WARNING: This writing is the reflection of my knowledge and perception. It will absolutely contains my opinion. Some subjects may be uncomfortable for you to read as this writing explains things from many expert views which may not conform to your faith. You may disagree, but this is my honest opinion of what I've known so far.

Some people think "kumbayah" was a word lend from Africa. That's why there are people who would think twice to sing "Kumbayah, My Lord". They suspect "Kumbayah" is a name for an unknown African Idol. They don't want to call their God a name registered for other deity.

As a Christian, I too asked myself, "what is the proper name of our God?"

Christianity which derived from Judaism borrows many names for calling God. And from the Old Testament, we also know that even the Israelites call God with different name. Some name like Elohim was a name borrowed from a word of Canaanites for the Supreme God of gods, El. In fact, Elohim itself a plural word for gods, which in Hebrew pointed into the one God.

Interestingly, El got generalization and was refer not to an individual deity, but was referenced to any supreme God. The word also get translated into many tongues, such as Arabic ʾilāh, Aramaic ʾAlāh and Hebrew's ʾelōah. From the word Ilah, like Moslem and our Arabic speaking Christians, me and my countrymen would use Allah to call "The God".

Some people may find it uncomfortable to call "Allah" because the name seems like a borrowed word for deity from another religion. They feel that the name "Allah" is not the real name of our God. It was a trademark name for Islamic God name. A Malaysian scholar said "Allah" is a name, not a thing.  Even Malaysian court forbid other religion other than Islam to call that name.

Funny thing is, in Indonesia some Islamic people also want to have an exclusive God's name. AA Gym, a famous Islamic preacher, was using "Alloh" [A-loh] to call their God. It was derived from the Arabic pronunciation of "Allah". Some of my childhood friends also confessed that their spiritual teacher often emphasized that the name should be called "Alloh" not "Allah".

They think that "Allah" is a shared name that used in Christianity. They too seems feel uncomfortable to call a name that wasn't exclusive in this country. Well, religion is a game of exclusivity. In Indonesia, both sides purists want to be exclusive -- which is fair, I think.

The Tetragrammaton

A group of Christian purists in Indonesia made copies of Bible with the omission "Allah" from its content. They want to call their God with a Tetragrammaton name. They use the Tetragrammaton with pronunciation of Yahweh as the name of God.

Little did we know, the pronunciation of Yahweh was actually proposed by a modern researcher, Wilhelm Gesenius. It was one of the interpretation of how you would read YHWH, the Tetragrammaton. Many people also agreeing to that pronunciation.

Some people call the Tetragrammaton with Jehovah. It was a Tetragrammaton name with the "o" pronunciation like Adonai into YHWH. The word was proposed in the 13th century and first written use of this word was by a Dominican monk, Raymundus Martini, 1270.

Ah, the Tetragrammaton, YHWH. The word was such a mystery because until this day, nobody knows how to pronounce it right. There is no single known person in this world today knows how to pronounce it right.

In ancient time of Israelites, it is forbidden to even write the Tetragrammaton itself! Let alone to call The Name. Only selected priests of Israel that could and know how to call YHWH right. Most Israelites would call God with substitute name such as Adonai, in which means "LORD".

The high respect for God's name was because of one of the Ten Commandments,
Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
Exodus 20:7

And to make it more complicated, the original Hebrew alphabet knows no vowels. That's why, until this day, people still trying to figure out which vowel should be in YHWH. Be it Yahweh, Jehovah, Yehuwah, et cetera, people would call Him the best they think about.

