THE THIRD COMMANDMENT
Thou shalt not take the name of YHWH thy God in vain.
Thou shalt not take the name of YHWH thy God in vain; for YHWH will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. (Exodus 20:7)1
The Third Commandment is cited four times in the Old Testament: Exodus 20:7; Leviticus 19:12, 22:32; and Deuteronomy 5:11. The First and Second Commandments2 mandate that we worship only one God, the creator and sustainer of the universe. The Third Commandment requires that we correctly identify and appropriately honor Him.
Identifying God Correctly
Correctly identifying God begins with acknowledging His name. Ironically, while the names of at least thirty-seven other gods can be found in our Bibles, the name of the God of the Bible is nowhere to be seen in most standard English versions. The King James Version, like all mainline translations, renders the Third Commandment as follows:
Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. (Exodus 20:7)
This is not how God’s Holy Spirit intended for the Third Commandment to be written. The inspired Third Commandment reads as follows:
Thou shalt not take the name of YHWH thy God in vain; for YHWH will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
Making Vain the Name
YHWH (most often pronounced Yahweh) is the English transliteration3 of the Tetragrammaton, the four Hebrew letters representing God’s personal name. God’s Holy Spirit inspired the Tetragrammaton to appear in the Old Testament 6,823 times. Why then can it not be found in our common English versions? An abbreviated form appears at the end of hallelujah, which translates “praise ye Yah,” and at the end of numerous Hebrew names, such as Eliyah, Nechemyah, and Isayah, when spelled correctly. But these exceptions are insufficient to render due honor to God’s name.
On their own volition, the English translators replaced God’s name with uninspired titles and, occasionally, with the false name “Jehovah.” No translator has the right to remove or replace God’s inspired words – much less God’s inspired name – regardless of how lofty the excuse:
...what is his [God’s] name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell? Every word of God is pure.... Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. (Proverbs 30:4-6)
This is precisely what most English translators have done. They have taken away and added to God’s Word by replacing His personal name with the capital letters “LORD” and “GOD” or with the counterfeit name “Jehovah.”
When they did not remain true to the Hebrew text, the English translators broke the Third Commandment by making God’s name vain, or of none effect. The word “vain,” as found in the Third Commandment, is translated from the Hebrew word shav. It is the same word translated “false” in the Ninth Commandment:
“Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbour.” (Deuteronomy 5:20)
We are not to use God’s name falsely or bear false witness to it by replacing it with titles and other substitutions.
Authority vs. Identification
Some people claim the Third Commandment has nothing to do with the literal name of God, but only with the authority of His name. Authority is implied in the Hebrew word shem, translated “name” in the Third Commandment:
shem (shame) … an appellation, as a mark or memorial of individuality; by implication honor, authority, character.4
The Hebrew word shem is used in the Old Testament 824 times, and in the King James Version it is translated “name,” “names,” or “named” in all but 17 of those instances. It is never translated “authority.” Shem is most often used to designate something or someone, such as the names of the rivers in Genesis 2:10-14 or the name Adam gave Eve in Genesis 3:20. Although authority is implied in a few cases, in all other instances, shem is simply used in reference to proper and/or personal names.
The authority intrinsic in God’s name is found only in His name. For example, a Roman soldier’s authority was in the name of Nero. Had that soldier presented himself in the name of Nebuchadnezzar or any other ruler, no one would have recognized his authority.
Although we have been charged to remember, commemorate, and memorialize God’s personal name, most modern translators have done just the opposite by erasing His name from the Scriptures – and thereby removing it from the memory of most of His people.
Consider the emphasis Yahweh, the patriarchs, the prophets, Yeshua,5 and the New Testament authors placed upon God’s name. Although disagreements remain regarding its spelling and pronunciation, the following passages resolve any questions as to its importance:
…Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, YHWH God of … Abraham, … Isaac, and … Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations. (Exodus 3:15)
…for this cause have I [Yahweh] raised thee [Pharaoh] up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth. (Exodus 9:16)
…observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, YHWH…. (Deuteronomy 28:58)
…I will publish the name of YHWH…. (Deuteronomy 32:3)
Glory ye in his holy name … YHWH. (1 Chronicles 16:10)
Let it even be established, that thy name may be magnified for ever, saying, YHWH of hosts is the God of Israel…. (1 Chronicles 17:24)
I will declare thy name unto my brethren…. (Psalm 22:22)
Give unto YHWH the glory due unto his name…. (Psalm 29:2)
I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations…. (Psalm 45:17)
…I will wait on thy name; for it is good before thy saints. (Psalm 52:9)
…I will praise thy name, O YHWH; for it is good. (Psalm 54:6)
Sing forth the honour of his name…. (Psalm 66:2)
Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him … by his name YH…. (Psalm 68:4)
His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun … YHWH God, the God of Israel … and blessed be his glorious name for ever…. (Psalm 72:17-19)
In Judah is God known: His name is great in Israel. (Psalm 76:1)
Pour out thy wrath upon … the kingdoms that have not called upon thy name. (Psalm 79:6)
…that they may seek thy name, O YHWH…. That men may know that thou, whose name alone is YHWH, art the most high over all the earth. (Psalm 83:16-18)
Let them praise thy great and terrible [awesome, NASV] name; for it is holy. (Psalm 99:3)
Bless YHWH … bless his holy name. (Psalm 103:1)
O give thanks unto YHWH; call upon his name…. Glory ye in his holy name…. (Psalm 105:1-3)
Save us, O YHWH our God, and gather us from among the heathen, to give thanks unto thy holy name…. (Psalm 106:47)
…he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name. (Psalm 111:9)
…praise the name of YHWH. Blessed be the name of YHWH from this time forth and for evermore. From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same YHWH’s name is to be praised. (Psalm 113:1-3)
Thy name, O YHWH, endureth for ever; and thy memorial, O YHWH, throughout all generations. (Psalm 135:13)
…let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever. (Psalm 145:21)
Wherefore glorify ye YHWH … even the name of YHWH God of Israel…. (Isaiah 24:15)
…O YHWH … the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee. (Isaiah 26:8)
Pour out thy fury … upon the families that call not on thy name…. (Jeremiah 10:25)
But I had pity for mine holy name … I do … this for … mine holy name’s sake … I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen…. (Ezekiel 36:21-23)
Therefore thus saith the Lord YHWH; now will I … be jealous for my holy name. (Ezekiel 39:25)
Even YHWH God of hosts; YHWH is his memorial. (Hosea 12:5)
…the man of wisdom shall see thy name…. (Micah 6:9)
If ye … will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith YHWH of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you…. (Malachi 2:2)
…a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared YHWH, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith YHWH of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels…. (Malachi 3:16-17)
…pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. (Matthew 6:9)
…let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. (Hebrews 13:15)
…I know thy works … and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith…. (Revelation 2:13)
…thou … hast not denied my name. …I will write upon him [that overcometh] the name of my God…. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (Revelation 3:8-13)
…the time … that thou shouldest give reward unto … them that fear thy name…. (Revelation 11:18)
And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. (Revelation 14:1)
…his servants shall serve him … and his name shall be in their foreheads. (Revelation 22:3-4)
Among other things, we are to memorialize, declare, publish, glory in, magnify, glorify, wait on, praise, honor, extol, seek, bless, call upon, thank, desire, think upon, hallow, hold fast, and fear God’s name. How can we do any of these things if we do not know His name?
Our God’s Name: LORD, Jehovah, or Yahweh?
The Sin of the English Translators
The English word “memorial” in Exodus 3:15, Psalm 135:13, and Hosea 12:5 is translated from the Hebrew word zeker. Strong’s Concordance defines both zeker and its root word zakar:
zeker (zay'-ker); or zeker (zeh'-ker); from … [zakar]; a memento, abstr. recollection (rarely if ever); by implication, commemoration.6
zakar (zaw-kar'); a primitive root; properly, to mark (so as to be recognized), i.e. to remember; by implication, to mention….7
Zakar is the same Hebrew word translated “mention” in Exodus 23:
…make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth. (Exodus 23:13)
Exodus 23 commands us not to mention, and therefore not to memorialize, the personal names of other gods, whereas Exodus 3 commands us to memorialize – to use – the name of our God. With this in mind, consider the following definitions of the Hebrew word shav, which is translated “vain” in the Third Commandment:
…Emptiness, nothingness, vanity….8
…in the sense of desolating; evil (as destructive), literally (ruin) … uselessness (as deceptive, objective; also adverbially, in vain).9
This is precisely what most English translators did when they replaced Yahweh’s personal name with impersonal titles – they desolated and therefore made His name vain. Exodus 23:13 commands us not to mention the names of other gods. However, because the translators removed the Tetragrammaton “YHWH” from the Bible and replaced it with stand-in titles, it is our God’s name that is seldom mentioned and has, therefore, been forgotten by the majority of today’s Israelites10 and non-Israelites alike. One of the psalmists went so far as to associate forgetting the name of Yahweh with idolatry:
If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a strange god; shall not God search this out? For he knoweth the secrets of the heart. (Psalm 44:20-21)
The Holy Spirit inspired the writers of the Old Testament to use the Tetragrammaton nearly 7,000 times. Yet, this name cannot be found even once in most standard English versions!
King Solomon warned that “Every word of God is pure…. Add thou not unto His words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar” (Proverbs 30:5-6). No one should be disturbed about reinserting the Tetragrammaton into the Old Testament text. The English translators took away from and added to God’s Word when they removed the Tetragrammaton and replaced it with uninspired titles. Reinserting the Tetragrammaton is simply reestablishing the text according to Yahweh’s inspiration.
Immediately following Solomon’s admonition against adding to Yahweh’s words is a question pertaining to the names of God and His Son:
Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? Who hath gathered the wind in his fists? Who hath bound the waters in a garment? Who hath established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell? (Proverbs 30:4)
Because the English translators have subtracted from and added to God’s Word by replacing “YHWH” with the capital letters “LORD” and “GOD,” few people can tell God’s name.
