C. Introduction to the Divine Names
1. Every language uses its own words to describe Deity. Moreover, language is never static, but is constantly changing and borrowing from other languages. Our own English tongue is a peculiar amalgam of Saxon, Angle, Celtic, Jute, Danish, Norwegian, Roman, French and many other languages.
2. The origin of our word for deity, God, is uncertain, but refers to no deity in particular and is a generic word that is used by all religions. It is derived from the German Gott and the Scandinavian Gud. When believers speak of "God" they are always refering to the God of the Bible, as opposed to the god of the Muslim Quran (Allah - meaning 'the god') or the gods of the Hindu Vedas (Krishna, Vishnu, etc.). Indeed, our Germanic words 'God', 'Gott' and 'Gud' trace back to the pagan Indo-European "Ghodh" meaning "sexual union". There are therefore good reasons for avoiding its use in worship.
3. The word for "God" in the Tanakh (Old Testament) is El (Hebrew), Elah (Aramaic, commonly used in the Aramaic New Testament too), or Eloah (Hebrew, old poetic form, used 70 times). They may all be translated as "The Awesome, Fearful One" or more simply, "Powers". All of these are titles for the Creator, our Father in Heaven. However, these names have also been used by pagan nations in the past, "El" being the supreme Deity of the Canaanites. This is because these are only generic names or titles of power and authority. Accordingly our Heavenly Father has commanded that He be known by His true Name which is YAHWEH, sometimes abbreviated as Yah (as in "Hallelu-Yah", meaning "praise Yah"). Jehovah, Yehovah, Yahovah, Yahwah, Yahuwah, Yahuah, Yehweh, Yaveh, and others are all examples of the many wrong spellings and pronunciations in use today.
4. The Name of the one and only true God, Yahweh, is frequently combined with another word, Elohim, which is the plural of El, and is a term used not only of the Godhead but also of angels, the sons of Elohim (God), Israelite judges, and upon occasion, even false gods (demons). It is a uniplural noun indicating both the Unity or Oneness of the Godhead and its plurality (Hebrew, echad) to show us that the Creator consists of more than one Person. As the Bible revelation unfolds we discover that the Elohim consists of Yahweh (our Heavenly Father), Yah'shua (His Son) and the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost). These three are one Elohim or echad. Thus in most English Bibles which read "LORD God" (e.g. KJV), it is Yahweh-Elohim who is being described. When thus combined, it is usually referring to the whole Elohimhead or Godhead, of whom Yahweh the Father is the Head.
5. During the Middle Ages and under the influence of superstitious Talmudic Jews who believed they were forbidden to pronounce the Name of Deity, Yahweh was replaced by the corrupt and blasphemous name "Jehovah". This mutation was effected by taking the consonants of YaHWeH (YHWH - the Tetragrammaton), substituting the vowels with those of the Hebrew word Adonay (meaning "my Lord"), and then (originally under the influence of the French language) anglicising the Y to J and the W to V. Because the Hebrew hovah means "perverse", Messianic Evangelicals refuse to use this obscene word in reference to our Heavenly Father. Sadly, this is a name in common usage in English Bibles that do not use the true Sacred Names.
6. Strictly speaking Yahweh is the only "name" of Elohim, its Hebrew root indicating that our Elohim is a Person and not just a force or power, thus bringing Him into relationship with other human persons. Yahweh is no mere label but describes His character and personality as "The Eternally Existent One". Another biblical title, Elyon or El Elyon, "The Most High El", reflects a similar concept, and was the title used by Melchizedek.
7. Yahweh is the Name that we are commanded honour, revere and respect in the Ten Commandments (Decalogue). It is frequently combined with words like Yahweh-yireh ("Yahweh provides"), Yahweh-nissi ("Yahweh is my banner"), Yahweh-shalom ("Yahweh is my peace"), Yahweh-tsidkenu ("Yahweh is righteousness"), Yahweh-sevaot ("Yahweh of hosts/armies") and Yahweh-shamash ("Yahweh is there") to describe some of the Creator's other characteristics. Other titles include El Olam ("the Everlasting El"), El-Elohe-Yisrael ("'El' is the 'Elohim' of Israel"), Qedosh-Yisrael ("the Holy One of Israel") and Attiq Yomin ("the Ancient of Days").
8. YAH'SHUA (Hebrew, "Yah Saves") is the true Hebrew Name of the Messiah (Christ), the Son of Yahweh, though earlier the name was Yehoshua (Joshua). He was also known by the Aramaic diminuative Yeshua or Y'shua. This was in time translated into the Greek Iesous which in our English became transformed, first, to Iesus and finally, with the acquisition of the French 'J', Jesus. Because Yah'shua more accurately explains who the Saviour is ("the Salvation of Yahweh") Messianic Evangelicals prefer this usage to the Anglo-Greek 'Jesus'. We do not accept the claim of some that Jesus is a blasphemous contraction of the pagan deity 'Ye-Zeus' and so do not see it in the same negative terms as 'Jehovah'.
9. The Holy Spirit (or in the older King James English, Holy Ghost) is simply the English rendition of the Hebrew, Ruach haQodesh (or RhQ for short) which literally means "Holy Breath". Because "ghost" is associated with spooks and hauntings in modern English, 'Holy Ghost' tends to be avoided by us. Though we have no objection to 'Holy Spirit', both this and 'Holy Ghost' have consistently been rendered in male and neuter terms ('he' and 'it') in our Greek-derived English New Testaments, thus conveying the false impression of masculine gender. Messianic Evangelicals prefer the Hebrew Ruach haQodesh because it more accurately conveys the femaleness of this Person in the Godhead, or Hochma (Wisdom) as She is also known in Scripture. Finally, Scripture teaches that there is not just one Holy Spirit but seven. (For a full exposition of the Godhead doctrine and sacred names, see Yah'shua the Messiah and His Place in the Godhead, New Covenant Press, Arvika, Sweden, 2002).
10. NCAY officially uses the Sacred Hebrew Names of Deity in all its publications, a policy adhered to in this new edition of Foundational Studies of the Bible.