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There are NO Theophoric Names Derived from the Tetragrammaton


“Who were the Phoenicians ?” by Dr Nissim Raphael Ganor , and he mentions the following regarding Yahweh/Yehova-derived theophoricnames (page 203-210):

Herewith we will see why it is impossible to accept the conjecture that the names assumed theophoric derive from the name ‘Yehova’ (the Tetragrammaton) and then we will discuss the meaning of the names themselves.

We have already noted that in the assumed theophoric names the active component shifts, sometimes it is the bearer of the name, at others it is “Ya”,

How to explain this fact? .

Such personal names are met not only in Israelite personal names, but also in gentile ones, like Uriya the Hittite, Tuvya the Ammonite, Nergal – ya, Niniv–Ya (namely in connection with foreign deities as Nergal and Niniv).7

If we are to accept their derivation from the name “Yehovah” then how are
we to explain the fact that these names are found also among gentiles, and in
connection with foreign deities? .

In the book of Kings, we read that the Pharaoh Nechoh; king of Egypt, enthrones Elyakim (Eliakim), the son of Joshia instead of his father and changes his name to Yehoiakim (Jehoiakim). If we accept the derivation of this name from Yehovah, it seems quite strange that a foreign Egyptian king calls an Israelite king by a name composed of the Israelite deity “Yehovah”, and by this act apparently elevates him in position, when it is more logical that a foreign Egyptian king would call the subjugated king by a name that leaves him in a degraded position. In the Bible we also find the name Baalya (Bealiah – son of king David),9 which according to the accepted explanation must be interpreted “Ya is Baal = Yehovah is Baal”, such an explanation is paradoxical, and any attempt to explain – as it is done – that Baal means Adon = Master and therefore, Baalya means “Ya is master”, and that this name is not to be connected with Baal is merely argumentative.10 Let us note here that the part considered theophoric namely “Ya” or “Yahu” may come either as a suffix or as a prefix of the name such as Zedkiyahu (Zedekiahau–צדקיהו (or Yehozadak (Jehozadak–יהוצדק ,(Yeshayahu–ישעיהו– (Isaiah) or Yehoshua – יהושוע) – Joshua) etc. The name Yeshayahu )ישעיהו) according to the accepted explanation will mean “Yesha is Ya ” = Deliverer – Salvation is Ya (Yehovah). The same meaning is given also to Yehoshua11 יהושע except that with the later the part considered theophoric is in the prefix of the name, while with the name Yeshayahu it is in the suffix. But let us turn to the Book of Numbers (13: 16): “…And Moses called Oshea the son of Nun Jehoshua – יהושע ויקרא נון–בן להושע משה “This verse informs us that in the beginning the name was “Oshea )הושע” )and Moses adds only one letter, the letter Yod=י( Y) and so changes the name to Yehoshua .)יהושע )Therefore in the name Yehoshua (Joshua) the letter Yod is additional and between it and the letters “HO” that folllow, there is no indivisible theophoric connection, deriving from the name “Yehovah”.

On the other hand the name Yehoshua and Yeshayahu are one and the same, the only difference being in the position of the part “Yahu”. in the prefix in the first and in the suffix in the second. We must therefore conclude that even in the name Yeshayahu (Isaiah), the part “Yahu” must not be regarded as separate entity representing a theophoric part: such a conclusion gets added support when we see names like Yehoseph (יהוסף – Ps. 81: 6), Yehonathan )יהונתן – 1 Sam. 19: 1)12; Yehonadav (Jehonadab) (2Kn. 10: 23); Yehoash (Jehoash 2( )יהואש Kn. 12: 1); Yehoyakim (Jehoiakim) (2Chr. 36:4); Yehoram (Jehoram) (2Kn. 1: 17); Yehozadak (Jehozadak) (1 Chr. 6: 15)13; Yehohanan (Ez. 10: 28) etc (with the letter – ה– H). who appear also in an abbreviated form: Yoseph (Joseph יוסף ,Yonathan (Jonathan 1( )יונתן Sam. 20: 1); Yonadav (Jonadab) (Jer. 35: 8); Yoash (Joash 2( )יואש Kn. 14: 1); Yoyakim (Joiakim) (Neh. 12: 10); Yoram (Joram) (2Kn. 8: 28) ; Yozadak (Jozadak) (Ez. 10: 18); Yohanan (Johanan) (1Chr. 3: 24). etc. (without the letter H– ה .( The name Uzziya Uzzia – )עזיה )appears also in the form עזיא) Uzzia) – with the letter A – Aleph )א )instead of the letter Heh1( )ה )Chr. 11: 44)14 Such “Theophoric” names appear also in two forms such as Yermiya (Jeremiah) – Yermiyahu, Zidkiya (Zedekiah) – Zidkiyahu etc.15. We realise that in all these supposedly theophoric names, the part “Yahu” is not conserved as one integral unit. Moreover if we accept the explanation that “Ya” derives from “Yehovah”, then names like Antothija, (ענתותיה .( .(נעריה)Neariah) רפיה) ,Rephaiah( שׁעריה) ,Sheariah) שׁחריה ִ ) ,Shehariah Dalaiah (דליה(16, which in Hebrew we will have to explain Ya (Yehovah) is Antothi = comes from Anatoth (a name of place near Jerusalem); Shehariah ִ – we will have to explain Ya is shahor = black; Nehariah –( ִ נעריה (Ya is Nahar =youngster; Rephaiah – Ya is Rafee = weak, feeble. The absurdity of such explanations is obvious.