Incredibly, the prefaces and forewords of most English versions of the Bible state the reasons the English translators chose to remove His name. After admitting “it is almost if not quite certain that the Name was originally pronounced ‘Yahweh,’” the translators of the Revised Standard Version excuse themselves for removing the Tetragrammaton from the Old Testament:
The present revision returns to the procedure of the King James Version … and the long established practice in the reading of the Hebrew scriptures in the synagogue…. For two reasons the committee has returned to the more familiar usage [of substituting “the LORD” or “GOD” for YHWH] of the King James Version: (1) the word ‘Jehovah’ does not accurately represent any form of the name ever used in Hebrew; and (2) the use of any proper name for the one and only God, as though there were other gods from whom He had to be distinguished, was discontinued in Judaism before the Christian era and is entirely inappropriate for the universal faith of the Christian Church.11
Initially, these reasons may appear convincing. However, no man or group of men have the right to overrule God regardless of the excuse. Yahweh, and Yahweh alone, knows what standard is appropriate for the Christian Church.
The editorial board of the New American Standard Bible made the following admission:
This name [Yahweh] has not been pronounced by the Jews…. Therefore, it has been consistently translated Lord.12
What the Jews pronounce or do not pronounce should have no bearing on how God’s inspired Word is translated.
The Complete Bible: An American Translation, also known as The Smith and Goodspeed English Bible, is probably the most candid:
As nearly as we can now tell, the Hebrews called their Deity by the Name Yahweh, and in a shorter form, Yah…. In course of time … [YHWH was] substituted [with] the Hebrew word “Lord.” When vowels were added to the text, the consonants of “Yahweh” were given the vowels of “Lord.” Somewhere in the fourteenth century A.D. Christian scholars, not understanding this usage, took the vowels and consonants exactly as they were written and produced the artificial name “Jehovah” which has persisted ever since. In this translation we have followed the orthodox Jewish tradition and substituted “the Lord” for the name “Yahweh” and the phrase “the Lord God” for the phrase “the Lord Yahweh.” In all cases where “Lord” or “God” represents an original “Yahweh” small capitals are employed. Anyone, therefore, who desires to retain the flavor of the original text has but to read “Yahweh” wherever he sees LORD or GOD.13
In light of Matthew 15:3, the English translators have no excuse for their actions:
But he [Yeshua] answered and said unto them [corrupt Judahite scribes and Pharisees], Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? …in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. (Matthew 15:3-9)
When confronting the scribes and Pharisees, Yeshua condemned them for promoting the traditions of the elders. These same traditions were later codified into what is known today as the Babylonian Talmud.14 No one should be surprised that this Jewish book of faith teaches the suppression and degradation of Yahweh’s name:
…one says the Name … in the provinces, with a euphemism.15 (Mishnah Sotah 7:6)
…these [people who pronounce Yahweh’s name] are the ones who have no portion in the world to come. (Mishnah Sanhedrin 10:1)
Regrettably, current English versions of the Septuagint (the second-century BC Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament) translate Leviticus 24:16 similarly:
And he that names the name of the Lord, let him die the death … let him die for naming the name of the Lord. (Leviticus 24:16, LXX)
This translation not only contradicts the Masoretic Hebrew text, it also contradicts many other Septuagint passages:
…I have called on the name of the Lord, assign ye greatness to our God. (Deuteronomy 32:3, LXX)
I will declare thy name to my brethren…. (Psalm 22:22, LXX)
They shall make mention of thy name from generation to generation…. (Psalm 45:17, LXX)
Pour out Thy wrath upon … kingdoms which have not called upon Thy name. (Psalm 79:6, LXX)
The King James Version – with the Tetragrammaton reinserted – provides the true intent:
And he that blasphemeth the name of YHWH, he shall surely be put to death … when he blasphemeth the name of YHWH, shall be put to death. (Leviticus 24:16)
The preface of the Good News Bible declares that Yahweh’s name first began to be deleted from the Bible with the translation of the Septuagint:
Following the ancient tradition, begun by the first [Greek] translation of the Hebrew Scriptures (the Septuagint) … [YHWH] the distinctive name for God … is in this translation represented by “LORD.”16
There is evidence, however, that the original Septuagint preserved God’s Hebrew name. In Biblical Archeology Review, George Howard, Professor of Religion at the University of Georgia, provided important information from the Fuad Papyri collection:
In 1944, W.G. Waddell discovered the remains of an Egyptian papyrus scroll (Papyrus Fuad 266) dating to the first or second century BC that included part of the Septuagint. In no instance, however, was YHWH translated kyrios [lord]. Instead the Tetragrammaton itself – in square Aramaic letters – was written into the Greek text. This parallels the Qumran Covenanters’ use of the palaeo-Hebrew script for the Divine Name in a document which was otherwise written in square Aramaic script.17
Professor Howard provided evidence from two other Greek Old Testament manuscripts that also inserted the Hebrew Tetragrammaton into the Greek text:
Thus, we have three separate pre-Christian copies of the Greek Septuagint Bible and in not a single instance is the Tetragrammaton translated kyrios or for that matter translated at all. We can now say with near certainty that it was a Jewish practice before, during, and after the New Testament period to write the divine name in paleo-Hebrew or square Aramaic script or in transliteration right into the Greek text of Scritpure.18
In its Appendix 1A, entitled “The Carry-Over of the Divine Name into the Greek Scriptures (With Twelve Supporting Fragments),” The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures provides the following evidence that the Tetragrammaton was inserted into the original copies of the Greek Septuagint:
Not one of these fragments [of the second half of the book of Deuteronomy] shows an example of Kurios [Lord] or Theos [God] being used instead of the divine name, but in each instance the Tetragrammaton is written in square Hebrew characters. In 1944 a fragment of this papyrus was published by W.G. Waddell in Journal of Theological Studies, Vol. 45, pp. 158-161…. Commenting on this papyrus, Paul Kahle wrote in Studia Evangelica…. “…A characteristic of the papyrus is the fact that the name of God is rendered by the Tetragrammaton in Hebrew square letters. An examination of the published fragments of the papyrus undertaken … by Pater Vaccari resulted in his concluding that the papyrus, which must have been written about 400 years earlier than Codex B, contains perhaps the most perfect Septuagint text of Deuteronomy that has come down to us.” … Nine other Greek manuscripts also contain the divine name…. The Tetragrammaton persisted in copies of LXX [the Septuagint] for centuries after Christ and his apostles. Some time during the first half of the second century C.E., when Aquila’s own Greek version was produced, it also showed the Tetragrammaton in archaic Hebrew letters. Jerome, of the fourth and fifth centuries C.E., in his prologue to the books of Samuel and Kings said: “And we find the name of God, the Tetragrammaton … in certain Greek volumes even to this day expressed in ancient letters.” Thus down to the time of Jerome, the chief translator who produced the Latin Vulgate, there were Greek manuscripts of translations of the Hebrew Scriptures that still contained the divine name in its four Hebrew characters.19
Professor Howard explained how the corrupted Septuagint manuscripts may have affected New Testament quotes of Old Testament passages that perhaps were originally inspired with the Tetragrammaton intact:
A similar pattern probably evolved with respect to the New Testament. When the Septuagint which the New Testament church used and quoted contained the Hebrew form of the divine name, the New Testament writers no doubt included the Tetragrammaton in their quotations. But when the Hebrew form for the divine name was eliminated in favor of Greek substitutes in the Septuagint, it was eliminated from the New Testament quotations of the Septuagint. Thus toward the end of the first Christian century, the use of surrogates (kyrios and theos) and their contractions must have crowded out the Hebrew Tetragrammaton in both Testaments. Before long the divine name was lost to the Gentile church except insofar as it was reflected in the contracted surrogates or remembered by scholars.20
Matthew 4 provides one example where it appears that the Tetragrammaton, YHWH, was eliminated from an Old Testament passage quoted in the New Testament:
But he [Yeshua] answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4)
Yeshua was quoting a passage from Deuteronomy in which Yahweh had inspired the Tetragrammaton:
…man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of YHWH…. (Deuteronomy 8:3)
The corruption of Yahweh’s name in some of the later copies of the Septuagint occurred during the second century BC when Edomites intermingled with the house of Judah, even going so far as to take the name “Judahites.”21 Under the heading “God, Names Of,” The Standard Jewish Encyclopaedia informs us that the Septuagint was first translated during the second century BC.22 In short, the practice of substituting “YHWH” with either “the LORD” or “GOD” began at about the same time or shortly after “the Edomites became a section of the Jewish [Judahite] People.”23 This concurrence should not be discounted or minimized. Most of today’s Jews are descended, at least in part, from Esau/Edom,24 and most English translators admit they removed Yahweh’s name because of Jewish influence.
In addition to distorting the truth about the Third Commandment and the use of “Yahweh,” the Jewish authors of The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia admit to their presumptuous substitution of “Lord” for “Yahweh”:
As early as Bible times … this name [Yahweh] was never pronounced except once a year by the [Levitical] high priest on the Day of Atonement in the Temple at Jerusalem. The [Israelite] people, however, never spoke the name at any time; the term Adonai … meaning “Lord,” was consistently substituted for [Yahweh]….25
Of course this Jewish claim has no basis in Scripture. True Israelites had no hesitancy about calling upon Yahweh’s name. When the divine name is reinserted where it was originally inspired in the Scriptures, it is apparent that Yahweh intended those who read the Scriptures to speak and write His personal name.
Freemasonry, which is essentially an extension of Kabbalistic26 Judaism, followed the lead of the Jews who desired to conceal Yahweh’s name:
In Hebrew it [God’s name] consists of four letters … and hence is called the Tetragrammaton, or Four-lettered Name; and because it was forbidden to a Jew, as it is to a Freemason, to pronounce it, it is also called the Ineffable or Unpronounceable Name…. The first thing that attracts our attention in the investigation of this name is the ancient regulation, still existing, by which it was made unlawful to pronounce it…. Whatever may have been the reason, the rule was imperative among the Jews…. Capellus says that the rule that the holy name was not to be pronounced was derived from a tradition…. In the third chapter of that book [Exodus], when Moses asks of God what is His name, He replies “I am that I am;” … He adds, “this is my name forever.” …the Rabbis, says Capellus, by the change of a single letter, made l’olam, forever, read as if it had been written l’alam, which means to be concealed, and hence the passage was translated “this is my name to be concealed,” instead of “this is my name forever.” …In obedience to this law [Jewish tradition], whenever [God’s name] occurs to a Jew in reading, he abstains from pronouncing it, and substitutes in its place the word … Adonai [Lord].27
Because the English translators removed Yahweh’s name from our Bibles, the average Christian28 does not know or use His name and thus observes Jewish and Masonic tradition rather than complying with Yahweh’s Word.
