False form of the divine name Yahweh. The name Jehovah first appeared in manuscripts in the 13th century a.d., but had probably been in use for some time. The form arose from a misunderstanding of the precautions taken by pious Jewish scribes to prevent the profanation of the divine name. About the 3d century b.c., the practice arose of reading the word adonai "Lord" or elohim "God" instead of yahweh. After the invention of vowel signs, the vowels of the word Adonai were written beneath the consonants of the sacred name YHWH. With the passage of time the correct pronunciation of Yahweh was forgotten. The hybrid form of Jehovah, resulting from reading the consonants of Yahweh with the vowels of Adonai, the first "a" being changed to a short "e," became widespread in English-speaking circles because of its use in Ex 6.3 of the King James Version. In modern versions either Lord in capital letters or Yahweh is used for the sacred Tetragrammeton.
Bibliography: Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Bible, tr. and adap. by l. hartman (New York 1963) 1109–10. p. joÜon, Grammaire de l'hébreu biblique (2d ed. Rome 1947).
[r. t. a. murphy]
Jehovah's Witness a member of a fundamentalist Christian sect (the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society) founded in the US by Charles Taze Russell (1852–1916), denying many traditional Christian doctrines (including the divinity of Christ) but preaching the Second Coming of Christ, and refusing military service and blood transfusion on religious grounds.