Centuries ago the Jews began removing the name from their scriptures believing the name was too holy to be repeated. Christians took up the same practice in their copies. But was it the right choice?
Over the many manuscripts that exist, most of which was written before this decision was made, the scriptures (Hebrew and Greek) had around 7,000 entries of what is known as the tetragrammaton. The tetragrammaton is 4 Hebrew letters that stand in for God’s name. In Hebrew vowels were often left out of words but the meaning was still there. Example, I could write wtr and you would probably get water. Better still if I wrote I need wtr, it would be even clearer. It’s like those different posts you see online where things are written backwards or with numbers in place of some letters and yet you can still read it.
Now in some cases, such as with the tetragrammaton, we don’t have any idea what those vowels are. So it’s there a lot, but we don’t know how to say it. But keep in mind we don’t know how to say Jesus’ name either, or many others in the Bible. Do we stop using their names?
Another thing to consider, how do we get to have a close relationship with someone if we don’t know their name? And in the case of Jehovah, since His name is so full of meaning, isn’t it important to know and use it?
I came across a scripture this week that really hit home for me. In most Bibles it is going to say LORD, but originally it was the tetragrammaton, it’s found at Exodus 3:15 where it reads, “Then God said once more to Moses: “This is what you are to say to the Israelites, ‘Jehovah the God of your forefathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and this is how I am to be remembered from generation to generation.” Of course the key to this is two fold. First, originally, it says his name is “Jehovah.” (the tetragrammaton) And second it says, “this is my name forever and this is how I am to be remembered from generation to generation.”
So surely if Jehovah had his name written down so many times, we pronounce other names we do not actually know, and we want to have a relationship with Him, then doesn’t it make sense to use his name. Make your relationship with Him personal. He knows your name, and he wants you to know His.
Elijah has just proved Jehovah is the true God, not Ba’al. Then he has 850 prophets of Ba’al and the sacred pole slain.
Then Aʹhab told Jezʹe·bel all that E·liʹjah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. At that Jezʹe·bel sent a messenger to E·liʹjah, saying: “So may the gods do to me and add to it if by this time tomorrow I do not make you like each one of them!” At that he became afraid, so he got up and ran for his life. He came to Beʹer-sheʹba, which belongs to Judah, and he left his attendant there. He went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree, and he asked that he might die. He said: “It is enough! Now, O Jehovah, take my life away, for I am no better than my forefathers.”
Then he lay down and fell asleep under the broom tree. But suddenly an angel touched him and said to him: “Get up and eat.” When he looked, there at his head was a round loaf on heated stones and a jug of water. He ate and drank and lay down again. Later the angel of Jehovah came back a second time and touched him and said: “Get up and eat, for the journey will be too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank, and in the strength of that nourishment he went on for 40 days and 40 nights until he reached Horʹeb, the mountain of the true God.
There he entered a cave and spent the night; and look! Jehovah’s word came to him, telling him: “What are you doing here, E·liʹjah?” To this he said: “I have been absolutely zealous for Jehovah the God of armies; for the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, your altars they have torn down, and your prophets they have killed with the sword, and I am the only one left. Now they are seeking to take my life away.” But He said: “Go out and stand on the mountain before Jehovah.” And look! Jehovah was passing by, and a great and strong wind was splitting mountains and breaking crags before Jehovah, but Jehovah was not in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake, but Jehovah was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake, there was a fire, but Jehovah was not in the fire. After the fire, there was a calm, low voice. As soon as E·liʹjah heard it, he wrapped his face in his official garment and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then a voice asked him: “What are you doing here, E·liʹjah?” To this he said: “I have been absolutely zealous for Jehovah the God of armies; for the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, your altars they have torn down, and your prophets they have killed with the sword, and I am the only one left. Now they are seeking to take my life away.”
Jehovah said to him: “Return, and go to the wilderness of Damascus. When you arrive, anoint Hazʹa·el as king over Syria. And you should anoint Jeʹhu the grandson of Nimʹshi as king over Israel, and you should anoint E·liʹsha the son of Shaʹphat from Aʹbel-me·hoʹlah as prophet to take your place. Anyone escaping from Hazʹa·el’s sword, Jeʹhu will put to death; and anyone escaping from Jeʹhu’s sword, E·liʹsha will put to death. And I still have left 7,000 in Israel, all whose knees have not bent down to Baʹal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”
What I Have Gained From This Account
It is interesting to me how you can read things over and over and not always get the point. It is why I continue to read my Bible day in and day out. Elijah first came to my attention during a very dark time. Though I didn’t know it at the time I had an anxiety disorder and was living one very long anxiety attack. I couldn’t leave the house, I couldn’t eat, I’d get sick trying to watch TV, everything was difficult, not a good enough word. Truthfully I just wanted to be dead. I didn’t want to kill myself, that goes against everything I believe, but I would just have loved to have gone to sleep and then not awakened.
