God's Kingdom Ministries
Serious Bible Study



Chapter 14: Sacred Names in Perspective

For many years people have sent me written material on the importance of knowing and using the Sacred Names. The first problem is that such people cannot agree on the proper name itself. Some insist that we must use the name Yahweh. Others say Yavah. Still others say Jehovah, Yehuwah, or some other variation.

The arguments can be quite heated when such people insist that if the name is pronounced incorrectly, it amounts to blasphemy. Such an attitude turns the sacred name into a password to heaven. Salvation itself seems to rest upon the correct pronunciation of the name.

Some of the material sent to me has been helpful, but most of it has been designed to prove that using such titles as Lord, God, or the name Jesus is blasphemous. Fortunately, only a few hold such an extreme view.

I myself believe that we should study and know all the sacred names and titles, and I favor their use. I wish also that the Bible translations had retained the original Hebrew names and titles without translating them or substituting other words in their place.

It is always my interest to set forth the proper Bible translations and expound the meaning of Scripture properly. However, I am not at all convinced that using the English titles such as Lord or God is in any way wrong or in any way blasphemous.

In fact, the New Testament has come to us in Greek manuscripts that freely use the terms kurios (“Lord”) and Iesous (“Jesus”) as fully acceptable terms. Some, however, think it is necessary to alter the Greek text and thereby create their own “inspired” text using the names and titles that they deem acceptable.

The fact is that if the Greek texts that we have are uninspired, then we have no inspired New Testament at all. Was God not able to provide us with an inspired text? Does God think that Hebrew is the only language of inspiration? If so, how would this affect the gift of tongues? Must every “tongue” be interpreted into Hebrew to make it acceptable to God? If so, very few people today would have a legitimate gift of interpretation of tongues (1 Cor. 12:10).

The Original Problem

The problem originated with ancient rabbis (“the Sopherim”) who stopped speaking or reading the name YHVH so as to avoid inadvertently blaspheming Him. In their Hebrew manuscripts of the Scripture, they put notes in the margins of 134 passages to remind the rabbis to substitute “Lord” for YHVH.

In time, the precise pronunciation of YHVH was lost, and this is why the precise name is disputed. This is unfortunate, of course, but we should note that our salvation does not depend upon discovering the exact pronunciation of YHVH.

Even so, the Sacred Name is still written in Hebrew for all to see, so the actual Hebrew text is accurate. Nonetheless, the Septuagint Greek version of Scripture reflects the rabbinical view and renders YHVH as Kurios (“Lord”). This Greek translation, which was begun around 280 B.C., became the accepted version among Greek-speaking believers and also acted as a Hebrew-Greek dictionary. The New Testament, written mostly to a Greek audience, usually quotes the Septuagint.

From there, kurios is translated into English as “Lord.” Some object to this word, claiming that “Lord” is synonymous with Baal.

Baal and Lord

It is usually argued that Baal (the Canaanite deity) means Lord, and that therefore to refer to Yahweh as “Lord” is actually worshiping Baal. Hence, the Sacred Name Bible avoids the term Lord unless the word clearly is referring to false gods. Of course, if the King James Version had used the term master as its choice of translation, no doubt the Sacred Name Bible would have vented their wrath upon that word instead of lord. The distinction between lord and master is purely arbitrary.

Strictly speaking, Baal means “an owner,” particularly a landowner, landlord, or slave owner. When Baal is said to be the god of a nation or city, then the name is best translated as an owner of territory—that is, a landlord. When speaking of Baal as the god of people, the name is best translated as an owner of people—a master.

In my view, the problem is not the term itself but how it is applied. The Canaanites claimed that their false god (“Baal”) was lord and master. The Hebrews objected, saying, “No, only YHVH is our Lord and Master. It is a sin to call any other god by such titles, because Baal is NOT our lord and master.”

Nonetheless, because English translators have nearly always used lord as a translation of both Baal and Yahweh, some defenders of the Sacred Name have focused their wrath upon that particular English term. On the other hand, they seem to have no problem with the English word “master,” even though this word is an equally accurate rendering of Baal.

