Compiled from numerous source documents
This document is “a work in progress” and will probably be so for quite some time. I have included words and phrases from Hebrew, Aramaic (Ar.), Yiddish (Yid.), and even some Greek (Gk.), and English terms that are common to Jewish writing. I have also included some terms that are familiar to those within Messianic Judaism, but which might be unfamiliar to others.
Some Interesting Thoughts About the Hebrew Language
You will doubtless note that there are sometimes several different spellings for the same Hebrew word. That is because there is no one-to-one relationship between the Hebrew and English alphabets. The transliterator is therefore free to use whatever spelling best represents the way that he/she hears the Hebrew word in his/her primary language. The letters “b” and “v” are often used interchangeably for the Hebrew letter beit [b], as are the letters “w” and “v” for the Hebrew letter “vav” or “waw” [w].
Hebrew plurals are formed by adding a “t” or “ot” [tw] (or sometimes “os” or “
Although important in most Western languages, capitalization is unimportant in Hebrew because Hebrew has no capital letters. Interestingly enough, there are no vowels in early Hebrew (though there are “vowel points” in Masoretic and Modern Hebrew), and all Hebrew verbs have a three-consonant root. At this particular point in the evolution of this document, I have not “standardized” capitalization of terms. Though most proper names are capitalized, not all capitalized terms are proper names. I will take care of this later as the document progresses.
Hebrew thought, and therefore the Hebrew language, is significantly different
from Western thought. Hebrew thought is very “picture oriented” as demonstrated by the rich visual images
presented in the Psalms. Additionally, for all practical purposes there are no “tenses” in Hebrew to correspond to
the tenses of Western languages. One must determine from the context whether the events being described are past,
present, or future. Therefore, the Hebrew language presents the hearer (or reader) with a series of images much
like watching a slide show presentation, as compared to the “motion picture” images presented by Western
languages. My personal opinion is that Hebrew was the original language that HaShem taught Adam and Eve in
The Sacred Name
The most common Jewish tradition of representing the Sacred Name [hwhy] is to write the Name and its various forms and
representations such as “God” and “L-rd” with a dash instead of spelling the word. Some Jewish writers claim to
follow this tradition to indicate that the
Others claim that it is appropriate to use the Sacred Name when speaking
There are still others, both Jews and non-Jews (who frequently refer to themselves as Sacred Namists), who insist that the Sacred Name must always be spoken, or written out, or transliterated as YHWH, YHVH, Yahweh, Yahovah, Yahowah, or some other variant, to the extent that they insert it where it really doesn’t really belong: for example the name of Yeshua must, they insist (as a condition of one’s salvation), be spelled Yahshua, because He is Yahweh come in the flesh. But they can’t seem to agree on the appropriate spelling, and each group insists that their own spelling is the only proper spelling, and all other spellings are heresy. Instead of honoring the Name, they have effectively gone so far as to reduce the Name to a “magic word” or idol to be worshipped in place of Him Who is represented by the Name.
For a long time we attempted to follow the practice of using the forms “God” and “L-rd” on this site, not out of any personal conviction, but rather as a concession to any reader who might be offended by what he/she may consider an “innapropriate” use of The Name. However, we have received enough communications from a number of parties on each side of the issue to assure us that we are never going to be able to please everyone, so we have simply given up trying.
Additionally, we have found that practice to be both cumbersome and at times confusing. It also introduces a certain level of inaccuracy and ambiguity into our teaching. If we believe that Ruach HaKodesh actually inspired the Sacred Scriptures and guided the Nevhi’im (Prophets) and Shliachim (Apostles) in their choice of words and the spelling of those words, then we must assume that Ruach HaKodesh had a specific purpose in mind when He chose the word hwhy, or the word Adonai, or the word El, or the word Eloha, or the word Elohim when referring to the Creator. If Ruach HaKodesh deemed it appropriate to make a distinction between those terms, then it should also be appropriate for us to likewise distinguish between them.
We have therefore (finally) decided that it is more important for us to
accurately teach the Word of
Where the Scriptures use the
tetragrammaton [hwhy] we so indicate by using one
of these forms: hwhy, YHWH, Yahweh, ADONAI, LORD or L-RD. Where the Scriptures use the the word Adonai next to
hwhy, use the form “Lord GOD” or “Lord G-D.” We otherwise use the transliteration of whatever term Ruach HaKodesh uses in
the Scriptures, as we assume that He had a particular reason in mind when He chose the specific word. We also use
the form “LORD” (with small capital letters) when referring to Yeshua
HaMashiach when it is important to emphasize His deity. When referring to the Creator in a non-technical context,
we use either “the LORD” or “God” or “HaShem” interchangeably. We will
also occasionally refer to Him as “Abba” (Hebrew for “Daddy” or “Papa”) as Yeshua taught us. Out of respect, we
also capitalize the pronouns He, Him, and His when referring either to
Why is it important for a Believer in Yeshua