Proponents of non-Hebrew pronunciations of יהוה insist that the poetic shortened form Yah (יה) proves how to pronounce the Name of God. This is simply not true.
No one is disputing that YAH is a reference to יהוה that exists in the Tanakh, although rare compared to the 6827 times יהוה is written. At the end of this post I share all 42 verses in the 4 books of the Tanakh where YAH appears. Also, no one is disputing that there are many theophoric names which end in -yahu or -yah. The dispute comes in with those who make up their own version of Hebrew about how theophoric names begin. (Hebrew theophoric names combine a Hebrew root of specific meaning with the name Yehovah.)
It is truly unfortunate that any disputes exist over how Hebrew theophoric names begin, because this is some of the best evidence for how to pronounce the Name of God. (see Friedrich Wilhelm Gesenius’ note from his 1846 Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon)
The reality is that there was never a time when theophoric names were out of use. The name Yehoshua alone was spoken multiple times every year on Shabbat as the Torah or Prophets were read. There was no known dispute over the pronunciation of Yehoshua or other theophoric names in the Hebrew speaking community during the centuries of Torah and prophet readings on Shabbat. The dispute over the pronunciation of theophoric names doesn’t arise until the 20th century when pretenders to Hebrew pronunciation invented new forms such as Yahusha, Yahushua, Yahshua, etc. These Hebrew pretenders were motivated to alter the proper pronunciation of theophoric names with the prefix “Yeho” to support their misunderstood function and use of the shortened form Yah.
“Yah only” prefix supporters attempt to make Hebrew fit their doctrine, but no matter how many times they say it, the rules of Hebrew grammar will not yield to their doctrinal requirements. Doctrines do not determine how a language functions. There is a grammatical explanation why the single syllable Yah is pronounced with the “ah” sound and the full form of יהוה is pronounced Yehovah. By the same token, Hebrew grammar requires theophoric names which include יהו in the front of the name to be pronounced beginning with Yeho- or, less frequently, Yehu-.
Yah is formed by taking the first and last letter of Yehovah to express an abbreviation. It’s vowel is Kamatz from the emphasized final syllable of YehovAH’. To attempt to build the Name of God from its abbreviated form is like the tail wagging the dog.
But let’s go to the evidence. We are repeatedly told by “Yah only” prefix supporters that Yah is the only pronunciation that exists when יהּ is in a word. However the long history of theophoric names disproves this. The following table contains every word in the Tanakh which begins with יהּ. The theophoric names are in bold.
|BDB#||Hebrew Spelling||Hebrew Pronunciation||Meaning|
|H3050||יהּ||yâhh||Yah (Yehovah in the shortened form)|
|H3051||יהב||yâhab||to give, provide, ascribe, come|
|H3053||יהב||yehâb||burden, lot (that which is given)|
|H3054||יהד||yâhad||to become a Jew|
|H3055||יהד||yehûd||Yehud = “beauty”|
|H3056||יהדי||yehday||one of the family of Caleb|
|H3057||יהדיּה||yehûdı̂yâh||Yehudijah = “Jewess”|
|H3058||יהוּא||yêhû’||Yehovah is He|
|H3059||יהואחז||yehô’âchâz||Yehovah has seized|
|H3060||יהואשׁ||yehô’âsh||Yehovah has given|
|H3063||יהוּדה||yehûdâh||Yehovah be praised|
|H3064/H3065||יהוּדי||yehûdı̂y||Yehudi = “Jew”|
|H3066||יהוּדית||yehûdı̂yth||in the Jewish language, in Hebrew|
