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What’s special about Exodus 6:3, Psalms 83:18, Isaiah 12:2, & Isaiah 26:4? Why does the Authorized Version translate the Tetragrammaton as Jehovah in those four verses, but replace it with LORD or GOD everywhere else?

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    Isaiah 12 and Psalm 83 are both specifically saying "my name is Jehovah". It would not make sense to render that "my name is the LORD" even if you rendered the name "the LORD" elsewhere. The other two are "Lord Jehovah" which I believe is a rendering of a specific phrase, something like "Lord Yahweh" which would also not make sense to render as "Lord LORD" Commented May 2, 2023 at 22:58
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    I believe that the Tetragrammaton is usually rendered as "LORD" except in the phrase Lord YHWH, which is rendered as "Lord GOD".
    – TRiG
    Commented May 2, 2023 at 23:09

2 Answers 2

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The general policy of the writers of the Authorized Version was that the divine name, also called the Tetragrammaton (usually rendered "YHWH" or "Yahweh" today but often "Jehovah" in older times), would not be rendered directly, but would be replaced with "the LORD".

There are a number of exceptions to this. These exceptions are:

  1. When the Tetragrammaton is specifically referred to as the name of God. This is the case in Exodus 6 and Psalm 83. Writing things like "my name is the LORD" would make little sense.
  2. When the divine name is used as part of a place name, such as "Yahweh Yireh" (or "Jehovah-jireh"). Again replacing the name with "the LORD" makes no sense in these circumstances. These cases are not listed in the question.
  3. When the name is repeated by combining it with a derivative or alternate version of itself. Again "the LORD LORD" does not make sense (although other translations render it "the Lord, the Lord himself"). This is the case in Isaiah 12 and 26.
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  • It makes no sense to ignore the Devine name and replace it with LORD in any circumstances
    – 007
    Commented May 3, 2023 at 19:10
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    You are welcome to your opinion but it makes sense to many people and many other translations do it. Commented May 3, 2023 at 20:12
  • @DJClayworth, The linked Wikipedia article on the Tetragrammaton mentions that observant Jews don't read aloud the name, instead replacing it with words like "Adonai" (meaning "my Lord"). Could this have anything to do with it being replaced by LORD in the King James Version (i.e. could the translators have been honoring the Jewish tradition)? Commented May 5, 2023 at 3:19
  • Also potentially relevant (precedent from the Greek Old Testament): books.google.com/books?id=q5lKAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA60 Commented May 5, 2023 at 3:35
  • @SamuelBradshaw I believe that the linked question may be relevant to your question.
    – TRiG
    Commented May 5, 2023 at 15:45
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It is unarguable that the ancient Hebrew text of what we now call "The Old Testament" had the divine name written 6,961 times. Those four Hebrew letters spell YHWH, often rendered as Yahweh. This is the Tetragram and, in some translations is transliterated as Jehovah. Yes, the Authorised (King James) Version has it in the four places stated in the question.

However, it should be pointed out that it has it in three other places, as follows:

"And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah Jireh" [Jehovah will provide]. Genesis 22:14

"And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah Nisi" [Jehovah is my banner]. Exodus 17:15

"Then Gideon built an altar there unto the LORD, and called it Jehovah Shalom" [Jehovah is peace]. Judges 6:24

The first instance referred to a place in Jerusalem, afterwards called Moriah. The second instance was circa. B.C. 1491 to commemorate the defeat of the Amalekites. The third instance was after a miraculous communication from God to Gideon, circa. B.C. 1256

So, there are seven instances. Of course, that is still woefully short of the total of 6,961 times where the Tetragram was originally written! This seems to be an instance of inconsistency in the Authorised Version. There would be nothing wrong with transliterating it as either Yahweh or Jehovah all 6,961 times, to be consistent. Young's Literal Translation (1898) does that, as Jehovah.

I looked through what articles and literature I have of the Trinitarian Bible Society, but could not find one on their use of the Tetragram. I also looked at their web-site but could not find any way of tracking down that specific point. Really, the best way of getting an answer would be for you to contact them and ask them directly about this inconsistency. Their web-site is http://www.tbsbibles.org

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  • So Anne which translation do you prefer and how many times does it transliterate the Tetragrammaton as Yahweh or Jehovah?
    – 007
    Commented May 3, 2023 at 19:28
  • The TBS won’t admit it but the fact is that having “Jehovah”in the Bible nearly 7k times is a problem for the acceptance of the trinity doctrine that they promote
    – 007
    Commented May 3, 2023 at 19:31
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    @User 14 I use the YLT (Jehovah nearly 7K times in the OT) and the K.J.V (7 times) but the TSB who only print the K.J.V, have no problem, as you think. It is the N.W.T. that has a problem as the TSB shows in their article "Christ in the Desert: the testimony concerning Christ found in the N.W.T. of the Jehovah's Witnesses" (Quarterly Record mag. issue 531, 1995, pp.2-6. Also see article "The Name of the LORD: a strong tower", Quarterly Record issue 518, 1992, pp.4-11). To give one sample quote: "The purpose of this article is to demonstrate that unsaved men cannot entirely remove the
    – Anne
    Commented May 4, 2023 at 12:13
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    the testimony which the Scriptures give concerning the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here, by their use of the name ‘Jehovah’ in the New Testament, they prove that Jesus is God…” I would encourage you to e-mail the TSB and ask them to let you see that first article I quote from, and also the second one mentioned.
    – Anne
    Commented May 4, 2023 at 12:13

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