Why don't we call God Jehovah?

A friend recently asked me why we don’t call God Jehovah because He Himself said it was His name, I didn’t know how to answer him. I read in my friend’s type Bible about that but of course I trust my Catholic Bible but I still couldn’t find the answer. Thank you

Where did He say that and does anybody have any proof besides the written word that that IS God’s Name?

That is incorrect, Jehovah is a corruption and mistranslation of the tetragramation. IOW, the name Jehovah is an error. You are calling God by the wrong name is you use Jehovah

It sounds like your friend is a Jehovah’s Witness. Although he/she probably doesn’t know it, their Bible has been altered to reflect the teachings of the Watchtower Society and doesn’t reflect serious scholarship.

In the Old Testament, God’s name is YHWH, roughly meaning “I am that I am,” and the exact translation is uncertain. Some translate it as Yahweh. The Germans, who use “j” the way we use “i” translated it as Jehovah. Although the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew and Aramaic, it was translated into the then-universal language of Greek some three centuries BC. In this translation, called the Septuagint, the Hebrew YHWH was translated into the Greek word kurios which means “Lord.” This was also done by Jesus and the divinely-inspired writers of the New Testament. Whenever they quoted an Old Testament verse containing YHWH, they used the word kurios instead, which is why we see “Lord” in our English Bibles. We are just following the example of Christ and His Apostles. You can verify this for yourself by comparing Old Testament quotations in the New Testament to their originals in the OT, in a reputable Bible translation anyway, and with any layman’s Greek resource such as a Strong’s Concordance. (Anyone: do you know of Catholic alternatives?)

As a side note, the Watchtower Society follows the teaching of Arius in denying the Trinity and Christ’s divinity. To boster their case they alter certain verses in their Bible like John 1:1, John 8:58 and Col. 1:16. Their problem is a bigger one though. Since for us Christians there is only one Lord (Eph. 4:5) every Bible verse that calls Jesus “Lord” (kurios) is a statement that He is in fact God (Jehovah). Unfortunately though, the obedience that the Watchtower demands from its followers means that the Bible itself is a mere prop; in reality it is the teachings of the Watchtower that are determinative. It is for that reason, and because of the deceitful and illogical nature of Watchtower literature, that Witnesses are discouraged from reading non-Watchtower literature.

Proverbs 18:17 (NRSV) The one who first states a case seems right, until the other comes and cross-examines.

I was thinking the same thing, that it sounds like your friend is a JW. Here is some info you might enjoy if that is the case



Here is a link that explains a little bit of the background of the name Jehovah. The name Jehovah was, at least for a time, used the KJV of the Bible. However, I think it is really only the Jehovah Witnesses that believe this today. Your friend may not be a JW, but probably is. If so, please study up on their faith and yours NOW so you can be prepared. JW’s are trained to bring others to their faith and they are very deceptive. Their bible, the New World Translation, produced by the Watchtower Society, has been altered to support the lies of their faith. The largest lie being that Jesus is not one with God, but that He is “a” god. In a JW Bible, John 1:1 says “In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was **a **god.” :bigyikes::bigyikes::bigyikes: If you choose to have biblical discussions, never use this Bible.

As an aside, we Catholics ought not to be too haughty about the transliteration of YHWH into the name Jehovah. In truth, the English translation of the name of our Lord is not really what it ought to be. His name in Hebrew is Yahshua, I’ve also seen it spelled Yeshua. Translated straight to English, it should be Joshua. (Sort of makes sense, in terms of biblical typology. Who was it that led the Isrealites into the promised land? Joshua!) However, it didn’t get translated straight to English because the New Testament was originally written in Greek. In Greek, Yahshua translates to Iesous, then the Greek was translated to Latin and we got Iesus. Then the Latin translated to English and we get Jesus! Fascinating, eh? Funny, the Jehovah Witness don’t make a big deal about that transliteration…in English they call Him Jesus along with the rest of the English speaking world.