Power in God’s Name
It is often claimed that Jews who refuse to pronounce Yahweh’s name chose to remove the Tetragrammaton from the Old Testament out of reverence for God. Removing what God inspired cannot be described as reverence. Faithful Old Covenant Israelites were not dissuaded by Jewish traditions from using Yahweh’s name when they wrote and read the Hebrew Scriptures as they were originally inspired. Neither did such traditions dissuade Yeshua from proclaiming Yahweh’s name:
I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world…. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it. (John 17:6, 26)
There must be another reason for why the Jews have dissuaded others from using Yahweh’s name. The following three quotations (two Jewish and one Masonic) demonstrate Jewry’s desire to reserve for themselves the power of Yahweh’s name:
A distinction was usually made [by Jews] between theoretical and practical K.[abbalism]; the latter consisted of the use of Divine or Holy Names … for healing the sick and other practical purposes and also for eschatological and genuinely mystical ends….29
The specific name of God was, in a very literal sense, a terrible word. If not properly used, it could wreak havoc upon a man or upon a people. Its use therefore had to be guarded very carefully. That tradition still exists in Orthodox Judaism.30
The Jews of old believed that this holy name … was possessed of unbounded powers. “He who pronounces it,” said they, “shakes heaven and earth, and inspires the very angels with astonishment and terror. There is a sovereign authority in this name; it governs the world by its power….”31
Although Judaism’s perspective of the power residing in Yahweh’s name is distorted, most Christians fail to recognize that there is intrinsic power and protection in Yahweh’s name:
YHWH … the name of the God of Jacob defend thee…. Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of YHWH our God. (Psalm 20:1-7)
…through thy name [Yahweh] will we tread them under that rise up against us. (Psalm 44:5)
Save me, O God, by thy name…. (Psalm 54:1)
I [Yahweh] will set him on high, because he hath known my name. (Psalm 91:14)
Our help is in the name of YHWH, who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 124:8)
The name of YHWH is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe. (Proverbs 18:10)
Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O YHWH; thou art great, and thy name is great in might. (Jeremiah 10:6)
…whosoever shall call on the name of YHWH shall be delivered…. (Joel 2:32)
Moreover, the enemies of God fear His name:
So the heathen shall fear the name of YHWH…. (Psalm 102:15)
For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same … my name shall be great among the heathen, saith YHWH of hosts. …I am a great King, saith YHWH of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen. (Malachi 1:11-14)
Agendas hostile to Christianity desire to eliminate Christianity’s God and therefore Christianity’s authority and power. One method of accomplishing this is to demote Yahweh to a generic god or lord, putting Him on equal footing with all other gods. 2 Kings 17 provides an example of this type of agenda:
Then [Shalmaneser] the king of Assyria commanded, saying, Carry thither one of the [Levitical] priests whom ye brought from thence [Samaria] … and let him teach them [the non-Israelite exiles in Israel’s land] the manner of the God of the land. Then one of the priests … came … and taught them how they should fear YHWH. Howbeit every nation made gods of their own…. And the men of Babylon made Succothbenoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima, and the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burnt their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech…. They feared YHWH, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence. (2 Kings 17:27-33)
Yahweh became just another god, joining the ranks of Succothbenoth, Nergal, Ashima, Nibhaz, Tartak, Adrammelech, and Anammelech. Today this is known as pluralism. Agnosticism, the belief that Yahweh is unknowable, is the next regressive step after pluralism. What better way to accomplish this design than to eradicate Yahweh’s identity, beginning with the elimination of His name? In fact, this would make Yahweh even less of a god than the other gods because while the other gods are identified by name, Yahweh becomes nameless. For instance, if “YHWH” is not reinserted into 2 Kings 17:27-33, He becomes a nameless God among seven man-made gods which are all identified by name.
When the Apostle Paul was in Athens, he observed altars dedicated to gods that all had names. Among them was an altar with an inscription to an unnamed God:
Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN God. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands. (Acts 17:22-24)
According to Paul, this altar on Mars’ Hill was devoted to Yahweh, the God who, as early as the 1st century AD, had become nameless and unknown. The word “unknown” is translated from the Greek word agnostos, from which our English word “agnostic” is derived. Atheism follows agnosticism down this slippery road to spiritual ruin.
Yahweh warned of false teachers who would cause His people to forget His name:
…prophets of the deceit of their own heart; which think to cause my people to forget my name … as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal. (Jeremiah 23:26-27)
One of the meanings of Baal is lord. The substitution of “LORD” for “YHWH” in the Old Testament has contributed to many Christians forgetting the name of Yahweh.
Anyone who consciously removes Yahweh’s name from the Scriptures is guilty of a Third Commandment infraction. Likewise, once a Christian becomes informed of this deception and continues to use “LORD” and “GOD” in place of “YHWH” in the Scriptures, he becomes complicit in the sins of the English translators.
Going Too Far
In an attempt to rectify this corruption of God’s Word, certain Christians have printed new versions of the Bible wherein they have reinstated some equivalent of YHWH in place of the words “LORD” and “GOD.” However, some of these sacred name users have also removed the words “Lord” and “God” from their translations and replaced them with either “Yahweh” or “Elohiym” (the English transliteration for the Hebrew word for God). This is an overreaction to the previously described corruption, but it would not be such a grievous offense were it not for the fact that every word of God is tested (Proverbs 30:5-6). Had God wanted Yahweh or Elohiym where adonay and kurios have been correctly translated “Lord” and where elohiym and theos have been correctly translated “God,” He would have placed them there Himself.
There is no question that in the nearly 7,000 instances where God inspired His name to appear in the Scriptures, the words “LORD” and “GOD” in capital letters should be crossed out and replaced with “YHWH.” However, no one has the authority to remove the words “Lord” and “God” any more than one has the authority to remove God’s personal name. In other words, King Solomon’s admonition in Proverbs 30:5-6 applies as much to the words “Lord” and “God” as it does to the name “Yahweh.”
LORD or Lord: Is Either One Correct?
Adonay and its root adown are the two Hebrew words most often translated “Lord” in our Old Testaments. Kurios is the Greek word usually translated “Lord” in the New Testament. Strong’s Concordance defines adonay, adown, and kurios:
adonay (ad-o-noy') … the Lord (used [incorrectly] as a proper name of God...).32
adown (aw-done'); or (shortened) `adon (aw-done'); from an unused root (meaning to rule); sovereign, i.e. controller (human or divine).33
kurios (koo'-ree-os); from kuros (supremacy); supreme in authority, i.e. (as noun) controller; by implication, Mr. (as a respectful title).34
In the Hebrew Old Testament, adonay is used as a title for Yahweh in all but 5 of 441 times. In the Greek New Testament, kurios is found 722 times and is used as a title for either Yahweh or Yeshua in all but 64 instances. The titles lord, master, sovereign, and supreme ruler are perfectly acceptable English translations of adonay and kurios.
Although well intended, the removal of the word “Lord” – when translated from adonay and kurios – has been a misguided overreaction by the translators of some sacred name versions of the Bible. The mistake stems mostly from an incorrect interpretation of a passage in the book of Hosea:
And it shall be at that day, saith YHWH, that thou shalt call me Ishi; and shalt call me no more Baali. For I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name. (Hosea 2:16-17)
Because baali and baalim are derived from baal, and because Baal was a Phoenician god, and because “lord” is one of the definitions of baal, some sacred name Bible translators mistakenly concluded that it is improper to address Yahweh by the title Lord.
No matter how convincing their argument may appear, it does not justify overruling Yahweh and replacing adonay and kurios with Yahweh or Elohiym in the more than 1,100 locations where God inspired these two words to appear. Even baal was sometimes used in the Old Testament as a title for Yahweh:
For thy Maker is thine husband [baal]; YHWH of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel…. (Isaiah 54:5)
Behold, the days come, saith YHWH, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers … which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband [baal] unto them, saith YHWH. (Jeremiah 31:31-32)
For the same reasons provided by those who wish to eliminate the word “Lord” altogether from the Bible, we would also have to refrain from addressing Yahweh as master, sovereign, and supreme ruler because these titles are synonyms of lord and, therefore, are also a part of the definitions provided for baal.
The concern expressed in Hosea 2 was not that Yahweh was being addressed as lord, master, or even baal, but that He had become just another lord, master, or baal on equal footing with all other so-called gods. There is nothing wrong with addressing Yahweh by the title “Lord,” provided His personal name is not abused, lost, or forgotten when doing so. Using this title is proper if we understand that Yahweh is the Adonay of adown (Deuteronomy 10:17) and the Kurios of kurios (Revelation 17:14) – in other words, the “Lord of lords.” It is biblically accurate to address Yahweh as Lord provided we understand that He is the one and only Lord, Adonay, or Kurios:
GOD or God: Is Either One Correct?
Sacred name users who have eliminated “lord” have also overreacted to the word “god.” The following two explanations from a publication by the New Jerusalem Group are samples of the kind of reasoning used to excuse the removal of the word “God” from our Bibles:
This name (God) can mean any deity, because the definition means “a” deity, and does not specifically indicate which god it is describing…. The word (God) is translated [in the New Testament] from the Greek “Theos,” which is also Deos, i.e. Deas/De'oos/Deus. “Deus … n. God. Abbr.: D. [L. deus god; c. Gk. Zeus]”….
…God [in the Old Testament] is the English translation of Gad (gawd), which was the name of a Babylonian deity! …The Hebrew Gad and English God are pronounced the same…GAWD. Therefore, by calling upon “God,” we call upon the name of another god!35
Other sacred name users claim that Yahweh should never be addressed by the title “God” because the Greek word theos can allegedly be linguistically linked with the Greek god Zeus36 and because the English word “God” can allegedly be phonetically linked with the Babylonian deity Gad and because Scripture warns us not to mention the names of other gods. According to these same people, Yahweh should be designated as Elohiym, the Hebrew word translated “God” in most English Bibles. However, if it is improper to address Yahweh as God, then it is also improper to address Him as Elohiym for the same aforementioned reasons. El, the shortened form of Elohiym, was the name of an ancient Canaanite god.
