“...it’s the best English translation I have ever read. It’s the most diligently compared translation. One of the wonderful features of it is it calls God by the name he asked to be remembered by Yahweh… It is [the LSB] a priceless treasure– an amazing effort.” - John MacArthur
The Divine Name
Historically, when the Divine Name exists in the Hebrew texts, the translators would (in almost all cases) translate it into the English as “Lord”.
The uniqueness of this name is emphasized in the following verses:
“And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.” – Genesis 4:26
The use of the Divine Name in this passage of scripture is very startling, for at the beginning of redemptive history, when men began to plunge perilously into sin, God, in that hour, operated a work of revival. And this revival was a severance of Seth’s line from the line of his brother Cain. And this revival was captured by this one single attribute: “then began men to call upon the name of the Lord [יהוה]”.
Also, in Genesis 22 we find multiple shocking references to the Divine Name, but specifically in verse 14.
“And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.” – Genesis 22:14
This scripture is further evidence to us that the early patriarchs indeed knew the name of Jehovah! Yet, as we will see, yet not as well as they knew the name of “God Almighty” (“El Shaddai”)
“And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name Jehovah was I not known to them.” – Exodus 6:3
The principle that is demonstrably set forth for us here in this scripture, as well as in Exodus chapter 3, is that when God is purposed to work a new work of redemption, that is absolutely without precedent, he is going to reveal a new name to his people, and the corresponding attributes thereof, so that his people would stay themselves and trust in that name of God!
“And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.” – Exodus 3:13-15
“Doesn’t God know our hearts? Even if we say Yahweh, and we’re wrong, won’t God understand?” Very important questions, and the Scripture has an answer for them.
“Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart.” – Psalm 44:21
By these scriptures, we are able to see that knowing the Divine Name is of the utmost weight and eternal consequence.
We dare not tread lightly in our treating of this most solemn matter!
You will also hear them speaking lightly of the precedent set by Christ and confirmed by the apostles in the New Testament of translating the Divine Name as “Lord”. But if it was truly good enough for Christ, the angels, and all of the apostles, should it not truly be good enough for us?
You will also hear them leveraging the antiquity of the early church fathers as authority for the vocalization of the Divine Name as “Yahweh”, citing Theodoret, Origen, and Clement - who do not even agree amongst themselves!And who is Theodoret, anyway? Who was Origen? Does it even matter that Yahweh is the known Samaritan vocalization of the Divine Name?… Surely the translators of the LSB know the answers to these questions, right?
What about the universalist claims of the ISBE and the Anchor Bible Dictionary confirming Gesenius’ claim of the “ante-biblical”, Babylonian, Ammonitish, and Egyptian origin of the supposed Divine Name, Yahweh? Or what about their complacency with guessing at the vocalization of the Divine Name?… Does this trouble the translators of the LSB? Surely they have something to say about this.
“He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him.” – Proverbs 18:17
We should not leave the issue where the translators of the LSB have expressed contentment to leave it. There is a controversy. The debate has not been settled. There have been centuries of battles, and the war is not over. So let us not turn a blind eye as though the issue doesn’t even exist, or nominalize it as if it’s actually irrelevant, but let us treat it with the utmost moment and gravity, as did the noble translators coming out of the dark ages, between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Five-hundred years’ worth of controversy. And, truly, there would be no controversy concerning the vocalization of the divine name, if there were not such stark divisions over the originality and inspiration of the Hebrew vowel points from the time of the Protestant Reformation until now!
Elias Levita of the sixteenth century was first to positively postulate the theory that the Masoretes were responsible for the invention of the Hebrew vowel points. Of course, Levita, being a Jew himself (proud, when he came to die, of his want of conversion to Christianity), would therefore not hold to the same convictions as Christians concerning the traditions of the Jews (Mark 7:5-13, Titus 1:14, etc.). It is no wonder, then, how such a bold assertion as this could have come to be! For, to ascribe the invention of the Hebrew vowel points to the Masoretes, between the eighth and tenth century, is all one and the same with claiming the oral traditions of the Jews to be equally inspired as the Hebrew text itself! You see, if this theory is true, and the Masoretes indeed invented the Hebrew vowel points, then they must have been - truly - inspired, or re-inspired, by the Holy Spirit of God! For they would have flawlessly and inerrantly performed the feat of pointing the purely consonantal Hebrew text!
This theory of Levita played right into the hands of the Roman Catholic Church and their counter-reformation agenda, for it was sola-scripture which was the heart of the reformation. And, according to Levita, the Latin Vulgate antedated the Masoretic edition, thus leveraging its antiquity for authority. And if the inspiration of the scriptures could be undermined, then the protestants would have to return and submit themselves to the mother church and her magisterium.
Thus did mighty Puritans arise to the defense of the originality and inspiration of the Hebrew vowel points (such voices as Owen, Gill, Whitefield, and the likes)! Indeed, the fight was so fierce, and the opponents so implacable that as a climactic, reformed confession in the late seventeenth century, this point was overwhelmingly proven and put beyond the realm of dispute, for all Calvinistic churches of Switzerland.
