The Names of God

I. Introduction of Yah, El Yah, Yahh, and Yahu:

From a corpus of over one hundred Yahweh inscriptions, thirteen have been selected for the viewer to study. Observation of the way that the ancient scribes wrote the name of their God has led to a theory as to why so many archaic forms are retained in Old Negev. It was observed that often when the name of Yahweh was written (in any of the respectful abbreviated forms) archaic letters were used. And since most of the inscriptions of these ancient dwellers of the Negev were religious, their language was viewed as a carrier of sacred knowledge and such a language has a conservative preference for archaic forms. That is, God's name should be written in the forms used in the beginning, such as the forms carried down from the mountain of God by Moses.


II. The Name of God In the Ancient Negev:

A search of Proto-Sinaitic inscriptions by I. Beit-Arieh, and B. Sass, has uncovered several inscriptions of the pan Canaanite name of God (El) in the Sinai dating between the 17th century BCE to the 15th century BCE.

Mine L, inscriptions, Sinai No. 377 and 378, also #'s 350, and 363, have been identified to have the name El in reasonable clarity. Pictures and sketches of two of the inscription are presented below from the collection of Prof. Benjamin Sass, in his 1988 publication fully cited in the Bibliography.

Hebrew: = From El (God)

 Hebrew: = El (God).

Short inscriptions are very valuable in that they leave critics with little or nothing to argue about.

El was the widely recognized God of all the Canaanite people and his name is coupled with Yah in some Proto-Canaanite inscriptions. But the name of Yah has not yet been found in the Sinai, or has it just gone unrecognized?

III. The Name of God In the Ancient Land of Canaan:

The earliest El Yah inscription (late Late Bronze Age) was found on a beautiful Ewer, discovered in a rubbish heap of a temple at Lachish in 1934. A more recent article on the subject was a BAR, Sept/Oct. 1991, p. 50. work of Ruth Hestrin, titled "Understanding Asherah--Exploring Semitic Iconography." Hestrin viewed the seven branched tree as an icon that favored the translation of "Elath" , as a female consort of El "Asherah." We have numerous examples of the seven branched tree used as an icon for Yah (Yahweh) and sometimes in an El/Yah combination with such a tree and/or a ram. Also the "Taw" after the El was an archaic ending for El. The "Yah of Gat" ligatures were recognized and translated by Harris and Hone

The Lachish Ewer,; (1220 BCE):

Icon connection, a menorah and a ram:
It is also possible to begin reading at the rams head, left to right then right to left over the same line of signs across and down to the last two signs g-t.

Old Negev:
Hebrew: [ ] [ ]
Lexical analysis: `Elat ( the feminine form of El) `Elat is directly above the tree and Yah (Yahweh) is directly above the ram; (alt) = a place of suspense, uncertainty; y-h (a short form of Yahweh); g-t () = a place name, Gat.

Translation: The tree [of] `Elath, a place of suspense, the ram Yah of Gat.
[From Ruth Hestrin, "Understanding Asherah" BAR, Sept./Oct. 1991, pp. 50-52-59. The "Yah of Gat" translation by Harris and Hone.


The Name of God in the Ancient Negev
Nahal `Avedat Site 81: 1, & 2;
Visited by Harris/Hone, April 1997.

Old Negev, L-1
Old Negev, L-2
Translation: Beloved, escape to my God my Father, Jah.


Har Karkom

Harris/Hone, April 1997:

Old Negev:


(Sun and rain) (Sun and rain and Yah)

(as a human like figure with his arms out- stretched.)

Transliteration: l-t-t () = to give (a gift from the heavens) [a prefix followed by Kal infinite construct of n-t-n (]; y-h ()= Yah (abbreviation of Yahweh); r-b-l-t-h ()= fertility (with a paragogic ending); m-tz, ()= sufficient [imperfect of m-tz-`, () the silent ending "aleph" being dropped.] Translation (of symbols and phonetic signs): The gift of Yah from heavens [sun and rain, bringing sufficient fertility].


Har Karkom, Harris/Hone 4/22/1997

(Photo by C.P.):

Old Negev:

Translation: My mountain (refuge is) El
(God)-deliverance for the Jew.


#6. Winnett's No. 11052;

To be read from right to left:
Old Negev:

Lexical Analysis: b-m-h,= Bamah ( a hlgh place dedicated to religious worship) b-z, spoil (booty); b-h-'-l-h, () [hiphil imperative verb with prefix -notice position above the line]= bring up by;; d-k, ()= the door; b-t, () = the house [of]; y-h.= () Yah (Yahweh). Translation: "Bamah (place of worship), spoil bring up by the door of the house of Yah." Or, "Bring thou up spoil by the door of the house of Yah." Interesting notes; This inscription is particularly interesting since it demonstrates the suggested grammar of the Midianite script. Note that the Beth above, and a little to the left, of the first up side-down He is a prefixed preposition attached to the hiphil imperative of the verbal root '-I-h () meaning "bring thou up by." Also this inscription shows a consistent use of turning the last letter (or first letter) in a word or phrase up-side-down [see the Midianite line]. This practice is characteristic of Old Negev but is not characteristic of North Arabian, pre-Arabic Thamudic scripts.

Translation: "Bamah (place of worship), spoil bring up by the door of the house of Yah." Or, "Bring thou up spoil by the door of the house of Yah." Also the word "bamah" and the phrase, House of Yahweh are precisely appropriate element of this composition. "Bamah (place of worship), spoil bring up by the door of the house of Yah." Or, "Bring thou up spoil by the door of the house of Yah." Also the word "bamah" and the phrase, House of Yahweh are precisely appropriate element of this composition.