Furthermore, Yahweh did not use elohiym exclusively to describe Himself. Elohiym is a generic Hebrew word that in English simply means “god(s).” Yahweh inspired elohiym to be used in Hebrew both for Himself and for false gods and idols in the same way the English word “god(s)” is used. In the creation account, Yahweh used elohiym to denote Himself:
In the beginning God [elohiym] created the heaven and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)
Elohiym is also used for pagan gods. In fact, elohiym is the very word employed in the prohibition against using the names of false gods:
…make no mention of the name of other gods [elohiym], neither let it be heard out of thy mouth. (Exodus 23:13)
Consider again the following quotation, which the New Jerusalem Group believes justifies removing the word “God” from the Bible. If the English word “God” is replaced with the Hebrew word elohiym, it reads as follows:
This name elohiym can mean any deity, because the definition means “a” deity, and does not specifically indicate which elohiym it is describing…. Therefore, by calling upon elohiym, we call upon the name of another elohiym!
Consequently, those who want to remove the English word “God” from their Bibles must also remove the Hebrew word elohiym in order to be consistent with their own teachings.
The following renditions of Exodus 34:23 provide a contrast between the translations of the English translators and the sacred name users:
Thrice in the year shall all your men children appear before the Lord GOD, the God of Israel. (King James Version)
Thrice in the year shall all your male children appear before Yahweh Elohiym, Elohiym of Israel. (The Holy Name Bible)
Both renditions are incorrect. Accurately transliterated, this verse reads:
Thrice in the year shall all your male children appear before the Adonay YHWH, the Elohiym of Israel.
This text was inspired by the Holy Spirit to contain three different Hebrew words with three totally different meanings. Thus, neither “the Lord GOD, the God of Israel,” nor “Yahweh Elohiym, Elohiym of Israel” can be justified. Accurately translated, the English rendition follows:
Thrice in the year shall all your male children appear before the Lord YHWH, the God of Israel.
The word theos was inspired by Yahweh to appear over 1,300 times in the Greek New Testament. Again, no one has the right to overrule Yahweh and His choice of theos and its English equivalent “god,” regardless of how convincing the rationale sounds.
Both elohiym and theos are terms that, among other things, refer to a deity or deities. This is precisely what our English word “god” signifies. Thus “god” is a proper translation of either elohiym or theos. It is also an acceptable title or description of Yahweh, particularly when used in conjunction with His name: Yahweh Almighty God, the God of gods, the Theos of theoi, the Elohiym of elohiym (Deuteronomy 10:17). This is precisely how the Prophet Jeremiah depicts Yahweh:
Thou shewest lovingkindness unto thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them: the Great, the Mighty God, YHWH of hosts, is his name. (Jeremiah 32:18)
Where Yahweh inspired His personal name to appear in the Scriptures, no man has the right to replace it with the capitalized words “the LORD” or “GOD” or to remove the lowercase words “Lord” or “God” where they were inspired in Holy Writ. Those who make these changes are misguided and guilty of taking away and adding to the Word of God. It is entirely appropriate to use the English words “Lord” and “God” as a title and a description of Yahweh, provided they are not used to replace His name.
Our Savior’s Name: Iesous, Jesus, or Yeshua?
J.B. Rotherham asked the following question in the preface of The Emphasized Bible:
Men’s names are throughout the Scriptures fraught with significance, enshrining historical incidents, biographical reminiscences, and so forth; and why should the Name of the Ever-Blessed be an exception to this rule?37
Yahweh’s name is not an exception to this rule, and neither is our Savior’s name.
The name “Jesus” appears in our modern English New Testament 829 times. While Jesus is a legitimate English transliteration of the Greek Iesous,38 which is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew Yeshua, there are several reasons why Yeshua should be the preferred choice over either Jesus or Iesous.39
Before getting to those reasons, however, it needs to be explained how we know the Savior’s Hebrew name is Yeshua, and why, if such is the case, we find the name Jesus in our English Bibles.
Our Savior’s Given Hebrew Name
In Matthew 1:21, when Mary was pregnant with the Son of God, Joseph was told by the angel of Yahweh to give her offspring a name that means “…he [Yahweh] shall save his people….” The Savior, born a Hebrew by a Hebrew mother and reared by a Hebrew father, was given a Hebrew name. Our Savior’s full Hebrew name – the name that means “Yahweh saves” is Yehoshua. This was the same name Moses assigned to Oshea:
These are the names of the men which Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Oshea the son of Nun Jehoshua. (Numbers 13:16)
There was no letter “j” in the English alphabet until the 14th century AD, and originally in Old English, the letter “j” was pronounced the same as the letter “y” is today. Later, the letter “j” took on the hard sound to which we are presently accustomed. Therefore, Oshea was given the name Yehoshua.
In every instance where we find the anglicized name “Joshua” in our English Old Testaments it has been transliterated from “Yehoshua.” The man Joshua is also identified by the abbreviated Hebrew/Aramaic name Yeshua:
And all the congregation of them that were come again out of the captivity made booths, and sat under the booths: for since the days of Jeshua [Yeshua] the son of Nun unto that day had not the children of Israel done so. (Nehemiah 8:17)
We also know that Yeshua was our Savior’s name by its meaning “he saves” and by tracing the transliterations backwards. Jesus is the modern English transliteration of the Greek Iesous, and Iesous is the Greek transliteration of the shortened Hebrew name Yeshua. Thus, the Savior’s given Hebrew name was Yeshua, or in its long form, Yehoshua.
If the Savior’s Hebrew name is “Yeshua,” why do our English Bibles use the name “Jesus”? The simple answer is that our English New Testaments were translated and transliterated from Greek rather than Hebrew.
Transliteration commutes the letters of a word from one language to another. Personal names are almost always transliterated, whereas other words are almost always translated, commuting the meaning of a word from one language to another. All personal names in our mainline English versions, when brought from one language to another, such as from Hebrew to Greek or from Greek to English, have been transliterated with one exception – the name of our God and Heavenly Father. As we have already seen, His name in the Old Testament was unlawfully changed to “the LORD” and “GOD.”
“Yeshua” and “Jesus” are both English renditions of our Savior’s name. “Yeshua” is the English transliteration of His shortened Hebrew name. “Jesus” – or “Iesus” as it was in the original King James Bible – is the English transliteration of the Greek “Iesous,” which in turn is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew “Yeshua.”
In other words, Jesus is a second-generation transliteration from Hebrew to Greek to English, rather than a direct transliteration from Hebrew to English. Had our New Testaments been translated from Hebrew manuscripts, they would have reflected “Yeshua,” the Hebrew-English spelling and pronunciation, rather than Jesus, the Greek-English spelling and pronunciation.
Seven Reasons for Using the Name “Yeshua”
Someone is certain to respond, “Because our New Testament was translated from Greek, shouldn’t we use the Greek-English Jesus?” Although Jesus is a legitimate English transliteration of the Greek Iesous – and, therefore, no one should be condemned or ostracized for using Jesus – please consider the following seven reasons for using Yeshua instead of either Jesus or Iesous.
Yeshua Is His Given Name
The English name “Jesus” is a modern English transliteration of the Greek name “Iesous,” and although “Iesous” is indeed a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew name “Yeshua,” both renditions do a poor job of preserving the spelling and pronunciation of Yeshua. Only Yeshua returns us to the given name of our Savior.
That Yeshua was our Savior’s given name is demonstrated in the book of Acts. In only three New Testament passages do we find Yahweh’s Son introducing Himself. Acts 9 provides the first instance in the account of the Apostle Paul’s conversion. The second and third instances are found in Acts 22 and 26, wherein Paul recounted the same event. Acts 26 informs us of the language in which the Savior chose to introduce Himself to Paul:
...I [Paul] heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue.... And I said, Who are thou, Lord? And He said, I am Yeshua.... (Acts 26:14-15)
Although the name Jesus is found in our English Bibles, nowhere do we have biblical record of our Savior using either this name or Iesous to introduce Himself. Both Iesous and Jesus can be legitimately used as accurate Greek and English transliterations of His name, but they are not His given name, or the name He used to introduce Himself. If we wish to honor Him and follow His example, we will use His given Hebrew name, Yeshua.
Yeshua Is the Memorial Name
When Mary was pregnant with the Son of God, the Angel of Yahweh told Joseph to give her offspring a name that meant “he [Yahweh] shall save his people” (Matthew 1:21). “He saves” is precisely what Yeshua means. Yeshua in Strong’s Concordance is #3442, the shortened form of #3091 (Yehoshua), which is defined as coming from #3068 (Yahweh) and #3467 (yasha), which means “to save.”40 Yehoshua is a combination of Yahweh and yasha. Yeshua, the contraction of Yehoshua, means “He [Yahweh] saves.”
According to Exodus 3:15, God chose Yahweh and its shortened form Yah41 to be His memorial name to all generations. Yeshua, meaning Yahweh saves, best memorializes the name Yahweh in its meaning.
Yeshua is the Name Above All Names
Philippians 2:9 proclaims that Yahweh “highly exalted” Yeshua and gave “him a name which is above every name,” whereas David asserts that Yahweh is the name above all names:
I bow down toward thy holy temple and give thanks to thy name … for thou hast exalted above everything thy name and thy word. (Psalm 138:2, RSV)
Because the name above all names is Yahweh, and our Savior’s Hebrew name means Yahweh saves, His name is, therefore, best rendered Yeshua.
