The Tetragrammaton: Some Observations

The articles which appeared inthe issues for April and May under the heading “The Tetragrammaton” involve some very important and controversial matters. Indeed so little is dealt with about so much. Mention is made on p. 124 that “the Hebrew verb is comparatively timeless compared with ours,” reference being given to Driver’s Hebrew Tenses as a basis for the statement. We feel, however, that the statement is quite inadequate and demands some elaboration. The Hebrew verb has no tenses, and this is the burden of Driver throughout his work.¹ Samuel Green has written, “The Hebrew verb has no tenses, the time of action, past, present or future, must in every instance be gathered from the context…. The Hebrew tense disregards time, and only looks to completed action.”² The most informative book ever written upon the matter is The Romance of the Hebrew Language by W. H. Saulez who declared, “To one who has been accustomed to read the Bible in English, it comes as a surprise, which he can hardly take in at first, that the Hebrew verb is devoid of tenses, and that ‘perfect,’ ‘present,’ ‘imperfect’ or ‘future’ are only borrowed terms from our Western Grammars and applied to the Jewish” (p. 107). “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit, and utterance finds vent in a manner of speech which is absolutely distinct from rules of Western Grammar” (p. 108). Of the borrowed terms “perfect” and “imperfect,” Driver says these “are employed in their etymological meaning, as signifying ‘complete’ or ‘incomplete’; they must not be limited to the special senses they have acquired in Greek or Latin grammars.”³ Therefore the basic thought in the Hebrew verb is not time, but state. It is either complete or incomplete, done or doing. If we pay attention to this mode of narration, strange as it may be to us, many difficulties will solve themselves. The desire to bring Hebrew into some sort of line with Western modes, however, has also brought its difficulties.

In the borrowed mode, the Hebrew “complete “is considered a “past,” and the “incomplete” a “future.” We give Green’s illustration from Genesis, chapter 1.

God created the heavens And the earth was without form, And God said, Let there be light And there was light And God divided… And God saw…

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Author: L. Reid

Keywords: Yahweh, Jehovah, God's divine name, Divine name, God's name, Name of God, Holy name, YHWH, I am, I am the Lord, LORD, Lord God, Self existent one, I will be, I am who I am, I am the Being, I am He Who Is, Tetragrammaton, Tetra, Tetragrammatron, Tetragramatron, Tetragramaton, Deity