Searching More Deeper and Crazier Interpretation

To my surprise, Wikipedia stated that the first God of Israel in the bronze age was El. Based on a poet in the Bible, Deutoronomy 32:8-9:
When the Most High (Elyon, i.e., El) gave the nations their inheritance,
when he separated humanity,
he fixed the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of divine beings,
for Yahweh's portion is his people,
Jacob his allotted heritage.
Or in the unrevised form, it reads:
When Elyon gave the nations an inheritance, when he divided humankind, he set the bounds of the peoples according to the number of Bull El’s children, and Yahweh’s portion was his people, Jacob, the lot of his inheritance.
In this notion, John Hobbins noted that some scholar, like Joosten, suggested that earlier Israelites was a polytheistic nation. From this text alone, it was suggested that the Supreme High, El, was blessing his child's, Bull El, people and a rogue God from desert, Yahweh. And the million dollar question is: who was Bull El?

In this state, I think it is best to not stop but you have to search more deeper. A stop in searching for truth may detrimental to faith at this point. Half-baked idea would surely makes me an atheist or something else. So, this time I search deeper for the meaning.

It seems from the reconstruction of Old Testament by various original Bible script, the term Bull El's children constructed as:
  • Sons of Israel in Septuagint.
  • Angels of God in LXX.
  • Sons of God in some other LXX copies, Qumran text (DSS) 4QDtj and DSS 4QDtq
It seems that Bull El was none on the original Bible manuscript. It may be deemed that the conclusion of the word Bull El children should be translated with "sons of God". The argument was because of the other part on Deuteronomy and Daniel's writing containing the word explain that clearly.

Luckily, I read the comment by Mike Heiser in the John Hobbins' article, that stated Bull El and El is interchangeable. The evidence was on the verses 6 and 7. Therefore, I think we can safely assume that the three names pointed into one Being. You know, it is just a poet thing like to have diverse vocabulary and such.

My Faith

There will always be a debate and revisions to what the original scripture meant. Old Testament was written in the archaic language from an archaic time of Israelites. To make it worst, Hebrew is a dynamic language more than modern language. Many scientists will always pulling their hair just to understand the text and the context that is not exists anymore.

Some would love to write with hidden agenda of his group or backers. Some might lost at translation. Some might get it right. Who knows. As for me, I would love to draw God's name from the original context that I've read in the Bible.

The Tetragrammaton (YHWH) was an abbreviation from God's introduction to Moses as "I AM WHO I AM". As Abarim Publication write about Etimology of the name YHWH:

The key scene in this respect seems to be Exodus 3:13-15, where God names Himself first: אהיה אשר אהיה (I AM WHO I AM), then אהיה (I AM), and finally יהוה (YHWH) and states that this is his name forever and a memorial name to all generations.
Here's what I derived from the text, I think God would not want to be known by a name. Name is the label that we put to differentiate one from other. Moses lived in the age of many gods and God wouldn't wanted HIM to be on the same page as many deities.

This God, Moses, is the one and only. I think that was the simplified statement that I would conclude from the passage.

There is none other than HIM. When we said The LORD, GOD, ALLAH, Yahweh, or any respectful name, we call HIM with no other equal as HIM. He is so exclusive that He shouldn't be named for differentiation.

Even when the Israelites called HIM as Adonai, El Shaday and Elohim, He would still know that the Israelites was calling HIM. Even when the Bible itself wrote HIM with many names derived from many culture, He knows when His people calling HIM.

In my humble opinion, the state of mind when we call our God is what matters. As we call HIM, we are not in negotiation of making him the same as other gods or goddesses. For there is only one of HIM.

That's why we also call God with male term. We live in the Patriarchal society where men put above women. We call HIM "Abba Father" because the word was placed for an individual that provides guidance, food and shelters for his children. The one that put one's seed into one's children. The one that the most high in the family hierarchy. The one that should be respected.

To say that there is many tongue version of calling God, to me is a statement also that God's people should be universal. You don't need to call our Savior Yeshua Ha-Mashiach. The founding father of Christianity call him Iesos Kristos as it is evidently symbolized in IKTUS.

All in all, God not need His people to be exclusive. He only asks us to be respectful. A deep veneration to God, not just a skin deep theology that divides people with hate.

Oh, Btw,

Kumbaya is not a word for any deity. It was a phrase in an African American society on Gullah, a place in Sea Island near South Carolina. It means, "come by here".


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