(by Christopher Fredrickson)
"This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me."
The sacred name movement is a relatively new invention that grew out of a grassroots movement in home studies from individuals who had left the Christian institutions on a pursuit of learning Torah. It is understandable how many have drawn the conclusion that we need to recite a variation of the 4 letter name of G-d based on the tenants of hyper-literalism which had brought them to the ideal that Torah is a tenant of a believer's life. They may have read Jeremiah 10 or Ezekiel 8 or maybe even Deuteronomy 13 and based on hyper-literalism they got the correct correction in their walk. As we hopefully know, there are Jewish hermeneutics that is known as PaRDeS, so often times the literalist view cannot be taken when it comes to parable, or documents like Revelation, Daniel etc. Otherwise we would be seeing 6 headed monsters. And in the english translations, it is hard, if not impossible at times to pinpoint on which level of PaRDeS something is equated. However, luckily for us, in terms of things with the sacred name of G-d and whether it is or isn't commanded is very easy to see in the Hebrew.
Whenever we see the phrase in the Bible of "Praise my name", "In my name sake", "in my name" etc. The word for "name" is שֵׁם (shem). Now the word שֵׁם is drastically different than the english ideal of "name" though it does represent an ideal of indication and differentiation and uniqueness. In that, the word שֵׁם (shem) in hebrew, and the word "name" in english are indeed similar and parallel. The difference however comes with full meaning, and making sure we do try and juxtapose westernized idom into the word שֵׁם. Because שֵׁם is not a literal term, it is a term pointing to the essence of uniqueness and a mirror. This is why when a person chooses for themselves a Hebrew name when they convert, they do not choose names from individuals mentioned in the Bible. Instead they are proclaiming what makes them unique and their divine spark, for instance if a person's Hebrew name is Eved, they are saying they are a servant. This premise is also taught by our Mashiach when he said: "that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me." (John 17:21).
In witchcraft, there is an ideal of recitation of sounds, in a streaming order to receive favor and to cast spells and to connect with the various higher powers. Leviticus 19:31, Exodus 22:18, Deuteronomy 18:9-12, Leviticus 20:27, Leviticus 20:6, Isaiah 8:19, etc warn us of adopting the ways of witchcraft. Sadly, the sacred name cults believe the same as the witches and warlocks. They think that if you recite four letter name of G-d (יהוה) a certain way that the advocate for sacred name theology ascribes to then you will receive favor from the Almighty. And I will discuss one of these later in this article that has gained a lot of support in the past few years. It's important to note also that almost 100% of individuals who ascribe to sacred name theology, do not speak Hebrew, and could not write "hello, I am fine, how are you doing?" in Hebrew. But at the same time they claim to know how to say the 4 letter name of G-d, when even the Jews in Israel who speak Hebrew as their primary language will honestly say, "we don't know how to say it". But yet, the individuals who cannot read from a Torah scroll claim to know to say the 4 letter name of G-d. Very interesting.
Now there are several variations of the 4 letter name of G-d that are popular in the fringe groups today. Now it is important to note that obviously you can tell I am not an advocate for the sacred name fringe groups, so don't expect me to give you any indication as to what the four letter name could be, instead I am going to show you where many of these commit horrible error.
Yahweh: There are several issues with this one and the major one being the W sound. Hebrew can indeed have a similar sound but not a hard W sound. In Isaiah 68:4 there is nikkud present with the two letter form (יָהּ) which indicates an "a" sound. The little notation that looks like a capital T below the yod in the verse does indeed indicate an "a" sound in that verse, but when using basic Hebrew phonetics that does not necessarily mean that the full 4 letter name would also have an "a" sound. For instance this can be shown in the name of Yehoshua ben Nun (יְהוֹשֻׁעַ) for example. Also in other shortened forms of Elohim, such as Eloah, Elohai, etc. So this does not necessarily mean that the "a" sound is carried on over to the full name.
