I was thinking about YHWH today and realized an early name for God might have been the sound of breathing as God breathed life into us, then imagined how you might write that and realized YHWH, if pronounced, is an onomatopoeia of the sound you make when you breath.

If I was tasked with writing the word for the sound of breath, in English, it would likely come out something like 'heehoo' or something similar—perhaps with the Hebrew alphabet 'YHWH' (יהוה) is a more probable attempt.

Is it possible that YHWH could be the full name intended, and it on purpose has no vowels; or is there strong evidence that it is an actual word, not an onomatopoeia, and vowels were omitted for some other purpose (I think I was told that once).

Curious to learn more!

Edit: I asked this about 5 years ago, since then this idea has apparently gained a lot of movement to the point where this thread is getting activity again. I also noticed Jesus' name (Yeshua) can be pronounced this same way YH•WH can be pronounced as breath—but with a “SH” noise added in the middle. YH•SH•WH

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    "it on purpose has no vowels": There is nothing significant about this. In Hebrew (and Arabic), there are no vowels in any words. The vowel marks you sometimes see on Hebrew text are later additions to make pronunciation more obvious. Coincidentally, the vowels that appear with "YHWH" are deliberately wrong so that people won't accidentally try to say the Name. The vowels from Adonai (A, O, A) are substituted instead, as a reminder to say "Lord" when reading out loud. In the King James Bible (and others), when you see "GOD" and "LORD" in all capitals, this is an instance of "JHVH". Commented Mar 12, 2019 at 13:08
  • It wasn't just YHVH, none of the words had vowels. Commented Mar 12, 2019 at 13:20
  • @RayButterworth Good information, thank you! Commented Mar 12, 2019 at 20:39
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    Since no one can say how the name sounded in ancient Hebrew we cannot answer. that makes this an opinion based question which is off topic for this site.
    – 007
    Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 12:12
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    @Kris The answers so far have been good and factual. I don't think this is an opinion based discussion but if you want to classify it as such so that you can close it then do so. So far this has all been beneficial to me and my learning, hopefully others who visit as well. Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 18:17

4 Answers 4


As a Hebrew speaker, I can tell you that יהוה comes from the verb "be". It is pronounced Yahweh and it is kind of an onomatopoeia for the verb "be", but nobody says it.

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    Unlike things like "rustling", "tinkling","marching" etc., "be" is a non-aural verb - an onomatopoeia for it simply isn't possible. Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 6:51
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    @bruised reed - I think he was talking about the Hebrew word for "be", not the English word. "To be" in Hebrew or not in Hebrew "to be", that is the question. Commented Apr 14, 2019 at 15:42
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    What does it mean for it to be an 'onomatopoeia for the verb 'be''? Commented Jan 25, 2023 at 21:53

Could the Tetragrammaton YHWH be an onomatopoeia for the sound of breathing?

I suppose it could. At least one Jewish rabbi believes so.

For Jews, one of the most important verses in the entire Pentateuch is to be found in Deuteronomy 6:4. The verse states, “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.” In Hebrew: Shema Yisrael YHVH Elohaynu YHVH Echad. This verse is said twice daily in Jewish communal prayer. It is to be said before going to bed at night and upon waking in the morning.

In most Jewish homes, a handwritten passage of Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is found in a small decorative box (called a mezuzah) on the doorpost at the entrance to the home.

As a rabbi, I often recite this verse when visiting the sick. This verse is also said by those who are about to die, but if they cannot do so it is said before and then again right after death by a family member.

Why is this verse, which in Hebrew contains only six words, so important and why might it be relevant as a response to violence done in the name of religion?

The first Hebrew word, Shema, means more than “Hear;” it means “Listen!”

Two words in Hebrew indicate hearing. The first one comes from the same biblical root as the word for the “ear.” It most often means hearing something with our ears.

The word in this verse, Shema, implies a deeper type of hearing. It means we are to be quiet, to listen and absorb. This type of hearing is meant to influence our very souls.

The second word, Yisrael, means “the people of Israel.” The people of Israel are the descendants of Jacob who received the name Israel because he wrestled with God (Genesis 32:28).

It encourages all of us to become “God wrestlers,” people who engage and question God, not simply people who are motivated by blind faith.

The third word, YHVH, is commonly translated as “Lord.” Some biblical scholars pronounce this word Yahweh; others say Jehovah.

Without doubt, YHVH is the most important and holy of all of the names for God in the Hebrew Bible. But what is really behind this name?

If one tries to pronounce YHVH, one enunciates the sound of a human breath. YHVH is therefore a name that is an onomatopoeia for breath. It presents the Divine as the life-giving “Breath of the universe.”

Before ending I would like to explain what the Tetragrammaton means in a general sense.

The Tetragrammaton or the Tetragram, is the four-letter Hebrew theonym יהוה‎ (transliterated as YHWH), the name of God in the Hebrew Bible. The four letters, written and read from right to left (in Hebrew), are yodh, he, waw, and he.;The name may be derived from a verb that means "to be", "to exist", "to cause to become", or "to come to pass". While there is no consensus about the structure and etymology of the name, the form Yahweh is now accepted almost universally, though the vocalization Jehovah continues to have wide usage.

The books of the Torah and the rest of the Hebrew Bible except Esther, Ecclesiastes, and (with a possible instance of the short form יה‎ in verse 8:6) the Song of Songs contain this Hebrew name. Observant Jews and those who follow Talmudic Jewish traditions do not pronounce יהוה‎ nor do they read aloud proposed transcription forms such as Yahweh or Yehovah; instead they replace it with a different term, whether in addressing or referring to the God of Israel. Common substitutions in Hebrew are Adonai ("My Lord") or Elohim (literally "gods" but treated as singular when meaning "God") in prayer, or HaShem ("The Name") in everyday speech.


