Is the name of God, YHWH, without vowels?

Some unexpected questions about the Hebrew language came up for me today.

While researching Hebrew letter symbolism I came across a reference on Wikipedia which suggested that “In the traditional form, vowels are indicated [in the Hebrew language] by the weak consonants Aleph (א), He (ה), Vav (ו), or Yodh (י) serving as vowel letters … the letter is combined with a previous vowel and becomes silent, or by imitation of such cases in the spelling of other forms.”

yhwh-name-of-godHang on a minute! I immediately recognised that three of those four “weak consonants” are the very same letters which make up the Hebrew name for God, YHWH (יהֹוה). Everything I have read before suggested there were no vowels in YHWH, yet here I read the name is nothing but pseudo vowels.

Being wary of ever taking Wikipedia at face value, I immediately sought external confirmation. Sure enough, I saw the same Hebrew letters being identified as vowel-consonant or semivowels or matres lectionis (mothers of reading) by other sources, including the ancient historian Josephus (Jewish Wars, Chapter 5). I will definitely have to research this further.

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