I recognized this was a problem and I needed help, but at the time my VA really didn’t have a lot to offer in mental health because they were so completely understaffed and I couldn’t afford to go into the community (I’ve since learned my way around the system and they are better staffed so no longer is this a problem for me). So I did the only thing I could think of. I turned to the elders. In the Witness community elders are charged with shepherding the sheep…me. They do things to care for the building and arrange for talks and other mundane things, but their most important role is to care for the congregation. So I went to a brother I trusted and told him I needed a shepherding call. These are meetings between two mature brothers, at least one an elder, and a sister, brother, couple, family, whoever has a need. These are done on a regular basis, but if needed you can ask for one. I also gave the brother a note to tell him my problems so he could come back to me with good Bible information. He came back with Elijah.
I couldn’t believe it! Elijah wanted to die, he was God’s prophet and yet he was just like me. That in itself was so encouraging. And then Jehovah’s angel comes and ministers to him! Fantastic! With attention from the elders and really focusing on this account I did much better and was able to finally get the mental health help that I needed.
This weekend though as we studied a little bit about Elijah another point came to my attention. Elijah said he wanted to die, and then nothing else for over 40 days to Jehovah. He was beat and he just wasn’t ready to talk and God got it. Sometimes when people are having problems they don’t want to talk about it right away. They may need time to even find the words. Or they may need time to trust you with their cares. So we have to be patient. When it seems someone is down and out offer your help, but be patient in allowing them to take you up on it. Always show yourself available, but don’t push. This is my latest lesson from Jehovah and Elijah.
A lot going on in the world that makes us question the justice of man. Of course George Floyd was the tipping point, but there was much before that. I won’t talk about government policy or protests, I remain neutral, though that sounds completely wrong from what I mean. I just don’t try to change human government because I know that whatever humans try to accomplish, and many of them are well meaning, they fail due to their own imperfection and the imperfection of others. Imperfect people create imperfect governments. The Bible says, “All of this I have seen, and I applied my heart to every work that has been done under the sun, during the time that man has dominated man to his harm.” That is found in Ecclesiastes 8:9. This I think we can all agree on right now, and in history as well.
What I do want to talk about is God, who’s name is Jehovah (Psalm 83:18), and his justice. For starters let’s consider that God has a kingdom, or government, that will eventually rule over the earth as in heaven. (Matthew 6:10) The king of that government is God’s son Jesus. When things happen like they are happening now Jehovah feels our pain. When George Floyd was trapped under the knee of that officer Jehovah was crying for him. A good scripture to show that is Isaiah 63:9, “…During all their distress it was distressing to him.”
When it comes to God and his justice there are just too many scriptures to list how his justice is perfect. Justice is in fact one of his cardinal qualities. But here are some: Deut. 10:17,18, 32:4, Psalm 7:17, 9:7, 33:5, 37:28, 89:14, 97:2, and I could (and did) go on! But of course we wonder as did the prophet Habakkuk, how long??? (Hab. 1:1-4) Jesus answered that question at Matthew 24:36, “Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father.” Okay, that didn’t help much did it? It makes you think it could be forever away…or maybe there is a way to know it is very close at hand?
To discover how close or far away it is Jesus left us some prophecies to help. I would encourage you to peruse the following scriptures and see if you think the “last days” are very close. Matthew 24:4-14, Mark 13:5-10, Luke 21:8-12 and 2 Timothy 3:1-5. When you read these scriptures ask yourself, “Am I seeing this today?” That will answer how close we are to Jehovah’s justice.
When that justice comes, the unrighteous and the wicked will be swept away by Armageddon and those left will walk into a world ready to be made into a paradise and fulfill God’s original purpose. But how do we get there. With that I can only say, study your Bible! And get help in studying your Bible. (Acts 8:26-31)
For more information and loads of Bible based literature in hundreds of languages, as well as the Bible in many languages, visit www.jw.org.
This is one of the tough sections to read in my opinion. So many names that are very difficult to pronounce. When I read the Bible I try to engage myself as much as possible. I read out loud, so that is speech and hearing and then of course I am looking at the words. It is so tempting to start skipping names, I mean really what does this have to do with me? Well, today I figured it out.
For Jews it is very important to keep track of their history and heritage. In Joshua’s time on through to Jesus’ day they kept track because that would help lead to finding the Messiah. But even after all their records were lost in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. (A.D.) they kept up the records best as they could. In fact, before the internet and ancestry.com, if you wanted to try and trace your history one of the best places to go was to a temple or synagogue!
But as a Christian there is a great deal of meaning for me today! It shows how God, or Jehovah (God’s personal name; Ps. 83:18) acts. For example, the tribe of Simeon’s allotment was placed inside the borders of Judah. Why? Judah had more than they needed. So to keep things fair it was lessened by giving some to another tribe. So Jehovah is fair. Everyone gets their fair share. How wonderful! But still what does that have to do with us?
Many people don’t realize this, but the Bible teaches of a time when only righteous people (past and present) will live on the earth. And the earth will be a paradise, just as it began. Well, enough for me to say it, but better if the Bible does the talking here.
Earthly paradise proofs:
Righteous people on earth: Ps. 37:10,11
Paradise: No death, Rev. 21:4; No sick, Isa. 33:24; No blind or lame, Isa. 35:5,6; A resurrection, Jn. 5:28,29; No hunger, Ps. 72:16; Animals get along, Isa. 11:6, 65:25.
