I am aware that there is already another question about the pronunciation if the tetragrammatron which is here: What is the correct pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton?

But no one mentioned that the masoretes already wrote it this way:


Is this the original pronunciation? If not, then why did the masoretes write it this way?

Notice that there are no vowels (Tenu'ot) on the ה letters.

  • 1
    it is written with at least 3 different sets of vowel points depending on context. This is just one of them
    – rosends
    Commented Oct 15, 2016 at 23:49
  • @Danno What are the three?
    – Double AA
    Commented Oct 16, 2016 at 13:56
  • 1
    @DoubleAA the one indicating that the pronunciation is like the word "ado-nai" one which is used to indicate a pronunciation like "eloh-im" and one I saw in the Artscroll machzor in the silent meditations on Yom Kippur (I can get the page if it helps). So an OP might want to ask why any of them was the way it was written, not just limit the question to 1 version.
    – rosends
    Commented Oct 16, 2016 at 14:14
  • 1
    Remember no ones knows the pronounciation today, expect for a few hidden mystics, and under no circumstances can anyone pronounce this today Commented Aug 7, 2019 at 19:15
  • 5
    Does this answer your question? Explanation of kri u-khtiv vowel for first letter of tetragrammaton Commented May 21 at 11:45

3 Answers 3


This is the vowel pointing for the pronunciation of the word that replaces the Tetragrammaton. In the case of your example, it is the Alef Dalet Nun Yud pronunciation. You can see this in the siddur. The shvah under the yud is to represent the chataf patach under the alef. This is because an alef cannot be pronounced with a shvah. Another example that we see when it is pronounced as Elokim the vowels are shown as segol cholem chirik. This can be seen in Devarim 3:24

כד אֲדֹנָי יֱהֹוִה אַתָּה הַחִלּוֹתָ לְהַרְאוֹת אֶת עַבְדְּךָ אֶת גָּדְלְךָ וְאֶת יָדְךָ הַחֲזָקָה אֲשֶׁר מִי אֵל בַּשָּׁמַיִם וּבָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂה כְמַעֲשֶׂיךָ וְכִגְבוּרֹתֶךָ:

The reason is so that one does not pronounce it as the kohen gadol did during the Yom Kippur service.


The sacred tetragrammaton appears 6,828 times in various forms of vowel pointing in the Codex Leningradis. That is, there are six (6) different forms of vowel pointing of the tetragrammaton, which was influenced by its use in context.

For example, the form יֱהוִה appears twice in Scripture in Gen 15:2 and Gen 15:8; the form יֱהֹוִה exists once in Judg 16:28; and the יְהוִה form appears 271 times. In all three cases, the vocative form appears to be at issue.

However, other forms, such as יְהֹוָה, which appears 44 times, and יְהֹוִה, which appears 31 times, do not have any immediately apparent obvious grammatical indicators in context for their vowel pointing. The most common vowel pointing for the tetragrammaton is יְהוָה, which occurs 5,658 times in Scripture. These last three forms of the sacred tetragrammaton (described in this paragraph) occur 821 times in conjunction with prefixes.

The total then is 6,828 appearances of this word in the Hebrew Scriptures.

  • 1
    I clicked on your links to mechon-mamre.org-Torah passages, and I do not see your claims represented. For example, you wrote, "the form יֱהוִה appears twice in Scripture in Gen 15:2 and Gen 15:8", but it is not so. In both of these passages, the form is יְהוִה
    – ninamag
    Commented Aug 20, 2017 at 7:58
  • 1
    why at www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/16126, in the same passage, Ezekiel 28:25 the word YHWH is vowelized like this, יֱהֹוִה֒ whereas, the same passage at mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt1228.htm it is יְהוִה ?
    – ninamag
    Commented Aug 20, 2017 at 8:51
  • 1
    @ninamag - Thank you for pointing out out the errors in the mechon-mamre.org references; in lieu I have provided screenshots from the Masoretic Text (Codex Leningrad) in the hyperlinks. It appears that mechon-mamre.org does not follow the Masoretic Text (Codex Leningrad) but instead follows other medieval manuscripts.
    – Joseph
    Commented Aug 20, 2017 at 18:24
  • 1
    Thanks for the updated edit. Please do the same when you wrote, "the form יֱהֹוִה exists once in Judg 16:28", which is also pointed at mechon-mamre.org
    – ninamag
    Commented Aug 20, 2017 at 20:52
  • 1
    @ninamag - thank you again for the constructive feedback - all corrections are made.
    – Joseph
    Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 0:08

This is a ketiv-qere phenomenon, that is, one reads the word differently from the way one spells it. The four letters are those of the tetragrammaton, which is never pronounced today. The vowels correspond to the word that is said euphemistically instead:

אֲדֹנָי→יְהֹוָה (equivalent to אְדֹנָי in Masoretic Hebrew, see my answer here)


This particular ketiv-qere is assumed everywhere due to its frequency. The same can be said for הִוא which is pointed (and read) as הִיא, or יְרוּשָׁלַ͏ִם for יְרוּשָׁלַיִם.

The original vowels of the tetragrammaton are not those of the Masoretic text.

The cholem-free form should be seen as a simple variant of יְהֹוָה which was accepted during Masoretic times. Since it is clear what is meant by יְהוָה it was sometimes used. I am unaware of any ancient treatise that makes any distinction between the two forms.

  • How do you know this is a kri/ktiv?
    – Double AA
    Commented Aug 6, 2019 at 18:40
  • @DoubleAA There are uncountable sources for this, a quick Google search of "qere perpetuum" (or "קרי קבוע") should give some religious and scholarly results.
    – Argon
    Commented Aug 6, 2019 at 18:45
  • Do you have any actual evidence that they are right? We can describe the facts as kri/ktiv or not. What's to say how the masoretes conceptualized it?
    – Double AA
    Commented Aug 6, 2019 at 18:48
  • I suppose the tricky part is (and it is how it was asked in the question) the missing cholam dot. Commented Aug 6, 2019 at 18:58
  • @DoubleAA The phenomenon is recalled in Pesachim 50a: העולם הזה שמו נכתב ביוד הא ונקרא באלף דלת [...] לא כשאני נכתב אני נקרא נכתב ביוד הי ונקרא אני באלף דלת
    – Argon
    Commented Aug 6, 2019 at 19:08

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