Adonai and Lord

Moses said in Deut. 10:17,

17 For the Lord your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords

His term, “Lord of lords,” is the Hebrew phrase, Adonai h’adonim.

Adonai Yahweh is one of Ezekiel’s favorite terms for Yahweh. He uses the term 214 times—for example, in Ezekiel 2:4, where it is translated “The Lord God” in the KJV. Personally, I would prefer NOT to translate the term at all, but simply leave it as it reads in the Hebrew: Adonai Yahweh. However, the term could be translated, “Lord Yahweh.”

It is well known that Adonai was the Phoenician deity and that the word is usually translated lord. The Greeks had a god called Adonis, the consort of Aphrodite. So how can it be that the Hebrew prophet, Ezekiel, has no trouble referring to the Hebrew God as Adonai Yahweh? Could it be that the term Adonai is NOT inherently evil, but that it is only wrong to call OTHER gods by the worshipful title lord?

The Sacred Name Bible translates Adonai as “Lord” when the term refers to false gods, but when Ezekiel speaks of Adonai Yahweh, it switches to “Master Yahweh.” This is an awkward attempt to hide the fact that the Bible has no problem taking back the title Adonai from the false Phoenician “lord.”

I do not dispute their translation, “Master Yahweh,” since it is perhaps just as accurate as “Lord Yahweh.” To me, it makes little difference whether Yahweh is our Lord or our Master. I simply object to their underhanded way of maintaining their extreme doctrinal position when they cannot help but know they are being inconsistent and a bit deceitful.

In Psalm 110:1 we read, “The Lord [Yahweh] said unto my lord [Adonai], Sit thou at My right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” Acts 2:36 and Heb. 10:10-13 make it clear that the Adonai of Psalm 110 is Jesus Christ in the New Testament—not the Phoenician or the Greek gods that went by that name. Peter’s sermon informs us in Acts 2:34-36,

34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool. 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

In other words, Peter identifies Jesus Christ as the “Adonai” of David’s psalm. Jesus’ enemies will become His footstool. This is confirmed in Heb. 10:12, 13,

12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.

Sacred Name extremists try to convince us that Adonai is an evil term, because “lord” is the most common way of translating the term into English. This simply is not so. In fact, if we were to follow this principle in translating other terms, we would soon see how obviously wrong it is.

Melek, Molech, and King

The Sacred Name Bible sets out to eliminate lord as a translation of Yahweh and assigning this English word only to Baal or other false gods. The logic is that the English word “lord” is inherently evil and should never be applied to Yahweh. In my way of thinking, Yahweh alone is worthy to be called Lord, Master, King, or any other title that conveys respect and worship.

As shown earlier, the Sacred Name extremists tell us that Baal means Lord—therefore, Lord is said to be a term that blasphemes Yahweh. The logic of this argument is obviously flawed, for these same people have no problem calling Yahweh by the title of King. The Hebrew word for King is melek, or melech. For example, Abimelech was the name/title of the Philistine kings. Abi means “My father,” and Melech means “king.” (See Gen. 21:32.)

In the Ammonite dialect, this is the title of the Ammonite god (1 Kings 11:7), who was called Molech, or Moloch. In other words, if Molech is the title of the Ammonite god and means King, then why is it acceptable to call Yahweh by the title King? Would this not constitute blasphemy? The logic is no different than insisting that calling Yahweh Lord” is blasphemy.

The Scriptures have no problem calling Yahweh by the title king, even if the Ammonites used it to describe their false god. Take note of Isaiah 6:5, “mine eyes have seen the King [melek] Yahweh of Hosts.” Furthermore, Dan. 2:37 shows us that the king of Babylon was known as “a king of kings,” because he had conquered other kings. Those kings were his vassals, and so Nebuchadnezzar was a king of kings. Yet this does not pollute the title itself, for we read in Rev. 17:14 that the Lamb is called “Lord of lords, and King of kings.

