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This article http://www.eliyah.com/yahweh.html claims that Yahweh is simply a third person form of Hayah (to be). The first form is Ehyeh. Just like the word "be" in English is rarely used and become am, are, and is if the subject is first, second, or third person, so is the word hayah in hebrew, according to that article.

According to the article, God doesn't really have a name. Yahweh simply means "He is".

Is this true?

However, that would be strange.

If Yahweh simply means "He is" what's the point of hiding the sacred name given that I am sure everyone must have been saying it all the time in natural conversation like "He is cooking. He is swimming. He is running" etc.

What's Judaism's perspective on this?

Am I understanding this correctly?

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    It uses a lot of the same letters, but it's not a standard conjugation at least. – Double AA Oct 9 '13 at 14:17
  • sounds more like "Eternal" – ray Oct 9 '13 at 17:23
  • I suppose somebody need to tell the author of that website that he's wrong. – user4951 Oct 10 '13 at 3:49
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    @Jim There are a lot of authors of websites that are wrong. I feel no need to correct them all. – Charles Koppelman Oct 10 '13 at 15:13
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The claim is incorrect. The infinitive of ''to be'' in Hebrew is להיות. The present tense form of the verb, which not usually used, is הֹוֶּה. The causative form of the verb is מְהַוֶּה, meaning ''causes to be''. The name of God is not the third person form of ''being'', it is the third person form of ''causing to be'' or ''causing to exist''. It is much more powerful than ''he is'', it means ''He causes existence to exist''.

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    Isn't הֹוֶּה the participle and להיות the infinitive? – Double AA Oct 9 '13 at 23:39
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    i know. but the word הוה is the closest to the present tense of ''to be''. i used it to prove the point. – moses Oct 13 '13 at 4:24
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    How do you know יהוה is supposed to be read in Pi'el and not, say, Pu'al? – Double AA Oct 15 '13 at 19:44
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    not entirely sure, but if its in פוּעל then the means that he will be caused into existence. this appears to me to be heretical, and unlikely to be what the Name of God means. – moses Oct 16 '13 at 20:37
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    I guess I'm really asking how you have any idea that it belongs to any regular construction. It's sui generis. – Double AA Oct 17 '13 at 3:57
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The root of the name seems to be the same as the verb "to be", but it doesn't match any Hebrew conjugation pattern. Really, it seems to be a combination of the 3rd person future, present, and past tenses. This kind of describes God as eternal (as in "being" applies to him in the future, present, and past).

  • Would you be willing to expound on how it is a combination of these tenses. Can you delineate in your answer the actual linguistics behind it. – user2411 Jul 8 '16 at 2:38
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The actual literal translation of יְ-הֹ-וֶ-ה would be "he will be now" - the word הוה means now (even more zman hoveh - זמן הוה - means "time present" i.e. present tense) and as for yud:

As a prefix, it designates the third person singular (or plural, with a Vav as a suffix) in the future tense.

which (as I see it) can be freely translated as either:

  1. "he will be as he is now" - g-d doesn't ever incur a change, אתה הוא קודם שנברא העולם ואתה הוא אחר שנברא העולם it's possible that "I am" fits into this group
  2. "he will always be" - he will never stop existing

which both basically mean self-subsisting (some other similar translations are "the eternal living one", or "he is eternal").

However it is very important to note that we don't read it, and there are other ways it can be read as well to mean things like "he keeps (re)creating" or "He Causes to Become" (both יֵ-הַ-וֶ-ה), and in qabalah often the order of the letters are switched around as well (הוה ,היה, and יהיה).

For further reading see here. As well as -warning a bit christian- here.

  • why the -1? please explain. – Math chiller Oct 13 '13 at 8:25
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    Not me. I add 1 because I want to know more. I'll check things out. – user4951 Oct 14 '13 at 14:22
  • How do you know those are the right vowels? Also, adding a yud doesn't just change the tense, especially in the Pa'al construction. That's like saying שולח means 'send', and ישולח means 'will send'. – Double AA Oct 15 '13 at 17:09
  • What was unclear about the first question? How do you know what vowels are supposed to be under the letters? My second question is a grammar point which is you can't just add a yud to anything and call it future tense. – Double AA Oct 15 '13 at 17:24
  • @DoubleAA "How do you know what vowels are supposed to be under the letters" - what vowels? what letters? and i provided a source which says that yes, if its added to a word thats what it means "you can't just add a yud to anything and call it future tense" - but when it is in fact added it means something... – Math chiller Oct 15 '13 at 17:31

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