worship was incompatible with later Hebrew monotheism. The bible suggests that prophets, such as "Elijah" and "Hosea", called the people away from these tendencies and back to the "covenant". The reality is more likely that they created the "covenant" in order to assert ownership on the gods of the region.
Adon (or Adonai): This is a title of authority and honor. It can be translated "Lord." It is not exclusively a title for deity because it is used in addressing a superior, such as a master. In this sense, it is used to ascribe the highst honor and worship to God. Adonai was often used in conjunction with JHWH. In time, Adonai became a synonym for YWHW. In the postexilic period, it took on the connotation of god's absolute lordship over Israel.
El-Shaddai "God of the Mountains" This term is closely associated with the patriarchal period and can be found most frequently in Books of Genesis and Job. Exodus 6:3 underlines El-Shaddai as the name revealed to patriarchs. The Jewish mythos claims that their god used it to make His Covenant with Abraham (Gen. 17:1-2).
El-Elyon "The Most High God" or "The Exalted One" (Num. 24:16; 2 Sam. 22:14; Ps. 18:13). Melchizadek was a priest of El-Elyon and blessed Abraham in this name (Gen. 14:19-20), refering to El-Elyon as "Maker of heaven and earth." Canaanites at Ugarit also worshiped god as El-Elyon. El-Elyon seems to have had close ties to Jerusalem.
El-Olam "God of Eternity" or "God the Everlasting One" (Gen. 21:33; Isa. 26:4; Ps. 90:2) Refering to the claimed extreme age of their god gave the Jews a one upmanship element of wisdom, much as backward people still claim exagerated claims for their older people.
El-Berith "God of the Covenant" (Judg. 9:46) transforms the Canaanite Baal Berith (8:33) to show that the Jewish god alone had made a covenant with people.
El-Roi "God who Sees me" or "God of Vision" (Gen. 16:13). God sees needs of His people and responds.
Elohim A plural form for deity. It is a frequently used term and the most of the El combinations. In Gen. 1:26 we have "Then Elohim said, 'Let us make man in our image.' " (i.e. Then the gods said, let us make man in our own image... which goes right back to the Sumerian roots of the fable).
Other Uses The name El is frequently combined with other nouns or adjectives. Some examples are: Israe-el (One who is ruled by God), Beth-el (House of God), Peni-(Face of God). We see a shadow of it in the crucifixion narrative (Mark 15:34) where "Jesus" is alleged to have employed a form of it when he cried from the cross, "Eloi, Eloi," "my God, my God," quoting Psalm 22.
Exodus 6:3 is interesting as it first introduces YWHH. "God spoke to Moses and said to him, "I am YHWH. To Abraham and Isaac and Jacob I appeared as EL Shaddai (God of the Mountains). I did not make myself known to them by my name YHWH."
YHWH also appeared to Moses as described in Exodus 33:11, "YHWH would speak with Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend."
JHWH too, was often combined with other words, though whether this indicates a carryover of pantheist names, assertion of ownership by the Jews, or simple adjective attribution to JHWH is far from clear. Some examples are:
Yahweh-Jireh "The Lord will Provide" (Gen. 22:14). This was the name given to the location where God provided a ram for Abraham to sacrifice in the place of Isaac.
Yahweh-Nissi "The Lord is my Banner" (Ex. 17:15). Moses acribed this name to God after a victory over the Amalekites. The name of God was considered a banner under which Israel could rally for victory. The Lord's name was the battle cry. Interestingly, the Israelites used their god name and claimed he fought with them. Muslims are still known to invoke their god in this way.
Yahweh-Mekaddesh "The Lord Sanctifies" (Ex. 31:13). A call by their god for a people who are set apart.
Yahweh-Shalom "The Lord is Peace" (Judg. 6:24). This was the name of the altar that Gideon built at Ophrah signifying that God brings well-being not death to his acquisitors... poor Caananites...
Yahweh-Sabaoth "The Lord of Hosts" (1 Sam. 1:3; Jer. 11:20; compare 1 Sam. 17:45). This represents God's power over the nations and was closely tied to Shiloh, to the ark of the covenant, and to prophecy. The title, like that of the Chinese Emperor, "Lord of Heaven", designated their god as King and ruler of Israel, its armies, its Temple, and of all the universe.
Yahweh-Rohi "The Lord is my Shepherd" (Ps. 23:1). This is, in fact, a borrowing from Egyptian writing, and related to Isis.
