Occurs nearly 6,000 times in the OT as the name for God, but increasing reverence caused it to be replaced in public reading by ‘Adonai’ (‘My great Lord’). When vowels were added to the Hebrew text, those of Adonai were combined with YHWH to warn readers to substitute Adonai for Yahweh. So ‘Jehovah’ is an incorrect hybrid of the Christian Middle Ages. In modern Jewish writing the same respect is maintained by writing ‘G—d’.
The Pentateuchal source J (from German Jahveh) traces the name Yahweh to the earliest ages (Gen. 4: 26) but P attributes the first use to Moses (Exod. 6: 2–3). It is suggested that the name means ‘He causes to be what exists’, i.e. Yahweh is the creator—but it is much disputed whether the divine name ‘means’ anything.