The only way this term is blasphemous is if we attribute it to false gods who claim the title for themselves.

Kurios and Lord

The New Testament Greek word, kurios, is translated “Lord.” An example is found in Rev. 17:14 given above which reads, “Lord of lords.” Based upon their assumption that lord is taboo, the Sacred Name extremists take it upon themselves to ALTER THE NEW TESTAMENT to suit their view.

They first attempt to prove that the Greek version of the New Testament is not the original one written by the apostles, but is a translation of an earlier original. (This may be true, at least of some of the New Testament books, although it is by no means necessary that someone other than the apostles did the translation.) The assumption is then made that the Greek text is not the truly inspired text and is therefore in need of alteration.

The problem with this view is that if this is the case, then we do not currently possess an inspired text of the New Testament. This opens a Pandora’s Box to every Tom, Dick, and Harry who happens to disagree with any statement made in the New Testament.

The Sacred Name Version is one such attempt to reconstruct the New Testament according to their own personal view of what it ought to say. It starts out by using Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible as its basic translation. This is indeed a good translation. However, the Sacred Name people then make alterations according to their own traditions. Hence, for the most part, it is NOT a translation, but a reconstruction according to their own viewpoint.

Most of the early Church spoke Greek, especially after persecution scattered most of the Christians from Palestine into the Greek-speaking world. Though the earliest Christians in Asia Minor were actually Judeans, it was not long before converted Greeks vastly outnumbered them. The Judeans themselves who were living in those regions also spoke Greek, and their primary Bible was the Septuagint.

Few people in the early Church considered Hebrew to be the only language that God would speak with inspiration. The day of Pentecost had proven that God spoke all languages and could reveal Himself to all people in their own tongues (Acts 2:6-11).

And so there is nothing inherently evil about having an inspired Greek text of the New Testament, as some would insist, whether it was the original or a translation of an original. The word kurios was used freely both in the Septuagint and in the New Testament, and I see no justification to alter the New Testament text to make it “more inspired.”

I find it a bit disconcerting to believe claims that all inspired texts of the New Testament have disappeared, leaving us with the need to reconstruct one with our own understanding. It seems to me that if the early Church had no problem with the title kurios, why should I?

Elohim and God

The term God, god, or gods is generally a translation of the Hebrew term Elohim. We are told that we should simply use this Hebrew term, instead of translating it God, as if the term God is tainted. But this makes no sense either. In the Bible, the term Elohim is sometimes used of Yahweh, and at other times of false gods.

For example, see Exodus 20:2, where the Ten Commandments are prefaced with the words, “I am Yahweh thy Elohim.” This refers to the true God of Israel. Yet the very next verse says, “Thou shalt have no other elohim before Me.” This time the word refers to false gods.

So we see that the same term, Elohim, is used of either Yahweh or of false deities. The fact that the term is used of false deities does not make it blasphemy to use the term in reference to Yahweh.

It is the same with the terms Lord and King. The context is the only way we can tell WHICH deity is being referenced. When a man uses the term in speaking to a false god, he is bowing toward the false god, calling him his lord and king. But when used of Yahweh, the man is bowing toward the true God, calling Him his lord and king. There is nothing inherently wrong with these titles. It is NOT blasphemy to apply the term lord to Yahweh. In fact, it would violate my conscience to call any other god lord.

Jesus (Iesous) and Yeshua

In the New Testament the Sacred Name issue centers around the name Jesus. We are told by Sacred Name extremists that it comes from Je-Zeus, as if to connect it with the Father of Greek gods named Zeus. That is their theory, but there is no real proof of this. The Greek name itself is spelled Iesous or Iesus and is translated into English as Jesus. Of course, the “J” in the English language did not come into usage until about 200 years ago, so prior to this time it was spelled with an “I”.

