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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Jehovah

The name of the Judeao-Christian God in the Old Testament. The name is written with four Hebrew consonants, IHVH, hence it is also rendered as Yahweh. The name is known as the Tetragrammaton, or the four-letter word, and held very sacred by the Jews that traditionally it is not uttered and the word “Adonai” is said in its stead. This is apparently based on Lev. 24:16 which states that those who blaspheme the name of God shall be stoned to death. The historian Josephus wrote that he too was not allowed to utter the name.

The name Jehovah is to be distinguished from Elohim, the name of the collective deity in the early parts of Genesis describing the creation. Elohim, a plural word, is also used to refer to other gods. Jehovah or Yahweh was used only in the second chapter of Genesis. Moses was told that the Jewish nation shall know God by that name, Jehovah.

In the Old Testament, Jehovah exhibited anthropomorphic qualities such as jealousy, anger, vengefulness, regret, etc. It also became a God that protects only the Jewish nation as against other people, thus making Jehovah a tribal God. These traits have caused endless quandary to apologists who tried to make of Jehovah a universal or absolute deity.

The Gnostic of the early centuries did not regard Jehovah as the highest God. Marcion (85-160), for example, considered Jehovah as different from, and inferior to, the God of the New Testament. In his biblical canon, he rejected in fact the entire Old Testament. To Valentinus (100-175), Jehovah was one of the lesser deities, a demiurge, inferior to Bythos and Eons.

In the Jewish KABBALAH, Jehovah is not the supreme deity. Beyond it is the AIN SOPH, from which the Tree of Life emanates. Jehovah is considered as equivalent to the Binah or the third sephira of the Tree of Life.

Theosophical literature similarly regards Jehovah as the equivalent of one of the intermediate deities involved in the destiny of mankind. It is androgynous and not the same as the highest deities such as PARABRAHMAN or Ain Soph.

See also GOD.

V.H.C.

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