What is the real name of God? YHWH, Jehovah, Yahweh?

by Matt Slick

The real name of God is YHWH.   The four letters1 that make up His name found in Exodus 3:14.  However, there is no correct pronunciation for the name of God because the letters are only consonents, not vowels.  So we cannot tell what the "real" name of God is YAHWEH or YEHWAH or YAHWAH or YEHWEH, etc.

  • Exodus 3:13-15, “Then Moses said to God, ‘Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I shall say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you.” Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” 14 And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”[HWH]; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM[AHWH] has sent me to you.’ God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘The Lord [YHWH], the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations.”
  • Exodus 20:1-3, "Then God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the LORD[YHWH] your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before Me."
  • NOTE:  the Hebrew root for "to be" is HWH. This is why there are variations of the form:  HWH-אֶֽהְיֶ֑ה, AHWH-אֶֽהְיֶ֑ה, YHWH-יְהוָ֣ה

When God says, "I AM,” He is speaking His name.  In the Hebrew language that this verse was written in, the letters are yod, he, vav, he, from which we get YHWH.  These four letters were very loosely translated into the English ‘Jehovah.’  However, there is no ‘j’ sound in the Hebrew.  So, a better approximation of the name of God would be Yahweh.

To reiterate, the pronunciation of God’s name is difficult because when they Jews wrote His name in Hebrew Scriptures, they did not use vowel designations.  They only used consonants.  Therefore, the phrase, “The name of God is YHWH,” would appear as “th nm f gd s yhwh.”  This wasn’t a problem with the Hebrews because they knew what the words were and how to pronounce them.  It was not until many hundreds of years later that the Jews started to insert what was called ‘vowel points’ into the copied texts of the Hebrew Old Testament.

Nevertheless, from the text above the proper name of God translated into English is "I AM," which we transliterate into the English YHWH.2


  • 1. The four consonant letters are known as the Tratragrammaton
  • 2. To translate is to convert the meaning of the original word to the English equivalent.  To transliterate means convert the pronunciation from the original language into the English pronunciation.
About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.