Topics in Genesis -5/

Jehovah or YHVH?




We continue to select chapters in the book of Genesis and concentrate on them in detail.

I chose today that topic – Jehovah or YHVH? -because of what happened to me the previous week



I asked AI to translate an article from Hebrew to English, and it  translated YHVH to y-ho-wah.


And I realized how this mistake of reading YHVH is so ingrained in our culture that even the all-mighty AI is caught in it. Can this be fixed?


This seems impossible.


For the world today is divided into two vast camps that can be defined by their ability to read YHVH correctly.


Billions of people read YHVH as Jehovah.  They don’t know YHVH , and  they moved the Sabbath to Sunday


Another camp of billions peoples – who think they have the Torah – are totally oblivious to YHVH  altogether.  No wonder they moved Shabbat to Friday.


There is only a relatively small group of Israelites and Noahide who know and understand the name YHVH and keep the Sabbath properly



The question is –  in the Shema we say that today, YHVH  is our G-d, but the day will come and  He will be known to all nations.

Is there any chance that this will come true?


Should we stop praying for this to happen? After all, we do not pray for something that will not happen



This is exactly what Avraham asked about, and he prayed that it would happen despite all odds. And it was precisely in this prayer that Jehovah’s mistake was sown



Let’s read the section

(Genesis chapter 15)




“And after these things was the word of YHVH to Abram, saying, Do not fear, Abram, I’ll be your shield,  your reward is enormous.”



Before we explain the verses, let’s remember the context.

All the stories about Abraham revolve around Noah’s fourth commandment, THEFT.

You can steal money, land, people, but you can also steal faith, spiritual things.  We recognize the copyright of a writer or philosopher to his work.


 Abraham r introduced new ideas above Noah.   For example, he was the the first to recognize the Creator as the “buyer of the Heavens and Earth” by the virtue of creating it.  This was a novelty of faith that Adam and Noah did not know.  He was also the first to worship YHVH by doing good in the world unconditionally, as grace.  He believed that just as YHVH  shared in the creation of the world with ELKM  to influence good unconditionally,   so too will he do. He therefore planted a tree-  Eshel Avraham – a nickname for eating, drinking and lodging he offered free.  . He also taught the world to bless and thank YHVH  for everything good.



All this is what we should carry in our min  when we come to understand our passage.




  After these things


Rashi emphasizes the word – these things, linking our section to the previous passage.

There, the four kings of the north came to enslave the five kings of the south and subdue them to raise taxes.   Abraham won them by battle, and when the king of Sodom wanted to share the spoils with him, Abraham said,


“I raised my hand to the Supreme God, buying heaven and earth, if I would take from you from string to shoelace.”


Here we hear for the first time about the novelty of Abraham’s faith in YHVH as the One Who Owns Heaven and Earth.


And since everything belongs to Him, THEFT is an insult against te OWNER,     a snew look at THEFT –  Noah’s fourth commandment



Don’t fear Abram



What was he so afraid of? Rashi says he was afraid that the FOUR KINGS would come back and fight him. And that can explain the words – I’ll be your shield.

Hence the legends that the name of YHVH said explicitly allows miracles to be happen.  We’ll see below another, better insight.


So what was his fear about?



It is impossible to explain that he was afraid for his property, because it does not fit the image of Abraham who gave his life for the sanctification of God


But for our purposes, it means well that he feared that he would be robbed not only of his physical but also spiritual property, his faith.


The usurpers may see themselves as Abraham’s heirs, but in fact it will only be outwardly because they are pagans who don’t understand YHH  and his teachings.

And even if they see themselves as Noah’s heirs, they will not understand Abraham’s contribution to the faith – that “I am the slave of the buyer of heaven and earth.”


And from Abraham’s words below, it is clear that he feared that he would go away from the world and have no spiritual continuation.  Referred primarily to his contribution to faith.


One can interpret “after all these things” – he remembered his whole life,   how he left idolatry in Haran and left his family and homeland and his father’s home and went to the Holy Land to worship Hashem. He remembered how he met Noah and learned from him, and also added his own contributions. .  He remembered his entire spiritual journey – as the son of Noah – and feared that everything that  e ad achieved would be lost without an heir.


He didn’t trust Eliezer to continue.  Indeed, it happened that after Avraham  death Eliezer returned to be like everyone else – worshippers of idolatry. The same goes for Aner Allon and Mamra, Abraham’s allies, who also did not follow in his footsteps.


The only one in the world at the time who still kept the faith was Noah’s son Shem who lived in Shalem, but he was an old man and he had no continuation either.


Fear – what would the world be like without it? Who will remember the creation story that is so true?  Who will remember the creation of man and the Sabbath? Who will understand the story of Eden  and the Flood and their lesson?


And so, he was filled with terror.


And while he was worried, the “scene” came and scared him even more.




