Tetragrammaton (from the Greek τετραγράμματον, meaning '[word of] four letters' (tetra "four" + gramma (gen. grammatos) "letter"), refers to יהוה, one of the names of the God of Israel written with four letters, as written in the Hebrew Masoretic Text where it appears over 6,800 times.

The letters, properly read from right to left (in Biblical Hebrew), are:

Hebrew Letter name Pronunciation
י Yodh "Y"
ה He (pronounced "hey") "H"
ו Waw "W" or placeholder for "O"/"U" vowel (see mater lectionis)
ה He "H" (or sometimes silent at the ends of words)

יהוה is the four-letter name of God , which is referred to in Josephus, by the Church Fathers, and the Jerusalem Talmud.

Biblical Hebrew often omits vowel sounds from its writings, which would be shown in English.

These four letters are usually transliterated from Hebrew as IHVH in Latin, JHWH in German, French and Dutch, and YHWH in English. This was variously rendered as "Yahweh" or "Jehovah", since in Latin there was no distinct lettering to distinguish 'Y' from 'J', or 'W' from 'V', and the Hebrew does not clearly indicate the omitted vowels. In English translations, it is often rendered in small capital letters as "the ", following Jewish tradition which reads the word as "Adonai" ("Lord") out of respect for the name of God and the commandment not to take the name of God in vain.

See "Historical overview" at Yahweh and Jehovah.

Occurrences and uses

The Tetragrammaton occurs 6,828 times in the Hebrew text of both the Biblia Hebraica and Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. It does not appear in the Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, or Esther.

For views on the pronunciation of the name, see the main article, Yahweh.

See also


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