Harris/Hone, 1997 Anati's Area #58, Har Karkom:

Old Negev:
Transliteration: l y-h,= For Yah; n-m,= flee away; b-n,= son; `-r-t, = of lights.
Translation: Flee away for Yah son of lights (revelations). Flee from the enemies of the Ram (of God)? Also regarding the appearance of a sword at the side of the figure on the right above the inscription, we saw a steel sword on exhibit in the Israel Museum (April 1997) dated to the time of king Hezekiah.
The inscription shown above and the inscriptions shown below are among those we regarded as of special importance and that contained unclear script that required an on site examination from which our own sketches and photos could be made, interpreted, and translated.


Harris/Hone, 1997, Nahal `Avedat Hallouns 22: 1, 2, 3:

[Read from left to right.]

Old Negev: L-1,

1. l-`,= not, no; r-',= evil; l-h,= for him.

Old Negev: L-2,

2. `-l,= El (God); y-h,= Yah; '-d-t,= time, season, a long time.

Old Negev: L-3,
3. l-n,= abide, remain, lodge; m-b-b-r= by election; be chosen; w-h-b,= to love, to give; w-t-l,= unto the tel (high place of worship); p-l-y-h,= the escaped of the remnant.
Translation: For him in the time of evil (turn to) El Yah. Upon the heights God gave to the chosen, the escaped of the remnant (continued below) watchful [for] Yah.


Har Karkom, 277, 1982, LXV-23-24, (Our 6557):

Read in both directions from the middle.
Hebrew: (middle) = Yah - El


Nahal `Avedat, Harris/Hone, 1997, Halloun's 22: 4, (a block renewed or added after the original inscribing was done.) 5, & 6:

Old Negev, L-4
Hebrew: = watchful for Yah.
Old Negev, L-5
Old Negev, L-6
Translation: (L-5 & L-6) To dream of great Yah lament (those) bold in speaking, (of the) Lord.
Halloun published the above panel in the 1990 Israel Survey, Volume 2, but he had obviously not given the site a personal visit nor did he examine the panel carefully because he depicted what he called 22.4 up side down and called it line 4, when it is line 5 and he also left out the real line 4 and line 6. Examine our photo carefully (taken in April of 1997) and you will see grass in the lower right hand corner and open space in the upper right hand corner, indicating the correct orientation of the lines of the composition.


Nahal `Avedat Site Near 22: Harris/Hone, 1a; April 1997:

Old Negev:
Translation: El Yah, life you will deliver, life in the hard night.


Har Karkom, Harris/Hone, April 1997:

Old Negev;=Hebrew: Yah & the Burning Bush [also the Tree of Life & Light - a very unconventional minorah.


Har Karkom, Harris/Hone, April 1997:

Old Negev:


Translation: Yahh [one of three approved abbreviation for Yahweh.


IV. How The Peoples of the Negev Perceived Yahweh

An Ancient Script and Language of the Negev:

A script with a large representation of archaic features has been traced from the Sinai (Serabit el-Khadim) during the Late Bronze Age (1600-1400 BC) to the Land of Canaan (where it survived as Proto-Canaanite through the eight hundred year hiatus). Around 1200 BC two variations of Proto-Canaanite emerge; Old Negev in the southern deserts and Canaanite/Phoenician in the north (Canaan, Moab, Phoenicia, etc.).
In the Negev the script continues well into the Iron Age and at some time between the Assyrian conquest and the Babylonian captivity, the script and the language it expressed fell out of use. [Discoveries, such as the water jars marked with this script found in Old Jerusalem's Burnt House, 600 BC, may have been family treasures from a dimming past.]
The language, best called Proto-Canaanite, (suggesting the West Semitic, used throughout the Northwest Semitic area, before the language formed distinctive dialects and before the dialects became distinctive languages.
The ethnic ties of the Old Negev scribes may include Kenite Midianites, Israelites, and other Canaanites such as the Avites and the Canaanites that worshipped Yah of Gad (Lachish Ewer).

Perceptions of Yah in the Ancient Negev:

The name of Yah was never spelled out in full in any of the inscriptions. The most often use form was Yah (hy), followed by El/Yah or Yah/El (hy la) and just two inscriptions of Yahh (hhy).
The ram is the most frequently encountered icon associated with Yah and El. The ram's seventy appearances in the first four books of Moses (which invite and insure the continued favor of the God of Israel) are complimented by the image of the Ram of Redemtpion and is an acknowledgment of God's intervention among the ancient inhabitants of the Negev.

Place names found in the compositions are appropriate for the time, location, and context in which they are used. The persona of Yah is associated with radiance, as from the sun and the head of the radiant Serpent. The glory of the radiant serpent was to be extended to his people so that their countenances would shine as they become a holy nation (a sanctified people). It is possible that the serpent (as an icon of Yahweh) would have survived in greater numbers had it not been for the reforms of Hezekiah and Josiah. The serpent symbolizes Yah as the healer, and God of the storms, rain, sun, and Prince of Life. Yah was the disciplinarian, judge, protector, deliverer, teacher, purifier, and Father of his covenant people.
The Shield of David represents Yah as the protector of the Twelve Tribes (represented by the twelve points of the star). In addition to the "Shield of David" inscription shown above, we have an enlarged photo of a geoglyph Shield of David on top of one of the Har Karkom platforms.
The Tree of Life icon projects the conception of Yah as the life and
light of the world and the simple but powerful representation on
Har Karkom is hard to discount as a commemoration of the bush
that burned but was not consumed before the eyes of Moses
(Exodus 3:1-2).