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Definition: Jehovah from The Columbia Encyclopedia

(jӘhō'vӘ, jē–), modern reconstruction of the ancient Hebrew ineffable name of God (Yahweh).

Summary Article: Jehovah
From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

In the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), the name of God, revealed to Moses; in Hebrew texts it is represented by the letters YHVH (without the vowels ‘a o a’) because it was regarded as too sacred to be pronounced; other religions say the letters as Yahweh.

Naming something is a way of encompassing and understanding it, so Jews believe that because God is beyond human understanding, he cannot be named. Before the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem in AD 70, part of the high priest's role would be to enter the inner sanctum of the Temple on Yom Kippur and utter his name. The terms Adonai (‘Lord’), Hashem (‘the Name’), Elohim (‘the God of Life’), and Melech (‘King’) were also used in order to avoid directly mentioning God; in English, Jewish texts use the form ‘G–d’, omitting the ‘o’.

Jewish beliefs about God were set out by Rabbi Moses Maimonides in his Thirteen Principles in the 12th century AD. God is described as One, the creator, knowing all thoughts and actions, and rewarding or punishing those who keep or break the commandments (mitzvot). Jews believe that God is omnipotent (all-powerful), omnipresent (present everywhere), and good and loving. He is the God of justice and mercy, attributes that people should try to emulate.

Jews believe that they are the people of a covenant with God. If they keep his commandments, they will be his people and an example to others of the behaviour and attitudes expected by God.


Jehovah (Yahweh)

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