Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professors, theologians, and those interested in exegetical analysis of biblical texts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Why did Tyndale (and later, the KJV translating committees) keep Jewish tradition by translating the Tetragrammaton as LORD thousands of times, but make exceptions by translating it as "Jehovah" only in the following seven places: Genesis 22:14, Exodus 17:15, Exodus 6:3, Psalms 83:18, Isaiah 12:2, Isaiah 26:4 (and maybe I should include Psalms 68:4 too, where it appears as the contraction "JAH")?

Were those placements arbitrary, and their frequency a random number? Why only 7 times...why not 10 or 12? Or could their placement possibly be following a pattern previously established in some other edition or translation of the Old Testament?

share|improve this question

There is a logic to it in each case.

In Gen 22,14 and Ex 17,15 YHWH is part of a place-name. The English translators have chosen to transfer the name rather than translating it (as the LXX and Vulgata do).

Ex 6,3 and Ps 83,18 both discuss specifically the question of the deity’s name. You might note that in Ex 6,3 the Vulgata has the Hebraeism “Adonai”.

In Isa 12,2 and 26,4 the MT has a double name: “yāh YHWH”. The KJV imitates this with the double name “the LORD Jehovah”.

PS. I have taken a few minutes break from the work on my newest book to answer your interesting question. I hope that these necessarily brief remarks provide the answer that you require.

share|improve this answer
Thank you for the well reasoned answer proceeding from sound scholarship, and for taking the time away from your book. My only remaining question would be... Is Tyndale alone wholly responsible for these anomalies? Was he the first and only translator to translate YHWH differently than as LORD? – Shamus Apr 29 '14 at 7:48
Tyndale did not finish his translation of the OT. Thus, there is no “Tyndale” version of Psalms or Isaiah. In Gen 22,14 Tyndale has “the LORDe will see”, following the Vulgate. In Ex 6,3 he has “Iehouah” by analogy to the Vulgate’s “Adonai”. But in Ex 17,15 Tyndale departs from the Vulgate (which translates the place-name as “Dominus exaltatio mea”) and transcribes it as “Iehouah Nissi”. So Tyndale does not ALWAYS follow the Vulgate. – fdb Apr 29 '14 at 9:59

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.