Yahweh[Notes 1] was the national god of the Iron Age kingdoms of Israel (Samaria) and Judah.[3] His exact origins are disputed, although they reach back to the early Iron Age and even the Late Bronze:[4][5] his name may have begun as an epithet of El, head of the Bronze Age Canaanite pantheon,[6] but the earliest plausible mentions of Yahweh are in Egyptian texts that refer to a similar-sounding place name associated with the Shasu nomads of the southern Transjordan.[7]

In the oldest biblical literature, Yahweh is a typical ancient Near Eastern "divine warrior", who leads the heavenly army against Israel's enemies;[8] he later became the main god of the Kingdom of Israel (Samaria) and of Judah,[9] and over time the royal court and Temple in Jerusalem promoted Yahweh as the god of the entire cosmos, possessing all the positive qualities previously attributed to the other gods and goddesses.[10][11] By the end of the Babylonian captivity (6th century BCE), the very existence of foreign gods was denied, and Yahweh was proclaimed as the creator of the cosmos and the true god of all the world.[11]

Zeus Yahweh
A 4th century BCE drachm (quarter shekel) coin from the Persian province of Yehud Medinata, possibly representing Yahweh seated on a winged and wheeled sun-throne.[1][2]

Bronze Age origins

There is almost no agreement on the origins of Yahweh.[12] His name is not attested other than among the Israelites, and seems not to have any reasonable etymology (Ehyeh ašer ehyeh, or "I Am that I Am", the explanation presented in Exodus 3:14, appears to be a late theological gloss invented to explain Yahweh's name at a time when the meaning had been lost).[13][14]

He does not appear to have been a Canaanite god, although the Israelites were originally Canaanites.[15][16][Notes 2] The head of the Canaanite pantheon was El, and one theory holds that the word Yahweh is based on the Hebrew root HYH/HWH, meaning "cause to exist," as a shortened form of the phrase ˀel ḏū yahwī ṣabaˀôt, (Phoenician: 𐤀𐤋 𐤃 𐤉𐤄𐤅𐤄 𐤑𐤁𐤀𐤕) "El who creates the hosts", meaning the heavenly host accompanying El as he marched beside the earthly armies of Israel.[17][12] The argument has numerous weaknesses, including, among others, the dissimilar characters of the two gods, and the fact that el dū yahwī ṣaba’ôt is nowhere attested either inside or outside the Bible.[18][Notes 3]

The oldest plausible recorded occurrence of Yahweh is as a place-name, "land of Shasu of yhw", in an Egyptian inscription from the time of Amenhotep III (1402–1363 BCE),[19][20] the Shasu being nomads from Midian and Edom in northern Arabia.[21] In this case a plausible etymology for the name could be from the root HWY, which would yield the meaning "he blows", appropriate to a weather divinity.[22][23] There is considerable but not universal support for this view,[24] but it raises the question of how he made his way to the north.[25] The widely accepted Kenite hypothesis holds that traders brought Yahweh to Israel along the caravan routes between Egypt and Canaan.[26] The strength of the Kenite hypothesis is that it ties together various points of data, such as the absence of Yahweh from Canaan, his links with Edom and Midian in the biblical stories, and the Kenite or Midianite ties of Moses.[25] However, while it is entirely plausible that the Kenites and others may have introduced Yahweh to Israel, it is unlikely that they did so outside the borders of Israel or under the aegis of Moses, as the Exodus story has it.[27][28]

Iron Age I (1200–930 BCE): El, Yahweh, and the origins of Israel

Israel emerges into the historical record in the last decades of the 13th century BCE, at the very end of the Late Bronze Age when the Canaanite city-state system was ending.[29] The milieu from which Israelite religion emerged was accordingly Canaanite.[30] El, "the kind, the compassionate," "the creator of creatures," was the chief of the Canaanite gods,[31] and he, not Yahweh, was the original "God of Israel"—the word "Israel" is based on the name El rather than Yahweh.[32] He lived in a tent on a mountain from whose base originated all the fresh waters of the world, with the goddess Asherah as his consort.[31][33] This pair made up the top tier of the Canaanite pantheon;[31] the second tier was made up of their children, the "seventy sons of Athirat" (a variant of the name Asherah).[34] Prominent in this group was Baal, who had his home on Mount Zaphon; over time Baal became the dominant Canaanite deity, so that El became the executive power and Baal the military power in the cosmos.[35] Baal's sphere was the thunderstorm with its life-giving rains, so that he was also a fertility god, although not quite the fertility god.[36] Below the seventy second-tier gods was a third tier made up of comparatively minor craftsman and trader deities, with a fourth and final tier of divine messengers and the like.[34] El and his sons made up the Assembly of the Gods, each member of which had a human nation under his care, and a textual variant of Deuteronomy 32:8–9 describes El dividing the nations of the world among his sons, with Yahweh receiving Israel:[32]

When the Most High (’elyôn) gave to the nations their inheritance,
when he separated humanity,
he fixed the boundaries of the peoples
according to the number of divine beings.
For Yahweh's portion is his people,
Jacob his allotted heritage.[Notes 4]

