No, the Tetragrammaton יהוה is never transliterated into the Greek Septuagint (LXX). Instead, sometimes יהוה is
- not translated into the LXX.1
- translated into the LXX as κύριος.2
- translated into the LXX as ὁ θεὸς.3
- translated into the LXX as κύριος ὁ θεὸς.4
Relatively modern Hebrew manuscripts (e.g., the Aleppo Codex) do have “vowels”—or rather, vowel pointing (referred to in Hebrew as nikkud). However, these vowel points were not created until approximately the 10th century A.D. The original scrolls lacked vowel pointing.5 Instead, the original scrolls contained only twenty-two consonants.
However, Josephus wrote the following concerning the Tetragrammaton engraved on the high priest’s crown (tiara):6
And a tiara of fine linen encompassed the head, and it was crowned with hyacinth, around which there was another golden crown, bearing the engraved holy letters. And these are four vowels.
τὴν δὲ κεφαλὴν βυσσίνη μὲν ἔσκεπεν τιάρα, κατέστεπτο δ ̓ ὑακίνθῳ, περὶ ἣν χρυσοῦς ἄλλος ἦν στέφανος ἔκτυπα φέρων τὰ ἱερὰ γράμματα· ταῦτα δ ̓ ἐστὶ φωνήεντα τέσσαρα.
This appears to be a contradiction, but in Hebrew, a few of the letters also functioned as vowels, even today. Two of the consonants doubling as vowels are י and ו, which can be transliterated as “i” and “o”/ “u,” respectively. Coincidentally, these two letters (י and ו) also appear in the Tetragrammaton, hence the reason Josephus referred to them as vowels (φωνήεντα).
Another letter that also used to function as a vowel, but rarely so today, is the letter ה. In his analysis of the Isaiah Dead Sea Scroll, Fred Moeller wrote,
Just as the Masoretes invented pointings to indicate vowel sounds so the Q[umran] scribes have added some semi-vowels to the text. The use of yod, waw, and “he” are frequent. (emphasis mine)
So, like י and ו, the letter ה was another one of the immot kriʿah, or “mothers of reading” (consonants which also functioned as vowels). Thus, Josephus was not wrong. At that time, those letters may have been considered vowels.
As for the reason that κύριος is predominately used to translate יהוה, rather than יהוה being transliterated into the LXX, is that it was already the common practice of the Jewish scribes to never pronounce the Tetragrammaton יהוה whenever it appeared on a scroll. Instead, the scribes would pronounce the word אֲדֹנָי (adonai), which essentially means “lord, master” in English, and thus, κύριος in Greek.7 Now, since the scribes already pronounced אֲדֹנָי for יהוה, they decided to write κύριος for יהוה when producing the Greek Septuagint, since κύριος is the (closest) Greek equivalent to אֲדֹנָי.
Had scribes actually transliterated יהוה into the Greek Septuagint, the Greek text may have had the name Ἰάβε—if you consider the vowel points of the Tetragrammaton to be יַהְוֶה. This word (name) would be conjugated in binyan Hifʿil, imperfect tense, 3rd person, masculine gender, and singular number, from the verb הָיָה, and thus means, “He causes to be/exist.”
Benner, Jeff A. The Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible. College Station: Virtualbookworm.com Publishing, 2005.
Flavius Josephus. Flavii Iosephi Opera. Ed. Niese, Benedictus. Vol. 6. Berlin: Weidmann, 1894.
Flavius Josephus. The Complete Works of Flavius-Josephus the Celebrated Jewish Historian. Trans. Whiston, William. Chicago: Thompson, 1901.
Ortlepp, Steven. Pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton: A Historico-Linguistic Approach. Lulu.com: 2010.
1 cp. Gen. 2:7
2 cp. Gen. 4:3
3 cp. Gen. 4:1
4 cp. Gen. 2:8
5 Benner, p. 43
6 Wars of the Jews, Book 5, Ch. 5, Sec. 7. Niese, p. 466, Line 235–236. Whiston, p. 649. cp. Exo. 28:36
7 Ortlepp, p. 167