Yahweh-Tsidkenu "The Lord is Our Righteousness" (Jer. 23:5-6; 33:16). This was the name Jeremiah gave to their god, who would rule over Israel after the return from captivity.
Yahweh-Shammah "The Lord is There" (Ezk. 48:35) This is the name of god associated with the restoration of Jerusalem, "god's dwelling place".
YHWH in is known by the technical term "Tetragrammaton" (Greek, meaning four letters), these are the four consonants which make up the "divine name" 3:15; found more than 6,528 times in 5522 verses the Old Testament). The written Hebrew language did not include vowels, only the consonants were used; thus readers supplied the vowels as they read. Reverence for the supposedly divine name led to the practice of avoiding its use lest one run afoul of Commandments such as Exodus 20:7 or Leviticus 24:16. In time it obviously thought that the divine name was too holy to pronounce at all. Thus the practice arose of using the Adonai: "Lord." Many translations of the Bible followed this practice. In most translations YHWH is recognizable where the word LORD appears in all caps.
In the course of the centuries the actual pronunciation of YHWH was
lost. In the Middle Ages Jewish scholars developed a system of symbols
placed under and beside consonants to indicate the vowels. YHWH appeared
with the vowels from "Adonai" as a device to remind them to say "Adonai"
in their reading of the text. A latinized form this was pronounced
"Jehovah," but it was actually not a real word at all. From the study of
the structure of the Hebrew language most scholars today believe that YHWH was probably pronounced Yahweh (Yah weh) and this is a form often still used in current translations. So god's "name" appears as yehowah in the Masoretic Texts. The Septuagint reflects the Jewish reluctance to pronounce the divine name and puts the word kyrios (Lord), in its place. The Revised Standard Version and other English versions also reflect the practice by giving the word LORD in capital letters whenever the name YHWH stands in the text. The latin likewise gives the word Dominus (Lord), for YHWH. The form Jehovah is thus a malformation giving what is virtually a transliteration (but a poor one, IMO HaVaYaH is a better (modern transliteration of Yahweh.) of a word which is found in the text of the Hebrew Old Testament, but which was never actually used as a word. In 1530 Tyndale used Jehovah in his translation of Exodus 6:3. Subsequently Jehovah became the standard spelling.
For the Christian's "Jesus" god, we need to look only as far as Egypt, where Horus was called "Iusa/Iao/Iesu" the "KRST," and Krishna/Christna was called "Jezeus," centuries before any Jewish character similarly named. It would be safe to assume that Jesus Christ is just a repeat of Horus and Krishna, among all the rest. The title "Christ" in its Hebraic form meaning "Anointed" and was held by all kings of Israel, as well as being "so commonly assumed by all sorts of impostors, conjurers, and pretenders to supernatural communications, that the very claim to it is in the gospel itself considered as an indication of imposture..." Hotema states that the name "Jesus Christ" was not formally adopted in its present form until after the first Council of Nicea, i.e., in 325 C.E.
In actuality, even the place names and the appellations of many other characters in the New Testament can frequently be revealed to be Hebraicized renderings of the Egyptian texts.
As an example, in the fable of "Lazarus," the mummy raised from the dead by Jesus, the Christian copyists did not change his name much, and the leading El tells us much about Lazarus the Christian would not want to acknowledge. "El-Azar-us" was the Egyptian mummy raised from the dead by Horus possibly 1,000 years or more before the Jewish version. This story is allegory for the sun moving through the "mummy constellation," bringing light and life to it. It is not a true story.
Horus's principal enemy - originally Horus's other face or "dark" aspect - was "Set" or "Sata," whence comes "Satan."82 Horus struggles with Set in the exact manner that Jesus battles with Satan, with 40 days in the wilderness, among other similarities.83 This is because this myth represents the triumph of light over dark, or the sun's return to relieve the terror of the night.
"Jerusalem" simply means "City of Peace," and there is reason to suspect
that the actual city in Israel was named after the holy city of peace in the Egyptian sacred texts that already existed at the time the city was founded. Likewise, "Bethany," site of the famous multiplying of the loaves, means "House of God," and is allegory for the "multiplication of the many out of the One."84 Any town of that designation was likely named for the allegorical place in the texts that existed before the town's foundation. The Egyptian predecessor and counterpart is
So now you have many names for many gods. But gods being imaginary, there are probably an unlimited number of them lurking in the woodwork. Also try reading the very short Arthur C. Clarke short story, "The Nine Billion Names of God" I have appended. It is well worth reading.
