Friday, 21 January 2011 00:03

YHWH - The Hand & The Nail

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Over the last several weeks we've examined some of the verses of the Bible from a Hebrew perspective, and have discovered that the original pictographic Hebrew letters reveal quite a bit more about the Old Testament than we could ever have imagined. In fact, from the first verse of the Bible to the 'Shema of Moses', the concepts of the 'Trinity' of God and the 'Son of God' are continually affirmed. So today we're going to do another study along that line by examining the name 'Yahweh', the primary Old Testament name for God.

The Tetragrammaton

YahwehThe four Hebrew letters of 'Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey' that comprise one of the names for God Almighty are often referred to by biblical scholars as the 'Tetragrammaton', which is merely a Greek term for something with four letters. The Tetragrammaton should not be confused with any of the other names for God in the Bible, such as Shaddai or Eloheem, but is specifically reserved to describe the name 'Yahweh'. 

As we've learned in previous lesson, Hebrew was read from right to left, so the name 'Yahweh' shown in the adjacent illustration is presented in that way, beginning with the 'Yud' on the far right, following by a 'Hey', and then a 'Vav', and then another 'Hey'. While the third letter of 'Vav' can be either a consonant or a vowel, it serves as a consonant with a 'W' sound in this instance, and the appropriate vowel points must be inferred. This is quite typical for Hebrew. All we really need to know in this instance is that the four letters that would equate to 'Y-H-W-H' in English would actually have two inferred vowels, and would sound like 'Yahweh'.

Of course, some will dispute this pronunciation and instead favor a pronunciation like 'Yehvah', or 'Yahu', or 'Yehovah', since the actual pronunciation was lost centuries ago due to the the Jewish reverence for God's name, and their resulting refusal to speak it out loud. But it really won't matter in our study, because we're truly only interested in the original Hebrew letters, and not the pronunciation of the name.     

As with the other examples where we've examined the original pictographic Hebrew letters, keep in mind that the modern meanings of these letters often are a mere shadow of the actual mnemonic meanings, since the Hebrew language has evolved quite a bit through the years. Of course, this is true of all languages, where words and meanings are continually changing to reflect the culture. Anyway, with this foundation laid, we can now look at these ancient letters from the original Hebrew, and see if anything additional is revealed about God's name.

The Pictographs

YudThe first letter of the Tetragrammaton is the 'Yud', which appropriately has a 'Y' sound in English. The 'Yud' in pictographic form depicts and arm and a hand, and has the various meanings of 'Work' or 'Throw' or 'Worship'. However, the picture itself can also be employed in these instances, therefore the meaning can simply be 'Arm' or 'Hand' or both 'Arm and Hand'.

HeyThe next letter would be the 'Hey', which once again has the English sound 'H', just as we would imagine. The 'Hey' in this picture is that of a man standing up, with his arms held up in the air as if to say "Hey, look!" It represents the act of getting one's attention for a specific purpose. So the various meanings of the letter are about what you might expect, suggesting 'Look' or 'Reveal', but it can also mean 'Breathe'.

VavThe third letter is the 'Vav', which can have the English sound 'V', as by now you would expect, but the ancient form of the Vav carried a 'W' sound, and was called the 'Waw'. But the Vav also can sound like an 'O' or a 'U', making it a very versatile letter. It's both a consonant and a vowel, depending on how it it used. You can see from the picture that it represents a tent peg or nail, and it has the meaning of 'Add' or 'Secure' or 'Hook'. But as with the other pictographs, it can also simply mean 'Peg' or 'Nail'.

HeyOkay, finally we have the last letter of God's name, another 'Hey', which once again depicts someone trying to get our attention. As with the other 'Hey' above, this again means to 'Look' or to 'Reveal', or alternatively can mean 'Breathe'. At first it may seem wierd that we would have two Heys in such a short name, and in the modern Hebrew letters one wouldn't suspect the reason for this.  But in a moment it will make plenty of sense.

The Hand and The Nail

When we consider all of the potential meanings of the individual letters above, there is really only one sensible pattern that emerges that relates to God. The potential meanings are included in the chart below;

LETTER   PICTURE                 MEANINGS      
Yud A Man's Arm and Hand    Work, Throw, Worship, Hand, Arm
Hey Man with Arms Raised Look, Reveal, Breathe
Vav A Tent Peg or Nail Add, Secure, Hook, Peg, Nail
Hey Man with Arms Raised Look, Reveal, Breathe

I almost feel like we need a drum roll before this last part is revealed, because the redemptive plan of God that defines the entire Bible is contained in His name 'Yahweh'. From the pictographs, it is clear that God is conveying the following revelation, which in our English construct would be stated as; 

"Behold the Hand, Behold the Nail"

There, in the very name of God himself, we find the prophecy of our Eloheem, Jesus, at the cross. The very name of the Father carries the burden of the Son, once again written into His Word from the very beginning of creation. 

What more can I say?







Read 33778 times Last modified on Friday, 28 January 2011 18:19


#9 Janet Roach 2014-09-11 18:06
The Gematria of God's name is 26 (Yud, Hey, Vav, Hey = 10+5+6+5). We sit at 2600 years from the fall of the first Temple. If God decided to start the Tribulation at the 6000 years from creation & it was this year, then He removed his glory from the Temple at 3400 years. The number 34 has only one meaning in the Bible and it relates to the naming of a son. Abraham's name appears for the 34th time in Gen 21:3 when he named Isaac. The entire Temple with its layout and symbolism points to Jesus. What if his timing does too in this magnificent way? It would be such a gloriously simple puzzle that it would be just like Him in His foreknowledge of it all to set it up like that for while we don’t know – He does.
#8 mike 2014-06-16 19:02

I'd be very interested in reading about that, since I haven't heard of this before. Can you point me to a source?

#7 andrew 2014-06-16 13:49
I have found that while the people were in the desert the high priest would say those words doing the yearly sacrifice. dripping blood on the ark of the covenant. behold the hand behold the nail.
#6 Mike 2014-04-12 15:51

Yes, I imagine the style here is unique, for better or worse. Glad you’re enjoying the site.

+1 #5 Becky 2011-09-23 09:55
Thanks Mike for your response. I sent it to my Hebrew instructor to give me some feedback. I appreciate your quick response.
#4 Mike 2011-09-09 22:38
Hi Becky,

I know it sounds wierd at first, but every one of these letters have their own underlying story to tell. If you're learning Hebrew, it would benefit you to understand the fundamentals of these ancient letters and how they morphed into the modern letters. You can do that by logging on to this site;

I find this site to be a treasure trove of information. A whole new world is opened to us when we consider scripture from this ancient perspective.

Let me know if this helps.

#3 Becky 2011-09-09 10:44
I want to know where you got your information for this pictorial. I've been studying the Hebrew language and have learned the alphabet and our professor never instructed us that the letters had symbolic meaning.
#2 Mike 2011-02-08 00:47
Yeah Jody, this is my favorite pictographic study so far. I'm constantly amazed at what these ancient letters are revealing. I'm working on a few more right now, and they're providing pleasant surprises at almost every turn. Like Devon said, can you imagine the additional understanding we would have if we could read the ENTIRE Bible in the ancient pictographs?
#1 Jody 2011-01-24 11:42
Loved this one Mike!