Let us see if we can understand and explain these names otherwise.

Names like Shefatya (שפטיה )Yirmiya – (ירמיה – Jeremiah), Zidkiya )צדקיה – – Zedekiah), Eliya – )אליה Eliah) and alike appear in the Bible in a more full form as Shefatyahu,)שפטיהו )Yirmiyahu )ירמיהו )Zidkiyahu )צדקיהו )Eliyahu 12 Yehoseph and Yehonathan appear only in the Hebrew text. 13 In the Hebrew text 1Chr. 5: 40.
14 Seen only in the Hebrew Text. 15 The two forms are only in the Hebrew text. In the English translation they are transcribed as one form 16 1Chr 8: 24 (in the Hebrew text 25): 26: 38; 3: 21: 22: 24. 189 )אליהו )etc.17 We can conclude that the suffix in these names is “Yahu” and not “ya” and “ya” is but a diminutive of “yahu”. What does this added part Yahu )יהו )means? . Because of its final pronunciation it is reasonable to conjecture that originally it had the letter (Aleph) which was omitted in writing because it was superfluous in pronunciation. Similarly we see in other Hebrew words such as Haleluhu )הללוהו ,)Shabhuhu )שבחוהו )and alike that originaly were Halelu –Hue ,)הוא הללו )Shabhu–Hue.)הוא שבחו)Meaning praise him, glorify him )הוא – Hue in Hebrew means He – him). There is place to assume that also the word Yahu – ,יהו was originally Yahue–)יהוא with the letter Aleph א – at its suffix). In the Bible we find the name Yehue (Jehu – יהוא( )with the letter aleph) by itself. And also names like Elihu )אליהו ,(Avihu )אביהו )without the letter Aleph at their end, that appear in the form of Elihue)אליהוא )Avihue )אביהוא )with a letter Aleph at their end18. These forms with the letter Aleph must be regarded as the more ancient ones. Therefore names like Shefatyahu etc. must have been originally Shefatyahu )הוא שפטי )Zedekyahue )צדקיהוא )etc. (with an Aleph in their end) It is obvious that in these names the end part “Yahue” derives from the word “Hue”)הוא = he) preceded by the letter Y (Yod– י )And we have already seen that even in the name Yehoshua (Joshua) the letter y (Yod) was added afterwards “And Moses called Oshea the son of Nun Jehoshua.” (Nu. 13: 16). In Hebrew the consonant (letter) yod )י )before the stem often represents the word Yihye (יהיה = will be) namely it is the conjunction in third person of the verb to\ be (hayo – היה – )If we apply the same rule also to Hebrew nouns (non verbs) that are prefixed by the consonant y )י )we realise that many words are thus rendered comprehensible.19 For example, the Hebrew word yahad ( ִ יחד =) together, might be considered as yihye (will be) – had (= e ִ had =one), i. e. ִ some objects group together to form one unit.20 In the book of Job (3: 6) we read: “As for that night, Let darkness seize upon it; let it not be joined unto the days of the year” (In Hebrew: Halayla hahu yikaheu ofel al yi ִ had bi’yme shana”. ” ִ בימי יחד–אל אפל יקחהו ההוא הלילה שנה “we can construe the word “yihad” as yihye ִ had = will be one i. e, that  night will not be one of the days of the year21. This rendering conforms with the succeding verse: “let it not come into the number of months” (“במספר (“.ירחים אל–יבא

