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Three Reasons YaHWeH Is Not the Breath of God

Have you seen this post? Is YaHWeH breathing or the breath of God?

It’s a beautiful picture, but the message is wrong. (Reprint of the post is below.)

The post says that the Hebrew name for God (Yahweh) is an inhale and an exhale.

  1. All vowels are breathed. Consonants block the air breathed. Breathing in and out works for any two-syllable word.
  2. You could reverse the two sounds and it would still sound like breathing. Try it Weh-Yah.
  3. The vowels were there from the beginning. Someone did not arbitrarily put them there. For centuries, scribes wrote the Hebrew language without vowels. All of their letters are consonants. Of course, people spoke Hebrew with vowel sounds—you can’t really speak without vowels—but they assumed the vowels as they read the text. For example, if I write hwy mgmt, you might read that as the abbreviation for highway management. So it was in ancient Hebrew.

    The Masoretes, a group of Jewish scholars, added the vowel marks in about 500 AD. Because of the scattering of the Jewish people (the diaspora) and the natural shifts of languages over time, the Masoretes decided they better somehow mark the vowels, so people pronounce Hebrew correctly. They honored the scriptures too much to create and insert new characters into the text. Instead, they added dots and dashes under the text to indicate vowel sounds.

I would not expect most Christians to know this about the Hebrew language, but I must point it out and stop this lie. It is dangerous for us to applaud something that sounds or feels good but is not based on truth. The concept that YaHWeH is breathing or the breath of God appears to have its origin in a cult-like mix of Jewish and eastern religions. A simple internet search for “yhwh breathing sounds” will show where this came from.

Example of Hebrew text with vowel points (Psalm 23:3b)
Example of Hebrew text with vowel points (Psalm 23:3b)
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Original Post


There was a moment when Moses had the nerve to ask God what His name is. God was gracious enough to answer, and the name He gave is recorded in the original Hebrew as YHWH.

Over time we’ve arbitrarily added an “a” and an “e” in there to get YaHWeH, presumably because we have a preference for vowels.

But scholars and Rabi’s have noted that the letters YHWH represent breathing sounds, or aspirated consonants. When pronounced without intervening vowels, it actually sounds like breathing.

YH (inhale): WH (exhale).

So a baby’s first cry, his first breath, speaks the name of God.

A deep sigh calls His name – or a groan or gasp that is too heavy for mere words.

Even an atheist would speak His name, unaware that their very breathe is giving constant acknowledgment to God.

Likewise, a person leaves this earth with their last breath, when God’s name is no longer filing their lungs.

So when I can’t utter anything else, is my cry calling out His name?

Being alive means I speak His name constantly. So, is it heard the loudest when I’m the quietest?

In sadness, we breathe heavy sighs.

In joy, our lungs feel almost like they will burst.

In fear we hold our breath and have to be told to breathe slowly to help us calm down.

When we’re about to do something hard, we take a deep breath to find our courage.

When I think about it, breathing is giving him praise. Even in the hardest moments!

This is so beautiful and fills me with emotion every time I grasp the thought. God chose to give Himself a name that we can’t help but speak every moment we’re alive.

All of us, always, everywhere. are Waking, sleeping, breathing, with the name of God on our lips. Amen

By Sandra Thurman Caporale

Published inTheology

One Comment

  1. Katie Katie

    If anything the graphic should represent the Holy Spirit, which isn’t a good translation. The word “ruach” in reference to the Holy Spirit is translated breath or wind. Instead of Holy Spirit, we should be saying “Breath of God” because that’s what it is.

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