Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Some Thoughts on Bible Versions: Part 2

As part of the Sinai Covenant Jehovah gave 10 laws and an abundance of 'judgements' for his people. The 10 laws are placed in a very specific context;
And God spake all these words, saying, I am Jehovah thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Ex 20:1–2 ASV
One of the 10 laws dealt specifically with those who did not honour the personal name of Jehovah.
Thou shalt not take the name of Jehovah thy God in vain; for Jehovah will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. Ex 20:7 ASV

It is using this name of 'Jehovah', the covenant-name of God with his people, fraudulently which incurs God's anger. To promise or claim something on the basis of this name when God has not endorsed that promise is fraud of the most deadly kind. It is tantamount to forging God's signature!

There are two crimes against God which constitute the greatest of sins. The first is idolatry; idolatry perpetrates a 'lie' against the character of God. There is no greater sin. The second is close; taking the name of Jehovah in vain perpetrates a 'lie' against what God has said. The preacher who declares 'God says' had better quote him accurately! James 3:1

To ensure that the great name of "Jehovah" was not used inappropriately the Jewish people determined that they would not use it at all. They believed that non-use was better than ab-use. To ensure that no one used it wrongly they decided that when they came to read the word 'Jehovah' they would say the word 'Lord' (Adonai) in its place or they would simply say the words "the name' (HaShem) without pronouncing the name "Jehovah".

Perhaps early Bible translators shared the same reluctance and thought that using the name too frequently would devalue it. Is that why our Old King James Version followed the Jewish pattern of using the word LORD instead of 'Jehovah'. Whatever the reason modern translations now seem to omit all reference to God's proper name and simply refer to him as LORD (upper case). The original Hebrew and the ASV of 1901 showed no such reluctance as this graph will show.
Detailed Study

In fact the loss of the proper name for God is tragic. 'Jehovah' is not a title it is a proper name. In our constitutional monarchy the proper way to address the monarch is 'Your Majesty'. It brings dignity and a sense of distance; I am not suggesting we should stop using the title. However, there have been a few individuals, her husband, her mother, her sister who I presume in private occasions would call her 'Elizabeth'. Can you feel the difference between 'Your Majesty' and 'Elizabeth'? If you can, you can feel the difference between 'LORD' and 'Jehovah'.

The Psalms use the personal name of Jehovah over 700 times. In times of joy and distress, faith and anxiety, victory and defeat, the psalmist draws near, not to 'Your Majesty' but to 'Jehovah'; the God who has signed my release papers and guaranteed me a place in his future plans.

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