|H3067||יהוּדית||yehûdı̂yth||Judith = Jewess or “praised”|
|H3068||יהוה||yehôvâh||Yehovah = “the existing One”|
|H3070||יהוה יראה||yehôvâh yir’eh||Yehovah sees|
|H3071||יהוה נסּי||yehôvâh nissı̂y||Yehovah is my banner|
|H3072||יהוה צדקנוּ||yehôvâh tsidqênû||Yehovah is righteousness|
|H3073||יהוה שׁלום||yehôvâh shâlôm||Yehovah is peace|
|H3074||יהוה שׁמּה||yehôvâh shâmmâh||Yehovah is there|
|H3075||יהוזבד||yehôzâbâd||Yehovah has endowed|
|H3076||יהוחנן||yehôchânân||Yehovah has graced|
|H3079||יהויקים||yehôyâqı̂ym||Yehovah raises up|
|H3081||יהוּכל||yehûkal||Yehovah is able|
|H3082||יהונדב||yehônâdâb||Yehovah is willing|
|H3083||יהונתן||yehônâthân||Yehovah has given|
|H3084||יהוסף||yehôsêph||Yehovah has added|
|H3085||יהועדּה||yehô‛addâh||Yehovah has adorned|
|H3086||יהועדּן / יהועדּין||yehô‛addı̂yn / yehô‛addân||Yehovah delights|
|H3087||יהוצדק||yehôtsâdâq||Yehovah is righteous|
|H3088||יהורם||yehôrâm||Yehovah is exalted|
|H3089||יהושׁבע||yehôsheba‛||Yehovah has sworn|
|H3090||יהושׁבעת||yehôshab‛ath||Yehovah is an oath|
|H3091||יהושׁע / יהושׁוּע||yehôshûa‛||Yehovah is salvation|
|H3092||יהושׁפט||yehôshâphâṭ||Yehovah has judged|
|H3093||יהיר||yâhı̂yr||proud, arrogant, haughty|
|H3094||יהלּלאל||yehallel’êl||Elohim is praised|
|H3095||יהלם||yahălôm||a precious hard stone|
|H3096||יהצה / יהצה / יהץ||yahats / yahtsâh||trodden down|
As we see, every theophoric name begins with Yeho (and a couple times Yehu because of the Hebrew root Yehovah is being combined with to make the name).
About the Sheva
In the Tiberian vowel pointing system, the Sheva is two vertical dots that appear below the Hebrew consonant. The Sheva is the slightest of vowels. It either takes a very short ‘e’ sound as in “shema” or it is silent and represents a pause. You will sometimes see it represented by an apostrophe instead of an “e” – as in Y’hoshua for example.
Theophoric names confirm the pronunciation of יהוה as Yehovah, they do not disprove it as the Hebrew pretenders would claim. There was never a ban on using theophoric names, nor was there ever a system of altering vowels in theophoric names. The vowels systems, be they Tiberian, Babylonian or Israeli, all preserved the pronunciation of theophoric names as beginning with “Yeho” or, less frequently, “Yehu”. This agrees with the numerous times we find יהוה marked with full vowels, making the vocalization of Yehovah the only possible vocalization.
Also those who consider that יְהוָֹ֖ה was the actual pronunciation (Michaelis in Supplem. p. 524) are not altogether without ground on which to defend their opinion. In this way can the abbreviated syllables יְהוָֹ֖ and יְוָֹ֖, with which many proper names begin, be more satisfactorily explained. [This last argument goes a long way to prove the vowels יְהוָֹ֖ה to be the true ones.]
YAH – 42 TIMES – 4 BOOKS
Exo_15:2 My strength and song is YAH, And He is become my salvation: This is my God, and I glorify Him; God of my father, and I exalt Him.
Exo_17:16 and saith, `Because a hand is on the throne of YAH, war is to YEHOVAH with Amalek from generation–generation.’
Psa_68:4 Sing ye to God–praise His name, Raise up a highway for Him who is riding in deserts, In YAH is His name, and exult before Him.
Psa_68:18 Thou hast ascended on high, Thou hast taken captive captivity, Thou hast taken gifts for men, That even the refractory may rest, O YAH God.
Psa_77:11 I mention the doings of YAH, For I remember of old Thy wonders,
Psa_89:8 O YEHOVAH, God of Hosts, Who is like Thee–a strong YAH? And Thy faithfulness is round about Thee.