Yeshua is the Excellent Name
The Son inherited an excellent name from His Father:
Let them praise the name of YHWH: for his name alone is excellent…. (Psalm 148:13)
…he [Yeshua] hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name…. (Hebrews 1:4)
The Son could only inherit from His Father what His Father Himself possessed. Which name did the Father possess – Jesus or Yeshua? According to the Psalmist, only the name Yahweh is excellent, and according to the author of Hebrews, our Savior inherited that excellent name. In the Messianic prophecies found in Jeremiah 23 and Zephaniah 3, the Son is identified with the name Yahweh:
Behold, the days come, saith YHWH, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, YHWH our righteousness. (Jeremiah 23:5-6)
YHWH … the king of Israel, even YHWH, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more. In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack. YHWH thy God in the midst of thee is mighty…. (Zephaniah 3:15-17)
Did our Savior inherit His Father’s name? The only names recorded for our Savior in the New Testament are Immanuel, His secondary name, and Jesus, the Greek-English equivalent of Yeshua. Was our Father, from whom our Savior inherited His name, ever identified with the name Yeshua? In several Old Testament passages, Yahweh is identified with a word closely related to Yeshua, translated “salvation”:
YHWH is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation [yeshuwah]: he is my God…. (Exodus 15:2)
Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation [yeshuwah]. He only is my rock and my salvation [yeshuwah]…. (Psalm 62:1-2)
Behold, God is my salvation [yeshuwah]; I will trust, and not be afraid: for YH YHWH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation [yeshuwah]. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation [yeshuwah]. And in that day [the day the Messiah was born, Isaiah 11:1] shall ye say, Praise YHWH, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted. (Isaiah 12:2-4)
Our Savior’s given Hebrew name reflects the name Yahweh because Yeshua means Yahweh saves. The Son did indeed inherit His Father’s name.
Yeshua Came in the Name of Yahweh
Our Savior made known His Father’s name while here on earth:
I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world…. (John 17:6, 26)
Had our Savior used either the Greek name Iesous or the English name Jesus, He would not have manifested His Father’s name. But because He was born and introduced Himself with the Hebrew name Yeshua – the name He inherited from His Father – He could accurately say: “I am come in My Father’s name....” (John 5:43)
In John 12, certain Judahites heralded Yeshua’s entrance into Jerusalem:
Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the LORD. (John 12:13)
This salutation is a quotation from Psalm 118:26 in which the title “the LORD” was unlawfully substituted for the Tetragrammaton. When the Tetragrammaton is reinserted, we find that the Israelites in John 12 were proclaiming the Messiah as having come in the name of Yahweh, in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy.
Yeshua’s entrance into Jerusalem was in fulfillment of another Old Testament prophecy:
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. (Zechariah 9:9)
The identity of this King – the King of Israel – is revealed in another prophecy:
YHWH … the king of Israel, even YHWH, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more. In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack. YHWH thy God in the midst of thee is mighty…. (Zephaniah 3:15-17)
Only in the name of Yeshua (Yahweh saves) can it be said that our Savior came in the name of Yahweh.
New Testament Baptism:
In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
Evidence from the book of Acts demonstrates that the disciples did not baptize using the phrase “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19). Rather they baptized in the one specific name that represented all three (Acts 2:38, 8:16, 10:48, 19:5). Given the options of Iesous (Greek transliteration), Jesus (Greek/English transliteration), or Yeshua (Hebrew transliteration), Yeshua is unquestionably the name that best represents the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
In Romans 10:13, the Apostle Paul quoted Joel 2:32. Properly rendered, this prophecy declares in whose name we are saved:
…whosoever shall call on the name of YHWH shall be saved. (Joel 2:32)
How does a person call upon the name of Yahweh?
[Ananias speaking to Paul] And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. (Acts 22:16)
Just three days prior to Paul’s baptism, our Savior identified Himself in Hebrew as Yeshua. Consequently, Paul was immersed in the name of Yeshua – the name that represents the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – in fulfillment of Joel 2:32, Matthew 28:19, and Romans 10:13.42
The more consequential reason for using the Hebrew-English spelling and pronunciation of our Heavenly Father’s and our Savior’s name is that they prove Yeshua’s deity. Had God’s Hebrew name been left intact in the Scriptures, it would be much more difficult for someone to deny Yeshua’s deity.
Consider the Old Testament prophecies, regarding Yahweh, which were attributed to Yeshua. Whose way was John the Baptist to prepare? Who was to be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver? Whose side was to be pierced? Who was the stone, rejected by the builders, who later became the chief cornerstone? Who was the Branch who would execute judgment and justice on earth? Who was the King of Israel? Whose feet were to stand on the Mount of Olives? If your answer to these questions is Jesus, it would be prudent to look again at these prophecies. In all of these prophecies – Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 3:1, 4:5; Zechariah 11:12-13, 12:1, 10; Psalm 118:19-22; Isaiah 8:13-14; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Zephaniah 3:15-17; Zechariah 14:3-4 – Yahweh’s name was removed and replaced with the title “the LORD.” Restore God’s personal name to these passages and it becomes immediately apparent that these prophecies were about Yahweh and were fulfilled in Yeshua.
Yeshua, the Hebrew name of our Savior, does not describe what some man, prophet, or another god is doing. It expresses what YAHWEH, the GOD of gods, the great I AM, Immanuel, God with us is doing!
It cannot be denied that an untold number of prayers have been answered, and an untold number of people have been saved in the name of Jesus and variations thereof. Nevertheless, the illiteracy concerning the names of Yahweh and Yeshua is certainly a part of the ignorance mentioned by the Apostle Paul when he preached about the unnamed God in Acts 17:
Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by … [I] found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you…. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man [Yeshua]…. (Acts 17:22-31)
Yahweh commanded His people to repent of their ignorance. A part of His people’s repentance includes returning to the sacred names of our God and Savior:
Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments…. Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion. For thus saith YHWH.… Therefore my people shall know my name…. (Isaiah 52:1-6)
…I will cause them [a remnant of Christian Israel43] to … know that my name is YHWH. (Jeremiah 16:21)
But in the last days it shall come to pass … all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we [Christian Israel] will walk in the name of YHWH our God for ever and ever. (Micah 4:1-5)
…they [a remnant of Christian Israel] shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, YHWH is my God. (Zechariah 13:9)44
In light of these divinely inspired prophecies, why would Yahweh permit His name to be replaced with counterfeits and this corruption of His Holy Word to flourish for two thousand years? There is no definitive answer to this question because no one can read the mind of God. Nevertheless, Yahweh certainly had good reasons for allowing these corruptions to be perpetuated. Consider the following possibility. During Israel’s time in spiritual darkness, Yahweh, in His sovereignty, took what our enemies probably meant for our harm and turned it into a blessing. The Third Commandment is clear that Yahweh will not leave unpunished anyone who uses His name profanely. Throughout the last two-thousand years of Israel’s45 disobedience, she has known relatively little about the sacred names of her God, and, as a result, she has not blasphemed His personal name. God’s last name is not “damn,” and His first name is not “God.” Therefore, neither uttering the expletive “God damn” nor using the name “Jesus Christ” profanely is taking God’s true name in vain. However, had we been using the names “Yahweh” or “Yeshua” in a similar fashion during the last two-thousand years, it is quite possible that Yahweh’s wrath would have been unleashed upon unquestionable Third Commandment transgressors.
We should be thrilled that Yahweh, by His sovereignty, removed His name from His people’s curses while retaining it in their blessings. Although God’s personal name has been replaced in most instances with uninspired titles, He never allowed His name to be completely removed from His Word or from Israel’s mouth. Every time someone reads or says the word “hallelujah,” he articulates God’s name because hallelu Yah means “praise Yah.” King David informed us in Psalm 22:3 that God “inhabitest the praises of Israel.” Indeed He does! This double blessing fulfills, at least in part, Yahweh’s promise through the Prophet Ezekiel:
So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let them pollute my holy name any more…. (Ezekiel 39:7)
It seems to have been in fulfillment of Jeremiah 23:26-27 and Ezekiel 39:7 that God’s personal name was removed from His Word. However, this does not mean that His latter-day servants should not restore His name to its proper place in the Bible, in our hymns, and in our lives.
The Apostle James described an aspect of sin that is not always heeded by Christians:
Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. (James 4:17)
As Christians our goal should be to continually “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Yeshua Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).46 In so doing, we should “be not conformed to this world: but … transformed by the renewing of [our] mind[s], that [we] may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
At the time when Moses codified the Third Commandment, God’s personal name had not yet been misrepresented and removed from the Bible, and thus the restoration of His name was not the original intent of the Third Commandment. Nevertheless, the memorial name of our God is an integral part of appropriately honoring Yahweh and applying the Third Commandment today.
Honoring Yahweh Appropriately
Because the name “Yahweh” has been removed from the Scriptures and consequently almost completely lost to those who read His Word, it was necessary to address His name before directing our attention to the Third Commandment statutes. The statutes expound upon the commandment itself and specify what is appropriate and inappropriate concerning the name of Yahweh. The Third Commandment is explained by the following seven statutes:
- Thou shall not curse Yahweh.
- Thou shall not curse one of Yahweh’s rulers.
- Thou shall not swear falsely or commit perjury.
- Thou shall not mention, use, or swear by the name of other gods.
- Thou shall not prophesy falsely in Yahweh’s name or in the name of other gods.
- Thou shall not defy Yahweh’s laws.
- Thou shall not miscegenate.
