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The Llewellyn Encyclopedia

Tetragrammaton

This article was written by Donald Michael Kraig on April 29, 2005
posted under Tetragrammaton

The Tetragrammaton is composed of four Hebrew letters: Yud, Heh (superior), Vahv, and Heh (inferior). This four-letter name (Tetragrammaton means "four-letter name") is considered to be the ultimate name of Divinity. No one knows the correct pronunciation of this word. Some of the letters may have been pronounced differently than they are today. The letters may have been a code for other letters. Some of the letters may have been doubled. Today, Jews do not attempt to say this word. Instead, they say "Ah-doh-nye" which means "my lord." There are no vowels in the original Hebrew. They were added much later in the form of points and lines written above, within and below the letters. To insure that no one would try to pronounce the Tetragrammaton by mistake, the vowels for Ah-doh-nye were placed around the holy four letters. If you try to pronounce the four-letter word using these vowels you end up with something like the following: Yahveh, Yahweh, Yehovah or Jehovah. All of these result from an incorrect understanding of Hebrew.

The secret of the Tetragrammaton is in the meaning of its component letters. The Yud represents archetypal masculinity and the Heh (superior) represents archetypal femininity. The Vahv, which looks like an elongated Yud, represents physical masculinity while the second Heh, the Heh inferior, represents physical femininity. Thus, the Tetragrammaton signifies that the ultimate secret of the Godhead is that the Divine is the union of all dualities (i.e., male and female) both physically and spiritually. The Divine is everything, and everything comes from and is of the Godhead.

This does not mean, however, that to know the universe is to know the Divine. Merely because everything is of the Godhead does not mean that the Divine cannot be more than everything which exists or could exist. Divinity is more. The source of all is beyond comprehension except for the ways in which the Godhead chooses to be comprehended.

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