Bible reference(s): Genesis 2:4, Genesis 2:5, Genesis 2:7, Genesis 2:8, Genesis 2:9, Genesis 2:15, Genesis 2:16, Genesis 2:18, Genesis 2:19, Genesis 2:21, Genesis 2:22, Genesis 3:1, Genesis 3:8, Genesis 3:9, Genesis 3:13, Genesis 3:14, Genesis 3:21, Genesis 3:22, Genesis 3:23, Genesis 9:26, Genesis 24:7, Genesis 24:27, Genesis 24:48, Genesis 28:13, Exodus 3:14, Exodus 3:15, Exodus 3:16, Exodus 3:18, Exodus 4:5, Exodus 5:1, Exodus 7:16, Exodus 9:1, Exodus 9:13, Exodus 9:30, Exodus 10:3, Exodus 15:2, Exodus 23:17, Exodus 32:27, Exodus 34:6, Exodus 34:23, Deuteronomy 1:11, Deuteronomy 1:21, Deuteronomy 4:1, Deuteronomy 6:3, Deuteronomy 12:1, Deuteronomy 26:7, Deuteronomy 27:3, Deuteronomy 29:25, Joshua 7:13, Joshua 7:19, Joshua 7:20, Joshua 8:30, Joshua 9:18, Joshua 9:19, Joshua 10:40, Joshua 10:42, Joshua 13:14, Joshua 13:33, Joshua 14:14, Joshua 18:3, Joshua 22:22, Joshua 22:24, Joshua 24:2, Joshua 24:23, Judges 2:12, Judges 4:6, Judges 5:3, Judges 5:5, Judges 6:8, Judges 11:21, Judges 11:23, Ruth 2:12, 1 Samuel 2:30, 1 Samuel 10:18, 1 Samuel 14:41, 1 Samuel 25:32, 1 Samuel 25:34, 2 Samuel 5:10, 2 Samuel 12:7, 1 Kings 1:30, 1 Kings 1:36, 1 Kings 1:48, 1 Kings 2:26, 1 Kings 8:15, 1 Kings 8:17, 1 Kings 8:20, 1 Kings 11:9, 1 Kings 14:7, 1 Kings 14:13, 1 Kings 15:30, 1 Kings 16:13, 1 Kings 16:26, 1 Kings 16:33, 1 Kings 17:1, 1 Kings 17:14, 1 Kings 18:37, 1 Kings 19:10, 1 Kings 19:14, 1 Kings 22:53, 2 Kings 2:14, 2 Kings 9:6, 2 Kings 10:31, 2 Kings 14:25, 2 Kings 18:5, 2 Kings 19:19, 2 Kings 19:20, 2 Kings 21:12, 2 Kings 21:22, 2 Kings 22:15, 2 Kings 22:18, 1 Chronicles 15:12, 1 Chronicles 15:14, 1 Chronicles 16:4, 1 Chronicles 16:36, 1 Chronicles 22:1, 1 Chronicles 22:6, 1 Chronicles 22:19, 1 Chronicles 23:25, 1 Chronicles 24:19, 1 Chronicles 28:4, 1 Chronicles 28:20, 1 Chronicles 29:1, 1 Chronicles 29:20, 2 Chronicles 2:12, 2 Chronicles 6:4, 2 Chronicles 6:7, 2 Chronicles 6:10, 2 Chronicles 7:22, 2 Chronicles 11:16, 2 Chronicles 13:5, 2 Chronicles 13:12, 2 Chronicles 13:18, 2 Chronicles 14:4, 2 Chronicles 15:4, 2 Chronicles 15:12, 2 Chronicles 15:13, 2 Chronicles 17:4, 2 Chronicles 19:4, 2 Chronicles 20:19, 2 Chronicles 21:10, 2 Chronicles 21:12, 2 Chronicles 24:18, 2 Chronicles 24:24, 2 Chronicles 26:5, 2 Chronicles 26:18, 2 Chronicles 28:6, 2 Chronicles 28:9, 2 Chronicles 28:25, 2 Chronicles 29:5, 2 Chronicles 29:10, 2 Chronicles 30:1, 2 Chronicles 30:5, 2 Chronicles 30:6, 2 Chronicles 30:7, 2 Chronicles 30:19, 2 Chronicles 30:22, 2 Chronicles 32:16, 2 Chronicles 32:17, 2 Chronicles 33:16, 2 Chronicles 33:18, 2 Chronicles 34:23, 2 Chronicles 34:26, 2 Chronicles 36:13, 2 Chronicles 36:15, 2 Chronicles 36:23, Ezra 1:2, Ezra 1:3, Ezra 4:1, Ezra 4:3, Ezra 6:21, Ezra 7:6, Ezra 7:27, Ezra 8:28, Ezra 10:11, Psalms 41:13, Psalms 71:16, Psalms 72:18, Psalms 73:28, Psalms 84:11, Psalms 106:48, Isaiah 3:15, Isaiah 7:7, Isaiah 10:23, Isaiah 10:24, Isaiah 17:6, Isaiah 21:17, Isaiah 22:5, Isaiah 22:12, Isaiah 22:14, Isaiah 22:15, Isaiah 24:15, Isaiah 25:8, Isaiah 28:16, Isaiah 28:22, Isaiah 30:15, Isaiah 37:21, Isaiah 40:10, Isaiah 48:16, Isaiah 49:22, Isaiah 50:4, Isaiah 50:5, Isaiah 50:7, Isaiah 50:9, Isaiah 52:4, Isaiah 56:8, Isaiah 61:1, Isaiah 61:11, Isaiah 65:13, Isaiah 65:15, Jeremiah 2:19, Jeremiah 2:22, Jeremiah 5:14, Jeremiah 7:20, Jeremiah 11:3, Jeremiah 13:12, Jeremiah 21:4, Jeremiah 23:2, Jeremiah 25:15, Jeremiah 30:2, Jeremiah 35:17, Jeremiah 44:26, Jeremiah 46:10, Jeremiah 49:5, Jeremiah 50:25, Jeremiah 50:31, Jeremiah 51:56, Ezekiel 2:4, Ezekiel 3:11, Ezekiel 3:27, Ezekiel 5:5, Ezekiel 5:7, Ezekiel 5:8, Ezekiel 5:11, Ezekiel 6:3, Ezekiel 6:11, Ezekiel 7:2, Ezekiel 7:5, Ezekiel 8:1, Ezekiel 11:7, Ezekiel 11:8, Ezekiel 11:16, Ezekiel 11:17, Ezekiel 11:21, Ezekiel 12:10, Ezekiel 12:19, Ezekiel 12:23, Ezekiel 12:25, Ezekiel 12:28, Ezekiel 13:3, Ezekiel 13:8, Ezekiel 13:9, Ezekiel 13:13, Ezekiel 13:16, Ezekiel 13:18, Ezekiel 13:20, Ezekiel 14:4, Ezekiel 14:6, Ezekiel 14:11, Ezekiel 14:14, Ezekiel 14:16, Ezekiel 14:18, Ezekiel 14:20, Ezekiel 14:21, Ezekiel 14:23, Ezekiel 15:6, Ezekiel 15:8, Ezekiel 16:3, Ezekiel 16:8, Ezekiel 16:14, Ezekiel 16:19, Ezekiel 16:23, Ezekiel 16:30, Ezekiel 16:36, Ezekiel 16:43, Ezekiel 16:48, Ezekiel 16:59, Ezekiel 16:63, Ezekiel 17:3, Ezekiel 17:9, Ezekiel 17:16, Ezekiel 17:19, Ezekiel 17:22, Ezekiel 18:3, Ezekiel 18:9, Ezekiel 18:23, Ezekiel 18:30, Ezekiel 18:32, Ezekiel 20:3, Ezekiel 20:5, Ezekiel 20:27, Ezekiel 20:30, Ezekiel 20:31, Ezekiel 20:33, Ezekiel 20:36, Ezekiel 20:39, Ezekiel 20:40, , Daniel 9:3, Hosea 12:5, Amos 1:8, Amos 3:7, Amos 3:8, Amos 3:11, Amos 3:13, Amos 4:2, Amos 4:5, Amos 5:3, Amos 5:15, Amos 6:8, Amos 7:1, Amos 7:4, Amos 7:6, Amos 8:1, Amos 8:3, Amos 8:9, Amos 8:11, Amos 9:5, Amos 9:8, Obadiah 1:1, Jonah 4:6, Micah 1:2, Habakkuk 3:19, Zephaniah 1:7, Zechariah 9:14

Source: “The Tetragrammaton—Some Observations,” The Testimony, Vol. 19, No. 225, September 1949, pp. 298-302. Used with permission.

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