Cursing YahwehYou shall not curse God…. (Exodus 22:28, NASV)
Although God’s name is not found in this statute, His name is, nonetheless, intrinsic to His very being. Roderick C. Meredith pointed out this affinity in his book The Ten Commandments:
The third commandment deals with God’s name, His office, His position as the great sovereign RULER of the universe…. In the Bible, personal names have a meaning…. Every name or title of God reveals some attribute of the Divine character. In studying God’s Word, we learn new facts about God’s nature and character with each new name by which He reveals Himself. In other words, God names Himself what He is!47
Consequently, cursing God would be a transgression of both the First48 and the Third Commandments. Cursing God and blaspheming His name are equally grievous sins according to Leviticus 24:
…Whosoever curseth his God shall bear his sin. And he that blasphemeth the name of YHWH, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of YHWH, shall be put to death. (Leviticus 24:15-16)
Bouvier’s Law Dictionary defines blasphemy:
In general blasphemy may be described as consisting in speaking evil of the Deity with an impious purpose to derogate from the divine majesty, and to alienate the minds of others from the love and reverence of God. It is purposely using words concerning God calculated and designed to impair and destroy the reverence, respect, and confidence due to him as the intelligent creator, governor, and judge of the world.… It is a wilful and malicious attempt to lessen men’s reverence for God by denying his existence, or his attributes as an intelligent creator, governor, and judge of men, and to prevent their having confidence in him as such.49
An example of blasphemy is found in 2 Chronicles 32. When threatening to sack Jerusalem, King Sennacherib of Assyria purposely demeaned Yahweh and therefore broke the Third Commandment:
Thus saith Sennacherib king of Assyria, … no god of any nation or kingdom was able to deliver his people out of mine hand … how much less shall your God deliver you out of mine hand?… He wrote also letters to rail on YHWH God of Israel, and to speak against him…. And they [King Sennacherib and his servants] spake against the God of Jerusalem, as against the gods of the people of the earth, which were the work of the hands of man. (2 Chronicles 32:10-19)
Yahweh did not let Sennacherib go unpunished for his blasphemy:
And for this cause Hezekiah the king, and the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz, prayed and cried to heaven. And YHWH sent an angel, which cut off all the mighty men of valour, and the leaders and captains in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned with shame of face to his own land. And when he was come into the house of his god, they that came forth of his own bowels slew him there with the sword. (2 Chronicles 32:20-21)
Conversely, there is nothing wrong in blaspheming false gods, as demonstrated by Elijah on Mount Carmel when he mocked both Baal and his prophets:
And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked. (1 Kings 18:27)
Cursing Yahweh’s Rulers
The same verse of Scripture that commands against cursing Yahweh, also prohibits cursing a ruler of God’s people:
You shall not curse God, nor curse a ruler of your people. (Exodus 22:28, NASV)
As described by the Apostles Paul and Peter, it is a Third Commandment infraction to revile a ruler placed over us by God. Righteous rulers are instead to be honored:
For rulers are … a terror … to the evil…. For he is the minister of God to thee for good. …a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject…. Render therefore … honour to whom honour [is due]. (Romans 13:3-7)50
Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. ...Fear God. Honour the king. (1 Peter 2:13-14, 17)
To deserve honor, a ruler must first be honorable, and to be honorable, he must be the type of ruler described in these two passages. Submission to this type of authority is essentially submission to Yahweh because such rulers stand as agents of God, administering His laws. King Solomon stressed this same concept:
I counsel thee to keep the king’s commandment, and that in regard of the oath of God. (Ecclesiastes 8:2)
To curse or disobey godly authority is to curse or disobey Yahweh Himself. This Third Commandment statute is demonstrated in the fact that Dathan, Abiram, and Korah’s rebellion against Moses and Aaron, recorded in Numbers 16, is described as striving against Yahweh:
…This is that Dathan and Abiram … who strove against Moses and against Aaron in the company of Korah, when they strove against YHWH. (Numbers 26:9)
As case law, this Third Commandment statute applies to any godly authority. This is why cursing one’s parents requires the death penalty:
Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am YHWH your God. And ye shall keep my statutes, and do them: I am YHWH which sanctify you. For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him. (Leviticus 29:7-9)
Contempt of a biblical court is disdain for Yahweh and His laws; therefore, it too requires the death penalty:
And thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and inquire; and they shall shew thee the sentence of judgment: And thou shalt do according to the sentence, which they of that place which YHWH shall choose shall shew thee; and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they inform thee: According to the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee, and according to the judgment which they shall tell thee, thou shalt do: thou shalt not decline from the sentence which they shall shew thee, to the right hand, nor to the left. And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest that standeth to minister there before YHWH thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel. And all the people shall hear, and fear, and do no more presumptuously. (Deuteronomy 17:9-13)
False Swearing and Perjury
Prohibition against false swearing, or perjury, is both a Ninth)51 and a Third Commandment statute:
Ye shall not … lie one to another. And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am YHWH. (Leviticus 19:11-12)
One of the reasons Yahweh condemned ancient Israel was that she swore falsely by His name:
Hear ye this, O house of Jacob, which are called by the name of Israel … which swear by the name of YHWH, and make mention of the God of Israel, but not in truth, nor in righteousness. (Isaiah 48:1)
Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself…. They have spoken words, swearing falsely in making a covenant: thus judgment springeth up as hemlock in the furrows of the field. (Hosea 10:1-4)
This does not mean that we are never to swear by Yahweh’s name:
Thou shalt fear YHWH thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name. (Deuteronomy 6:13)
Genesis 21:22-24, 24:2-3, and 1 Samuel 20:42 provide instances when men of God made covenants and swore by Yahweh’s name to seal a compact. This should never be done lightly because it is both a Third and a Ninth Commandment51 infraction if a person willfully fails to fulfill his side of the agreement.
In The Institutes of Biblical Law, Rousas John Rushdoony addressed the gravity of oaths:
By taking the oath, a man promised to abide by his word and his obligations even as God is faithful to His word. If he failed, by oath of office, the public official invoked divine judgment and the curse of the law upon himself.52
Bouvier’s Law Dictionary corroborates the gravity of an oath:
An outward pledge given by the person taking it that his attestation or promise is made under an immediate sense of his responsibility to God…. The term has been variously defined: as, “a solemn invocation of the vengeance of the Deity upon the witness if he do [sic] not declare the whole truth, so far as he knows it;” … or “religious asseveration by which a person renounces the mercy and imprecates the vengeance of Heaven if he do [sic] not speak the truth” … or “a religious act by which the party invokes God not only to witness the truth and sincerity of his promise, but also to avenge his imposture or violated faith, or … to punish his perjury if he shall be guilty of it;”.… The essential idea of an oath would seem to be, however, that of a recognition of God’s authority by the party taking it, and an undertaking to accomplish the transaction to which it refers as required by his laws.53
Refusing to testify in a court of law to something witnessed or otherwise known is also a form of false swearing and therefore a Third Commandment violation:
Now if a person sins, after he hears a public adjuration to testify, when he is a witness, whether he has seen or otherwise known, if he does not tell it, then he will bear his guilt. (Leviticus 5:1, NASV)
The Catholic sacrament known as the Seal of Confession or Secrecy is precisely the opposite of Leviticus 5:1. This sacrament has been the cause of many priests transgressing this Third Commandment statute:
In the “Decretum” of the Gratian … we find … the following declaration of the law as to the seal of confession: “Deponatur sacerdos qui peccata p nitentis pulicare praesumit.”, i.e., “Let the priest who dares to make known the sins of his penitent be deposed.”54
It was once understood that to make an agreement or a vow of any kind under false pretenses was a violation of the Third Commandment. It makes no difference whether a Christian actually uses God’s name when making a vow. As Christians, all we do “in word or deed” is done “in the name of the Lord Yeshua” (Colossians 3:17). Every vow or agreement or contract entered into by a Christian is done under the auspices of the Third Commandment and should be kept as if it were made with Yahweh Himself:
…This is the thing which YHWH hath commanded. If a man vow a vow unto [or in the name of] YHWH, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth. (Numbers 30:1-2)
When thou shalt vow a vow unto YHWH thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for YHWH thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee. But if thou shalt forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee. That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform … according as thou hast vowed unto [or in the name of] YHWH thy God…. (Deuteronomy 23:21-23)
But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. (Matthew 12:36-37)
Numbers 30:2 declares, “if a man … swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word….” This is where the saying “his word is his bond” originated. Such a person’s word is his guarantee. His word is so reliable and honorable that he does not need to guarantee it with anything more than his word. His word is his bond!
While many Christians give their word, make vows, and enter into agreements lightly, the patriarch Joshua understood the gravity of keeping covenant even when the other party had entered the pact with disingenuous motives (Joshua 9:1-20). King David testified to the same:
He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not. …He that doeth these things shall never be moved. (Psalm 15:1-5)
Adam Clarke suggested why the oath of Yahweh is given so little consideration today:
So solemn and awful were all appeals to God considered in those ancient times, that it was taken for granted that the man was innocent who could by an oath appeal to the omniscient God that he had not put his hand to his neighbour’s goods. Since oaths have become multiplied, and since they have been administered on the most trifling occasions, their solemnity is gone, and their importance little regarded. Should the oath ever re-acquire its weight and importance, it must be when administered only in cases of peculiar delicacy and difficulty, and as sparingly as in the days of Moses.55
The solemnity and consequence of the oath of Yahweh have been lost, not because of its multiplied use, but because its judgment is no longer enforced. To lie or break an oath made in the name of Yahweh is a transgression of the Third Commandment, punishable by death.56
Swearing by the Name of Other Gods
In contrast to memorializing the name of Yahweh, we are commanded not to mention, use, or swear by the name of other gods:
And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect: and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth. (Exodus 23:13)
The names of other gods are mentioned numerous times in the Scriptures, but it is always done in a historical fashion or as a warning against following those gods. This use of the names of false gods is, therefore, permissible. Yahweh forbids using their names in a fashion that would make them appear equal or superior to Yahweh or that would encourage worshiping them. In his last instructions to the Israelites, Joshua commented upon this statute:
Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom … that ye come not among these [non-Israelite] nations … neither make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause to swear by them, neither serve them, nor bow yourselves unto them: But cleave unto YHWH your God…. (Joshua 23:6-8)
In addition to breaking the First and Second Commandments,57 anyone who promotes multiculturalism, the melting pot, pluralism, or any other concept that would introduce false gods into our society is transgressing the Third Commandment and will be judged by Yahweh:
I [Yahweh] will also stretch out mine hand upon … them that worship and that swear by YHWH, and that swear by Malcham [a false god of the Moabites and Ammonites]. (Zephaniah 1:4-5)
While it does not directly promote it, the First Amendment of the United States Constitution provides for polytheism:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….
While often lauded by Christians, in reality, this amendment is an overt provision for the violation of the First, Second, and Third Commandments.