In Exodus (18: 8 – 9) we read that Moses told his father–In–law Jethro “all that the Lord had done to Pharaoh” etc.”and Jethro rejoiced (in Hebrew Va –yihad – ִ )ויחד for all the goodness which the Lord had done to Israel”. We can explain “Vayihad” as “va–yihye ִ had ִ ,)חד ויהיה” )i. e. that Jethro was one (unanimous) with Moses, namely he agreed with Moses about the goodness, the wonders the Lord bestowed on Israel We see here words which apparently differ from one another, basically derived from one and the same root. Another such group may be seen in the hebrew words “yasaf” )יסף )and “yasuf .)יסוף” )Yasaf is used many times in the connotation of ; to terminate, finish; cease. For example: “They prophesied and did not cease” (Nu. 11:
25). As for the word “Yasuf” it is used in the sense of to disappear; vanish. For example, “Lo yasuf zichro leolam vaed )ועד לעולם זכרו יסוף לא” )i. e. his memory will not vanish (will persist) forever. (See Esther 9: 28 – “nor the memorial of them perish” – in Heb. “Yasuf – from their seed”). If in these two words we consider the letter yod )י )as the abbreviation of yihye, we will understand that Yasaf and Yasuf derive from “yihye sof”, i. e.”There will be an end”. Therefore “vayitnabu velo yasafu”(Nu: 11: 25) means “they prophesied and there was no end . .”, their words did not reach an end, i. e. did cease. Whereas his memory will not “yasuf” forever – his memory will not have an end i. e. his memory will remain forever = will not perish. The verb “yarosh” )ירש = )to inherit, might be seen as “yihye Rosh” (yihye = to be, Rosh = head). namely: “to take the head” of the estate, house etc. i. e, to inherit. Another example might be seen in the verse (Eccl. 11: 3) “and if the tree fall toward the south or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth there it shall be” (in Heb. sham yehue – “יהוא “namely sham yihye hue – הוא יהיה שם – there it shall be – remain.) In the light of what was said above we may see the letter Y ( י=Yod) in the suffix “Yahue” as the abbreviation of the word Yihye = יהיה = will be, and therefore Yahue will be Yihye Hue יהיה הוא – He will be; therefore names like Shefatyahu ,שפטיהו – Zedkiyahu צדקיהו – etc. (that in their origin were Shefatyahue ,שפטיהוא – Zedkiyahue צדקיהוא – etc. – with a letter Aleph in their end), are but Shofet yihye hue =a judge he will be, Zadik yihye hue =a just man he will be. El yihye hue = God he will be22 etc. In the words “Yihye hue “(=he will be) the reference is to the bearer of the name himself. When giving names to their children, the parents expressed their wishes and what they hoped to see in their children, or what they expected to find in them. and this was done by adding the suffix “Yahue” 22 Compare with Ex. 4: 16 “…he shall be to thee a mouth, and thou shalt be to him as God “.

The Hebrew text reads “a God” (אלהים )and Ex. 7: 1″ I made thee as God to Pharaoh “The Hebrew text reads “I made thee God to pharaoh.” (אלהים נתתיך .(לפרעה
191 (יהוא (meaning “Yihye Hue “(He will be) to a certain name or verb. It was not only the parents that gave names to their children, but occasionally names were given later in life. For instance, Pharaoh Nechoh changes the name Elyakim to Yehoyakim, Solomon at first was called Yedidya, and Matanya –Zedekiah. The adding of “Yahue )יהוא” )or in its abbreviated form “Yahu” or “Yah” (The letter Aleph has been dropped most propably for being voiceless and not pronounced) could be added either in the suffix of a name or at its prefix. Like Shefatyahu – Yehoshafat, Zedekyau –Yehozadak etc. But the meaning remains the same. In the course of time, also these names have
been abbreviated Yehozadak to Yozadak, Yehonathan to Yonathan, etc. Now we can understand that names like Uriah the Hittite, Tuvia the Ammonite, Baalya, or Nergalya their meaning is Ur (Or) = light– illumination will he be, Tov Yihye Hue – הוא יהיה טוב = Good may he be, Baal yihye Hue – He will be a Baal (The same as El will he be) –namely a priest to Baal he will be, and the same Nergal he will be. Such an explanation answers all the questions regarding such names. Now we can understand why Moses calls Oseah son of Nun–Yehoshua. Osheah means to save – but before entering the land of Canaan, Moses passes on to Joshua the leadership over the people of Israel, He therefore changes his name to Yehoshua (Joshua) namely: “He will be the saviour” i. e. he will save the people of Israel. We understand now names like Antotiya, Sheharia, Dlaya, Refaya, etc. which mean: He will be an Antoti, he will be dark coloured, he will be hirsute, he will be feeble etc. And the reference is always to the bearer of the name alone. In all such names the active component is always the bearer of the name. Such names are also met as women’s names like Yehoad, Yehotal, Yehoshawa, Yehochan.23