The Israelites initially worshipped Yahweh alongside a variety of Canaanite gods and goddesses, including El, Asherah and Baal.[37] In the period of the Judges and the first half of the monarchy, El and Yahweh became conflated in a process of religious syncretism.[38] As a result, ’el (Hebrew: אל) became a generic term meaning "god", as opposed to the name of a worshipped deity, and epithets such as El Shaddai came to be applied to Yahweh alone, diminishing the worship of El and strengthening the position of Yahweh.[39] Features of Baal, El, and Asherah were absorbed into the Yahweh religion, Asherah possibly becoming embodied in the feminine aspects of the Shekinah or divine presence, and Baal's nature as a storm and weather god becoming assimilated into Yahweh's own identification with the storm.[40] In the next stage the Yahweh religion separated itself from its Canaanite heritage, first by rejecting Baal-worship in the 9th century, then through the 8th to 6th centuries with prophetic condemnation of Baal, the asherim, sun-worship, worship on the "high places", practices pertaining to the dead, and other matters.[41]

In the earliest literature such as the Song of the Sea (Exodus 15:1–18, celebrating Yahweh's victory over Egypt at the exodus), Yahweh is a warrior for his people, a storm-god typical of ancient Near Eastern myths, marching out from a region to the south or south-east of Israel with the heavenly host of stars and planets that make up his army.[42] Israel's battles are Yahweh's battles, Israel's victories are his victories, and while other peoples have other gods, Israel's god is Yahweh, who will procure a fertile resting-place for them:[43]

There is none like God, O Jeshurun (i.e., Israel)
who rides through the heavens to your help ...
he subdues the ancient gods, shatters the forces of old ...
so Israel lives in safety, untroubled is Jacob's abode ...
Your enemies shall come fawning to you,
and you shall tread on their backs. (Deuteronomy 33:26–29)

Iron Age II (1000–586 BCE): Yahweh as God of Israel

Tissot Solomon Dedicates the Temple at Jerusalem
Solomon dedicates the Temple at Jerusalem (painting by James Tissot or follower, c. 1896–1902)

Iron Age Yahweh was the national god of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah,[3] and appears to have been worshipped only in these two kingdoms;[44] this was unusual in the Ancient Near East but not unknown—the god Ashur, for example, was worshipped only by the Assyrians.[45]

After the 9th century BCE the tribes and chiefdoms of Iron Age I were replaced by ethnic nation states, Israel, Judah, Moab, Ammon and others, each with its national god, and all more or less equal.[46][47] Thus Chemosh was the god of the Moabites, Milcom the god of the Ammonites, Qaus the god of the Edomites, and Yahweh the "God of Israel" (no "God of Judah" is mentioned anywhere in the Bible).[48][49] In each kingdom the king was also the head of the national religion and thus the viceroy on Earth of the national god;[50] in Jerusalem this was reflected each year when the king presided over a ceremony at which Yahweh was enthroned in the Temple.[51]

The centre of Yahweh's worship lay in three great annual festivals coinciding with major events in rural life: Passover with the birthing of lambs, Shavuot with the cereal harvest, and Sukkot with the fruit harvest.[52] These probably pre-dated the arrival of the Yahweh religion,[52] but they became linked to events in the national mythos of Israel: Passover with the exodus from Egypt, Shavuot with the law-giving at Sinai, and Sukkot with the wilderness wanderings.[49] The festivals thus celebrated Yahweh's salvation of Israel and Israel's status as his holy people, although the earlier agricultural meaning was not entirely lost.[53] His worship presumably involved sacrifice, but many scholars have concluded that the rituals detailed in Leviticus 1–16, with their stress on purity and atonement, were introduced only after the Babylonian exile, and that in reality any head of a family was able to offer sacrifice as occasion demanded.[54] (A number of scholars have also drawn the conclusion that infant sacrifice, whether to the underworld deity Molech or to Yahweh himself, was a part of Israelite/Judahite religion until the reforms of King Josiah in the late 7th century BCE).[55] Sacrifice was presumably complemented by the singing or recital of psalms, but again the details are scant.[56] Prayer played little role in official worship.[57]

The Hebrew Bible gives the impression that the Jerusalem temple was always meant to be the central or even sole temple of Yahweh, but this was not the case:[49] the earliest known Israelite place of worship is a 12th-century open-air altar in the hills of Samaria featuring a bronze bull reminiscent of Canaanite "Bull-El" (El in the form of a bull), and the archaeological remains of further temples have been found at Dan on Israel's northern border and at Arad in the Negev and Beersheba, both in the territory of Judah.[58] Shiloh, Bethel, Gilgal, Mizpah, Ramah and Dan were also major sites for festivals, sacrifices, the making of vows, private rituals, and the adjudication of legal disputes.[59]

Yahweh-worship was famously aniconic, meaning that the god was not depicted by a statue or other image. This is not to say that he was not represented in some symbolic form, and early Israelite worship probably focused on standing stones, but according to the Biblical texts the temple in Jerusalem featured Yahweh's throne in the form of two cherubim, their inner wings forming the seat and a box (the Ark of the Covenant) as a footstool, while the throne itself was empty.[60] No satisfactory explanation of Israelite aniconism has been advanced, and a number of recent scholars have argued that Yahweh was in fact represented prior to the reforms of Hezekiah and Josiah late in the monarchic period: to quote one recent study, "[a]n early aniconism, de facto or otherwise, is purely a projection of the post-exilic imagination" (MacDonald, 2007).[61]

Yahweh and the rise of monotheism

Image on a pithos sherd found at Kuntillet Ajrud below the inscription "Yahweh and his Asherah".[62] The two standing figures are sometimes seen as a representation of the divine couple, while the seated lyre-player behind them is an entertainer.[63] Alternatively, many art historians identify the standing figures as representations of the Egyptian dwarf-god Bes, on account of their distinctively bovine faces.[63] Ziony Zevit has argued that Yahweh was represented as a Bes-figure, though there is little evidence for this.[63] It is also possible that the images on the pot have nothing to do with the inscription at all.[63]