Modern Israel58 must repent of her pluralism, including that provided for by the United States Constitution:
Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images. And ye shall serve YHWH your God…. Thou shalt make no covenant with them [the non-Israelite nations], nor with their gods. They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me…. (Exodus 23:24-33)
This statute also pertains to fortunetellers, soothsayers, astrologers, voodooists, prognosticators, witches, sorcerers, and necromancers:
There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto YHWH…. (Deuteronomy 18:10-12)
Anyone who prophesies falsely in Yahweh’s or Yeshua’s name is also guilty of a Third Commandment infraction:
But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. (Deuteronomy 18:20)
And it shall come to pass in that day, saith YHWH of hosts, that … I will cause the [false] prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land. And it shall come to pass, that when any shall yet prophesy, then his father and his mother that begat him shall say unto him, Thou shalt not live; for thou speakest lies in the name of YHWH. (Zechariah 13:2-3)
Defiant disobedience of any of Yahweh’s commandments or statutes is also a Third Commandment violation:
But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously [anything defiantly, NASV], whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth [is blaspheming, NASV] YHWH…. (Numbers 15:30)
Thus saith the Lord YHWH; Yet in this your fathers have blasphemed me, in that they have committed a trespass [by acting treacherously, NASV] against me. (Ezekiel 20:27)
Christian hypocrisy moreover incites the heathen to blaspheme:
Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? Thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? Thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you…. (Romans 2:21-24)
The Prophet Nathan told King David that his transgression with Bathsheba caused the same desecration:
Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of YHWH to blaspheme…. (2 Samuel 12:14)
Christians, especially, should be careful to avoid rebellion against Yahweh:
…Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. (2 Timothy 2:19)
Although principally categorized as a Seventh Commandment transgression, miscegenation,59 or interracial mixing, is also depicted in the book of Leviticus as something that particularly profanes the name of Yahweh:
And thou [Israel] shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am YHWH. (Leviticus 18:21)
…Whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death … he hath given of his seed unto Molech … to profane my holy name. And if the people of the land do any ways hide their eyes from the man, when he giveth of his seed unto Molech, and kill him not: Then I will set my face against that man, and against his family, and will cut him off, and all that go a whoring after him, to commit whoredom with Molech, from among their people. (Leviticus 20:2-5)
Molech was a false god of the Ammonite and other non-Israelite pagan peoples. The following information demonstrates that these two particular passages do not have so much to do with idolatry as they do with forbidden lineage and, by extension, interracial relationships.
The phrase “the fire” in Leviticus 18:21 is in italics, indicating that it has been added to this verse by the King James translators.
The phrase “pass through” is translated from the Hebrew word `abiyr and its definition is pertinent, particularly as it concerns the context of Leviticus 18:
…a primitive root; to cross over … specifically, to cover (in copulation).60
…Prop. causeth to pass over. Sc. semen….61
The latter lexicon also cites Job 21 in which `abiyr is translated “gendereth”:
Their bull gendereth, and faileth not; their cow calveth, and casteth not her calf. (Job 21:10)
Other versions of Job 21:10 translate `abiyr as “mates” and “breeds.”
Peake’s Commentary of the Bible questions the customary interpretation of Leviticus 18:21 and provides alternate analyses and translations:
21 is generally interpreted as referring to a ceremony whereby children were passed through fire, possibly burning them as whole-offerings. But it is curious that the prohibition here occurs among sexual matters. The ancient versions have ‘cause to serve’ (Sam.), ‘serve,’ (LXX), ‘cause to lie down for sexual intercourse’ (Syr.), whilst other Greek Versions have ‘compel by force’.62
In light of Leviticus 18, this definition for `abiyr is undoubtedly the most contextually consistent. Under the heading “Moloch, Cult Of,” the Encyclopaedia Judaica provides additional justification for this interpretation:
The book of Jubilees 30:7ff. connects intermarriage or rather the marrying off of one’s children to pagans [non-Israelites] with the sin of Moloch. This tradition seems to be echoed in the dissenting opinion of R.[abbi] Ishmael (cf. Meg. 4:9) in Sifrei Deuteronomy 18, who explains the prohibition of Moloch as the impregnation of a pagan woman, an interpretation lying behind the Syriac translation in Leviticus 18 and 20. The common denominator of all these traditions is the understanding of Moloch worship as the transfer of Jewish [Israelite] children to paganism either by delivering them directly to pagan priests or by procreation through intercourse with a pagan woman. This tradition, which could hardly be an invention, is now corroborated by the evidence in the Assyrian documents.63
The following is a direct quotation from the Book of Jubilees64:
…if there is any man in Israel who desires to give his daughter or his sister to any man who is of the seed of the Gentiles, he shall surely die … for he has committed a sin and a shame in Israel…. And to this law there is no limit of days and no ceasing and no forgiveness, but he shall be rooted out who defiles his daughter, among all Israel, because he has given of his seed to Moloch…. And thou, Moses, command the children of Israel and testify over them that they shall not give any of their daughters to the Gentiles and that they shall not take any of the daughters of the Gentiles; for this is accursed before the Lord…. And it is disgraceful to Israel to those that give and to those that receive from any Gentiles any daughters, for it is unclean and accursed to Israel; and Israel will not be clean of this uncleanness of him who has of the daughters of the Gentiles for a wife, or who has given of his daughters to a man who is of any of the seed of the Gentiles…. (Jubilees 30:6-12)
In his book Old Testament Light: The Indispensable Guide to the Customs, Manners, & Idioms of Biblical Times, George M. Lamsa provides Leviticus 18:21 from the Syriac translation of the Old Testament:
“Seed,” in this instance, means “semen.” The Eastern text reads: “You shall not let any of your semen be cast into a strange woman to cause her to be pregnant….” …This ordinance is against cohabiting with pagan women….65
Lamsa also points out that the word “‘Molech’ … [in] the Aramaic reads ‘a strange woman’; that is, a woman of another race or religion.”66
Ezra and Nehemiah both confirm that Israelites who “marry” non-Israelites of forbidden lineages, and by extension people of other races, sin in Yahweh’s sight:
…The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the people of the lands…. For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands…. (Ezra 9:1-2)
…We have trespassed against our God, and have taken strange wives of the people of the land…. Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law. (Ezra 10:2-3)
In those days also saw I Jews [Judahites] that had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab…. And I contended with them, and cursed them … and made them swear by God, saying, Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves.… Shall we then hearken unto you to do all this great evil, to transgress against our God in marrying strange wives? (Nehemiah 13:23-27)
This prohibition is often purported to be exclusively about religion, not ancestry. If this were true, Yahweh would have made an exception for children and spouses who converted to Him. No such exception can be found in the Bible.67
Third Commandment Judgment
The Third Commandment warns us that “…YHWH will not hold him guiltless [leave him unpunished, NASV] that taketh his name in vain” (Deuteronomy 5:11). Leviticus 20:2-5, 24:10-16, 23, and Deuteronomy 18:20 depict egregious Third Commandment transgression as a crime for which the perpetrator is to be put to death:
And he that blasphemeth the name of YHWH, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of YHWH, shall be put to death. (Leviticus 24:16)
Third Commandment violation is a grievous concern to Yahweh and should be to us as well. Yahweh’s name should be praised, magnified, and memorialized among His people:
Therefore shall ye keep my commandments, and do them: I am YHWH. Neither shall ye profane my holy name; but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel: I am YHWH…. (Leviticus 22:31-32)
We can hallow Yahweh’s name by returning it to its proper place in His Word, and by commemorating it in the way we live.
O magnify YHWH with me, and let us exalt his name together. (Psalm 34:3)
1. All Scripture is quoted from the King James Version unless otherwise noted. Portions of Scripture have been omitted for brevity’s sake. If there are questions regarding any passage, please open your Bible and study the text to ensure it has been properly used.
2. More thorough explanations concerning the First and Second Commandments may be read at www.missiontoisrael.org/first-commandment.php and www.missiontoisrael.org/secondcom.php, or the books Thou shalt have no other gods before me and Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $4 donation each.*
3. Transliteration commutes the letters of a word from one language to another. Personal names are almost always transliterated, whereas other words are almost always translated, commuting the meaning of a word from one language to another.
4. James Strong, “Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary,” The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, s.v. “shem” (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1990) p. 117.
5. The Savior’s given Hebrew name is Yeshua (pronounced yay-shoo'-ah), an abbreviated English transliteration of the Hebrew name Yehoshua.
6. Strong, s.v. “zeker,” “Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary,” p. 35.
7. Ibid., s.v. “zakar,” p. 35.
8. Francis Brown, et al., The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew and English Lexicon, s.v. “shav” (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1979) p. 996.
9. Strong, s.v. “shav,” p. 113.
10. God’s Covenant People: Yesterday, Today and Forever provides a documented dissertation identifying Israel with today’s Celtic, Germanic, Scandinavian, Anglo-Saxon, and kindred peoples. Over thirty biblical characteristics of the people of Israel are provided whereby the Celto-Saxons are contrasted with today’s Jews. Most of God’s Covenant People may be read at www.missiontoisrael.org/gods-covenant-people/tableofcontents.php, or it may be obtained in its entirety from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $14 donation.*
11. Revised Standard Version Committee, Preface, The Holy Bible Revised Standard Version (Cleveland, OH: The World Publishing Company, 1962) p. v.
12. The Lockman Foundation, Foreword, New American Standard Bible, updated edition (Anaheim, CA: Foundation Publications, Inc., 1997) p. iv.
13. John Merlin Powis Smith, Preface, The Complete Bible: An American Translation (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 1939) p. xv.
14. “The Talmud … is the legal code which forms the basis of Jewish religious law and it is the textbook used in the training of rabbis.” Rabbi Morris Norman Kertzer, “What is a Jew?” LOOK Magazine, 17 June 1952, p. 123.
“Our Judaism, as we know it today, is based on the Talmud…. Every decision in Jewish life, great or small, has been taken in accordance with Talmudic authority…. The Talmud became … the only authority in Judaism….” Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits, Towards Historic Judaism (Oxford, England: The East and West Library, 1943) pp. 26-27.
A more thorough discussion of the Talmud may be read in God’s Covenant People: Yesterday, Today and Forever. Most of God’s Covenant People may be read at www.missiontoisrael.org/gods-covenant-people/tableofcontents.php, or it may be obtained in its entirety from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $14 donation.*
15. “euphemism … the substitution of an agreeable or inoffensive expression for one that may offend or suggest something unpleasant [in this instance the name of Yahweh]….” Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary – 1975.
16. Preface, Good News Bible: The Bible in Today’s English Version (New York, NY: American Bible Society, 1976) p. iv.
17. George Eulan Howard, “The Name of God in the New Testament – Did the Earliest Gospels Use Hebrew Letters for the Tetragrammaton?” Biblical Archaeology Review (Washington, DC: Biblical Archaeology Society, March 1978) vol. iv, no. 1, pp. 12-13.