Yehovah: There is some slight scholarship being his variation, but however this form of יהוה pronunciation is known as "the concealed name". And the reason is because in the 13th century vowel points were added to the masoretic text, and for the name of G-d the vowel points were added to make it phonetically say "Yehovah", yet they also admit at the same time those vowel points were added to throw people off, as to not profane the holy name of G-d. So admittedly, they say "no that is not how you say, G-d's holy name". But kuddos to those who can read Hebrew.
Yahuah: Now this one is rested on zero scholarship and actually translates to a pretty blasphemous statement. It actually translates to "Yah is mischievous" or "Yah is trickery" or "the yod is mischievous" or "the yod is trickery". Huah is also the name of an Egyptian sun god, but I will let this final point slide with a little bit of da'as because you cannot juxtapose words from other languages and claim they have the same association across other languages, so to be against "huah" because of that would be intellectually dishonest. But its roots, come from two different places. There was a cult in the 1970s known as "The Source" they were a psychedelic, sex, drugs, rock and roll, vegan, Hindu Kabbalah cult (way different than Jewish kosher Kabbalah). The leader of the cult who's birth name was Jim Baker (not to be confused with the other Jim Baker), decided to call himself "Father Yod", later when he consulted with Hindu spiritualists they told him the 4 letter name for G-d was "Yahuah" and branded himself with that name. There is a second story, that comes from head shop owner, Lew White (who was a fan of The Source) who brought this form of the 4 letter name to the forefront. White says, "if you take the word יְהוּדָה (Judah) in Hebrew and take the dalet out, you get the name Yahuah". This is one of the worst explanations ever concocted and it does not follow any sort of Hebrew structure order and the very ideal that this is how you get the 4 letter name of G-d is also pretty blasphemous. Because Mr White is suggesting that you take a created entity יְהוּדָה and you subtract from it.....to get G-d. Which would say that G-d is less than the very entity that He himself created! The only part of the point that is slightly accurate is that the vav can sometimes make an "oo" or "u" sound. But this is probably the most illy educated variation of them all, because it has no support in Hebrew word structure or in any kind of education in the original languages.
So the question then becomes. Why is the sacred name cult so popular? And why has it gained weight and prestige in our faith? The answer is simple. 1993 copyright law. There was a ruling in Supreme Court that if a person changes 10% of a song, or a document, the "new version" gets it's own copyright. For instance if I took Bon Jovi's Living on a Prayer, and changed 10% of the lyrics of that song, like changing "Tommy and Gena" to "Tawney and Geno" and said they were "fishing on a pier" as opposed to "living on a prayer" that song then becomes my song and is considered an original work by me, Bon Jovi gets no royalties from my version, or can have any claim to it. In 1992 you had basically one "Messianic" Bible, it was the Complete Jewish Bible. In the mid 90s you had dozens and now hundreds. Why? Because now I can do a "find and replace" using Microsoft Office or Open Office and easily change 10% of a text within the matter of minutes and have a "Messianic Bible" on sale within a day, using whatever Bible translation I wish to use. Take for instance, James Trimm, did this very thing with The Way International Version Scriptures, they took him to court, and Trimm won, not because his translation was proven to be his own they in fact ruled that his translation was the translation of The Way International. But they could not do much of anything because of the 1993 parody law, because when he did a "find and replace" and changed G-d to a version of the sacred name and changed L-rd to Elohim and Jesus to Yeshua as well as other Hebrew names and terms he knew offhand, it then was more than a 10% change to the original text of the Way International's version. So there is no real scholarship behind 90% of these translations, they are basically something that was created in 10 minutes on a person's PC and they upload their file on Lulu or CreateSpace and vuala "a new translation" is birthed. And so the Hebrew Roots is heavily invested in sacred name theology because it brings in a lot of money and helps them saturate the Google search engines, especially if they can create a really obscure version of the 4 letter name of G-d.
And to preserve the cash cow, they then come up with talking points that have been said enough to the point that enough people think it is fact. Here are a few examples:
The word G-d is pagan and is not in the Bible: They claim there was a deity named "god" that was a deity of fortune and luck. Ok.....find me one deity that wasn't called "god". Also, how would one translate the word Elohai or Eloheinu into English? Well the translation is G-d. So to say that the word G-d, doesn't appear in your Bible is an absolute falsity.
