Does God have a proper name? If you are in the habit of reading different Bible translations, you will notice God is called by a number of different names. In the Authorized King James Version (KJV) God is often called Jehovah; sometimes the KJV translates his name simply as LORD, using all capitals to indicate it is a translation of God’s proper name. Indeed, this is how most modern Bible versions render the name of God.
However, God does have a proper name. It is revealed early in the Scriptures. In the first book of the Bible it says, these are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens (Genesis 2:4 KJV). A literal translation of the Hebrew reads, these are births of the heavens and of the earth in their being prepared, in the day of YHWH Elohim making earth and heavens. It is the name “YHWH” (Yahweh) that is often translated as Jehovah or LORD.
God came to be known as Jehovah because of a misunderstanding. The ancient Hebrews believed it was wrong to write or say the name of the Most High. Thus, when it was necessary to say the name of God aloud, they would substitute “Adonai” the generic term for “Lord” or “Elohim,” the common term meaning “god.” They did something similar when writing the name of God. When a copyist encountered the special name in the Sacred text, he used vowel points belonging to Adonai or Elohim rather than those appropriate to The Name (the Hebrew language uses “vowel points” rather than vowels to aid in pronunciation and interpretation). This caused the name YHWH to be written and pronounced something like “ădhōnāy” and helped to guard against the improper use of God’s name.
When the Bible was translated into English, scholars continued the practice of using vowel points from Adonai or Elohim and the name of God was further altered, becoming in English, the familiar “Jehovah.”
So, what does the name Yahweh mean? Basically it means “he is.” In other words, it is the name of the self existent one. This is why God told Moses to inform the children of Israel, “I AM, YHWH Elohim of your fathers” (Exodus 3:14-15). Hence, the children of Israel were enjoined to have confidence in Moses because he was the emissary of the eternal one who had brought everything into being and who controlled all things was watching over them.
And guess what: Christians have the same reason for confidence today!