18. Ibid, vol. iv, no. 1, p. 13.
19. “The Carry-Over of the Divine Name into the Greek Scriptures (With Twelve Supporting Fragments),” Appendix, The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures (Brooklyn, NY: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., 1985) pp. 1133-37.
20. Howard, vol. iv, no. 1, p. 14.
21. “They [the non-Israelite Edomites] were then [at the end of the 2nd century BC] incorporated with the Jewish [Judahite] nation….” “Edom, Idumea,” The Jewish Encyclopedia, 12 vols. (New York & London: Funk and Wagnalls Company, 1904) vol. 5, p. 41.
“…from then on they [the non-Israelite Edomites] constituted a part of the Jewish [Judahite] people, Herod [King of Judea] being one of their descendants.” “Edom (Idumea),” The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1977) p. 589.
“…they [the Edomites] were hereafter no other than [non-Israelite] Jews [Judahites].” Flavius Josephus, The Antiquities of the Jews (Grand Rapids, MI: Dregel Publications, 1960) Book 13, Chapter 9, Verse 1, p. 279.
22. “God, Names Of,” The Standard Jewish Encyclopedia (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1966) p. 766.
23. “Edom,” Encyclopaedia Judaica, 16 vols. (Jerusalem, Israel: Encyclopaedia Judaica Company, 1971) vol. 6, p. 378.
24. For more exhaustive evidence that today’s Jews are Edomites rather than Israelites, the book The Mystery of the Gentiles: Who Are They and Where Are They Now? may be read at www.missiontoisrael.org/mystery-of-gentiles/index.php, or it may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska, 69363, for a suggested $10 donation.*
25. “Jehovah,” The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, 10 vols. (New York, NY: Universal Jewish Encyclopedia Company, Inc., 1942) vol. 6, pp. 54-55.
26. “Kabbalah (Heb. ‘tradition’): The mystical religious stream in Judaism [Talmudism]. The term K.[abbala] originally denoted the oral tradition which was transmitted alongside the Written Law, but in the 12th cent. [AD], it was adopted by mystics to denote the alleged continuity of their mystical ‘tradition’ from early times.” “Kabbalah,” The Standard Jewish Encyclopedia (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1966) p. 1087.
27. Albert Gallatin Mackey, “Jehovah,” Encyclopedia of Freemasonry (Chicago, IL: The Masonic History Company, 1958) p. 501.
28. Not everyone claiming to be a Christian has been properly instructed in the biblical plan of salvation. Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:36-41, 22:1-16; Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:26-27; Colossians 2:11-13; and 1 Peter 3:21 should be studied in order to understand what is required to be covered by the blood of Yeshua and forgiven of your sins. A more thorough explanation concerning baptism and its relationship to salvation, “Baptism by the Scriptures” and “Fifty Objections to Baptism Answered” may be read at www.missiontoisrael.org/baptismbythescriptures.php and www.missiontoisrael.org/objectionstobaptismanswered.php, or the book Baptism: All You Wanted to Know and More may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for free.
29. “Kabbalah,” The Standard Jewish Encyclopedia (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1966) pp. 1087-88.
30. Elmer Berger, A Partisan History of Judaism (New York, NY: The Devin-Adair Company, 1951) p. 39.
31. Mackey, p. 502.
32. Strong, s.v. “adonay,” “Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary,” p. 8.
33. Ibid, s.v. “adown,” p. 8.
34. Strong, s.v “kurios,” “Dictionary of the Greek Testament,” p. 44.
35. “A Witness Against You,” New Jerusalem Group, Ltd., pp. 1-2.
36. Look up Zeus and theos in any Greek lexicon and it is evident that no linguistic affinity exists between the two words.
37. Joseph Bryant Rotherham, “The Incommunicable Name,” Introduction, The Emphasized Bible (Cincinnati, OH: The Standard Publishing Company, 1897) p. 26.
38. Some sacred name users attempt to make a connection between Zeus and Jesus, maintaining the latter is derived from the former. However, look up both words in any Greek Lexicon and it is evident that no linguistic affinity exists between the two names.
39. What about Yahshua and Yashua? Look up the Savior’s name in any Hebrew lexicon or consult Hebrew linguists, and it is evident that no linguistic justification exists for either of these alleged names.
40. The contraction “Yah” is found forty-eight times in the Old Testament.
41. Strong, s.v. “Yeshua,” “Yehoshua,” “Yahweh,” and “yasha,” “Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary,” pp. 47, 48, 53.
42. A more thorough explanation concerning baptism and its relationship to salvation, “Baptism by the Scriptures” and “Fifty Objections to Baptism Answered,” may be read at www.missiontoisrael.org/baptismbythescriptures.php and www.missiontoisrael.org/objectionstobaptismanswered.php, or the book Baptism: All You Wanted to Know and More may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for free.
43. God’s Covenant People: Yesterday, Today and Forever provides a documented dissertation identifying Israel with today’s Celtic, Germanic, Scandinavian, Anglo-Saxon, and kindred peoples. Over thirty biblical characteristics of the people of Israel are provided whereby the Celto-Saxons are contrasted with today’s Jews. Most of God’s Covenant People may be read at www.missiontoisrael.org/gods-covenant-people/tableofcontents.php, or it may be obtained in its entirety from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $14 donation.*
44. These and other similar prophecies concerning the New Covenant Dispensation quash the objection that the name “Yahweh” was only an Old Covenant name and is no longer to be used under the New Covenant.
45. The Mystery of the Gentiles: Who Are They and Where Are They Now? provides additional biblical, archaeological, and historical evidence for identifying Israel with the Celto-Saxon peoples. The Mystery of the Gentiles may be read at www.missiontoisrael.org/mystery-of-gentiles/index.php, or the book may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $10 donation.*
46. The title “Christ” is not part of Yeshua’s name but instead a title meaning the anointed one. The arguments employed by many sacred name users against the use of the title “Christ” are as invalid as are their arguments against the use of the words “God” and “Lord.” They insist that everyone must use the Hebrew Mashiyach, or its English equivalent “Messiah,” because, through similar linguistic gymnastics, they claim Christos refers to a false god. One problem with this line of reasoning is that Mashiyach is used in Isaiah 45:1 to refer to Cyrus who, as king of Babylon, was considered a god by his people. Thus Mashiyach, which is the same word prophetically used for Yeshua in Daniel 9:25-26, is also used for Cyrus, a false god.
John 1:41 (“[Andrew] first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ”) and John 4:25 (“The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ….”) forever puts to rest the arguments that the title “Christ” is pagan. In these two Holy Spirit-inspired passages, Messiah (the English transliteration of the Hebrew Mashiyach) and Christ (the English transliteration of the Greek Christos) are used interchangeably – both meaning “anointed” – and are thus equally acceptable to Yahweh. This also forever puts an end to the argument that we should not call ourselves Christians.
47. Roderick C. Meredith, The Ten Commandments (Pasadena, CA: Ambassador College Press, 1972) p. 46.
48. A more thorough explanation concerning the First Commandment may be read at www.missiontoisrael.org/first-commandment.php, or the book Thou shalt have no other gods before me may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $4 donation each.*
49. John Bouvier, “Blasphemy,” Bouvier’s Law Dictionary: A Concise Encyclopedia of the Law, 3 vols. (Kansas City, MO: Vernon Law Book Company, 1914) vol. 1, p. 369.
50. Christian Duty Under Corrupt Government, an expository explanation of Romans 13:1-7, may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $7 donation.*
51. A more thorough explanation concerning the Ninth Commandment may be read at www.missiontoisrael.org/9thcom-pt1.php.
52. Rousas John Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1973) p. 111.
53. Bouvier, “Oath,” vol. 3, p. 2388.
54. “The Law of the Seal of Confession,” Catholic Encyclopedia, www.newadvent.org/cathen/13649b.htm, p. 1.
55. Adam Clarke, Clarke’s Commentary, 6 vols. (New York, NY: Carlton & Phillips, 1853) vol. 1, p. 413.
56. The booklet Capital Punishment: Deterrent or Catalyst may be read at www.missiontoisrael.org/capital-punishment.php, or it may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $3 donation.*
57. More thorough explanations concerning the First and Second Commandments may be read at www.missiontoisrael.org/first-commandment.php and www.missiontoisrael.org/secondcom.php, or the books Thou shalt have no other gods before me and Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $4 donation each.*
58. God’s Covenant People: Yesterday, Today and Forever provides a documented dissertation identifying Israel with today’s Celtic, Germanic, Scandinavian, Anglo-Saxon, and kindred peoples. Over thirty biblical characteristics of the people of Israel are provided whereby the Celto-Saxons are contrasted with today’s Jews. Most of God’s Covenant People may be read at www.missiontoisrael.org/gods-covenant-people/tableofcontents.php, or it may be obtained in its entirety from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $14 donation.*
59. A more thorough explanation concerning miscegenation may be read at www.missiontoisrael.org/7thcom-pt1.php, or the book Thou shalt not commit adultery may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $6 donation each.*
60. Strong, s.v. “`abiyr,” “Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary,” p. 85.
61. Brown, s.v. “`abiyr,” p. 718.
62. Matthew Black, ed., Peake’s Commentary on the Bible (Nairobi, Kenya: Thomas Nelson and Sons, LTD, 1962) p. 249.
63. “Moloch, Cult Of, The Nature of the Worship,” Encyclopaedia Judaica, 6 vols. (New York, NY: The Macmillan Company, 1971) vol. 12, p. 232.
64. The book of Jubilees is a pseudepigraphic work containing the views and religious practices of the most rigid Hasidaean or Pharisaic school during the reign of John Hyrcanus over the house of Judah (135-105 BC).
65. George Mamishisho Lamsa, Old Testament Light: The Indispensable Guide to the Customs, Manners and Idioms of Biblical Times (San Francisco, London, Cambridge: Harper & Row, 1964) p. 177.
66. Ibid., p. 182.
67. A more thorough explanation concerning miscegenation may be read at www.missiontoisrael.org/7thcom-pt1.php, or the book Thou shalt not commit adultery may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $6 donation each.*
*Although we have provided a suggested price for our books, we do not sell them. In keeping with 2 Corinthians 9:7, this ministry is supported by freewill offerings. If you cannot afford the suggested price, inform us of your situation, and we will be pleased to provide you with whatever you need for whatever offering you can send.