P.S. Tim, As far as YWHW is concerned, I very much doubt it was memetic
engineering at work. Given the sheer number of gods floating around the
middle east, it was simply natural selection. The nastiest, most vicious
god in the "cradle of civilization" won out in the end. The Paul/Roman
"Jesus" fiction is another can of worms entirely. There I suspect that
very deliberate tactics were employed. I do suspect though, that it was simply nasty pragmatic but very competent practical psychologists at work nudging the existing memeplexes, selected by thousands of years, into doing their dirty work.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com]On Behalf Of Tim Rhodes
Sent: Saturday, June 19, 1999 2:16 AM
To: Church of Virus
Subject: Re: virus: Holy Shit! Lawmakers Say Yes to Ten Commandments...
Zombie Cow writes:
>> 3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain; ... > >BTW, While we're at it, just what is the name of God?
In the case in question it was YHWH (which later became YAHWEH and then Jehovah). It was a symbol without a spoken equivalent. ("The Lord" was substituted for it when a text was read aloud.) Which is a nice trick really. By excluding the name from verbal use it can never fall prey to memetic change or corruption by other competing memeplexes.
There really is a quite good (memetic) reason why we're still dealing
this memeplex and its effects some 4000 or so years after it was first introduced. Which answers Eric's question,
>What kind of a person believes in a god without a name?
Obviously the kind of person with a better intuitive understanding of
makes for a hardy, lasting meme than most anyone here.
The Nine Billion Names of God
by Arthur Clarke
"This is a slightly unusual request," said Dr. Wagner, with what he
hoped was commendable restraint. "As far as I know, it's the first time anyone's been asked to supply a Tibetan monastery with an automatic sequence computer. I don't wish to be inquisitive, but I should hardly thought that your --ah-- establishment had much use for such a machine. Could you explain just what you intend to do with it?"
"Gladly," replied the lama, readjusting his silk robe and carefully
putting away the slide rule he had been using for currency conversions.
"Your Mark V computer can carry out any routine mathematical operation
involving up to ten digits. However, for our work we are interested in letters, not numbers. As we wish you to modify the output circuits, the machine will be printing words, not columns of figures."
"I don't understand . . ."
"This is a project on which we have been working for the last three
centuries -- since the lamasery was founded, in fact. It is somewhat alien to your way of thought, so I hope you will listen with an open mind while I explain it."
"It is really quite simple. We have been compiling a list which shall
contain all the possible names of God."
"I beg your pardon?"
"We have reason to believe," continued the lama imperturbably, "that all
such names can be written with not more than nine letters in an alphabet we have devised."
"And you have been doing this for three centuries?"
"Yes. We expected it would take us about fifteen thousand years to
complete the task."
"Oh." Dr. Wagner looked a little dazed. "Now I see why you wanted to
hire one of our machines. But exactly what is the purpose of this project?"
The lama hesitated for a fraction of a second, and Wagner wondered if he had offended him. If so, there was no trace of annoyance in the reply.
"Call it ritual, if you like, but it's a fundamental part of our belief.
All the many names of the Supreme Being -- God, Jehovah, Allah, and so on -- they are only man-made labels. There is a philosophical problem of some difficulty here, which I do not propose to discuss, but somewhere among all the possible combinations of letters which can occur are what one may call the real names of God. By systematic permutation of letters, we have been trying to list them all."
"I see. You've been starting at AAAAAAAAA . . . and working up to
ZZZZZZZZZ . . ."
"Exactly -- though we use a special alphabet of our own. Modifying the
electromatic typewriters to deal with this is, of course, trivial. A rather more interesting problem is that of devising suitable circuits to eliminate ridiculous combinations. For example, no letter must occur more than three times in succession."
"Three? Surely you mean two."
"Three is correct. I am afraid it would take too long to explain why,
even if you understood our language."
"I'm sure it would," said Wagner hastily. "Go on."
"Luckily it will be a simple matter to adapt your automatic sequence
computer for this work, since once it has been programmed properly it will permute each letter in turn and print the result. What would have taken us fifteen thousand years it will be able to do in a thousand days."
Dr. Wagner was scarcely conscious of the faint sounds from the Manhattan streets far below. He was in a different world, a world of natural, not man-made, mountains. High up in their remote aeries these monks had been patiently at work, generation after generation, compiling their lists of meaningless words. Was there any limit to the follies of mankind? Still, he must give no hint of his inner thoughts. The customer was always right . . .