Pre-exilic Israel, like its neighbours, was polytheistic,[64] and Israelite monotheism was the result of unique historical circumstances.[65] The original god of Israel was El, as the name demonstrates—its probable meaning is "may El rule" or some other sentence-form involving the name of El.[66] In the early tribal period, each tribe would have had its own patron god; when kingship emerged, the state promoted Yahweh as the national god of Israel, supreme over the other gods, and gradually Yahweh absorbed all the positive traits of the other gods and goddesses.[11] Yahweh and El merged at religious centres such as Shechem, Shiloh and Jerusalem,[67] with El's name becoming a generic term for "god" and Yahweh, the national god, appropriating many of the older supreme god's titles such as El Shaddai (Almighty) and Elyon (Most High).[68]

Asherah, formerly the wife of El, was worshipped as Yahweh's consort[69] or mother;[70] potsherds discovered at Khirbet el-Kôm and Kuntillet Ajrûd make reference to "Yahweh and his Asherah",[71][72] and various biblical passages indicate that her statues were kept in his temples in Jerusalem, Bethel, and Samaria.[73][74] Yahweh may also have appropriated Anat, the wife of Baal, as his consort, as Anat-Yahu ("Anat of Yahu," i.e., Yahweh) is mentioned in 5th century BCE records from the Jewish colony at Elephantine in Egypt.[75] A goddess called the Queen of Heaven was also worshipped, probably a fusion of Astarte and the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar,[73] possibly a title of Asherah.[76] Worship of Baal and Yahweh coexisted in the early period of Israel's history, but they were considered irreconcilable after the 9th century BCE, following the efforts of King Ahab and his queen Jezebel to elevate Baal to the status of national god,[77] although the cult of Baal did continue for some time.[78]

The worship of Yahweh alone began at the earliest with Elijah in the 9th century BCE, but more likely with the prophet Hosea in the 8th; even then it remained the concern of a small party before gaining ascendancy in the exilic and early post-exilic period.[64] The early supporters of this faction are widely regarded as being monolatrists rather than true monotheists;[79] they did not believe that Yahweh was the only god in existence, but instead believed that he was the only god the people of Israel should worship.[80] Finally, in the national crisis of the exile, the followers of Yahweh went a step further and outright denied that the other deities aside from Yahweh even existed, thus marking the transition from monolatrism to true monotheism.[11]

Second Temple Judaism

Modern reconstruction of what the Second Temple of Yahweh would have looked like after its renovation during the reign of Herod I

In 539 BCE Babylon itself fell to the Persian conqueror Cyrus, and in 538 BCE the exiles were permitted to return to Yehud medinata, as the Persian province of Judah was known.[81] The Temple is commonly said to have been rebuilt in the period 520–515 BCE, but it seems probable that this is an artificial date chosen so that 70 years could be said to have passed between the destruction and the rebuilding, fulfilling a prophecy of Jeremiah.[82][81][83]

In recent decades, it has become increasingly common among scholars to assume that much of the Hebrew bible was assembled, revised and edited in the 5th century BCE to reflect the realities and challenges of the Persian era.[84][85] The returnees had a particular interest in the history of Israel: the written Torah (the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy), for example, may have existed in various forms during the Monarchy (the period of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah), but it was in the Second Temple that it was edited and revised into something like its current form, and the Chronicles, a new history written at this time, reflects the concerns of the Persian Yehud in its almost-exclusive focus on Judah and the Temple.[84]

Prophetic works were also of particular interest to the Persian-era authors, with some works being composed at this time (the last ten chapters of Isaiah and the books of Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi and perhaps Joel) and the older prophets edited and reinterpreted. The corpus of Wisdom books saw the composition of Job, parts of Proverbs, and possibly Ecclesiastes, while the book of Psalms was possibly given its modern shape and division into five parts at this time (although the collection continued to be revised and expanded well into Hellenistic and even Roman times).[84]

Second Temple Judaism was centered not on synagogues, which began to appear only in the 3rd century BCE, and the reading and study of scripture, but on the Temple itself, and on a cycle of continual blood sacrifice (meaning the sacrifice of live animals). Torah, or ritual law, was also important, and the Temple priests were responsible for teaching it, but the concept of scripture developed only slowly. While the written Torah (the Pentateuch) and the Prophets were accepted as authoritative by the 1st century CE, beyond this core the different Jewish groups continued to accept different groups of books as authoritative.[86]

During the Second Temple period, speaking the name of Yahweh in public became regarded as taboo.[87] When reading from the scriptures, Jews began to substitute the divine name with the word adonai (אֲדֹנָי‬), meaning "Lord".[88] The High Priest was permitted to speak the name once in the Temple during the Day of Atonement, but at no other time and in no other place.[88] During the Hellenistic period, the scriptures were translated into Greek by the Jews of the Egyptian diaspora.[89] Greek translations of the Hebrew scriptures render both the tetragrammaton and adonai as kyrios (κύριος), meaning "the Lord".[88] After the Temple was destroyed in 70 CE, the original pronunciation of the tetragrammaton was forgotten.[88]

The period of Persian rule saw the development of expectation in a future human king who would rule purified Israel as Yahweh's representative at the end of time–that is, a messiah. The first to mention this were Haggai and Zechariah, both prophets of the early Persian period. They saw the messiah in Zerubbabel, a descendant of the House of David who seemed, briefly, to be about to re-establish the ancient royal line, or in Zerubbabel and the first High Priest, Joshua (Zechariah writes of two messiahs, one royal and the other priestly). These early hopes were dashed (Zerubabbel disappeared from the historical record, although the High Priests continued to be descended from Joshua), and thereafter there are merely general references to a Messiah of (meaning descended from) David.[90][91] From these ideas, Christianity, Rabbinic Judaism, and Islam would later emerge.

