The name of God, the God of
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and consequently the God of Israel, was
represented in written form by the four Hebrew consonants YHWH. Probably
the first appearance in writing of the so-called Tetragrammaton took
place when God carved out the two stone tablets upon which he wrote the
Ten Commandments for the Israelites. There, chiseled in stone by the
very finger of God, the name of God appeared eight times.
the course of 15 centuries as the Bible was compiled by various
writers, ultimately the name of God appeared in the vellum and papyrus
scrolls in nearly 7,000 places – more than any other proper name.
Originally the name of God was freely spoken by the Jews and used in
everyday language. Hebrews often named their offspring names that
incorporated some form of the divine name. For example, the common name,
John, is a shortened form of the Hebrew name, Jehohanan, which means
“Jehovah has been gracious.”
were also named names that honored God’s name. For example, when God
prevented Abraham from offering Isaac upon a makeshift altar and instead
provided a ram as a substitute, a grateful Abraham named the mountain
Jehovah-Jireh, which means “Jehovah will provide.” Incidentally, Jewish
tradition has it that the place Abraham named Jehovah-Jireh was the site
where Solomon’s temple was built almost 1,000 years later, and which
became known as the place where Jehovah caused his name to reside.