The “Jesus-Zeus” theory sounds somewhat plausible, because in English, we pronounce the “s” as a “Z” as if it were spelled Je-Zuz. But in the Greek it is spelled with the “s” (sigma), not with a “z” (zeta). The difference between sous and zeus is as great as the difference in English between soo and zoo. While they may rhyme, and be similar in sound, they are far from the same word.

The Hebrew word for “horse” is sus. Isaiah uses this term when he says in Isaiah 31:1, “Woe unto them that go down to Egypt for help, and stay [lean] on horses [sus], and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek Yahweh.” In other words, we are not to rely upon fleshly horses but upon the only true “Horse,” Yahweh, our Redeemer and Savior.

If we study the constellations, we learn that Yahweh named them to tell the story of Redemptive history. In the constellation Pegasus, the winged white horse, we see pictured the Savior of the world coming as pictured in Rev. 19:11. Howard Rand’s booklet, The Stars Declare God’s Handiwork, states on page 10:

“Pegasus (The Winged Horse)—the names of the stars in this constellation declare its meaning. The brightest in the neck of the horse has an ancient Hebrew name, MARKAB, which means returning from afar . . . Thus in this constellation of the Winged Horse we have the emblem of Him who said, If I go away, I will come again.”

In E. Raymond Capt’s book, The Glory of the Stars, we read on page 79,

“… The figure is named ‘Pega’ or ‘Pacha,’ meaning ‘the chief’… Combining these characters with the letters Sus, meaning ‘horse,’ produced the name ‘Pegasus’… The true Pegasus is Christ, who procured blessings for the redeemed by His Atonement, and is coming quickly to pour those blessings upon a famished world.

My point is to show that the name Jesus (Ie-sous) is really a Hebrew name written with Greek latters. It is derived from Yah-Sus, which really means Yahweh-Horse, the Savior of mankind. Yah’s Horse is pictured in the Star Gospel under the name of Pegasus. It has nothing to do with Zeus.

I do not know how old the name Iesuos is, but I presume it was also a Greek name prior to the Septuagint translation. Those translators called Joshua by the name of Iesous. Many different men by this name appear in the history of Josephus, including two high priests deprived of the priesthood. (See Antiquities, vi, v, 3 and xv, iii, 1.) Others were actually given the high priesthood. Antiquities. XX, ix, 4 says,

“And now Jesus the son of Gamaliel became the successor of Jesus, the son of Damneus, in the high priesthood, which the king had taken from the other; on which account a sedition arose between the high priests, with regard to one another; for they got together bodies of the people, and frequently came, from reproaches, to throwing of stones at each other.”

This sounds a lot like preachers today! But my point is that Josephus and other Greek-speaking historians thought nothing of translating men’s Hebrew names into Greek. The same is done in Heb. 4:8, where Joshua is referred to by the Greek name, Jesus (Iesous).

Sacred Name enthusiasts often argue that Hebrew is the only sacred language, and that God never sanctioned Greek. That is a tradition of men. We find no such ban on using Greek, or English, or Aramaic, or any other language spoken on earth. In fact, at Pentecost, every man miraculously heard the voice of God in his own language. Is this not a divine endorsement? Surely Greek was one of those languages! There is nothing wrong with translating names into foreign tongues, so long as the meaning is conveyed accurately. I do not object if a Hispanic should call me Estevan, rather than Stephen. I do not see why God would object to foreign translations either.

The Scriptures say that we will know His name. If a person only knows the Hebrew name Yahweh, they are no better than the idolatrous priests in Jeremiah’s day, who gave lip service to the name of Yahweh, but who did not know Him. Jer. 7:4 and 14:14 prove that those idolatrous priests knew and used the Sacred Name, but because they did not know God’s character, they were said to be priests of Baal. The power is not in using the Hebrew name itself, nor in pronouncing it correctly, but in the One called by that name.

We should certainly study all of the names and titles of God to understand the character of the One we worship. But let us not go so far as to malign others for using the English translations of those Hebrew words or for “mispronouncing” the name.