Names Mean Things
In our last teaching we covered the name YHVH. Names are nouns, and although virtually every Hebrew noun comes from a verb, when it becomes a noun it will be spelled differently. As a matter of fact, people's names are really not subject to rigid rules. Although it is traditional for eastern cultures to pass family names down from one generation to the next, there are plenty of variant spellings of those names. Names are also given to express an action or event that was taking place at the time of a child's birth. Most of the names in the scriptures come forth from this tradition.
Nouns come in two fundamental forms. A proper noun and a common noun. Nouns are people, places, and things. Proper nouns are those words that can be understood without an article. A few examples of proper nouns are YHVH, Moses, Jerusalem, Mt. Sinai, Kleenex, Coca-cola, Miss America, and O.J. These are words that do not require an 'a' or 'the' in front of them. We do not have to say the Kleenex or a Miss America or the O.J. Common nouns are king, mountain, office, car, husband, wife or pencil. YHVH is a proper noun. Names of people are proper nouns. They require no articles to preceed them. Proper nouns, with few exceptions, are to be transliterated. Take for instance the Hebrew word Mattityahu (Divre HaYamim Aleph 15:18). This name is a proper noun, it should be transliterated. So this name in Greek is Maththaion. In English it is Matthew. In Spanish and Italian it is Mateo. In Dutch it is Matteus. In Czech it is Matous. In Vietnamese it is Mathio. This is the rule of linguistics with few exceptions. For some reason, most western cultures do not have a problem turning the Hebrew common noun satan into a proper noun. In Greek, it is satana. In Russian and Spanish it is satanas. In Vietnamese it is satan. In Latin it is satanae, and in Italian it is satana. Yet for some reason western cultures take the PROPER noun YHVH and make it the common noun Lord. So the enemy's name we turn from common to proper and our Father's name we turn from proper to common. Hmmmmm.
When you see LORD spelled out in all capital letters in your King James Bible, you are looking at a translation of a proper noun. YHVH is our Creator's name. You DO NOT translate it. You transliterate it into the available sounds in other alphabets. The English word LORD, in this case, is neither a translation or a transliteration. Remember that translation is closest in meaning and transliteration is closest in sound. The word LORD is in no way the meaning or the sound of YHVH. So why did they replace YHVH with LORD? - out of deference to Rabbinical thought that no one is to pronounce the ineffable name of the Creator. So at best, they bowed to political pressure.
There are hundreds of occurrences of the word Lord in our English Bibles as well. If you will, a capital L and small case 'ord'. When you see this in the text it is a translation of the Hebrew word adonay. In this form the word should have been transliterated, once again, and not translated. It is a proper noun. The King James text should read Adonay, or Adonai and not Lord. The ancient or pictographic meaning of adonay is the hand or work of the first judge. The aleph is the first letter with the meaning of power and strength. The dalet and nun are the letters for judge and the yod is, of course, the letter for the closed hand or the hand that works, makes, forms, and creates. So, instead of properly transliterating this word, they translated it into the Greek word kurios and into the English word Lord. We must keep in mind that the King James translators had the Hebrew and Greek text of the Old Testament to draw from. The words LORD, Lord, and lord in our Old Testaments are all translations of the Greek word kurios. This is the word used in the Septuagint to replace YHVH, 'Adonay and 'adon. The Greek word kurios is a common noun. It was originally only an adjective in Greek. No where is it used as an adjective in the scriptures, for it is used only as a noun (see Kittel's Theological Dictionary of the New Testament pg. 1041). In ancient Greek, this word was used as the lawful owner of a slave. It means having power over something. Since the Greek uses the same word to express YHVH, 'Adonay and 'adon, it is the Hebrew manuscripts and the context that must be sought in order to distingiush who is being addressed, for Hebrew makes a distinction between them. When referring to the Creator, Master and King of the universe, the word YHVH or 'Adonay should be used.
When you see the word lord all in small case letters used in your English Bible, this is a correct translation of the common noun 'adon. This word still means master or superior, but is used to express earthy masters and a respectful term for the leader of a household, a business or governing authority. The word in Hebrew still means a 'first judge', but with respect to those outside of the Creator. Hebrew makes this distinction, Greek and English do not. The Greek kurios is used to express YHVH, a child's father, a wife's husband, a nasty boss, a political leader, Zeus, Tammuz, Ishtar, Mithras or any other number of gods and deities.
Many of you have probably been told that when using the English word LORD, Lord or lord, that you are actually calling on baal, and that ba'al means lord. Well, not exactly. The Hebrew word ba'al refers to one who rules or masters. So you can see that the meaning is akin to the word 'adonay. It is a perfectly good Hebrew word that generally is used to refer to a husband or a married man. It is made up of the letters bet, ayin and lamed. These letters mean the leader of the house who watches. This is why it is used to refer to a husband in a marriage. It is used twice of the Creator Himself.
"For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called."
"Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:"
If you look this word up in one of our americanized Hebrew lexicons, you will find that one of the main definitions is lord. This is because the editors of the lexicon chose the English word 'lord' to have the closest meaning to this Hebrew word. Because ba'al is a common noun, it must be translated. But this does not mean that ba'al means lord. Ba'al means what it means. Because some culture chose to use this word to refer to their gods or lords, does not mean that in Hebrew ba'al means lord. Assuming a belief in Hebrew being the best modern representation of the first proto-semitic language, it is easily understandable how the first languages to break off and separate in the beginning would have common syllabary's and alphabets. In turning away from the one God of creation, the scattered people after the tower of Babel would begin to worship other beings or predominantly inanimate objects. The names of these objects of worship would naturally be similar to many names and words of the original tongue. Because a group of people called the name of their pagan god ba'al, does not make the Hebrew word ba'al a pagan word. There are many gods in various cultures scattered throughout the world who have names very familiar in Hebrew. Jah, Yaw, Amun, Set, Sobek, Shiva, Allah, Adonis, Ashur, Shamash, Gaal, Pah, Dagon and Yam are but a few.
From a strictly linguistic (how language works) point of view, the words YHVH and Adonay are proper nouns and should be transliterated and pronounced as such. The common nouns 'adon and 'elohiym should be translated. The translation of 'elohiym to 'God' will be covered in our next time together. I have also chosen to write the rest of this series based upon the questions I will get on what I have written so far. Please be patient with me concerning keeping up with the postings on the web site. I am not whining mind you, for I am a most fortunate and blessed man. But through the multiple mediums we are working with right now, I am dancing as fast as I can. Blessings to you.