Graeco-Roman syncretism

Yahweh is frequently invoked in Graeco-Roman magical texts dating from the second century BCE to the fifth century CE, most notably in the Greek Magical Papyri,[92] under the names Iao, Adonai, Sabaoth, and Eloai.[93] In these texts, he is often mentioned alongside traditional Graeco-Roman deities and also Egyptian deities.[93] The archangels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Ouriel and Jewish cultural heroes such as Abraham, Jacob, and Moses are also invoked frequently as well.[94] The frequent occurrence of Yahweh's name is probably due to Greek and Roman folk magicians seeking to make their spells more powerful through the invocation of a prestigious foreign deity.[95]

Tacitus, John the Lydian, and Cornelius Labeo all identify Yahweh with the Greek god Dionysus.[96] Jews themselves frequently used symbols that were also associated with Dionysus such as kylixes, amphorae, leaves of ivy, and clusters of grapes.[97] In his Quaestiones Convivales, the Greek writer Plutarch of Chaeronea writes that the Jews hail their god with cries of "Euoi" and "Sabi", phrases associated with the worship of Dionysus.[98][99][100] According to Sean M. McDonough, Greek-speakers may have confused Aramaic words such as Sabbath, Alleluia, or even possibly some variant of the name Yahweh itself for more familiar terms associated with Dionysus.[101]

See also


  1. ^ /ˈjɑːhweɪ/, or often /ˈjɑːweɪ/ in English; Hebrew: יַהְוֶה [jahˈwe], ‬𐤉𐤄𐤅𐤄 in Paleo-Hebrew
  2. ^ "Canaanites" in this article means the indigenous Bronze Age and early Iron Age inhabitants of southern Syria, the coast of Lebanon, Israel, the West Bank and Jordan – see Dever, 2003a, p. 219
  3. ^ For the full list of reasons, see Day, 2002, p. 13-14
  4. ^ For the varying texts of this verse, see Smith, 2010, pp.139–140 and also chapter 4.



  1. ^ Van Der Toorn 1999, p. 766.
  2. ^ Edelman 1995, p. 190.
  3. ^ a b Miller 1986, p. 110.
  4. ^ Smith 2010, p. 96-98.
  5. ^ Miller 2000, p. 1.
  6. ^ Dijkstra 2001, p. 92.
  7. ^ Dever 2003b, p. 128.
  8. ^ Hackett 2001, pp. 158–59.
  9. ^ Smith 2002, p. 72.
  10. ^ Wyatt 2010, pp. 69–70.
  11. ^ a b c d Betz 2000, p. 917.
  12. ^ a b Kaiser 2017, p. unpaginated.
  13. ^ Hoffman 2004, p. 326.
  14. ^ Parke-Taylor 1975, p. 51"The view adopted by this study is as follows. The ehyeh aser ehyeh clause in Exodus 3:14 is a relatively late attempt to explain the divine name by appeal to the root hayah the verb "to be.""
  15. ^ Day 2002, p. 15.
  16. ^ Dever 2003b, p. 125.
  17. ^ Miller 2000, p. 2.
  18. ^ Day 2002, p. 13-14.
  19. ^ Freedman, O'Connor & Ringgren 1986, p. 520.
  20. ^ Anderson 2015, p. 510.
  21. ^ Grabbe 2007, p. 151.
  22. ^ Dicou 1994, pp. 167–81, 177.
  23. ^ Anderson 2015, p. 101.
  24. ^ Grabbe 2007, p. 153.
  25. ^ a b Van der Toorn 1999, p. 912.
  26. ^ Van der Toorn 1999, pp. 912–13.
  27. ^ Van der Toorn 1999, pp. 912–913.
  28. ^ Van der Toorn 1995, pp. 247–48.
  29. ^ Noll 2001, p. 124–126.
  30. ^ Cook 2004, p. 7.
  31. ^ a b c Coogan & Smith 2012, p. 8.
  32. ^ a b Smith 2002, p. 32.
  33. ^ Smith 2002, p. 33.
  34. ^ a b Hess 2007, p. 103.
  35. ^ Coogan & Smith 2012, p. 7–8.
  36. ^ Handy 1994, p. 101.
  37. ^ Smith 2002, p. 7.
  38. ^ Smith 2002, p. 8.
  39. ^ Smith 2002, p. 33-34.
  40. ^ Smith 2002, p. 8,135.
  41. ^ Smith 2002, p. 9.
  42. ^ Hackett 2001, p. 158–159.
  43. ^ Hackett 2001, p. 160.
  44. ^ Grabbe 2010, p. 184.
  45. ^ Noll 2001, p. 251.
  46. ^ Schniedewind 2013, p. 93.
  47. ^ Smith 2010, p. 119.
  48. ^ Hackett 2001, p. 156.
  49. ^ a b c Davies 2010, p. 112.
  50. ^ Miller 2000, p. 90.
  51. ^ Petersen 1998, p. 23.
  52. ^ a b Albertz 1994, p. 89.
  53. ^ Gorman 2000, p. 458.
  54. ^ Davies & Rogerson 2005, pp. 151–52.
  55. ^ Gnuse 1997, p. 118.
  56. ^ Davies & Rogerson 2005, pp. 158–65.
  57. ^ Cohen 1999, p. 302.
  58. ^ Dever 2003a, p. 388.
  59. ^ Bennett 2002, p. 83.
  60. ^ Mettinger 2006, pp. 288–90.
  61. ^ MacDonald 2007, pp. 21, 26–27.
  62. ^ Vriezen & van der Woude 2005, p. 18.
  63. ^ a b c d Hess 2012, p. 472.
  64. ^ a b Albertz 1994, p. 61.
  65. ^ Gnuse 1997, p. 214.
  66. ^ Romer 2014, p. unpaginated.
  67. ^ Smith 2001, p. 140.
  68. ^ Smith 2002, pp. 33, 47.
  69. ^ Niehr 1995, pp. 54, 57.
  70. ^ Barker 2012, pp. 80–86.
  71. ^ Vriezen & van der Woude 2005, pp. 17–18.
  72. ^ Barker 2012, p. 32.
  73. ^ a b Ackerman 2003, p. 395.
  74. ^ Barker 2012, pp. 154–157.
  75. ^ Day 2002, p. 143.
  76. ^ Barker 2012, p. 41.
  77. ^ Smith 2002, p. 47.
  78. ^ Smith 2002, p. 74.
  79. ^ Eakin 1971, pp. 70 and 263.
  80. ^ McKenzie 1990, p. 1287.
  81. ^ a b Coogan, Brettler & Newsom 2007, p. xxii.
  82. ^ Grabbe 2010, p. 2–3.
  83. ^ Davies & Rogerson 2005, p. 89.
  84. ^ a b c Coogan, Brettler & Newsom 2007, p. xxiii.
  85. ^ Berquist 2007, p. 3–4.
  86. ^ Grabbe 2010, p. 40–42.
  87. ^ Leech 2002, pp. 59–60.
  88. ^ a b c d Leech 2002, p. 60.
  89. ^ Coogan, Brettler & Newsom 2007, p. xxvi.
  90. ^ Wanke 1984, p. 182-183.
  91. ^ Albertz 2003, p. 130.
  92. ^ Betz 1996.
  93. ^ a b Smith & Cohen 1996b, pp. 242–56.
  94. ^ Arnold 1996.
  95. ^ Smith & Cohen 1996b, pp. 242–256.
  96. ^ McDonough 1999, p. 88.
  97. ^ Smith & Cohen 1996a, p. 233.
  98. ^ Plutarch, Quaestiones Convivales, Question VI
  99. ^ McDonough 1999, p. 89.
  100. ^ Smith & Cohen 1996a, pp. 232–233.
  101. ^ McDonough 1999, pp. 89–90.