What is a “scene?” –  Prophecy in pictures. According to Maimonides, this is the highest level of prophecy.  Not every prophet gets it. Moses, Samuel, Isaiah, Amos merited it

 What did he see? A most wonderous sight – you can see it from Abraham’s own words


He said – YHVH (read as ELKM) – what will You give me?”


He saw   the Attributed YHVH and ELKM  standing  together here –


The Shechina, YHVH, in its glory, but standing “behind”

hidden from the front by ELKM, the Creator of nature,

Like a sun covered by a cloud


Darkness has fallen on earth, darkness of reality that covers YHVH’s promise.



For the promise was that he would have sons who would continue his path and faith.

Children   in general are more likely to continue, because they are born into the faith


It is important for Noah’s children to take care of a future generation that will be proud of its legacy


But the chance for him to bear children is small, dictated by nature.

He is eighty-six years old and Sarah too is old.

If so, will he continue to pray?


Apparently, Avraham should have stopped, and accepted judgment and reality.


But Avraham noticed a special situation of the court.

They stand one behind the other in a agreement –  but have not yet issued their  ruling.



The Talmud (Baba kama 17a) says that one may change the court’s verdict as long there is a debate in the court.   Once the verdict has been issued – there is no more a room for petitions.


That is also the case with the Heavenly Court. As long that Attributes YHBVH and ELKM are ‘debating the verdict,’  one may attempt  to change it.


Like in Noah’s revelations.  There you see in the Torah text the two Attributes debating about the Flood.  They alsl debate after the Flood.   Noah could therefore offer his burnt offering – changing the mind of the Heavenly Court. The result was the Rainbow Covenant.


But in Abraham’s “vision” the Attributes YHVH and ELKM  had already “finished’ the debate and were standing one behind the other with agreement. This was a short moment before they would issue their common verdict, beyond which no prayer can be heard.





Abraham addressed the Heavenly Court at that precise moment – just before enouncing their verdict.


This is the importance of “vision” – a scene without words.  The worlds would have come a minute later.


So Abraham said –


 AaDoNai, YHH (his lips said ELKM) what will you give me?  


He approaches the two Attributes with humility – AaDoNai, my  Master, my Owner, my Landlord, I will accept any final verdict your are about to issue – but before that, as long as you’ve not issued your command, let me phrsase my own hope and prayer that I will merit seeing your good promise being materialized in this world!


He uses his won new term AaDoNai, to introduce himself to the Court – at that crucial moment.






The Sages expanded Abraham’s Prayer regarding any difference between a vision – a promise- and reality.


They said – Even when a sharp sword placed on the neck of a man, he  should not despair of mercy.


For  instance –

The promise is that redemption will come,

that the Messiah will come,

but the reality is different. Will we stop praying?


The promise is that the world will advance to the Shabbat,

and that all nations will know YHVH,

yet the reality is very far away.  Will we stop praying?


The promise is that man will rise and be very good.

Will we stop praying?



Let’s stop for a moment


How do we express in the text the Court that Abraham saw?  – The two  attributes YHVH and ELKM standing one behind the other? 








We can’t put it in the Torah scroll.

Thus, for centuries, it was customary to write YHVH in the text, yet to read it as ELKM by our lips.  This combination would describe Abraham’s special vision.



But with the invention of writing books (by hand), our sages innovated a new logical way.  You can’t add ELKM side by side with YHVH , as in the Latin and English translations, since this would fail to indicate that the Attributes stand as One, ready to issue one agreeable  verdict.


Therefore, in the new books they wrote the two Attributers together, in combination, with the understanding that the reader would see YHVH and utter it as ELKM







Note that the vowels e-o-i belong to EeLoKiM.


The consonant belongs to the name YHVH

The movements and points belong to ELKM


This phrase is repeated in many places in the Bible to denote a situation before the verdict, as long as there is hope of changing it at the last minute  for good. Before there is a reality



For instance – This is what Moses did when he prayed to Hashem to let him cross the Jordan River (Deuteronomy)


And so did Amos and Jeremiah and Ezekiel and the other prophets of Israel when they saw the destruction coming, but prayed as long as there was hope that Israel would repent and the decree would be erased.


The Latin translation doesn’t know this special combination – well, no wonder.


What was God’s answer?



YHVH  took Abraham out and showed him the Heavens and the stars — such will be your seed. A recurring and strong promise.


“And he believed (trusted) in YHVH, and thought him righteous”


He rusted YHVH  to keep His promise.  And that despite the harsh reality, it will be good.

In other words, he accepted YHVH’s promise in full, that it would be good, despite reality

Henceforth, all YHVH names in the Bible should be read at AaDoNai, in submission and in trust that reality would end up good.


In other words –








An ignorant person would read that as one name – Yehovah.



At the beginning of the section YHVH says to Abraham – don’t fear,  I – my name- is your shield.


Indeed, YHVH’s name has acted as a shieled against the Four Kings who have attempted to steal Abraham’s faith.

Because whenever you hear someone reading YHVA as Yehovah) Jehovah, Yawah)  you know with whom you’re dealing.