“But, in particular, The Hebrew original of the OT which we have received and to this day do retain as handed down by the Hebrew Church, ‘who had been given the oracles of God’ (Rom 3:2), is, not only in its consonants, but in its vowels either the vowel points themselves, or at least the power of the points not only in its matter, but in its words, inspired by God. It thus forms, together with the Original of the NT the sole and complete rule of our faith and practice; and to its standard, as to a Lydian stone, all extant versions, eastern or western, ought to be applied, and wherever they differ, be conformed.” – Helvetic Consensus of 1675, Canon II
Throughout all of these centuries of debate concerning the Hebrew vowel points, yet there was no dispute about the vocalization of the Divine Name, until Gesenius in the nineteenth century!
In the vacuum of higher criticism in the nineteenth century, Wilhelm Gesenius’ theories surrounding the Divine Name found favor. This liberal departure from the fundamentals of the faith (which Spurgeon died fighting for LINK SPURGEON on the downgrade controversy) was the necessary context for the name of God to be changed!
If the integrity of verbal plenary inspiration could be undermined by the denial of the originality of the Hebrew VP’s, and the universalist view of semitic religions could be granted, and the obnoxious traditions of the Jews and their fables could be venerated, then the stage was set for the stripping of the very name of God himself out of His people’s mouths!
#1: The Masoretes Invented the Vowel Points.
That is to say that the vowel points didn’t exist until the Masoretes, according to the groundless claim of the sixteenth century Hebrew scholar, Elias Levita! This would presuppose and necessitate the inspiration of the oral traditions. This would also require the re-inspiration of the Masoretes.
#2: The Divine Name is Ineffable.
This was based upon a heretical understanding of the third commandment, which said you cannot vocalize the name of God, as if God had said, “thou shalt not take my name at all”, when he had only ever said “thou shalt not take my name in vain” (Exodus 20:7, Deuteronomy 5:11). Beware, reader, of the commandment-corrupting, text-destroying traditions of the Jews (Mark 7:5-13, Titus 1:14). But what is true?
#3: The Hebrews Borrowed the Divine Name from the Egyptians.
Tragically, this universalist claim is taken for granted among biblical scholars in our day. They know that the name of Yahweh has been found in the tents and tablets of the enemies of the Lord for millennia, and was the well-known vocalization of the Samaritans themselves! As if the Lord Jesus had never said to the Samaritans, “ye worship ye know not what” (John 4:22)!
Of course, these compromised, apostate positions simply cannot be!
Inspiration + Preservation = Translation
Inspiration: “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” – Matthew 4:4
Without the vowels, the scriptures would be inexplicable in thousands of instances. Consider Deuteronomy 33:27, “the eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms”. This, revocalized, according to the ESV, would be, “he subdues the ancient gods, and shatters the forces of old”. Or, consider, I Kings 17:4, “And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.” Without the vowel points, it would be indiscernible whether God were speaking of of ravens, or Arabians, or those of the rock Oreb!
The vowel points are critical to knowing that we have every word of God! According to the testimony of Deuteronomy 17:18-19, we see that there were two types of manuscripts throughout Israel. The first being that manuscript which was peculiarly entrusted to the hands of the priests (which could be called the temple manuscripts), while the others would be personal copies, whether of the common people or the kings, as in this instance (which would be historically considered the vulgar manuscripts). The vulgar editions, being given much less time and diligence, would therefore be susceptible to copiest errors, and would not contain the overwhelming minutia of the vowel point system of the temple editions.
God was intent to establish a testimony throughout his word of the manner in which he inspired the scriptures. That is, as it proceeded from his mouth, or, in other words, the manner in which God himself vocalized his words. What is this? Consonants only? Or consonants and vowels? (Deuteronomy 8:3, Nehemiah 8:8, Isaiah 59:21, Jeremiah 9:20; 36:4,6,17,18,27,32; Ezekiel 3:17; 33:7; II Timothy 3:16)
Preservation: “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” – Matthew 5:18
As with inspiration, so also with preservation, the Lord Jesus has something very important to say about the manner in which the scriptures were preserved by God in the first century. The law was not contained in consonants only (i.e. the “jot”), but also in “tittles”. What are tittles? If the jot represented the smallest, most diminutive character of the Hebrew consonants, then could the tittle possibly represent the smallest dot of the Hebrew vowel points? And is the Lord Jesus – the MAN of inspiration Himself – declaring that the law was contained in consonants with their corresponding vowel points in the first century (some seven to ten centuries before the Masoretes)!
The translator and his translation, which fails to hold these principles of inspiration and preservation steadfast, is castaway! And this is precisely where the LSB, MacArthur, and his five-man committee fail the test!
The Lord has not left us to be eternally tossed upon the waves of unstable scholars, but has given us a more sure word of prophecy (II Peter 1:19-21) — the Holy Bible.
Contrary to the popular notions of theologians (as formerly stated in the second fallacious cornerstone), that the divine name was ineffable, we see, rather, that devout Jews of Biblical times, so loved the name of God that they quite boldly took his name and called their own children thereby! And not the generic terms, merely, Elohim or Adonai, but even the Divine Name itself — Jehovah!
And herein lies the key of the theophoric names. You will need no Hebraicist to guide you by your hand (through their grammars and lexicons) or the oral traditions of the apostate jews, just simple childlike faith that God has provided in his word for all things pertaining to life and godliness and that it is, truly, the final authority of all matters of faith and practice! And if this matter of the Divine Name, and its vocalization, is, indeed, of such gravity, then would not God have preserved the answer for us in his word?
It is so, beloved reader.