These promises will come true. Why, they were what Jehovah promised in the beginning and God doesn’t change. Nu. 23:19, Malachi 3:6.
Now back to my original question, how does the account in Joshua affect us? Because what Jehovah originally purposed was an earth full of righteous people in paradise conditions, and because we can bank on that, there will come a time when we will have our own home on our own land. Jehovah will no doubt divvy up that land up in a fair way and I would count on our own desires being taken into account as well. Me personally, I want to live in the mountains. But, wherever he puts me I know he will have looked into my heart and it will be where I will be happiest.
So yes it is hard to read the names of those people and those cities, but it does help me keep in mind that when the earth is rid of all badness what we get will be good and fair for us.
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So I was looking at my memories on facebook and 4 years ago I was reading about Pharoah’s dream of the fat cows and the skinny cows. This can be found at Genesis 41. I appreciated it as much today as I did then. Here is what I got out of it.
First the interpretation of the dreams (there was a dream about grain too but it had the same interpretation). The dream meant that for seven years there would be an abundance of food, thus the fat cows. Then for the seven years after that there would be famine, the skinny cows. In the dream the skinny cows ate up the fat cows.
Next, how I took this personally and want to apply it. I have three emotional disorders, PTSD, bipolar, and an anxiety disorder. So to me the fat cows are the good times. The times everything is running smoothly. The skinny cows represent the bad times. Times when I can’t get my act together.
Now, upon interpreting the dream for Pharoah, Joseph advised him to get someone wise and discerning to save up food from the good years to prepare for the bad. (the skinny cows eating the fat cows) I find that with my mental health, as well as my physical health I can do the same thing. When you have a good day, make a note of it. Do it in a journal, facebook, just find a way to make note of it so that you can go back and see it again during the not so great (or flat out horrible) days. This will lead you to reminiscing times that were good and changing your attitude to a more pleasant one.
Some people say the Bible is outdated and not useful for today. I disagree. Right here I took a Bible story, one that would seem to not have much relevance, and applied it to my life. I found quite a bit of value in it. So secondary point of this post is don’t disregard the Bible. It is useful for today’s world and today’s society.
Visit jw.org for more information on applying the Bible in your life.
Community, no let me change that to family. We are all over the world. We are unified in our beliefs, we support each other, we comfort and console one another, we encourage one another, we have each others backs, we would go so far as to die for one another if necessary. (Jn. 13:35, Mt. 22:37-39, Pr. 17:17, Ro. 12:10, 1 Cor. 10:24, Ac. 20:35, 1Th. 5:14, Jn. 15:13)
Belief in something bigger than myself that, if you take the time to look at, makes more sense than anything else. (Ac 17:11, 1Th. 2:13, Ja. 3:17, 1Jn. 4:1)
Purpose, I don’t come to your door to bother you. I don’t write condolences to obituaries to insert myself into your life and into your pain, I don’t write letters of encouragement to keep the post office running. I do it to put out a fire. A fire you don’t even know is burning, but it is. I do these things to give you a gift, to share a wonderful, beautiful life with you. Each person I bother, each person I annoy, I care deeply about. (Eze. 9:4, 2Pe. 2:7, 8)
I am not wrong. I was told recently that what I do is wrong. I am not. I follow in the footsteps of the only perfect man to walk the Earth and stay the course. I am not wrong. (Jn. 18:37, Jn. 8:30, Jn. 14:6)
I know how to have fun without offense. I will not hurt your ears or your eyes with obscenity. I consider others around me, I consider God even more. (Ps. 19:14, Php 4:8)
Comfort, I suffer from bipolar disorder and an anxiety disorder. Sometimes I am in a sheer panic and I have to run to one of my safe places. I also have fibromyalgia, but I always have comfort with me. Prayer number one, the Bible number two, and truly concerned friends number three. I’ve been rescued by these many times. (2Cor. 1:3, 4, Ro. 15:5, Eph 6:21, 22, 1Th 4:18)
Joy, for me this is more deep-seated than happiness. It is something way down that makes you suddenly smile for seemingly no reason. But there is a reason. The reason is the value Jehovah finds in me. It just wells up suddenly and with great power. I have worth to the one who is beyond all worth put together. (Gal 5:22, 2Cor 13:11, Ec. 5:19, Ps.64:10, Php. 4:4)
You don’t hurt my feelings. When you slam the door, or refuse to talk, say you have no time when really you do, when you hide, none of these things hurt my feelings. I wish you would talk. I care as much about what you have to say as I do about you. I want you to care about what I have to say because it might just help you get through this messed up world. (1Cor. 3:9)
Surety, I did not make my choice lightly. In fact it is impossible to do so. Some think we are a cult, but a cult is easy to get into and hard to get out of. We are the opposite. I have compared, I have studied, I have made application and have seen it at work. I am left with no question and no doubt. (Ac 17:11, 1Th. 2:13, Ja. 3:17, 1Jn. 4:1)