Thursday, September 4, 2008



Haydn's oratorio The Creation (Die Schöpfung) is to be performed in English by the Palmerston North Choral Society and the Renaissance Singers, with the Manawatu Sinfonia:
3.00 pm Sunday 30 November, 2008, Regent on Broadway, Palmerston North, New Zealand.

The divine name Jehovah appears in the last line of the libretto: "Jehovah's praise for ever shall endure".

Everywhere else in the text, the Deity is 'God' or 'Lord'.

I am glad that 'Jehovah' will be changed to 'the Lord' in this performance by the combined choirs.

Let me explain. Listen carefully, I will say this only once (but you can always read it as often as you want).

My general complaint is that JeHoVaH is another of those monstrosities created by speakers of English, whose lawless spelling system leaves them without a clue with regard to phonetics.

The original Hebrew consonants in the divine name are Y-H-W-H. (We can call Y and W consonants, though they are semi-vowels.) Notice it has four-letters, and so it is reverently designated as the Tetragrammaton (Greek for 'four-letter word').

English always turns Y into J (dj) in Biblical names:
Jesus < (Latin) Iesus < (Hebrew) Yeshua` In JeHoVaH, W has become V (though modern Israelis also say V for W, because they spoke German ['Yiddish'] for so long). The vowels were YaHWeH (and all the consonants were pronounced). So where did the -e-o-a come from? Here beginneth the lesson. You have heard of the Ten Commandments (Do not steal, Do not murder, Do not 'adulterate', and so on) given to the tribes of Israel through the prophet Moses at Mount Sinai (Exodus 20), each of which carries the death penalty, apparently. One of them says "Do not take Yahweh's name in vain" (meaning: don't misuse it, in oaths and curses and magic spells), and for safety's sake it was decided by the Jewish sages that it would be best never to say it out loud. The exception was on the one day of the year, The Day of Atonement, when the High Priest entered the inner sanctum of the Temple in Jerusalem (the Holy of Holies), where God was enthroned above the kerubim [winged sphinxes, not cherubs] on the Ark [box] of the Covenant; there he would whisper the divine name. When the Scriptures were recited, if YHWH appeared then the Hebrew word for 'My Lord' ('Adonay) was substituted (or some Jewish readers say 'The Name'). In ancient Hebrew texts (the Dead Sea scrolls, for example) no vowels were written, only the consonants. But every Jewish boy had to be able to recite the Torah by the age of twelve (at his Bar Miswah [mitsva in Yiddish pronunciation] ceremony), and something had to be done so that words would not be mispronounced: therefore dots and dashes were added to indicate the vowels. Now, the scribes inserted the vowels for 'Adonay on YHWH, to remind the reader to say 'Adonay [My LORD], not Yahweh, and certainly not Yahowah! When the Bible was translated into English, that is what happened: out came Jehovah (in Exodus 6:3). Note that the first -a- in 'Adonay was a very short vowel (a form of shewa), and the -e- in Jehovah is meant to be a shewa (schwa or sheva in English dictionaries, a Hebrew word meaning 'emptiness'). It is the indistinct unstressed vowel sound heard thrice in "a MOMeNT aGO". It has the same quality as New Zealand i [as in sit], and the standard pronunciation of Jehovah is dyihouva [ou as in soul, not as in ghoul, or doubt, or double; you can see what a ridiculous writing system it is]. But now we have changed 'Jehovah' to 'the LORD', as in most English Bibles (exceptions being the translation used by Jehovah's Witnesses; and the Catholic Jerusalem Bible, where Yahweh is consistently written). The name is a verb meaning 'He is'. When he refers to himself he says "I am", not "He is" (see Exodus 6:3). But 'He causes to be' is another possible meaning, implying he is the Creator. Either way, note that the name is a verb and points to a dynamic God who acts. There are two short forms of Yahweh: (1) YAHU (Yahoo!) (2) YAH. The Anglicized 'Elijah' is either Eliyahu (a name many Israelis have) or Eliyah (My God is Yahweh). It is found in the interjection Halleluyah (usually spelled with j!): Praise ye Yahweh, or Praise the Lord.

For an 'alternative' view (Yehweh not Yahweh) go to Yehspace: Cracking the code of the most important name in the universe, IEUE.

I regret that I cannot accept all of the origins for the letters of the alphabet, as suggested by J.E. Marchant on the table supplied in Yehspace. My own chart is here, the first of a series I am running on the original letters of the alphabet.

May I add something about a puzzle in the celebrated chorus (14):

The heavens are telling the glory of God,
the wonder of his work displays the firmament.

Both statements say the same thing, but the second is turned round back to front, poetically but confusingly. The firmament is the sky (= the heavens, the solid vault of heaven, not terra firma) and it is the subject of the verb "displays".

The Authorized Version of King James has:
The heavens declare the glory of God;
and the firmament sheweth his handywork. (Psalm 19:1)

"You can never have too much information" is my motto.

God aend ay haev given ap on Ingglish speling.
God and I have given up on English spelling.


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