Why do modern Bible translations render God’s Name as “LORD” instead of “Jehovah”?

The Hebrew Tetragrammaton (YHWH)

The name “Jehovah” is a name for God that is derived from the Hebrew Tetragrammaton or Four Consonants (YHWH) which are translated “LORD” (all capital letters) in the Old Testament text of most modern Bible translations. The name “Jehovah” was chosen by some Bible translators because the original Hebrew text does not contain vowels (only consonants) and the Jews have not pronounced God’s name for hundreds of years to avoid violating the 3rd Commandment to Keep God’s Name Holy. So nobody today knows how to pronounce it.

Thus, in keeping with the Jewish tradition of substituting “Adonai” (the Hebrew word for “Lord”) every time the Jews ran across God’s name in the reading of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), most modern translators have chosen either to translate God’s name as “LORD” (all capital letters) or put the vowels of “Adonai” for Lord into the Hebrew consonants to come up with “Y-a-H-o-V-a-H” or “Jehovah” into the text of their Bible translation. However, most Hebrew scholars regard the name “Yahweh” to be a more likely pronunciation.

Jehovah’s Witnesses often make a big deal about the fact that most modern Bibles render God’s name as “LORD” rather than “Yahweh” or “Jehovah” as their New World Translation Bible does. They claim that a person cannot really know God, unless they know His Name. However, this argument is flawed because their translation substitutes the vowels for the Hebrew word “Adonai” into the Hebrew consonants of God’s name, so in our opinion, there is not much difference between most modern Bible translation’s substitution of the word “LORD” for God’s Name and their translation’s use of an erroneous pronunciation for God’s name that is derived from the Hebrew word for “Lord.”   So rather than focus on a pronunciation for God’s name, we feel that God would rather us focus on the meaning of His Name as revealed in Scripture as the Great “I Am” or Ever-Present One (Exodus 3:14-15) who tenderly cares for His adopted children.

For more information on this topic and how to discuss it with Jehovah’s Witnesses see:

SHOULD THE NAME JEHOVAH BE USED IN SCRIPTURE TO REFER TO GOD? —16 Questions for Jehovah’s Witnesses on the Use of God’s Name in the NWT


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