"There's no doubt," replied the doctor, "that we can modify the Mark V
to print lists of this nature. I'm much more worried about the problem of installation and maintenance. Getting out to Tibet, in these days, is not going to be easy."
"We can arrange that. The components are small enough to travel by air
-- that is one reason why we chose your machine. If you can get them to India, we will provide transport from there."
"And you want to hire two of our engineers?"
"Yes, for the three months which the project should occupy."
"I've no doubt that Personnel can manage that." Dr. Wagner scribbled a
note on his desk pad. "There are just two other points--"
Before he could finish the sentence, the lama had produced a small slip of paper.
"This is my certified credit balance at the Asiatic Bank."
"Thank you. It appears to be--ah--adequate. The second matter is so
trivial that I hesitate to mention it -- but it's surprising how often the obvious gets overlooked. What source of electrical energy have you?"
"A diesel generator providing 50 kilowatts at 110 volts. It was
installed about five years ago and is quite reliable. It's made life at the lamasery much more comfortable, but of course it was really installed to provide power for the motors driving the prayer wheels."
"Of course," echoed Dr. Wagner. "I should have thought of that."
The view from the parapet was vertiginous, but in time one gets used to anything. After three months George Hanley was not impressed by the two-thousand-foot swoop into the abyss or the remote checkerboard of fields in the valley below. He was leaning against the wind-smoothed stones and staring morosely at the distant mountains whose names he had never bothered to discover.
This, thought George, was the craziest thing that had ever happened to him. "Project Shangri-La," some wit at the labs had christened it. For weeks now, Mark V had been churning out acres of sheets covered with gibberish. Patiently, inexorably, the computer had been rearranging letters in all their possible combinations, exhausting each class before going on to the next. As the sheets had emerged from the electromatic typewriters, the monks had carefully cut them up and pasted them into enormous books. In another week, heaven be praised, they would have finished. Just what obscure calculations had convinced the monks that they needn't bother to go on to words of ten, twenty, or a hundred letters, George didn't know.
One of his recurring nightmares was that there would be some change of plan and that the High Lama (whom they'd naturally called Sam Jaffe, though he didn't look a bit like him) would suddenly announce that the project would be extended to approximately 2060 A.D. They were quite capable of it.
George heard the heavy wooden door slam in the wind as Chuck came out onto the parapet beside him. As usual, Chuck was smoking one of the cigars that made him so popular with the monks -- who, it seemed, were quite willing to embrace all the minor and most of the major pleasures of life. That was one thing in their favor: they might be crazy, but they weren't bluenoses. Those frequent trips they took down to the village, for instance . . ."
"Listen, George," said Chuck urgently. "I've learned something that
"What's wrong? Isn't the machine behaving?" That was the worst
contingency George could imagine. It might delay his return, than which nothing could be more horrible. The way he felt now, even the sight of a TV commercial would seem like manna from heaven. At least it would be some link from home.
"No -- it's nothing like that." Chuck settled himself on the parapet,
which was unusual, because normally he was scared of the drop. "I've just found out what all this is about."
"What d'ya mean -- I thought we knew."
"Sure -- we know what the monks are trying to do. But we didn't know
why. It's the craziest thing --"
"Tell me something new," growled George.
" . . . but old Sam's just come clean with me. You know the way he drops
in every afternoon to watch the sheets roll out. Well, this time he seemed rather excited, or at least as near as he'll ever get to it. When I told him we were on the last cycle he asked me, in that cute English accent of his, if I'd ever wondered what they were trying to do.
I said, 'Sure' -- and he told me."
"Go on, I'll buy it."
"Well, they believe that when they have listed all His names -- and they
reckon that there are about nine billion of them -- God's purpose will have been achieved. The human race will have finished what it was created to do, and there won't be any point in carrying on. Indeed, the very idea is something like blasphemy."
"Then what do they expect us to do? Commit suicide?"
"There's no need for that. When the list's completed, God steps in and
simply winds things up . . . bingo!"
"Oh, I get it. When we finish our job, it will be the end of the world."
Chuck gave a nervous little laugh.
"That's just what I said to Sam. And do you know what happened? He
looked at me in a very queer way, like I'd been stupid in class, and said, 'It's nothing as trivial as that'."
George thought this over for a moment.
