The covenant name of the God of Israel is יהוה [(YHWH) – LORD] and it is derived from the verb הָיָה (hayah) meaning ‘to be’ and means either ‘the LORD (He) exists’ or ‘He causes to be.’ יהוה (YHWH) is sometimes referred as Tetragrammaton (a word consisting four letters).

Since this divine name is regarded as too sacred to be pronounced, the readers avoided pronouncing it by substituting for it the word ­ אֲדֹנָי‎ [(Adonai) – My Lord].

During the process of vocalization (between 500-1000 CE) the ‘Masoretic’ scholars who supplied vowels to the consonantal Hebrew text applied the vowels of אֲדֹנָי [(Adonai)] to the consonants of יהוה (YHWH) – יְהוָה (YAHWEH). He is the source and foundation of all being (Exodus 3:14).


Dr. Aravind Jeyakumar Moniraj is serving as the Associate Professor and HOD, Department of Old Testament at Gurukul Lutheran Theological College and Research Institute in Chennai.

For Other Articles by Dr Aravind
40 Hebrew Words for Forty Days – Day 16