Let us note here that in the light of the said above, there is reason for seeing the name Yoseph (Joseph) or Yehoseph as “yihye hue Saf” – He will be Saf. The meaning of Saf is unknown to us, perhaps it derives from the Hebrew word Sof=end, and the name then will mean; “he will be the end, “namely he will be the last. Rachel probably had hard labour and wishes he will be the last.24 The name Saf by itself is found in the Bible “then Sibbechai the Hushathite slew Saph, which was of the sons of the giant”.25

It is worth mentioning that Yoseph is called by the Pharaoh Zafhnath 23 See: Lachish Letters. Let us add here that Stolper (BASOR, 227, 1976), refers to a name “Hu–u–na–tan in the Murasu texts that cannot be explained as a simple scribal lapse since it occurs in precisely the same form three times in the text. Instead, it must be inferred that in the language of personal names in 5th century Babylonia. Hu was current and acceptable as a shortened form of yahu.” 24 The traditional explanation is: “The Lord shall add to me another son ” (Gen. 30: 24). 25 2Sam. 21: 18. 192 paaneah26 The first syllable Zaf equals to Saf.27 which forms the name Yoseph, perhaps therefore we can see Zafhnath – paaneah as Saf–Nath–paaneah, or Saf Nat Fanh – (voiceless p). The explanation of the name I leave to the Egyptologists, but it is interesting to note the similarity between Paaneah and Fan’h from the papyruses, which Sethe regards as equal to the name Phoenicians and on the other hand the similarity between Zaf – Saf which is part of the name Yoseph.28 26 Gen. 41: 45. 27 In Hebrew the letters S (Samech) and Z (zadek) interchenge. see the Hebrew text Job. 30 13: (“natsu”– for “natzu”); Ps. 71: 4 (“hִ ometz” for “hִ omes”); Is. 1: 17 (“hִ amotz” “hִ amos”; Tosephta, Avoda zara 5 (6) (Parsufot for Partzufot); Alatz – Alas; Karas – Karatz, See Gesenius (Hebrew Grammar. 19a). In Hebrew; Mitzrayim; Zidon. In Arabic – Masr; Saida Such an interchange is to be found also in ancient “phoenician” inscriptions, Slouschz (Otzar Haketovot afenikiyot, 1942, p. 24–Hebrew) mentions such interchange in the words “Samdat – Zemed” See these words also in Lidzbarski –Handbuch der Nordsemitische epigraphik, I – text 1962.

28 Let us note here that the name Zaphnath –paaneah is accepted by scholars to be an Egyptian name, and many interpretations were given to it. Mallon explains: “God say he is alive” (“Dieu dit il est vivant”) – Les Hebreux en Egypte, Orientalia, 1921, (3), p. 75., So believes Spiegelberg as cited by Naville. Whereas Naville explains: “Head of the sacred college” – Naville –The Egyptian name of Joseph, JEA, 1926, pp. 16 – 18. Engelbach suggests “that the word –צפנת Safnat is a metathesis for” צתנף) Zatnaf ) meaning: “Joseph called Paneh”. Engelbach, The Egyptian name of Joseph, JEA, 1924, p. 205. Brugsch explains: “The governor of the residential district of he who lives” –
(“Le gouverneur du district du domicile de celui qui vit”); Brugsch – L’Exode et
les monuments Egyptiens, Leipzig 1875, p. 17.


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