Assemblies of Yahweh

The Assemblies of Yahweh is a nonprofit religious organization with its international headquarters in Bethel, Pennsylvania, United States. The organization developed independently out of a radio ministry begun by Jacob O. Meyer in 1966. The Assemblies of Yahweh is the largest sacred name group, but it is not part of the Sacred Name Movement.

Book of Deuteronomy

The Book of Deuteronomy (literally "second law," from Greek deuteros + nomos) is the fifth book of the Christian Old Testament and of the Jewish Torah, where it is called "Devarim" (Heb. דברים).

Chapters 1–30 of the book consist of three sermons or speeches delivered to the Israelites by Moses on the plains of Moab, shortly before they enter the Promised Land. The first sermon recounts the forty years of wilderness wanderings which had led to that moment, and ends with an exhortation to observe the law (or teachings), later referred to as the Law of Moses; the second reminds the Israelites of the need to follow Yahweh and the laws (or teachings) he has given them, on which their possession of the land depends; and the third offers the comfort that even should Israel prove unfaithful and so lose the land, with repentance all can be restored. The final four chapters (31–34) contain the Song of Moses, the Blessing of Moses, and narratives recounting the passing of the mantle of leadership from Moses to Joshua and, finally, the death of Moses on Mount Nebo.

Presented as the words of Moses delivered before the conquest of Canaan, a broad consensus of modern scholars see its origin in traditions from Israel (the northern kingdom) brought south to the Kingdom of Judah in the wake of the Assyrian conquest of Aram (8th century BC) and then adapted to a program of nationalist reform in the time of Josiah (late 7th century BC), with the final form of the modern book emerging in the milieu of the return from the Babylonian captivity during the late 6th century BC. Many scholars see the book as reflecting the economic needs and social status of the Levite caste, who are believed to have provided its authors; those likely authors are collectively referred to as the Deuteronomist.

One of its most significant verses is Deuteronomy 6:4, the Shema Yisrael, which has become the definitive statement of Jewish identity: "Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one." Verses 6:4–5 were also quoted by Jesus in Mark 12:28–34 as part of the Great Commandment.

Book of Hosea

The Book of Hosea is one of the books of the Hebrew Bible. According to the traditional order of most Hebrew Bibles, it is the first of the twelve Minor Prophets.

Set around the fall of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, the Book of Hosea denounces the worship of gods other than Yahweh, metaphorically comparing Israel's abandonment of Yahweh to a woman being unfaithful to her husband. According to the book's narrative, the relationship between Hosea and his unfaithful wife Gomer is comparable to the relationship between Yahweh and his unfaithful people Israel. The eventual reconciliation of Hosea and Gomer is treated as a hopeful metaphor for the eventual reconciliation between Yahweh and Israel.