Thank you all for the great replies I e-mailed my friend the replies and yes he is Jehovah’s witness and is trying to get me to convert. I have a feeling and pray that his intentions have a tremendous positive effect on him. After everyhting new he tells me he asks “what percentage Catholic are you?” My reply is “today and forever 100%”:slight_smile: Please pray for my friend he has said some hateful things.:shrug:

Yes, unfortunately the religion of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is fuelled by hatred and fear. As Our Lord said, by their fruits you will know them.

Fortunately though, some Witnesses come to realize that this is contrary to God’s love and human dignity and leave the Watchtower organization. Hopefully you have shown your friend a better way :newidea:

Strictly speaking there’s nothing wrong with Jehovah as a transliteration. Ancient Hebrew had no written vowels, so the Name of God in the Torah was written with the four letters we render in modern English as YHWH. As our Prayer Warrior has noted, the Y and the J are equally valid transliterations of the same sound.

Adding to the mystery, observant Jews never speak the Name aloud. When they encounter it in the Torah, they always substitute “Adonai.” So we don’t actually have any idea what the vowel sounds are that “belong” in the Sacred Name.

For many years the usual Catholic practice has been to use “Lord God” to translate “Adonai” wherever the text had YHWH. In other places you will see “Lord” which translates “Elohim.” In some modern translations the word “Lord” is used for both but in all caps for YHWH and regular type for Elohim.

The Jerusalem Bible took the step of putting “Yahweh” back in the text, and many hymns have been written using this form, but recent instruction from Rome discourages the use in liturgy of these hymns, returning to the tradition of not saying the Name (which, after all, we don’t actually know how to pronounce).

Another interesting bit is that when God called people and changed their names in Genesis, He gave them a bit of His Name - Abram becomes Abraham, Sari becomes Sarah, Jacob becomes Israel (Is-rah-el; I don’t know why we Americans pronouce it the way we do). So the likelihood is that one of those mysterious vowel sounds is in fact “ah.” Is the first one (Yahweh) or the last one (Jehovah)? God only knows :thumbsup:

Stay strong! At times they can be overwhelming as they evangelize. You’ll find a lot of knowledge and support here if you need it! And I’m praying for your friend, along with the JW’s in my life :slight_smile:

Yes, both the Church Fathers and the Rabbinic writers agree God’s name is ineffable.

The vowel markings, יְהֹוָה (Jehovah) are from the traditional Masoretic Text.

It is general consensus that Ancient Hebrew didn’t have any vowels and that people simply knew them.

It’s Rabbinic tradition that the vowel markings on יְהֹוָה (Jehovah) stem from a combination of יהוה and the vowels from אֲדֹנָי (Adonai)
However while the vowels are similar they don’t quite match so there are some that debate this as well… :shrug:

Now scholars believe the Name was pronounced יַהְוֶה (Yahweh)
but traditionally, it seems to be יְהֹוָה (Jehovah)

the King James Version translates it such 7 times

Original Catholic Encyclopedia (1912)


Proper name of God in the Old Testament

Jehovah, the proper name of God in the Old Testament; hence the Jews called it the name by excellence, the great name, the only name, the glorious and terrible name, the hidden and mysterious name, the name of the substance, the proper name, and most frequently shem hammephorash, i.e. the explicit or the separated name, though the precise meaning of this last expression is a matter of discussion (cf. Buxtorf, “Lexicon”, Basle, 1639, col. 2432 sqq.)…

I. PRONUNCIATION OF JEHOVAH.—The Fathers and the Rabbinic writers agree in representing Jehovah as an ineffable name. As to the Fathers, we only need draw attention to the following expressions: onoma arreton, aphraston, alekton, aphthegkton, anekphonton, aporreton kai rethenai me dunamenon, mustikon. Leusden could not induce a certain Jew, in spite of his poverty, to pronounce the real name of God, though he held out the most alluring promises. The Jew’s compliance with Leusden’s wishes would not indeed have been of any real advantage to the latter; for the modern Jews are as uncertain of the real pronunciation of the Sacred name as their Christian contemporaries. According to a Rabbinic tradition the real pronunciation of Jehovah ceased to be used at the time of Simeon the Just, who was, according to Maimonides, a contemporary of Alexander the Great. At any rate, it appears that the name was no longer pronounced after the destruction of the Temple.