Psa_94:12 O the happiness of the man Whom Thou instructest, O YAH, And out of Thy law teachest him,
Psa_102:18 This is written for a later generation, And the people created do praise YAH.
Psa_106:1 Praise ye YAH, give thanks to YEHOVAH, For good, for to the age, is His kindness.
Psa_106:48 Blessed is YEHOVAH, God of Israel, From the age even unto the age. And all the people said, `Amen, praise YAH!’
Psa_111:1 Praise ye YAH! I thank YEHOVAH with the whole heart, In the secret meeting of the upright, And of the company.
Psa_112:1 Praise ye YAH! O the happiness of one fearing YEHOVAH, In His commands he hath delighted greatly.
Psa_113:1 Praise ye YAH! Praise, ye servants of YEHOVAH. Praise the name of YEHOVAH.
Psa_113:9 Causing the barren one of the house to sit, A joyful mother of sons; praise ye YAH!
Psa_115:17 The dead praise not YAH, Nor any going down to silence.
Psa_115:18 And we, we bless YAH, From henceforth, and unto the age. Praise ye YAH!
Psa_116:19 In the courts of the house of YEHOVAH, In thy midst, O Jerusalem, praise ye YAH!
Psa_117:2 For mighty to us hath been His kindness, And the truth of YEHOVAH is to the age. Praise ye YAH!
Psa_118:5 From the straitness I called YAH, YAH answered me in a broad place.
Psa_118:14 My strength and song is YAH, And He is to me for salvation.
Psa_118:17 I do not die, but live, And recount the works of YAH,
Psa_118:18 YAH hath sorely chastened me, And to death hath not given me up.
Psa_118:19 Open ye to me gates of righteousness, I enter into them–I thank YAH.
Psa_122:4 For thither have tribes gone up, Tribes of YAH, companies of Israel, To give thanks to the name of YEHOVAH.
Psa_135:1 Praise ye YAH! Praise ye the name of YEHOVAH, Praise, ye servants of YEHOVAH,
Psa_135:3 Praise ye YAH! for YEHOVAH is good, Sing praise to His name, for it is pleasant.
Psa_135:4 For Jacob hath YAH chosen for Himself, Israel for His peculiar treasure.
Psa_135:21 Blessed is YEHOVAH from Zion, Inhabiting Jerusalem–praise ye YAH!
Psa_146:1 Praise ye YAH! Praise, O my soul, YEHOVAH.
Psa_146:10 YEHOVAH doth reign to the age, Thy God, O Zion, to generation and generation, Praise ye YAH!
Psa_147:1 Praise ye YAH! For it is good to praise our God, For pleasant–comely is praise.
Psa_147:20 He hath not done so to any nation, As to judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye YAH!
Psa_148:1 Praise ye YAH! Praise ye YEHOVAH from the heavens, Praise ye Him in high places.
Psa_148:14 And He exalteth the horn of His people, The praise of all His saints, Of the sons of Israel, a people near Him. Praise ye YAH!
Psa_149:1 Praise ye YAH! Sing ye to YEHOVAH a new song, His praise in an assembly of saints.
Psa_149:9 To do among them the judgment written, An honour it is for all his saints. Praise ye YAH!
Psa_150:1 Praise ye YAH! Praise ye God in His holy place, Praise Him in the expanse of His strength.
Psa_150:6 All that doth breathe doth praise YAH! Praise ye YAH!
Son_8:6 Set me as a seal on thy heart, as a seal on thine arm, For strong as death is love, Sharp as Sheol is jealousy, Its burnings are burnings of fire, a flame of YAH!
Isa_12:2 Lo, God is my salvation, I trust, and fear not, For my strength and song is YAH YEHOVAH, And He is to me for salvation.
Isa_26:4 Trust ye in YEHOVAH for ever, For in YAH YEHOVAH is a rock of ages,
Isa_38:11 I said, I do not see YAH–YAH! In the land of the living, I do not behold man any more, With the inhabitants of the world.