What Is the Significance of the Name “Jehovah?”

Jehovah Creates the Earth,” by Walter Rane

In the last verse of the Book of Mormon, the prophet Moroni uses a name which only appears one other place in the book: Jehovah (Moroni 10:34). (The other appearance is in 2 Nephi 22:2, which is the same as Isaiah 12:2.) What is the significance of this name, and why does Moroni use it at the end of the book?

When the name Jehovah appears in the Old Testament, it is a translation of the Hebrew word יהוה, or YHVH. This name appears 6,828 times in the Hebrew Old Testament, more than seven times per chapter. The Hebrew language was historically written without vowels, and the Jewish custom was (and still is) to replace this sacred name with the word Adonai, which means “Lord.” So no one knows how the word was originally pronounced.

The King James translators honored the Jewish custom and generally translated this sacred name as “Lᴏʀᴅ” or “Gᴏᴅ,” using small capital letters. However, seven times they chose instead to render the name as “Jehovah,” a transliteration of the Hebrew name which had appeared in earlier Bible translations. (See “Jehovah,” Bible Dictionary.)

There appear to be three situations in which they used the actual name instead of a replacement:

  1. On three occasions, it is part of a place-name: Jehovah-jireh (Genesis 22:14), Jehovah-nissi (Exodus 17:15), and Jehovah-shalom (Judges 6:24).
  2. Two places in Isaiah, a shortened version of the name is followed immediately by the name itself (“YH YHVH”). Because both of those words are usually translated as “the Lᴏʀᴅ,” the King James translators chose to avoid redundancy by rendering the phrase as “the Lᴏʀᴅ JEHOVAH” (Isaiah 12:2, Isaiah 26:4).
  3. On two other occasions, the context makes clear that the name itself is critical to the meaning of the sentence:
    • God explains to Moses that He appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob “but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them” (Exodus 6:3). Joseph Smith transformed the meaning of this verse by rendering it as a question: “I am…the Lord JEHOVAH. And was not my name known unto them?” (See footnote c.) This interpretation is consistent with the fact that God said twice to Abraham, “My name is Jehovah” (Abraham 1:16, Abraham 2:8).
    • The writer of Psalm 83 pleads with the Lord to take action against His enemies “that men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth” (Psalm 83:18).

So why did Moroni choose to use this name at the end of his book?

No other name more clearly conveys the Savior’s premortal role:

He was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament…. Under the direction of His Father, He was the creator of the earth. “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3) (“The Living Christ: the Testimony of the Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” 2000).

One of the purposes of the Book of Mormon is “to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers” (Title Page). As Moroni ends his record, he urges his readers to remember what the Lord has done for people “from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things” (Moroni 10:3). Perhaps his use of this name helps him to achieve that goal. Perhaps he is reminding us that our Savior is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Perhaps he is reminding us of the role that the Savior played throughout the Old Testament and of the great things He did on behalf of the children of Israel throughout their history.

Today, I will remember that Jesus Christ is “the great Jehovah,” the God described in the Old Testament. I will remember that, long before He was born, He created this earth, He called prophets, and He worked great miracles on behalf of His people. I will remember His mercy and kindness to people who have gone before, so that I can also have confidence that He will be merciful to me as I turn to Him.

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