Book of Judges

The Book of Judges (ספר שופטים, Sefer Shoftim) is the seventh book of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Old Testament. In the narrative of the Hebrew Bible, it covers the time between the conquest described in the Book of Joshua and the establishment of a kingdom in the Books of Samuel, during which Biblical judges served as temporary leaders. The stories follow a consistent pattern: the people are unfaithful to Yahweh and he therefore delivers them into the hands of their enemies; the people repent and entreat Yahweh for mercy, which he sends in the form of a leader or champion (a "judge"; see shophet); the judge delivers the Israelites from oppression and they prosper, but soon they fall again into unfaithfulness and the cycle is repeated. Scholars consider many of the stories in Judges to be the oldest in the Deuteronomistic history, with their major redaction dated to the 8th century BCE and with materials such as the Song of Deborah dating from much earlier.

Burning bush

The burning bush is an object described by the Book of Exodus[3:1–4:17] as being located on Mount Horeb. According to the narrative, the bush was on fire, but was not consumed by the flames, hence the name. In the biblical narrative, the burning bush is the location at which Moses was appointed by Yahweh (God) to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and into Canaan.

The Hebrew word in the narrative that is translated into English as bush is seneh (סנה səneh), which refers in particular to brambles; seneh is a biblical dis legomenon, only appearing in two places, both of which describe the burning bush. It is possible that the reference to a burning bush is based on a mistaken interpretation of Sinai (סיני Sînāy), a mountain described in Exodus 19:18 as being on fire. Another possibility is that the use of seneh (סנה) may be a deliberate pun on Sinai (סיני), a feature common in Hebrew texts.

House of Yahweh

The House of Yahweh (HOY) is a religious group based in Eula, Texas or nearby Clyde, Texas (sources are conflicting). Its founder and cult leader is Yisrayl Hawkins (formerly "Buffalo" Bill Hawkins), boasts over 50 years of biblical study and research. The assembly has been controversial, and is referred to as a cult by every former member.


The Israelites (; Hebrew: בני ישראל‎ Bnei Yisra'el) were a confederation of Iron Age Semitic-speaking tribes of the ancient Near East, who inhabited a part of Canaan during the tribal and monarchic periods. According to the religious narrative of the Hebrew Bible, the Israelites' origin is traced back to the Biblical patriarchs and matriarchs Abraham and his wife Sarah, through their son Isaac and his wife Rebecca, and their son Jacob who was later called Israel, whence they derive their name, with his wives Leah and Rachel and the handmaids Zilpa and Bilhah.

Modern archaeology has largely discarded the historicity of the religious narrative, with it being reframed as constituting an inspiring national myth narrative. The Israelites and their culture, according to the modern archaeological account, did not overtake the region by force, but instead branched out of the indigenous Canaanite peoples that long inhabited the Southern Levant, Syria, ancient Israel, and the Transjordan region through the development of a distinct monolatristic—later cementing as monotheistic—religion centered on Yahweh. The outgrowth of Yahweh-centric belief, along with a number of cultic practices, gradually gave rise to a distinct Israelite ethnic group, setting them apart from other Canaanites.In the Hebrew Bible the term Israelites is used interchangeably with the term Twelve Tribes of Israel. Although related, the terms Hebrews, Israelites, and Jews are not interchangeable in all instances. "Israelites" (Yisraelim) refers specifically to the direct descendants of any of the sons of the patriarch Jacob (later called Israel), and his descendants as a people are also collectively called "Israel", including converts to their faith in worship of the god of Israel, Yahweh. "Hebrews" (ʿIvrim), on the contrary, is used to denote the Israelites' immediate forebears who dwelt in the land of Canaan, the Israelites themselves, and the Israelites' ancient and modern descendants (including Jews and Samaritans). "Jews" (Yehudim) is used to denote the descendants of the Israelites who coalesced when the Tribe of Judah absorbed the remnants of various other Israelite tribes.

During the period of the divided monarchy "Israelites" was only used to refer to the inhabitants of the northern Kingdom of Israel, and it is only extended to cover the people of the southern Kingdom of Judah in post-exilic usage.The Israelites are the ethnic stock from which modern Jews and Samaritans originally trace their ancestry. Modern Jews are named after and also descended from the southern Israelite Kingdom of Judah, particularly the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, Simeon and partially Levi. Many Israelites took refuge in the Kingdom of Judah following the collapse of the Kingdom of Israel.Finally, in Judaism, the term "Israelite" is, broadly speaking, used to refer to a lay member of the Jewish ethnoreligious group, as opposed to the priestly orders of Kohanim and Levites. In texts of Jewish law such as the Mishnah and Gemara, the term יהודי (Yehudi), meaning Jew, is rarely used, and instead the ethnonym ישראלי (Yisraeli), or Israelite, is widely used to refer to Jews. Samaritans commonly refer to themselves and to Jews collectively as Israelites, and they describe themselves as the Israelite Samaritans.


Jah or Yah (Hebrew: יה, Yah) is a short form of Yahweh (in consonantal spelling YHWH Hebrew: יהוה, called the tetragrammaton), the proper name of God in the Hebrew Bible.

This short form of the name occurs 50 times in the text of the Hebrew Bible, of which 24 form part of the phrase "Hallelujah", which is actually a two-word phrase, not one word.

In an English-language context, the name Jah is now most commonly associated with the Rastafari. It is otherwise mostly limited to the phrase Hallelujah and theophoric names such as Elijah. "Jah" is an abbreviation of "Jehovah", the English transliteration of the Hebrew Tetragrammaton יהוה‬, God's name (Exodus 3:13).