The word L-rd means Ba'al: Does not the Scripture tell us to be a Baali Teshuvah (Master of repentance)? Is not Hashem your Master (Baal)? There are different nikkud for the entity Ba'al that is a two syllable than the word Baal for Master. In fact in the New Testament, in the original Aramaic the word used often, referring to G-d is Mariya (Master), which is the Aramaic equivalent to Baal. Many will cite Hosea chapter 2, not realizing the context of Hashem wishing for the people to not see Him as a tyrant, but rather as a loving husband where the covenant is two sided from the Torah. It is not talking about playing word games.
What about the Messiah and all the variations there? There are dozens of different manuscripts, some ancient and some modern of the New Testament in both Aramaic and Hebrew. Deuteronomy 4:2, Revelation 22:19, Matthew 5:17, and Proverbs 30:6 all give us a stern warming to not add nor take away even a single letter from the Word of Hashem. In the 21st Century there was a move by Michael Rood to "restore the ה back into the name of the Messiah". Yet not a single codex has a ה after the י in the name of the Messiah. Not a single one exists. So Rood had then pushed an agenda to add a letter to the name of the Messiah to fit his own theology, and to do so he made several claims that are unfounded in hermeneutical thought, or in theological thought, proving himself to be an uneducated novice at best. This has been going on for several years with him and even recently he had taken key verses out of his "Chronological Gospels" project that disagreed with his own personal theology. Rood has not been successful in fooling the masses with his subtracting verses from the gospels but he has been successful in making the mainstream, who cannot tell a difference between Hebrew and Hindi, believe that the name of the Messiah is Yahshua. Yet not a single codex from any time period has ever referred to the Messiah as Yahshua.
One argument that is prominent by YouTube theologians is that the name "Yeshua" ישוע is feminine. Just as Lucy or Christina would be in English. Some claim there has to be a ה after the י to make it masculine. So they fill this vortex of linguistics with things that are not so and make these claims to advocate for their cause that the name of the Messiah has to be יהושע and it could never be ישוע despite that every single ancient and modern text renders ישוע (Yeshua) and not a single one renders יהושע.
However, there are things found in drive-by theology that can cause one to believe that the Messiah should be rendered with an extra ה. Because the name of Joshua son of Nun is spelled יהושע בן נון and the ideal that the Messiah's name is יהושע is based on what is written in many Christian study Bibles, most make note that the name of the Messiah in proper English is "Joshua" and not "Jesus". So the thought pattern by Mr Rood was that since Joshua is rendered in the Tanach as יהושע then that means the Messiah's name has to be rendered as such. So Rood then claims a world wide amnesia and conspiracy to take out the ה (which actually was never there to begin with) and put it back into the name of the Messiah.
But lets, also investigate the claim that the name Yeshua is a feminine name. This also is based on a small element of fact but there is another factor to this argument. There is a feminine word in Hebrew that is pronounced the same way but it is spelled differently, and believe it or not....the feminine version has an extra ה. The word יְשׁוּעָה (Yeshuah) is the word for "salvation" and it is indeed feminine. Where the confusion comes in for novices like Michael Rood, is that both words are very similar sounding when spoken. The main difference is how the syllables are broken up and an elongated "a" sound at the end of יְשׁוּעָה. So in conclusion on this point יְשׁוּעָה (Yeshuah) is feminine and ישוע (Yeshua) is masculine.
But this is also where we get many goofy variations of name for the Messiah in the sacred name movement. For instance a great many who don't know Hebrew from Hindi will try and incorporate Rood's talking point that it has to be spelled יהושע and they come up with Yahshua, Yahushua, Yahoshua etc. Yet with every manuscript throughout time in both Hebrew and Aramaic the name is always rendered (and it includes nikkud vowel points) as ישוע (Yeshua).
There are also several other issues with the sacred name theology that I have covered at length, one is an mp3 teaching at Kehilat Melech Mashyach, and the other is another article I wrote as to why the name was hidden. Both links can be accessed below:
Theological Insights from Rabbi Eved Banah the North American Rebbe of Ani Judaism