God’s name, YHVH, is the first, foremost, and perfect illustration of a most basic yet extremely important aspect of the Hebrew mindset: function is far more important than form. In Hebrew understanding, everyday actions of faith are more important than words of faith. Lifestyle is more important than religious rituals. Character is more important than title or position. Good deeds are more important than good intentions. In study, verbs (action words) carry more weight than nouns (names attached to a person, place, or thing).
In stories and accounts in the Bible, the Hebrew mindset looks first not for the “who, what, when and where” of the account but for the “why”. What is the function of the account or verse? What purposes and achievements of God are seen in it? How does this play out in our own lives? Are there parallels in my life and what do they reveal about me and about my Father? How do I need to adapt to the principle being presented?
Yet there is an important twist in this scenario of understanding Biblical accounts, and that is in the meaning of names. There are two principles in weighing a person’s name that apply. First, because a name holds a specific meaning a child’s name is very carefully selected at birth. That name will constantly be spoken over that child’s life. That name is powerful. When you call your child by their name each day, you are speaking a certain destiny or truth over them. They very well might grow up “living up to their name”. Therefore, a Hebrew child is not named until the eighth day after birth. This gives the parents time to get to know their child and see what potential can already be seen in the babe before a name is selected. Hebrew parents who are devout in their life before YHVH listen carefully for him to speak a name to their hearts before they give their infant a lifelong identity. They know with each utterance of that name over their child, a destiny is being released.
Biblically, when a parent was given a name by YHVH to give to a child before the child was born, it was an extremely significant event. Yahweh had a specific earthly destiny in mind for that child and wanted to be sure that destiny, that function, was spoken over him or her from the moment they were born. The same principle holds true when we consider that Messiah gives each of us a new name in His Kingdom as well. That name is our truest destiny in Him throughout eternity. Never ignore or underestimate the unseen power of a name.
The second principle from a Hebrew perspective that applies to names is found in the actual spelling of a Hebrew name. Hopefully I don’t get you confused in this, because it is so very important to grasp. This little truth about Hebrew names will help you gain a much expanded understanding of who God is. When you call him by his names you are doing far more than you realize! His names actually describe how he functions in the universe and in your life. His names are not simply handles, like George or Charlie, that give us something easy to identify him by. There is much more to it than that!
Each letter in the Hebrew alphabet is a picture and has a meaning attached to it. Let’s look closely at the name God asked us to call him by forever in Exodus 3:14-15. YHVH. Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey. Yahweh or YeHoVaH. Again, each Hebrew letter is a picture and has a meaning.
Yud: hand/arm – create, work, throw, worship – all things that a hand and arm can do
Hey: a man trying to get your attention – look, reveal, behold, revelation, breathe (the modern Hebrew
letter looks like a window)
Vav: nail, tent peg, hook – secure, add to, fasten, always, ever
Hey: a man trying to get your attention – look, reveal, behold, revelation, breathe
When we speak the name of God in the Hebrew language as it was given to Moses, we are speaking forth a phrase. “Behold the Hand, Behold the Nail”. Incredible! Of course, we can immediately see Messiah in the very name of our Father. Remember – John tells that Yeshua was with YHVH in the beginning and is YHVH. Yeshua meant it when he proclaimed that he and the Father are one.
When we speak the name of God in the Hebrew language, we are also acknowledging YHVH’s almighty function as the Creator of the universe. Another rendition of the meaning of Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey, coming from the word pictures of the Hebrew letters, is “the Hand that Secures Existence”. To call him “God” means nothing. To call him “The Hand the Secures Existence” – now that is a name worth calling on! Yahweh, by the function his name reveals, moves from being a deity like any other pagan god and becomes Divine. He reveals himself as superior over everything and as the source of all life.
Let your mind dwell on this for a few moments. Why did God, the great I AM, tell Israel that they were to call him by his name, YHVH, generation after generation? Could it be that he wanted them to never forget his role in the universe and in their lives? His name is far more than a handle that identifies. His name defines for us how he functions in his universe and in our lives. He is the hand that secures our very existence! When we look to him, we should behold the hand, behold the nail! We should take great joy in calling him by his name and do so every day!