In the King James Version (1611) there is only a single instance of JAH (capitalised), in Psalm 68:4. An American Translation (1939) follows KJV in using Yah in this verse.

The conventional English pronunciation of Jah is , even though the letter J here transliterates the palatal approximant (Hebrew י Yodh). The spelling Yah is designed to make the pronunciation explicit in an English-language context (see also romanization of Hebrew).


Jehovah () is a Latinization of the Hebrew יְהֹוָה, one vocalization of the Tetragrammaton יהוה (YHWH), the proper name of the God of Israel in the Hebrew Bible and one of the seven names of God in Judaism.

The consensus among scholars is that the historical vocalization of the Tetragrammaton at the time of the redaction of the Torah (6th century BCE) is most likely Yahweh. The historical vocalization was lost because in Second Temple Judaism, during the 3rd to 2nd centuries BCE, the pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton came to be avoided, being substituted with Adonai ("my Lord"). The Hebrew vowel points of Adonai were added to the Tetragrammaton by the Masoretes, and the resulting form was transliterated around the 12th century as Yehowah. The derived forms Iehouah and Jehovah first appeared in the 16th century.

"Jehovah" was popularized in the English-speaking world by William Tyndale and other pioneer English Protestant translations such as the Geneva Bible and the King James Version. It remains in use by the Watchtower Society translators of the New World Translation, and appears in the still-popular translations of the American Standard Version (1901) and the Young's Literal Translation (1862, 1899), but it does not appear in current mainstream English translations, some of which use Yahweh but most continue to use "Lord" or "LORD" to represent same.

Origins of Judaism

This article discusses the historical roots of Judaism throughout the 1st millennium BCE. For the origins of the modern-day religion of Judaism, see Origins of Rabbinic Judaism.The origins of Judaism lie in the Bronze Age amidst polytheistic ancient Semitic religions, specifically Canaanite religion, co-existing with a syncretization with elements of Babylonian religion and of the worship of Yahweh reflected in the early prophetic books of the Hebrew Bible. During the Iron Age I, the Israelite religion became distinct from other Canaanite religions due to the unique monolatristic (proto-monotheistic) worship of Yahweh.

During the Babylonian captivity of the 6th and 5th centuries BCE (Iron Age II), certain circles within the exiled Judahites in Babylon refined pre-existing ideas about monotheism, election, divine law and Covenant into a strict monotheistic theology which came to dominate the former Kingdom of Judah in the following centuries.From the 5th century BCE until 70 CE, Israelite religion developed into the various theological schools of Second Temple Judaism, besides Hellenistic Judaism in the diaspora. Second Temple eschatology was significantly influenced by Zoroastrianism. The text of the Hebrew Bible was redacted into its extant form in this period and possibly also canonized as well.

Rabbinic Judaism developed during Late Antiquity, during the 3rd to 6th centuries CE; the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible and the Talmud were compiled in this period. The oldest manuscripts of the Masoretic tradition come from the 10th and 11th centuries CE; in the form of the Aleppo Codex of the later portions of the 10th century CE and the Leningrad Codex dated to 1008–1009 CE. Due largely to censoring and the burning of manuscripts in medieval Europe the oldest existing manuscripts of various rabbinical works are quite late. The oldest surviving complete manuscript copy of the Babylonian Talmud is dated to 1342 CE.

Psalm 26

Psalm 26 is the 26th psalm from the Book of Psalms.

It is "a profession of integrity by a Levite, engaged in worshipping Yahweh in the temple choir. (1) He professes integrity in walk, and unwavering trust in Yahweh, as attested by Yahweh Himself (v.1-2). (2) Ever conscious of the divine kindness and faithfulness, he abstains from all association with the wicked (v.3-4). (3) He hates the company of the wicked and purifies himself for sacrifice (v.5-6). (4) He loves the temple (v.8), and stands in its choir blessing Yahweh (v.12). A later editor by additions and changes introduces elements of prayer (v.1a, 9-11) and worship (v.7)."According to Charles and Emilie Briggs, it is to be dated within the Persian period (539 to 333 BCE).

Psalm 29

Psalm 29 is the 29th psalm from the Book of Psalms.

It is "a hymn, describing the advent of Yahweh in a storm. (1) The angels worship Yahweh in the heavenly temple (v.1-2); (2) the thunder of Yahweh's voice is a great power (a) on the waters (v.3-4); (b) upon Lebanon and its cedars (v.5-6); (c) upon the wilderness and its forests (v.8-9); (3) Yahweh, enthroned over the Flood, reigns forever and bestows blessings on his people (v.10-11)."According to Charles and Emilie Briggs, it "seems to belong to the Persian period subsequent to Nehemiah," that is, between 445 and 333 BCE.

Sacred Name Movement

The Sacred Name Movement (SNM) began within the Church of God (Seventh-Day) in Christianity, propagated by Clarence Orvil Dodd in the 1930s, which claims that it seeks to conform Christianity to its "Hebrew Roots" in practice, belief and worship. The best known distinction of the SNM is its advocacy of the use of the "sacred name" Yahweh (Hebrew: יַהְוֶה), i.e., the reconstructed proper name of the God of Israel, and the use of the original Hebrew name of Jesus, often transliterated as Yahshua. SNM believers also generally keep many of the Old Testament laws and ceremonies such as the Seventh-day Sabbath, Torah festivals, and kashrut food laws.

