What’s in The Name?

One of the goals of Echad Records is to reach Jewish people with Messianic music. The Messianic music scene is still a niche scene with a small audience… many Jewish non-believers do not even know that there is such a thing as Messianic Jews, much less that some of them make great music. It is my hope that through Echad Records, many Jews, whether they are Orthodox, Conservative, Reformed, or none of the above, will discover Messianic music and be blessed by it. As we continue to operate with this goal, we have to be respectful and sympathetic toward the doctrines and ideologies of our fellow Jews. One topic that is central to Jewish doctrine is G-d’s Name. Many Jews refer to G-d’s name as simply HaShem or the tetragrammaton. Wikipedia provides an adequate explanation:

The term tetragrammaton (from Greek τετραγράμματον, meaning “four letters”) refers to the Hebrew theonym (Hebrew: יהוה‎) transliterated to the Latin letters YHVH. It may be derived from the verb that means “to be”, and is considered in Judaism to be the proper name of the God of Israel used in the Hebrew Bible.

As religiously observant Jews are forbidden to say or write the Tetragrammaton in full, when reading the Torah they use the term Adonai. And although most Christians have no prohibition on vocalizing the Tetragrammaton, in most Christian translations of the Bible, “LORD” is used in place of the Tetragrammaton, after the Hebrew Adonai, and is often written with small capitals (or in all caps) to distinguish it from other words translated as “Lord”.

While the tetragrammaton appears many times in the Tanakh, it is depicted in ancient biblical Hebrew by only 4 letters. In Jewish tradition, the Kohen Gadol (high priest) would speak the name of G-d only on Yom Kippur (the day of atonement). All those present, upon hearing the sacred Name, would immediately prostrate themselves in extreme reverence. Ancient biblical Hebrew did not have vowel marks, so we have no way of knowing how the Name was actually pronounced. Any representation of the Name is a guess, and Jews would never try to utter a representation of the Name. Moreover, Jews are careful to even write the Name, often abbreviating it in writing (as YY instead of YHVH) and even obscuring the o in G-d.

Why do Jews do this? Well, to talk about the Name of G-d in a casual manner, or misrepresent it in any way, is seen as blasphemy. Taking G-d’s name in vain is a violation of the third Commandment. If you are speaking to an Orthodox Jew, and you happen to mention the tetragrammaton or speak an interpretation of it, or even say Adonai in a casual manner, they are very likely to shut you off and refuse to hear anything else you have to say. Moreover, while the use of terms like Adonai are permissible in worship music, if an Orthodox Jew were to hear a variation of the tetragrammaton in a song, they would probably shut the song off and get rid of it. This is how serious some Jews are about preserving the sanctity of G-d’s name.

It is not the intention of Echad Records to offend or drive away any Jewish people, especially in our goal to reach them with the message of Yeshua. Therefore, as a policy, Echad Records will not feature any songs or artist names that use interpretations of the tetragrammaton. Songs that say HaShem, Adonai, Elohim, El Shaddai, Yeshua, G-d, etc. are all fine. This is not a doctrinal statement on how anyone is to refer to G-d in their worship; that is up to the worshiper. We simply cannot introduce anything on our compilations that risks turning Jewish people away. We hope that everyone will understand this policy, and we still look forward to promoting Messianic musicians with a heart for spreading the message of Yeshua.