Hebrew Voices #66 – The Historical Pronunciation of Vav

Hebrew Voices with Nehemia Gordon - The Historical Pronunciation of VavIn Hebrew Voices, The Historical Pronunciation of Vav, Nehemia Gordon explains how we know the letter “vav” was historically pronounced as “v”, sets the record straight on the Arabic influence that introduced "w" into the Academic pronunciation of Hebrew, and brings the scribal proof that in the time of Ezekiel they pronounced God’s name as Yehovah.

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22 thoughts on “Hebrew Voices #66 – The Historical Pronunciation of Vav

  1. Was wondering because I noticed you didn’t mention the Proto Canaanite language influence on Hebrew along with the Phoenician alphabet and the fact that Hebrew vowel system was only created around the 7th century by the Masoretes. Also you didn’t mention the pronouncation differences between Ashkenazi, Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews.

  2. My question is similar to Norman Mc Dermid (in this thread). I just watched a video by Jim Staley who claims the name is Yahweh (although I believe the study that you have done and found now 2,000 manuscripts with the full vowels showing Yehovah) but his claim is that the word Torah in Hebrew the 2nd letter of that word is the Vav so he claims that if the Vav is pronounced V then it would be TVrah instead of Torah. Is there some sort of grammar rule in Hebrew (with proof texts) that would make the Vav in Torah pronounced O?

  3. I was under the impression the the letter VAV originally had an oo sound and it was written as U in english, The word shalom has a VAV between the lamed and the mem, but some Yahudim pronounce the word shalum. Yahrushalyim has a VAV but the word is not pronounced Yaroshalyim. So here we have yod hey vav hey. The yod is pronounced as a Y in english. The hey is pronounced as an H. The VAV is pronounced as an O…ie Yeho. So why have you added the V to represent the VAV……..doesn’t make sense man. The O in the name Yeh”o”vah is the VAV, not the V.

  4. Nehemiah, thanks for your scholarly contributions.
    Would you be kind enough to address the pronunciation issue concerning “Yehouah” verses YeHoVaH and any grammatical, textual or historic fallacies supporting that pronunciation?

  5. Nehemia, Yehovah is very close to Jehovah, which the JW’s have said all along. Does this not vindicate them? We say Halleluyah, Praise YAH, should the beginning not be Yahovah? Does not the name Yahavah mean God, or YAH exists? Is it “Hawah, or Havah? I am very interested in the Karaite movement, where are they to be found in Southern California?

    • Nehemia says YEH at the beginning of a word and YAH on the end of a word. And Jehovah is the English pronunciation. But originally the J was pronounced as a Y, as it still is in some languages today. Hebrew speaking JWs say YEHOVAH. So yes. Jehovah’s Witnesses have been right all along. 🙂

      • Linda, it’s the opposite! Jehovah’s witnesses have always claimed that the proper pronuncation is Jahweh, and that they say Jehovah for convenience sake.

        On page 23 of their 1969 edition of The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures they write:

        “While inclining to view the pronunciation ‘Yah-weh” as the more correct way, we have retained the form ‘Jehovah’ because of people’s familiarity with it since the 14th century. Moreover, it preserves , equally with other forms, the four letters of the Tetragrammaton JHVH.”

        • actually that is not the way it is in the 1985 version as it says

          “While many a r e inclined t o view t h e pronunciation “Yah-
          weh” a s the more correct way, we have retained the form
          “Jehovah” because of people’s familiarity with it for centu-
          ries. Moreover, i t preserves, equally with other forms, t h e
          four letters of t h e divine name, YHWH (or, J H V H ) ”

          this is a copy paste from that version, so no they are not saying that they see it as Yahweh but that many do, but they do not

  6. i have used the name Yahweh or10-12 years, but your position makes sense.
    anybody else use Yehovah as well?

    Donald Murphy.

  7. Please site me a scholarly source that I can read that fully documents that arguments made here. I am particularly interested in the poem that Nehemia Gordon referenced.

  8. Shalom Nehemia,

    The argument of a friend of mine about the waw is that the hebrew names where transliterated in the Septuagint as waw for example דָּוִיד in the Septuagint is δαυιδ (dawid) not δαβιδ (david)

    • Firstly, Greek doesn’t have the ‘v’ sound in any of its letters. So Greek has to choose a some letter with a different sound than that. Based upon what you show, they chose upsilon. But that doesn’t mean Hebrew uses a phonetically similar letter for דָּוִיד.

      Secondly, the letter β is beta and is pronounced like the English B. So δαβιδ would be “dabid” not “david”.

      • Yes, that’s my friend’s argument, that “dabid” is phonetically closer to “david” than “dauid”

  9. The problem here is simple. You are running up against scholarly “consensus” which you’ve made outdated and they simply don’t want to admit they might be wrong where their scholarship is concerned. Imagine the corrections that would have to be made to many Bible versions, for just one thing, if what you’ve discovered gais acceptance in the scholarly community and it is easy to see that you have your work cut out for you. Keep it up, though. I enjoy what you find given I am a student of God’s word first who is also a student of its languages.

  10. I think the video was cut short before Nehemia dropped the mic. Always an incredible and well-researched presentation. Thank you for proclaiming our Father’s name, Yehovah!

  11. I have every confidence in Nehemia’s declaration of the ancient pronunciation of YeHoVaH as the name of our Father. The divergent voices are not credible, without Nehemia’s formal education and his incredible experience and research, not to mention Nehemia’s unquenchable thirst for TRUTH. Praise be to YeHoVaH for wanting us to know His holy name!

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