Sacred Scriptures Bethel Edition

The Sacred Scriptures Bethel Edition (SSBE) is a Sacred Name Bible which uses the names Yahweh and Yahshua in both the Old and New Testaments (Chamberlin p. 51-3). It was produced by the Assemblies of Yahweh elder Jacob O. Meyer, based on the American Standard Version of 1901 and it contains over 977 pages. The Assemblies of Yahweh printed 5,500 copies of the first edition in 1981. It is also used by some members of the Sacred Name Movement.

The use of "Bethel" refers to the Assemblies of Yahweh being based in Bethel, Berks County, Pennsylvania.


Satan, also known as the Devil, is an entity in the Abrahamic religions that seduces humans into sin or falsehood. In Christianity and Islam, he is usually seen as either a fallen angel or a jinn, who used to possess great piety and beauty, but rebelled against God, who nevertheless allows him temporary power over the fallen world and a host of demons. In Judaism, Satan is typically regarded as a metaphor for the yetzer hara, or "evil inclination", or as an agent subservient to God.

A figure known as "the satan" first appears in the Tanakh as a heavenly prosecutor, a member of the sons of God subordinate to Yahweh, who prosecutes the nation of Judah in the heavenly court and tests the loyalty of Yahweh's followers by forcing them to suffer. During the intertestamental period, possibly due to influence from the Zoroastrian figure of Angra Mainyu, the satan developed into a malevolent entity with abhorrent qualities in dualistic opposition to God. In the apocryphal Book of Jubilees, Yahweh grants the satan (referred to as Mastema) authority over a group of fallen angels, or their offspring, to tempt humans to sin and punish them. In the Synoptic Gospels, Satan tempts Jesus in the desert and is identified as the cause of illness and temptation. In the Book of Revelation, Satan appears as a Great Red Dragon, who is defeated by Michael the Archangel and cast down from Heaven. He is later bound for one thousand years, but is briefly set free before being ultimately defeated and cast into the Lake of Fire.

In Christianity, Satan is also known as the Devil and, although the Book of Genesis does not mention him, he is often identified as the serpent in the Garden of Eden. In the Middle Ages, Satan played a minimal role in Christian theology and was used as a comic relief figure in mystery plays. During the early modern period, Satan's significance greatly increased as beliefs such as demonic possession and witchcraft became more prevalent. During the Age of Enlightenment, belief in the existence of Satan became harshly criticized. Nonetheless, belief in Satan has persisted, particularly in the Americas. In the Quran, Shaitan, also known as Iblis, is an entity made of fire who was cast out of Heaven because he refused to bow before the newly-created Adam and incites humans to sin by infecting their minds with waswās ("evil suggestions"). Although Satan is generally viewed as evil, some groups have very different beliefs.

In Theistic Satanism, Satan is considered a deity who is either worshipped or revered. In LaVeyan Satanism, Satan is a symbol of virtuous characteristics and liberty. Satan's appearance is never described in the Bible, but, since the ninth century, he has often been shown in Christian art with horns, cloven hooves, unusually hairy legs, and a tail, often naked and holding a pitchfork. These are an amalgam of traits derived from various pagan deities, including Pan, Poseidon, and Bes. Satan appears frequently in Christian literature, most notably in Dante Alighieri's Inferno, variants of the Faust legend, John Milton's Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained, and the poems of William Blake. He continues to appear in film, television, and music.


The tetragrammaton (; from Greek Τετραγράμματον, meaning "[consisting of] four letters"), יהוה in Hebrew and YHWH in Latin script, is the four-letter biblical name of the God of Israel. The books of the Torah and the rest of the Hebrew Bible (with the exception of Esther and Song of Songs) contain this Hebrew name. Religiously observant Jews and those who follow Talmudic Jewish traditions do not pronounce יהוה, nor do they read aloud transliterated forms such as Yahweh; instead the word is substituted with a different term, whether used to address or to refer to the God of Israel. Common substitutions for Hebrew forms are hakadosh baruch hu ("The Holy One, Blessed Be He"), Adonai ("My Lord") or HaShem ("The Name").

The Exodus

The Exodus is the founding myth of the Israelites. Spread over the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, it tells of the enslavement that befell the children of Israel in Egypt, their liberation through the hand of Yahweh and the revelations at Sinai, and their wanderings in the wilderness up to borders of Canaan, the land their God has given them. Its message is that Israel was delivered from slavery by Yahweh and therefore belongs to him through the Mosaic covenant, the terms of which are that Yahweh will protect his chosen people for all time, so long as they will keep his laws and worship only him. The narrative and its laws remain central to Judaism, recounted daily in Jewish prayers and celebrated in festivals such as Passover, as well as serving as an inspiration and model for non-Jewish groups from early Protestants fleeing persecution in Europe to African-Americans striving for freedom and civil rights.The consensus of modern scholars is that the Bible does not give an accurate account of the origins of Israel, which formed as an entity in the southern Transjordan region by the 13th century BCE. The Exodus story was first published in the 5th century BCE, although the traditions behind it are older and can be found in the writings of the 8th century BCE prophets.


WMLK (9.275 MHz) is a shortwave radio station in Bethel, Pennsylvania owned by the Assemblies of Yahweh. WMLK takes its name from MLK, representing three of the four consonants of the Hebrew word "malakh" (מַלְאָךְ) meaning a "messenger" or angel.

Yahweh ben Yahweh

Yahweh ben Yahweh (born Hulon Mitchell Jr.; October 27, 1935 – May 7, 2007) was an American man who in 1979 founded and led the Nation of Yahweh, a new religious movement headquartered in Florida that had thousands of African-American devotees at its peak. Yahweh was later indicted on three counts of federal racketeering and extortion charges, to which he was found not guilty. However, he was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder.

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