Yo’el

Yo’el. That’s the Hebrew Joel, according to Wikipedia.

I’ve known for quite some time that Joel means, in one form or another, “Jehova is God.” Some say “Jehovah is Lord”, or “Yahweh is God”… “God is willing” is rolled in there in some descriptions as well.

But it all comes down to two elements: yo and el. And those are pretty much the two names of God: Yahweh (Yo) and Elohim (El). So, stripped of it’s Jehovah-GOD-God-LORD-Lord complexities, it means: “Yahweh is Elohim.” (Interestingly enough, Elijah means the inverse: Elohim is Yahweh.)

This works quite nicely with the writings of the prophet Joel himself. He writes in 2:23:

Be glad (8798) then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice (8798) in the LORD your God: for he hath given (8804) you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down (8686) for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.

The LORD and God are Yahweh and Elohim, respectively.

Now, apparently there is some struggle going on in seminary-circles about if Jehovah or Yahweh is more proper. If you click on LORD in the passage above, you’ll see that Studylight.org translates it as “Jehovah = the existent one; the proper name for the one true God”. You should also see that there are four characters that make up this Hebrew name for God. Translated into English, they are YHWH–Yahweh without the consonants vowels. Hebrew scribes wrote without consonants vowels.

It of course isn’t that simple. The graphic to the right is a visual of the translational mess the Wikipedia article discusses. It involves all sorts of things I don’t have a clue about, including the Jews avoidance of speaking the proper name of God, lest they “take the LORD’s name in vain” and be struck dead. I guess Adonai developed as a result.

Jehovah’s Witnesses even have a say in the matter and have their own interpretation that some consider blasphemous. I had no idea this was such an issue.

But when you think about it, names are pretty darn important. Less so now than they were then, but still quite important. Names carry meaning. And if we take into account that our words have power as scripture says, when we repeatedly address a person by his or her name, and that name carries meaning, then we shape that person’s reality and our relationship with him or her.

There was a reason God changed people’s names, such as Abraham and Paul. And it wasn’t because He was bored. It meant something. And there is a reason that He has a unique name for each of us He will reveal in heaven. Because it means something. Name changes represent self-change and relationship-with-God change.

So, in summary, I’d kinda like to know what God’s real name is. You know how annoying it is for someone to repeatedly get your name wrong (my last name isn’t Mowst! …and Sherry’s name isn’t Sharron! …and Krista isn’t Crystal, or Kristen!)

Yahweh ElohimAnd lastly… if I were to get a tattoo, it would be this: Yahweh Elohim, the meaning of my name, written in Hebrew:

Joel Maust

Joel Maust is a blogger, marketer and photographer living in the beautiful Flathead Valley of northwest Montana.

9 Comments

sherry

about 12 years ago

and since our words have power, when you call someone by their name its like you are calling the meaning of the name forth and reestablishing that quality in them at the same time. so when people say my name, it should make me feel loved because my name is French and it means "beloved" or "darling". or...wine. i guess i can be somewhat intoxicating... but really, i mean, when it's not said in anger, hearing my name does make me feel loved. and come to think of it, for the longest time i had the hardest time telling people my name when i introduced myself. and maybe that's because for the longest time, i didn't love myself. it's like saying "hi, my name is Sweetheart." definitely something i will have to think more about later.

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Joel

about 12 years ago

Interesting observations. I wonder how nicknames play into this whole thing. Like... if I never call Otis his real name Josh. Oddly enough, immediately following my research on the name of God topic, I settled down to read from Drawing Near and he covered the whole Yahweh, Elohim, YHWH (which they typo as YHWY) thing about two pages into my reading.

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sherry

about 12 years ago

i think nicknames are especially important because i have heard all kinds of stories about nicknames given affectionately but having a negative impact later in life...a certain gospel music husband and wife divorced over a nickname...of course, the nickname was "idiot" but regardless. celeste of course, is a wonderful nickname that would never cause harm. similar to "sherbear".

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Nathan

about 12 years ago

So I had to go look up my own name after reading this. I've always known that Nathan is Hebrew for 'Gift.' What I did not know is that it could also be translated 'Giver.' Sheds a whole new light on my life. A friend of mine grew up with the nickname Numbski, which was a mangled version of 'numbskull'. And he often lived it. A few years ago when he moved into our basement, Christy and I started referring to him only as Tony. Soon, so did he. I can't put down in a short space the radical,positive change to his person that has resulted in the last 5 years.

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april

about 12 years ago

weird story - goes to 7th grade - short version we were to pray for God to reveal his name for us, all I heard was my own, joy. so ever since then i have tried to live up to it and bring joy to other people (now u finally have the explanation to my wacky behavior)...but it goes along well with my first which means "new beginnings, new life, and (rumored) goddess of love." unfortunate that it has pagan beginnings, but i do believe in the love of God, and starting over, and bringing forth life in seemingly hopeless situations...so yeah, it fits. keep it real j-dawg! tee hee

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april

about 12 years ago

and who knew the term Easter was pagan?? wow - check out my name on wikipedia....

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Emily

about 12 years ago

So the definition of my name according to wikipedia isn't all that exciting: "rival": originally "those in the next valley". However, when our small group was studying Experiencing God, and we were exploring the names of God and the names God calls us, I found an acronym for my name. When I remember it, and think of God saying my name - it makes my day (sometimes it even makes a whole week): Every Moment I Love You. Even cooler - the acronym can apply to us all: He loves all of us every moment. :)

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amanda

about 12 years ago

IF you get a tattoo?!? are you contemplating? ;)

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Joel

about 12 years ago

Actually, I want to track down some temporary tattoo paper and print one out on my printer to try it and see what it's like for a day or so. Then maybe I'll think about it some more. And then maybe it would consider it.

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