Let’s go on to the name of our Messiah. In Hebrew it is Yeshua. In English it is Jesus. Jesus is a wonderful name – for an Englishman. But Yeshua is a Hebrew with the Hebrew God, YHVH, as His Father. He is one with his Hebrew Father. His Hebrew name is Yeshua – and his name holds deep meaning. Can I be blunt for a moment? When English Bible translators, past and present, translate “Yeshua” as “Jesus” they make a huge mistake. The literal translation of the Hebrew “Yeshua” into English is “Yahweh Saves”. His name describes the function of his life as a human, his destiny as our Messiah. In Greek, his name is “Yesous” (Yay-sos) and is just another proper human name – a form.
The name Yesous identifies him, but it does not describe how he functions. In Hebrew, his name proclaims his function! He was sent into this world to live out the destiny of his human name: “Yahweh’s Salvation”. He fulfilled “Behold the Hand, Behold the Nail” with his own human flesh. Again, as with YHVH, Yeshua’s name removes him from being just another deity and recognizes him as being Divine. The salvation of mankind and all creation is found in his nail scarred hands. Period. When we call him by his God-given name, Yeshua, we are declaring this is what YHVH has done for us and will do for anyone who gives their life back to the Creator and King of the Universe through him.
The Hebrew letters comprising the name Yeshua continue to describe how he interacts with his world. The Hebrew letters for His name are Yud-Shin-Vav-Ayin.
Yud: hand/arm – to create, work, throw, worship – all things that a hand or arm can do
Shin: two front teeth – sharp, press, eat, destroy, consume, devour
Vav: nail, tent peg, hook – to secure, add to, fasten, always, ever
Ayin: eye – to watch, know, see, understand, reveal
When we speak the name Yeshua we are proclaiming that it is by his hand (or mighty arm) that all things are created, destroyed, secured, and revealed. Isn’t it amazing that the name of Yeshua reinforces the name of YHVH? YHVH is “the hand that secures existence”. Yeshua is “he who creates, destroys, secures, and reveals”. Yeshua meant what he said. “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30) “Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9) As it was designed by Father to do, the Hebrew language simply testifies to the pure Truth found in his name.
It is a great misfortune for both Jews and Christians that our translators followed human instruction and tradition to rob the Bible text of his name. Even though YHVH told Moses that he wants his people to always call him by his name, YHVH, religious leaders deemed his name too holy to speak aloud or write. Thus, when the texts were written in Hebrew and then translated into Greek, Latin, English and other languages the original use of his name was substituted with LORD, GOD, or ADONAI (notice the use of all capital lettering). In conversation with Jewish people YHVH will also be referred to as HaShem, The Name. I wonder, how much does our Father long to be called by his name by the ones he so deeply loves?
I have a simple and practical challenge for you. If you undertake it, it will powerfully transform your understanding of Scripture. Personally, this is one of my favorite ways to read my Bible. As you read your Bible, read it aloud. Every time you read LORD, GOD, or ADONAI replace those terms with the original YHVH (Yahweh or Yehovah). Let your ears hear what is being said. Let your lips proclaim how our God functions in your life and in this world. Release a little heaven into the earth! Another option is to say “The Hand that Secures Existence” each time you see the translators’ reference to his name. Also, each time you read the word “salvation” – especially in the Old Testament – say “Yeshua” instead. In the New Testament replace the name Yeshua with “Yahweh Saves”. I promise you – this little exercise will open your mind and heart to an incredibly empowered understanding of who YHVH is in your life. His Spirit within you will be deeply stirred by this honoring of his name.
Our Hebrew God has a Hebrew name. It is YHVH, The Hand that Secures Existence. He is the Hand that secures my existence”. Praise Yahweh, YHVH Saves (Yeshua) now lives within me! In YHVH Saves I can do all things because YHVH Saves is the One who creates, destroys, secures, and reveals. He is Behold the Hand, Behold the Nail!
A philosopher of ages past once asked, “What’s in a name?” With our almighty YHVH, the answer is EVERYTHING! Indeed, blessed be his glorious Name!
© Deborah Munson 2020