"That's what I call taking the Wide View," he said presently. "But what
d'ya suppose we should do about it? I don't see that it makes the slightest difference to us. After all, we already knew that they were crazy."
"Yes -- but don't you see what may happen? When the list's complete and
the Last Trump doesn't blow -- or whatever it is that they expect -- we may get the blame. It's our machine they've been using. I don't like the situation one little bit."
"I see," said George slowly. "You've got a point there. But this sort of
thing's happened here before, you know. When I was a kid down in Louisiana we had a crackpot preacher who said the world was going to end next Sunday. Hundreds of people believed him-- even sold their homes. Yet nothing happened; they didn't turn nasty as you'd expect. They just decided that he'd made a mistake in his calculations and went right on believing. I guess some of them still do."
"Well, this isn't Louisiana, in case you hadn't noticed. There are just
two of us and hundreds of these monks. I like them, and I'll be sorry for old Sam when his lifework backfires on him. But all the same, I wish I was somewhere else."
"I've been wishing that for weeks. But there's nothing we can do until
the contract's finished and the transport arrives to fly us out."
"Of course," said Chuck thoughtfully, "we could always try a bit of
"Like hell we could! That would make things worse."
"Not the way I meant. Look at it like this. The machine will finish its
run four days from now, on the present twenty-hours-a-day basis. The transport calls in a week. O.K., then all we need to do is to find something that wants replacing during one of the overhaul periods -- something that will hold up the works for a couple of days. We'll fix it, of course, but not too quickly. If we time matters properly, we can be down at the airfield when the last name pops out of the register. They won't be able to catch us then."
"I don't like it," said George. "It will be the first time I ever walked
out on a job. Besides, it would make them suspicious. No, I'll sit tight and take what comes."
"I still don't like it," he said seven days later, as the tough little
mountain ponies carried them down the winding road. "And don't you think I'm running away because I'm afraid. I'm just sorry for those poor old guys up there, and I don't want to be around when they find what suckers they've been. Wonder how Sam will take it?"
"It's funny," replied Chuck, "but when I said goodbye I got the idea he
knew we were walking out on him -- and that he didn't care because he knew the machine was running smoothly and that the job would soon be finished. After that -- well, of course, for him there just isn't any After That . . ."
George turned in his saddle and stared back up the mountain road. This was the last place from which one could get a clear view of the lamasery. The squat, angular buildings were silhouetted against the afterglow of the sunset; here and there lights gleamed like portholes in the sides of an ocean liner. Electric lights, of course, sharing the same circuit as the Mark V. How much longer would they share it? wondered George. Would the monks smash up the computer in their rage and disappointment? Or would they just sit down quietly and begin their calculations all over again?
He knew exactly what was happening up on the mountain at this very
moment. The High Lama and his assistants would be sitting in their silk
robes, inspecting the sheets as the junior monks carried them away from
the typewriters and pasted them into the great volumes. No one would be
saying anything. The only sound would be the incessant patter, the
never-ending rainstorm, of the keys hitting the paper, for the Mark V
itself was utterly silent as it
flashed through its thousands of calculations a second. Three months of this, thought George, was enough to start anyone climbing up the wall.
"There she is!" called Chuck, pointing down into the valley. "Ain't she
She certainly was, thought George. The battered old DC-3 lay at the end of the runway like a tiny silver cross. In two hours she would be bearing them away to freedom and sanity. It was a thought worth savoring like a fine liqueur. George let it roll around in his mind as the pony trudged patiently down the slope.
The swift night of the high Himalayas was now almost upon them. Fortunately the road was very good, as roads went in this region, and they were both carrying torches. There was not the slightest danger, only a certain discomfort from the bitter cold. The sky overhead was perfectly clear and ablaze with the familiar, friendly stars. At least there would be no risk, thought George, of the pilot being unable to take off because of weather conditions. That had been his only remaining worry.
He began to sing but gave it up after a while. This vast arena of mountains, gleaming like whitely hooded ghosts on every side, did not encourage such ebullience. Presently George glanced at his watch.
"Should be there in an hour," he called back over his shoulder to Chuck.
Then he added, in an afterthought, "Wonder if the computer's finished its run? It was due about now."
Chuck didn't reply, so George swung round in his saddle. He could just see Chuck's face, a white oval turned toward the sky.
"Look," whispered Chuck, and George lifted his eyes to heaven. (There is
always a last time for everything.)
Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out.