The Tetragrammaton is not attested other than among the Israelites, and seems not to have any plausible etymology. The Hebrew Bible explains it by the formula Ehye ašer ehye("I Am that I Am"), the name of God revealed to Moses in Exodus 3:14. This would frame Y-H-W-H as a derivation from the Hebrew triconsonantal root היה (h-y-h), "to be, become, come to pass", with a third person masculine y- prefix, equivalent to English "he", thereby affording translations as "he who causes to exist", "he who is", etc.; although this would elicit the form Y-H-Y-H (יהיה‎), not Y-H-W-H. To rectify this, some scholars proposed that the Tetragrammaton represents a substitution of the medial y for w, an occasionally attested practice in Biblical Hebrew as both letters represented matres lectionis; others proposed that the Tetragrammaton derived instead from the triconsonantal root הוה (h-w-h), "to be, constitute", with the final form eliciting similar translations as those derived from h-y-h.

Modern scholarly consensus, however, considers Ehye ašer ehye to be a folk etymology; a later theological gloss invented at a time when the original meaning of the Tetragrammaton had been forgotten.


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The Mystery of Vav Solved! The first Vav in the Torah occurs in Genesis 1:1: The placement of the Vav is a silent or silence broken representing word “and” = split before 2 syllables as you get ready for with breathe English sounding (whooaa or wuuaaaa) with final breathe released as you say his name. "I and the Father are one" = W(ו‎)W Waw/Vav
"and" we breathe it through our nostrils deeply before we utter his name. Reason being Lord gave breathe in first man nostrils and as it is written he became a living soul. God has one name YHWH and knowing how to pronounce correctly cleanses thy soul.

In the traditional form, vowels are indicated by the weak consonants Aleph (א‎), He (ה‎), Waw/Vav (ו‎), or Yodh (י‎) serving as vowel letters, or matres lectionis: the letter is combined with a previous vowel and becomes silent, or by imitation of such cases in the spelling of other forms.

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    ""I and the Father are one" = W " What does this mean? Commented Jan 25, 2023 at 21:55
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The Hebrew word YHWH is not a name but a description. You cannot pronounced the Hebrew word YHWH pertaining to the Name of God. Moses was given a scene in the burning bush a man cruficified.

Although in the English language the term onomatopoeia means "the imitation of a sound", the compound word onomatopoeia (ὀνοματοποιία) in the Greek language means "making or creating names". For words that imitate sounds, the term ὴχομιμητικό (echomimetico) or echomimetic) is used. Onomatopoeia - Wikipedia https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onomatopoeia

The word YHWH is the origin why a God given name had a meaning or a mission attached to it. Starting from Jesus Christ, Mary and Prophets and Patriarchs and Old Testament names had a corresponding meaning and mission that defines the life of the bearer of the name.

YHWH tetragammanton means "Behold the Hand, Behold the Nails".

This means, Moses was able to see the pre-figurement of Jesus at the Foot of the Cross as the means of God Salvation. They are pronounced, in Hebrew, "Yod Hey Vav Hey," when you read them in the Hebrew manner from right to left.

The four letters in God's name in Hebrew have the following meanings:

Hey = Behold

Vav = Nail

Yod = Closed Hand

When read in English from left to right, it says:

"BEHOLD THE NAIL, BEHOLD THE HAND!" Or, "Behold the nailed hand."


enter image description here

The greatest mystery behind the Hebrew word YHWH is the word "BEHOLD"

Behold means to gaze. and Moses was given the chance to BEHOLD that Man Crucified at the Cross.

Jesus at the Foot of the Cross uttered the word "BEHOLD" to the Woman and to St.John the beloved Apostles.

"When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home."(John19"26-27)

God commanded Moses to BEHOLD and Jesus commanded the Woman to BEHOLD.We either represents St.John or the other Mary's and we too are commanded by Jesus to BEHOLD His sacrifice "At the Foot of the Cross". But we can only BEHOLD the Crucified Christ and understand the meaning of the Cross of Christ if each one of us welcome Mary in our home, meaning allowing Mary to be our own Mother too as the greatest gift of Jesus Christ to all of us.

  • Except for the Mary stuff, I cannot comprehend why this has gotten down-votes. +1 Commented Jan 27, 2023 at 13:25
  • @MikeBorden It is important, I mean the Mary stuff, why? Moses was gazing at the "Crucified Man", and cannot comprehend its meaning. The same with St.John and other Mary's, they were gazing for three long hours, but cannot comprehend the meaning why Jesus was crucified at the Cross. So, Jesus commanded them, if you want to grasp the meaning of the Cross, behold your Mother first, why? Mary is the Tree of Life, and Mary is Cross of Christ. Commented Apr 6, 2023 at 6:10
  • I don't know what else to say except, Yikes! Commented Apr 6, 2023 at 12:21
  • @MikeBorden Satan and his demons, behave in the presence of Mary the Sovereign Queen,. I tell you honestly, if you are fortunate to make it to the Kingdom of God, you will be ashame of yourself, why? All the angels and blessed souls, pay homage to the Sovereign Queen of Heaven and Earth. You will found yourself humiliated by the Truth. Commented Apr 6, 2023 at 12:26
  • Jeremiah 7 and 44 list worship of the Queen of Heaven as evil and idolatrous. I do not believe that the mother of my Lord would want me behaving in association with such a phrase. Commented Apr 6, 2023 at 12:53

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