We have been talking about Rabbinical Jewish sources for the name, but what about Biblical sources? So, we are going to look at the Aleppo Codex. The Aleppo Codex is the most accurate copy of the Bible in existence. It was written in 924 AD by Aaron Ben Asher in Tiberius and it was endorsed for its accuracy by Maimonides. Along with the Leningrad Codex, it contains the Ben Asher masoretic tradition.
To this day, when they want to print a Bible in Hebrew, they base it on the Aleppo Codex. God’s name is written 6,827 times in the Aleppo Codex. Nehemiah Gordon is a Karaite Jew and was a proofreader for a Hebrew Bible using the Aleppo Codex and he had been praying for years to know how to pronounce the name of God (YHVH). So the following account is his story on how he discovered the true pronunciation of the name and it is an important story to tell.
Gordon had heard all the different variations on how to pronounce the name of God just like everyone else has. He heard Yahweh, Yahveh, Yehuah and all the others. Each had good arguments but at the end of the day, how would he know which one is true? His prayer was to see it in the oracles of God, the Bible, the Scriptures, preserved by the master scribes. He wanted to see how it was written in these early “vocalized” manuscripts (with the vowels).
He was working on his Masters Degree in 2001, and he had a research position which was with the Hebrew University Bible Project. He would have photographs and printed pages to proofread the Aleppo Codex. It was common knowledge at that time that the name of God was written with the vowels from “Adonai.” But, that was factually untrue by what he saw. He had access not only to the Aleppo Codex, but he also had access to the Leningrad Codex. It was obvious that the name did not have the vowels of Adonai. By the way, you can get the Aleppo Codex and the Leningrad Codex on-line now.
What it had was two vowels written, and a third vowel was missing from the name. YHVH had to have a vowel marking associated with those first three letters, and one was missing. It was intentionally missing on a repeated basis, both in the Aleppo Codex and the Leningrad Codex. No reader could read it the way it was written. But he still had his prayer to know how to read the name. He did not want that information based on a man’s theory, but how it was preserved by the scribes. However, the scribes didn’t preserve it so it could be pronounced.
As Gordon was doing his proofreading he would come across the name YHVH and one of the vowels was missing. Then one day he found the name with all the vowels. The missing vowel was there. It was in Ezek 3.12 which says, “Then the Spirit lifted me up and I heard a great rumbling sound behind me, ‘Blessed be the glory of the Lord in his place.'” He looked at YHVH in that verse (Lord) and it had a full set of vowels, and it was pronounced Yehovah.
At that moment, Gordon gets a phone call that told him that a plane had just flown into the World Trade Center in New York. The date was September 11, 2001. He thought that it was a fluke accident. He did not have the Internet or a Smart phone so he thought it was a small plane that had an accident. It had happened before with the Empire State Building.
He put down the phone and he was not thinking about the accident. What he was thinking about was whether or not the YHVH he found with the vowels written out was a fluke. He had just found the full vowels in the name, in the Aleppo Codex, the most accurate manuscript in the world. So, he decided to quit working and just look for YHVH, to find a second witness. So he goes over page after page, word for word. Then he finds the vowels missing again whenever he comes across where the name was.
After about 15 minutes of this, he comes across another verse in Ezek 28.22 which says, “Thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I am against you, O Sidon, and I shall be glorified in your midst. Then they will know that I am the Lord when I execute judgments in her.'” He finds the full vowels in the first instance of YHVH there. When YHVH appears next to Adonai you are to read it as Elohim (God). At that moment he gets a second call saying a second plane just flew into the World Trade Center. Now he realizes that this was no accident in New York, and he realizes that finding the name YHVH with full vowels was not an accident either. It was not a fluke.
It took time to process both things that were happening. Two years later he was talking to a friend about all this and the friend asked him if he realized the significance of the timing. Gordon honestly said he didn’t. He missed the forest because of the trees. He was told by his friend that at the exact moment these terrorists flew those planes into the two towers, they shouted out the name of their god. They proclaimed the name of their god at the exact moment that the Creator of the Universe was revealing his name. He wanted his name known and allowed Nehemiah Gordon to find it.
Needless to say, Gordon struggled with this because in Jewish thought they don’t get into the “spiritual” but only “the facts.” But this was clearly the hand of God. He found out that the Aleppo Codex contains the name written out six times. There was only two in the book of Ezekiel. If he had been working on other books that day, like Jeremiah, he would not have come across any of them. If he had been working in the book of Isaiah, he would have found one, not two. It was only in Ezekiel that he could have found two in the span of time it took for those two planes to strike the towers. As those terrorists were proclaiming the name of their god, Yehovah was revealing how to proclaim his name (Deut 32.3; Exo 33.19; Psa 20.7; Heb 2.12; Ezek 39.7; Rom 9.17). This was clearly the hand of God and the timing was unmistakable. Others have seen these vowel markings but never made the connection, or pointed them out, and certainly not with the timing that accompanied any revelation to it.
The Leningrad Codex has the name written 6,828 times, and the name was written with full vowels 50 times. The Leningrad Codex is second only to the Alepo Codex in importance. The thing is, nobody connected it together until September 11, 2001. Gordon was looking for an answer to a prayer, and not according to the traditions of men or some hypothesis. He wanted an answer according to the oracles of God the way it was preserved by the Hebrew scribes (Rom 3.1-2). Until one asks that question, you can be staring it right in the face and not see it.
How can you place the name of God on someone in a blessing and not know how to say the name (Num 6.22-27)? It is a fact that it is written as “Yehovah.” The name has been discovered in over 1000 manuscripts now (as of 2018). We will have more on that later. Other references in the Alepo Codex with the name written out is 1 Kings 8.11, “For the glory of Yehovah filled the house of Yehovah.” The second time Yehovah is used in this verse it does not have the vowels and it is basically unpronounceable in Hebrew. Another one is 2 Kings 20.9, “And Isaiah said, ‘This shall be the sign to you from Yehovah; that he will do the things he has spoken: shall the shadow move forward ten steps or go backwards ten steps?'”
In Part 6 we will begin with a listing of other top Masoretic manuscripts with the full vowels written in the name.