Traditionally, the Name has not been pronounced and when the Jews read יהוה I think they either breath or said אֲדֹנָי (Adonai). It’s a tradition that’s been around until this day since אֲדֹנָי (Adonai) means “Lord” :slight_smile:

Yes, Jehovah’s Witnesses use the word “Jehovah” as a device to get Christians to become JW’s.* But it is a ruse.*

Why?Well, in the Watchtower’s own publication about the Divine Name, they themselves state that the pronunciation of the Divine Name has been lost.* In that case, I would like to ask a JW, if God’s name is so important, why did He permit the pronunciation of it to be forgotten?* How can we possibly use His name if we don’t know how to say it?

They may say something like, well, Jehovah is the English translation.*

What, the English translation?* No way.* As everybody knows, the word Jehovah was falsely generated by a Catholic monk in the middle ages.* How then, can a word made up by a Catholic monk in the middle ages possibly be God’s name?* English translation or otherwise?

It’s like if I told you my name, and then later you came to me and said, well, I forgot what you told me your name was, but I made up something else, and I’ll call you by that. Would you appreciate that?* No.* God wouldn’t either, when He especially said what His name was.*

Lets look at the idea of a name further:* It seems to me that a name has three attributes–

  • Its pronunciation.* Its spelling.* Its meaning.

The pronunciation of God’s name is now uncertain.* So scratch pronunciation.* We do know the spelling of God’s name–in Hebrew characters! Called the Tetragrammaton. Perhaps we could attempt to transliterate the Tetragrammaton into contemporary Roman letters, but how can we do that if we cannot use the pronunciation as a guide for transliteration?* So scratch that.*

That leaves the meaning.* The meaning therefore must be the important aspect.** And we do know the meaning.* The English translation of the meaning is something like I AM, or I am that I am.* Not “Jehovah.”

So, you needn’t fall into the false trap the Watchtower follower attempts to catch you in.* “Jehovah” is not the English translation of God’s name.* Jehovah isn’t a translation at all, it is actually a failed transliteration.* A transliteration is a spelling of a word from one language in the letters of another language.* A translation expresses the meaning of a word in one language in the word of another language.*

The closest transliterationwe have of God’s name would be something like Yahweh.* The English translation would be as stated above and in other posts on this thread.

As was explained in the other posts, the pronouncing of the Divine name fell out of practice centuries before Christ. In keeping with this, the Pope has recently stated that Catholics should respect this same ancient Jewish tradition.

Incidentally, the Divine name never appears in the inspired New Testament, or Christian Greek scriptures, as the JW’s call it.


Their *cause celebre *was invented by a monkish slave of that evil, wretched Christendom!!! Oh, the irony.

Next we’ll find out that the translators of the New World Translation didn’t even know the original languages. Oh wait. That’s already happened.

This website might prove to be a great assistance to you in your discussions with your friend:


How sad, yes even here in the philippines if you been encourage by the jehovah and you don’t get converted because you know your faith what did they do they always curse people, sometime saying like " you will be get burned in hell " you will not be saved. something like that. but who are they to judge? only god will judge us on the final judgement not them. Just pray for them… here in the philippines there is a lot of sect, anti-catholic religion, like jehovah,protestant etc. they are very aggresive and they always based there teaching on the bible, but tell you non-of them use the catholic bible 77 books. they using the 66 books thats why they did’nt understand us catholics because even there bible is not complete.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are not dogmatic about the pronunciation of the divine name. We do feel that Jehovah has good support from the study of the original language but also acknowledge that some scholars believe it should be Yahweh. For example the New Jerusalem Bible:

NJB Exodus 3:15 God further said to Moses, 'You are to tell the Israelites, “Yahweh, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.” This is my name for all time, and thus I am to be invoked for all generations to come.

The important thing is to use God’s personal name. He said that this was his name forever.

Sadly many bibles remove the name completely.


You must be thinking of some other group. Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t believe anyone will be consciously tormented forever in hellfire.