Yah, the shortened form of the Tetragrammaton

December 10, 2015 1:36am CST
I've gotten a lot of questions about this lately, so I decided I might make a short post about it. For those who don't know, the form Yah is the shortened form of the Tetragrammaton-that is, the distinctive name of God in the Bible. Or I should say, a shortened form, because other forms to exist. This one, however, is used mostly within the context of prayer (the psalms), and in some prose. There are one or 2 exceptions to this. The vowel mark in it, appears to be a vowel from another term, Adonai (that is, a kametz), but still reflects the actual sound which we know from transliterations into Greek. If that sounds kind of odd, we see this happening in shortened or substitute form Ye/ya. And the way the Len. codex prefers to write it is YeHWaH-although there is variation. The form most people will know this under is, of course, the phrase Hallelu-Yah...or in other common forms of transliteration. Well, there are those who contest that the Yah in Halleluya isn't a Divine name, but that is a minority view and can't explain many cases in which it is used...I might talk about that more in the future, but for right now... Something odd that I've noticed about this is, that for many of the shortened forms, those same sounds exist within modern North American slang...they are as follows... Ya, Yahu (pronounced Yahoo), Yeho, and Yo. Terms which people tend to say without thinking, in Classical Hebrew, would be used in proper names to denote that the person was, or came from, a background of someone who worshiped Yahweh. Mmmmm, in other words, I find it, curious, that sacred sounds in one culture, are the very opposite in another. Isn't culture kind of interesting that way?
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2 responses
@owlwings (38481)
• Cambridge, England
10 Dec 15
I find this fascinating. I was aware that Hebrew names with an added '[a]h' (in transliteration), such as 'Sarah' and 'Rebekah' meant that that person was considered to have been sanctified or blessed. I had never thought that 'Alleluja' (in its various spellings) might be invoking the name of God, nor that 'Ya!' or 'Yo!' (an affirmation and a greeting) could also be understood as such. I don't know whether I'm correct but I have always understood the various 'names' of God to be simply derived from the verb 'to be', so that a rough literal translation of the true name of God is simply 'He is' or 'I am' or 'that which is/exists [beyond any other thing which exists]'. It is interesting that the Latin 'Jovis' and 'Jupiter' also begin with the same sound ('Yo-' or 'Yu-') and that the word for 'god' in many languages is similar - the addition of a 'd' is common, producing a 'dy-' or a 'dzh-' sound before the vowel, as in 'dios', 'deus', 'jovial' and so on. It may be that invoking the name of a deity is so old and has so commonly passed into common (and sometimes blasphemous) usage that many words do, indeed, contain the name of God. I wonder whether Jonathan - is that another example? - Swift was aware of this when he coined the name 'Yahoo' for a bestial version of the human race in the 'Voyage to the Houyhnhnms'.
2 people like this
• Canada
10 Dec 15
A good observations about the endings "ah"-Actually the ah in Sarah and Rebekka make the names fem., sarah being the fem. form of sar (usually rendered prince...but, not exactly...was a kind of ruler but not sure there is a good English equivillant:). You are correct about the Name of God being derived from the verb "to be", and means "He who is/will be"-in Hebrew it's used in the connection of the promise of presense, that God "will be" with His people-something which the Gospel writer of Matthew picks up on when he calls Jesus Immanue (God with us)l. Re. Jupiter, yes, I believe St. Augustine made that claim-and the short form of the Name Yahu was used in non Jewish rituals (as was a slightly longer form, but the Gnostics preferred Yahu, which they wrote as Iao)-and re. Jonathan, you are correct, the Hebrew is Yehonatan, which means "Yahweh has given". Along those thoughts, the name Jesus/Joshua itself, in Hebrew is Yehoshua, meaning Yahweh is salvation. There is actually a fairly large amount of information right under our noses sometimes, and sometimes when we become aware, things kinda light up re. it:)
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@bluesa (13430)
• Johannesburg, South Africa
10 Dec 15
It does make things interesting, that sacred sounds in one culture are the very opposite in another. I never considered a link with those slang words...
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